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Rules of the Game: Archery

Could you hit an apple 76 yards away with an arrow? That's basically what archers will be trying to do.

Archery has been around for some 10,000 years and people generally have a handle on how it works. There's a target. The closer you get to the bullseye, the more points you get. There will be men's individual and team events, women's individual and team events at the Tokyo Olympics and, for the first time, a mixed team event in which men and women compete together.

Olympic archery targets are 122 centimeters in diameter -- about four-feet wide. There are ten scoring rings separated into five colors. The inner color is gold. If you hit the very center -- about the size of an apple -- it's 10 points. Points get lower the farther out you go.

Archers shoot from a distance of 70 meters, or about 76 yards. Think about that. If you were standing at the 34-yard-line of a football field, you'd be trying to hit an apple on the goal post at the opposite end of the field.

To start, all archers will shoot 72 arrows in the ranking round to determine seedings for both the individual and team events. The individual competition is set up in a 64-person bracket. The highest-ranking competitor faces the lowest, etc. (Think the NCAA tournament). Winners continue to advance toward the gold medal match.

Each match consists of sets or “ends.” In each set, archers get three arrows. And are given 20 seconds to shoot each one when it is their turn. The person with the highest score in each set gets two set points. If they tie, each person gets one set point. The first one to six set points wins the match. If it's tied after five sets, each person gets to shoot one arrow. The person closest to the bullseye wins unless they both shoot a 10 -- then they get a second arrow.

The team competitions use the same set format, but the men's and women's competitions get six arrows per set while the mixed team competition gets four arrows per set. The first team to five set points wins. But if there's a tie after four sets, they go to a tiebreaker. In that case, each team member gets to shoot one arrow. The team with the higher score wins. But if it's still tied the team with an arrow closest to the center wins.

You may see some competitors wearing a patch over one of their eyes. That's because their normal handedness is opposite that of their dominant eye (they may be a lefty, but their right eye is dominant). They will put a patch over their dominant eye so as not to mess up their aim.

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