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What is the best method of Olympic archery competition?

  • Double FITA (pre-1988)

    Votes: 7 22.6%
  • Single FITA qualification + group-elimination tournament (1988)

    Votes: 2 6.5%
  • Qualification + single-elimination tournament (1992-2008)

    Votes: 1 3.2%
  • Qualification + single-elimination set-based tournament (2012 onward)

    Votes: 7 22.6%
  • Qualification + 8-16 person final round with sequential elimination (ISSF modified)

    Votes: 3 9.7%
  • Some other options??

    Votes: 9 29.0%
  • Get rid of archery from the Olympics!

    Votes: 2 6.5%
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Introduction/Summary
  • The current Olympic archery format of set-based tournament system is not the best method of determining the best archer on the field due to small number of arrows and possibility of an inferior archer fluking his/her way into the further round.
  • The pre-1988 format of double-FITA while ideal for determination of the most skilled archer, is tedious for spectators and not very TV/media friendly in terms of excitement
  • Adaptation of the format used by ISSF for shooting, aspects of which were used for 1988 Olympics, whereby top 8-16 athletes from qualification advance to the final with elimination of one archer at a time after several arrows may be an interesting alternative to provide enough of sample size to determine the best archer of the field while satisfying spectator's demand for excitement, tension and drama.

Now the Olympic competition is done, I wonder if this may be appropriate time to discuss the competition format. First of all, I would like to begin by congratulating Ms An, Mr Gazoz and all other medalists on their remarkable achievements, the event has been one to remember for ages. I do not want to take away nothing from their achievements.

I have never been a fan of the current single elimination format in the Olympic archery, even less of the current set system. This conviction has even become stronger since I started learning and practicing archery myself, as I came to understand how hard it is to increase skill at each level, with exponential efforts needed to climb to the next level of proficiency further you travel. With this perspective of personal experience in mind, I am now more confident than ever that the current system, while it may be good for entertainment of spectators, IS NOT conducive to determining the best, most skilled archer or team at the time of the competition.

In the current system, an archer may win a match with say 20/20/30/30/30 over another archer scoring 29/29/29/29/29, by set score of 6-4. Total score out of 150 would be 130 vs 145. A question should be asked, whether the first archer is really the better archer deserving to progress to the next stage of the competition. I know it's an extreme of example but less drastic situation can and do occur occasionally. The principles of statistics tell us that the chance of this increase with fewer number of arrows, especially between international-level athletes with so little between them in skill levels. This can be somewhat overcome by designing for longer matches requiring more arrows and sets to be played, but World Archery have been moving away from those directions for several decades.

Another problem with the system is that the 70/720 qualification results have little relevance to the outcome of the whole competition. It is quite possible to come say 40th out of 64 archers in the field and with some luck aided by the system encouraging upsets due to small number of arrows can win the whole thing. There is next to no advantage in winning the qualification, not even a bye to second or third round as do happen in sports such as Fencing and other tournament-based sports. It is telling that the men's gold medal match was played by archers who posted 10th and 24th rank in the qualification. Again, I am not saying the finalists did not deserve to be there but one can ask whether they are the most consistent, skilled archers of the day.

Final major problem is to do with "tedious" nature of the tournament-based system. We want the competition to be fair and the general public want to see some upsets but they also want to see better archers to have a good chance of winning; that, in a nutshell is the essence of the sport competition. I wonder how many people would want to spend their time watching a match between 32nd vs 33rd in ranking. From the latest Olympic competition, it took 3 days of preliminaries to whittle the field of 64 down to 16, then a single day to play the finals. I am not privy to viewership data but I imagine the viewership in those three days weren't too great.

