Archery Dodgeball: Sport of the Future?

In the interest of clarity, I am a bit of an archery fanboy. I enjoy tuning into it in the Olympics and I have a soft spot for fiction’s greatest archers. Robin Hood, DC’s Green Arrow, Marvel’s Hawkeye, Legolas from Lord of the Rings, a more recent example in Katniss from the Hunger Games – the list goes on and on. As a child I always wanted to be able to imitate the cool shots those characters pulled off. Unfortunately, I learned very early on that practicing archery on your neighbors isn’t a particularly acceptable behavior. Luckily the new sport of archery dodgeball is gaining traction meaning you can get your archer on without worrying about injuring people!

I’ve seen archery dodgeball referred to by a number of names – combat archery, battle archery, dodgebow, extreme archery – but no matter what it’s called, the game seems like an absolute blast. We love trying out new contests at Pokatok Fest and it fits the bill. I look forward to getting out to an arena and trying out the game for myself. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the chance to try it and must rely on secondhand accounts for how the game works.

Origin of Archery Dodgeball

From what I was able to find online, it looks like archery dodgeball originated in 2011 in Indiana. John Jackson, a lifelong fan of archery decided it might be fun to shoot at friends without worrying about injury. Armed with a 3D printer and existing arrow shafts, Jackson created the prototype arrows for archery dodgeball. The first contests with the soft-tipped arrows went well, making the game an instant hit. Since then, the sport has rapidly spread around the United States and is beginning to go global.

Rules of the Game

Inspired by dodgeball, arrows are placed in the middle of a court. Teams line up on opposite sides and rush to the center to gather the arrows before retreating to their side and opening fire.

With archery dodgeball also drawing a bit of inspiration from paintball, the field of play has obstacles offering cover. Players also wear protective masks in order to prevent injury. Arrows are tipped with foam to provide an extra layer of safety.

The classic archery dodgeball rule set involves teams of five. However, there are several different versions of the game ranging from target practice to “zombie apocalypse”. My personal favorite is the last archer standing version of the game that has no teams. Last man standing feels extremely Hunger Games, a fact that only adds to the excitement of the game.

The rules for eliminations generally stay the same across different game types. Players are eliminated when struck with an arrow or if a player on the opposing team catches their arrow in the air.

The Future

Will archery dodgeball continue to take the world by storm? I think there is a good chance. It seems like a really fun way to get some exercise. It’s accessible and though there is a learning curve with the archery aspect, it seems that most archery dodgeball businesses are willing to teach.

As far as becoming as proper sport, archery dodgeball will take some more development. The leagues I’ve found tend to be hyper-focused on a specific locale. A town or city may have a league at a given facility but teams don’t appear to travel. For the sport to get more recognition, I think it will need at least some regional travel. We can definitely imagine arenas popping up at local trampoline parks as well. Whether archery dodgeball becomes a proper competitive sport or not, it is here to stay as an activity.

How do you feel about archery dodgeball? Have you ever played the new sport? We’d love to hear your feedback on Twitter at @Pokatok_Fest.

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