Archery at the 1904 Summer Olympics

The archery events of the 1904 Olympics were contested at the World’s Fairgrounds on 19-21 September 1904. These events were actually the United States National Championship, whose formal name was the 26th Grand Annual Target Meeting of the National Archery Association (NAA) of the USA. Fortunately, due to the efforts of Mr. Robert Rhode, historian of the National Archery Association, there are available to us absolutely complete results of the archery events of the 1904 Olympics in four different forms. One is a printout from the National Archery Association. A second is the actual handwritten scores from the Secretary of the National Archery Association in that year, Lewis Maxson. The third is the results which were published in the British archery magazine, The Archer’s Register, while the fourth is the results as published in Spalding’s Official Athletic Almanac.

However, we consider the archery events of 1904 to be of marginal Olympic caliber. These were essentially United States’ National Championships. No professionals competed, and unfortunately, no foreign archers competed either. There were some foreign entrants from the Philippine islands and Lanao Moro tribe. However, the Filipino archers did not show or compete.

The rules of the archery events were listed in the program as stating that, “Medals of the NAA open only to competitions of members. Competitions for medals offered by universal exposition open to all archers.” Thus it would appear that the events were open to all archers. Still, with no foreign athletes competing, it is really difficult to call these events much more than the United States’ National Championships.

There are also some problems with several of the events that were contested. Men competed in the double York round and double American round. The women competed in the double National round and double Columbia round. There was also a gentlemen’s team round which was contested. A ladies’ team round was scheduled but not held as only one team appeared, that from Cincinnati. It is often listed in several Olympic reference books that a women’s team round did occur and that medals were given out but this is not listed in any of the final results.

The Archers Register also listed medals given for the “Olympic range medals” for each of the individual events and also for flight shooting for men and women. The Olympic range medals basically were for the highest score at each separate distance of the various individual rounds. Although a medal was given out for these they are certainly of marginal Olympic significance and, in effect, similar to giving out medals in the modern pentathlon for the best score in each of the events. Flight shooting is more difficult to dismiss. The men’s flight shooting was won by Lewis Maxson with a distance of 259 yards, while the women’s flight shooting was won by Mabel Taylor with a distance of 219 yards. No other results are given. Possibly these two events carried as much importance as the individual rounds that were contested, but it is also possible that they were considered only a championship of the NAA, which is more likely. Given that, we have not included them as Olympic events.

The archery events were dominated by G. Phillip Bryant of Boston who won both of the men’s individual rounds and helped his Boston team to a bronze medal in the team round. The men’s team round saw Reverend Galen Carter Spencer win a gold medal with the Potomac Archers of Washington. Spencer turned 64 years of age on the day prior to winning his gold medal, which makes him the oldest American Olympic gold medalist ever. Finishing second in that event was a team of Cincinnati archers who included even an older marksman, Samuel Duvall, who was 68 years of age at the 1904 Olympics and is the oldest American Olympic medalist.

The archery events for women were dominated by Lida Scott Howell who was 17 times American ladies archery champion, had no peer at all in that era, and is considered one of the greatest women archers of all time in the United States.

Placings in the individual events were determined as follows: one point was awarded for the high score at each distance, one point for the high number of hits at each distance, two points were for the high total score, and two points for the high total number of hits; making ten points possible in all. Ties were broken by total score. Any remaining ties were broken by total number of hits.


Event Status Date Participants NOCs
Double American Round, Men Olympic 19 September 1904 22 1
Double York Round, Men Olympic 20 September 1904 16 1
Team Round, Men Olympic 21 September 1904 16 1
Double Columbia Round, Women Olympic 19 September 1904 6 1
Double National Round, Women Olympic 20 September 1904 6 1
Team Round, Women Olympic 21 September 1904 4 1
29 (23/6) 1 (1/1)


Event Gold Silver Bronze
Double American Round, Men Phil BryantUSA Robert WilliamsUSA Will ThompsonUSA
Double York Round, Men Phil BryantUSA Robert WilliamsUSA Will ThompsonUSA
Team Round, Men Potomac ArchersUSA Cincinnati ArchersUSA Boston ArchersUSA
Double Columbia Round, Women Lida HowellUSA Emma CookeUSA Eliza PollockUSA
Double National Round, Women Lida HowellUSA Emma CookeUSA Eliza PollockUSA
Team Round, Women Cincinnati ArchersUSA

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
United States USA 6 5 5 16