So how do we solve this issue? The best solution as far as the archery as the sport is considered may be to have two separate championships, one based purely on results of an extended shooting session of 70/720, full FITA or double-FITA and another based on tournament with seeding based on World ranking, but we know IOC will not let archery gold medals to double anytime soon (with possible exception of Compound Archery introduced in 2028 LA). I also acknowledge that going back to pre-1988 model of double-FITA round determining the medals is not the best due to it being tedious and slow for the spectators, though I personally believe it is the best method for determining the best archer on the field.

I found an interesting format in the 1988 Olympics, that of a full FITA round for qualification followed by four rounds of 36-arrow sessions, with the numbers being whittled from 24 to 18 to 12 down to 8 by the final round. That is a pretty good system, allowing for those with mediocre score on the FITA qualification for whatever reason to recover to challenge for the medals if he or she is really the best archer on the field. Unfortunately, this method doesn't solve our problem of the tournament being stretched for multiple days and can be still considered rather tedious for non-archer spectators having to monitor scores of up to 24 archers for 36 arrows. Also, some may argue that this allows for "too many" chances for dark horses, by allowing one person to say hover around top 10 spot for the majority of the tournament and coming back with a surprise/fluke performance in the final round to win the whole competition over someone who broke World records in all preceding rounds and just faltered a bit in the final to place second.

There is no perfect solution that will satisfy all archers and vast majority of general public/spectators but I believe the system currently adopted by ISSF for their Olympic shooting competition to be noteworthy. In a nutshell, in this system all shooters shoot a qualification round of say 40 or 60 shots, to get a score out of 400/600. The top 8 shooters qualify for the final. In an interesting change introduced from 2016, all 8 finalists are allowed 10 shots or so to determine ranking amongst them, then after a set of two further shot, the bottom-placed athlete is eliminated, then further two shots to eliminate the 7th placed shooter and so on; usually it takes 24 shots to determine the Champion in 8-shooter final (unless there are shoot-offs to break the ties). This kind of system allows for good interest and engagement by spectators as things can move quite quickly and mitigate the concerns from the current system of "inferior" archer progressing to the next round by fluking a couple of 9-15 arrows. This also incentivise performing well in the qualification round, making it much more difficult to fly under the radar by placing somewhere between 10th to 50th place; as the gap between athletes in top 10 or 20 are so narrow, it will "force" athletes to shoot their level best or risk not reaching the final.

Of course, the ISSF system cannot be imported to archery without some modifications. For starters, culling all but 8 archers after single round of qualification may not go down so well; it is probably more reasonable to expand the final to say 12 or 16 archers. If we are to hypothetically allow 16 archers to advance to the final round from the qualification then allow them to shoot 12 arrows each (2 sets of 6-arrow ends or 4 sets of 3-arrow ends) then start elimination after one 3-arrow end (arrow 15), it will take 57 arrows (plus shoot-offs if there are ties for elimination) to determine the medalists; the whole competition can be done in one day after the qualification. Even with 8 finalists it will take 33 arrows. This provides a substantial sample size making it much more difficult for a "mediocre" archer to fluke his or her way to the medals. Due to elimination every few arrows, suspense and interest of the spectators will have a good chance of being maintained. In this system it may also be preferable to have all archers to shoot together within a set time limit (e.g., 20-40 seconds x number of arrows to be shot) rather than one archer shooting at a time, for the purpose of time organisation, suspense, and to eliminate real or imagined bias of rapidly changing wind conditions favouring some archers over others.

As an aside one may also consider introducing a semi-final round to have top 16-32 archers from the qualification fight for final spots, especially if the intentions are to have only few archers (e.g., 4 or 8) in the final. This is basically a pale, nerfed version of the 1988 system, and while workable, the semi-final itself will likely be dull, tedious for spectators, as it will likely have to take 36, 72 or 144 arrow cumulation round rather than sequential elimination proposed for the final.

