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On target for London

05 July 2012

Dr James Park testing the wind drift of arrows in an outdoor setting
Australian archers will be better equipped to hit the target at the London Olympics having had their arrow choice analysed by a Monash University researcher.

Dr James Park from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering used the Monash wind tunnel to test aerodynamic drag and rotation of arrows and the likely wind drift for a given arrow as they move through the air.

Dr Park, who is also the coach of the Australian Olympic archery team, hopes the findings of his research will assist the team overcome any windy conditions the team might face at the historic Lords Cricket Ground where the Olympic competition is being held.

“One of the major challenges for an archer is dealing with windy conditions,” Dr Park said.

“Arrows can be blown off course by wind, but if we can reduce the chances of this happening, even by a small amount, it is a major competitive advantage.”

Archery competitions are usually held over a distance of 70m, with competitors aiming for the centre ring of the target which has a diameter of 12cm. Over this distance the selection and performance of different arrows, and their components, in windy conditions can make a significant difference between competitors’ results.

An arrow is made up of various parts - the nock and fletching in particular, but also the point shape - that controls how it moves through the air.

“We tested the various arrow components available in different combinations in both the wind tunnel and an outdoor setting to help us to optimise the arrows the archers should use to best combat the effect of wind,” Dr Park said.

The results of the testing allowed Dr Park to recommend an optimum arrow for outdoor target archery, along with various specialised arrow components to minimise wind drift.

“Through good engineering decisions we can gain a wind drift advantage over most competitors of about 5 per cent,” Dr Park said.

“Often there are only millimetres of difference between the winning shot and second place, so it is important that our archers are able to use their arrow selection to their advantage,” Dr Park said.

Once the Olympics are over, Dr Park will continue his research in order to sustain an advantage over the competition at future games.