Of course, this proposed competition format based on ISSF system is not perfect. For one thing there is no special privilege for coming first in the qualification as opposed to second or eighth. While one may consider having the finalists starting with a portion (e.g.,10%) of the qualification scores, this goes against the principle of a fair competition in the final round and will be harder to apply in archery compared to shooting as we do not officially use decimals to distinguish between different 9s or 10s other than X-tens. We also have to acknowledge that best qualifier in sports such as track athletics or swimming do not get any privilege in finals other than lane assignment, likes of which can probably be accommodated in archery as well. Upsets can still happen, but if a shooter comes on top after 57 arrows, is it really a fluke or is it simply that he or she was the better archer at that point in time, if not for majority of the previous Olympiad cycle? After all there is not a huge amount of difference in statistical power between 57 and 72 arrows, at least if you compare it against that of 9-15 arrows. I wonder what you people in the international archery community thinks of this idea, whether it is fair, workable, what are the pitfalls or whether it is a complete disaster of a delusional idiot. Thank you so much in advance!!
 

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that's a wall of text there, i didn't read it all, but I agree this current system is not the best.

I was thinking this variation, keeping the 720 ranking round and elimination rounds.

Give handicap bonus points based on the ranking round,
+2 points for #1 to #16
+1 point for #16 to #32
#32 to #64 gets zero.

No set system, total points for 15 arrows.

So when #1 vs #64, #1 would have 2 points added to his total score.




I think it's a much better system, it would have saved me from losing all this money betting on Olympic archery this year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
that's a wall of text there, i didn't read it all, but I agree this current system is not the best.

I was thinking this variation, keeping the 720 ranking round and elimination rounds.

Give handicap bonus points based on the ranking round,
+2 points for #1 to #16
+1 point for #16 to #32
#32 to #64 gets zero.

No set system, total points for 15 arrows.

So when #1 vs #64, #1 would have 2 points added to his total score.
Sorry about length, I put the summary bit in the front so people can read few lines and decide if they want to go ahead.
 

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FWIW, I think archery would make a great gambling sport, like Keirin in Japan.


Maybe we can have a talk with the Korean Yakuza.

Anyone have Jo-Pok connection? PM me...
 

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that's a wall of text there, i didn't read it all, but I agree this current system is not the best.

I was thinking this variation, keeping the 720 ranking round and elimination rounds.

Give handicap bonus points based on the ranking round,
+2 points for #1 to #16
+1 point for #16 to #32
#32 to #64 gets zero.

No set system, total points for 15 arrows.

So when #1 vs #64, #1 would have 2 points added to his total score.




I think it's a much better system, it would have saved me from losing all this money betting on Olympic archery this year.
Go USA!
 

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IMO, there’s no way you can remove the spectator aspect because of the dollars. It’s much better TV by far; it even held my wife’s interest since every arrow means more.

Overall, it works for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and it also works here. You’ll get upsets in the early and middle rounds, but by the time you get to the final 4 or 8 I don’t think you can say many of them don’t deserve to be champion. I think this head to head format places more emphasis on the mental side and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
 

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I am for a minimum score to be considered say a 280 out of 300.

Then a point system based on placing at tournaments held throughout the year. With required tournaments to qualify. Something like awarding 10 pts for winning a required tournament, 8 pts for second, 4pts for third, 1 pt for fourth. There should be 25 tournaments, participation in 20 is required. People get sick, have families, work... Total pts divided by the number of tournaments to adjust for the 5 allowed missed tournaments. The highest amount of adjusted points makes it to the team. The 25 tournaments to be held at various different locations in USA. This should provide the best archers in a variety of weather conditions and minimize the effects of lucky and bad days we all get from time to time
 

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World archery thinks that having every match be a one arrow shoot off is great tv and great for spectators. Thats why they cut the shooting time from 40 to 20 seconds and implemented the set system which lets a bad shot have less value and keep the matches close. This with variable wind and conditions gives many upsets, as we just saw in the Olympics. World archery isnt interested to change anything.

With so many shootoffs to decide matches at the Olympics, World Archery was gleefully clapping each time.

World archery isnt interested to find the best archer of the day, they are interested in giving the spectator a close match that is a toss up at any moment.

Chris
 

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With so many shootoffs to decide matches at the Olympics, World Archery was gleefully clapping each time.

World archery isnt interested to find the best archer of the day, they are interested in giving the spectator a close match that is a toss up at any moment.
maybe...

the media likes to build up stars.

WA had a one hour documentary for Brady and multiple promos.

NBC also.

To have his run end early is not good.

Same goes for Kim JD. They were hyping him up from his early wins in team and mixed.

I think WA would prefer having Brady and Kim JD in the finals.
 

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Like what Lumis17 importantly said, the current match format has the ability to make my otherwise uninterested partner and family to feel some excitement when watching a match, and to want to watch a match to the end - even more so with the team matches. Watching a qualification round, even in person, ranks about the same as paint drying for them.
So I think individual and team matches, where it's clear who to watch since only one person shoots at a time, are here to stay. However single elimination (the current system) is only good at finding the gold medalist, and not silver and bronze. All three medals count towards the tables however so it's worth using a system that gives a clear 2nd and 3rd place as well.

However, I think the qualification round should involve a target list change halfway through, like how football teams change sides at half time. Having each archer move half the field to one side (so edge to middle or middle to edge) would give everyone similar overall wind exposure and get rid of most of the arguments about the qualification being unfair due to the target assignments offering an advantage.

The other inherent issue is how both 2nd and 3rd place archers have won and lost the same number of matches and there's no way to get silver if you start on the same side of the bracket as the eventual gold medalist. Likewise, there's a lot of "X was beaten by Y in an early match and Y went on to win gold so maybe X would've progressed to a medal match otherwise".
Both of these would be fixed by using a double elimination system with only the top 32 archers instead. Due to the cut, the qualification round would regain some of its meaning, and the same number of matches would happen as before. So someone who lost an early match (maybe to the eventual winner) would have a second chance to prove themselves. The silver medalist would have lost one match and the bronze would have lost two matches, one against the silver medalist and one earlier on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I see some who prefer status quo (nothing wrong with that opinion) keep narrating supposed merits of the current system but not really critiquing this proposal or other methods, neither are they taking part in the poll.

IMO, there’s no way you can remove the spectator aspect because of the dollars. It’s much better TV by far; it even held my wife’s interest since every arrow means more.

Overall, it works for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and it also works here. You’ll get upsets in the early and middle rounds, but by the time you get to the final 4 or 8 I don’t think you can say many of them don’t deserve to be champion. I think this head to head format places more emphasis on the mental side and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
I am very aware of the need to keep the spectator aspect and explained how we might achieve that while giving better statistical credibility.

World archery thinks that having every match be a one arrow shoot off is great tv and great for spectators. Thats why they cut the shooting time from 40 to 20 seconds and implemented the set system which lets a bad shot have less value and keep the matches close. This with variable wind and conditions gives many upsets, as we just saw in the Olympics. World archery isnt interested to change anything.

With so many shootoffs to decide matches at the Olympics, World Archery was gleefully clapping each time.

World archery isnt interested to find the best archer of the day, they are interested in giving the spectator a close match that is a toss up at any moment.

Chris
If what you are saying is true, that they aren't interested in finding the best archer of the day, they do not serve any purpose of existing, do they? I hope it's not as bad as that...

maybe...

the media likes to build up stars.

WA had a one hour documentary for Brady and multiple promos.

NBC also.

To have his run end early is not good.

Same goes for Kim JD. They were hyping him up from his early wins in team and mixed.

I think WA would prefer having Brady and Kim JD in the finals.
I personally agree that final match-up would've garnered more interest and excitement, and wouldn't be surprised if that's what World Archery had in mind they are not making it easy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Like what Lumis17 importantly said, the current match format has the ability to make my otherwise uninterested partner and family to feel some excitement when watching a match, and to want to watch a match to the end - even more so with the team matches. Watching a qualification round, even in person, ranks about the same as paint drying for them.
So I think individual and team matches, where it's clear who to watch since only one person shoots at a time, are here to stay. However single elimination (the current system) is only good at finding the gold medalist, and not silver and bronze. All three medals count towards the tables however so it's worth using a system that gives a clear 2nd and 3rd place as well.

However, I think the qualification round should involve a target list change halfway through, like how football teams change sides at half time. Having each archer move half the field to one side (so edge to middle or middle to edge) would give everyone similar overall wind exposure and get rid of most of the arguments about the qualification being unfair due to the target assignments offering an advantage.

The other inherent issue is how both 2nd and 3rd place archers have won and lost the same number of matches and there's no way to get silver if you start on the same side of the bracket as the eventual gold medalist. Likewise, there's a lot of "X was beaten by Y in an early match and Y went on to win gold so maybe X would've progressed to a medal match otherwise".
Both of these would be fixed by using a double elimination system with only the top 32 archers instead. Due to the cut, the qualification round would regain some of its meaning, and the same number of matches would happen as before. So someone who lost an early match (maybe to the eventual winner) would have a second chance to prove themselves. The silver medalist would have lost one match and the bronze would have lost two matches, one against the silver medalist and one earlier on.
I took quite a bit of time explaining why the formats such as double-FITA is not appropriate despite it being the gold standard to determine the most skilled archer due to its dull nature and lack of appeal to the spectators; the current format certainly is better for that. But that doesn't mean that is the only way to ensure the spectator interest/excitement, and that's what this idea about, how to ensure both spectator interest and statistical validity of having a good chance of finding the best archer in the field.

I find your input on double-elimination system interesting; while it doesn't solve all the problems of the current system, it will certainly be a step in the right direction.
 

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It seems WA takes a micro view on this—make a couple minutes of paint drying seem competitive.

It really needs a macro approach. That should start with a self-serving cycle:

Ultimately they want ad/sponsor money (along with sport viability). To get that you need viewership numbers and sport participation. To get that you need viewers to get invested. To get that you need athletes that viewers can get invested in long-term. To get that you need the same athletes appearing in finals creating familiarity and drama. To get that you need to eliminate the random outcomes of competition (aka the best should always rise to the top, with some opportunity for underdogs).

The human drama needs to drive this sport (rivalries), that will come from consistently having the same names compete.

Often it seems like an archer out of nowhere wins a major event then then drops off the map the next year.
 

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They don’t have to televise the entirety of a double FITA or any at all, use it as the tool for elimination. Make the 30m the last distance and televise that. Do a 4-person h2h match with the top 4 from the double fita. Many options.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
It seems WA takes a micro view on this—make a couple minutes of paint drying seem competitive.

It really needs a macro approach. That should start with a self-serving cycle:

Ultimately they want ad/sponsor money (along with sport viability). To get that you need viewership numbers and sport participation. To get that you need viewers to get invested. To get that you need athletes that viewers can get invested in long-term. To get that you need the same athletes appearing in finals creating familiarity and drama. To get that you need to eliminate the random outcomes of competition (aka the best should always rise to the top, with some opportunity for underdogs).

The human drama needs to drive this sport (rivalries), that will come from consistently having the same names compete.

Often it seems like an archer out of nowhere wins a major event then then drops off the map the next year.
While I abhor ideas such as cheating or match-fixing to ensure the desired outcome, I agree the highest-ranked or "best on paper" archer rising to the finals of majority (but not all) of major competition sells well. This idea would increase the chance of highest-ranked archers reaching the final while retaining the chances for upset. I am quite good with your idea of the final involving only four archers and yes, that will allow even round-robin, though I imagine that will be even less popular as it will likely have at least two Koreans and Ellison vast majority of times, so no emotional investment from most other countries.
 
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