Archery might look like it is just your uncle Joe going out into the back yard with a 12 pack of IC Light and shooting at random deer and bunnies but I can pretty much assure you that it is much more complicated than that. In the Olympics Archery is broken down into team and individual events and it is one of the oldest competitions in the Summer games as it started in 1900 but was off and on since then before coming back for good in 1974.
How it works: In each the men's and women's side there will be 64 competitors, so 128 overall. They start with a seeding round where each archer (not the TV show, although that is great) will shoot 72 arrows and the scores of that seeding round will determine your rank. Basically after the seeding round you go one-on-one against another archer and it is single elimination. Pretty legit stuff and if you have ever shot a bow you know how tough it can be. These guys are the best in the world.
On the team side they do things much of the same way as the individual side, only in a team format. I know, tough concept to grasp right? The teams have a ranking round and the top-4 seeds get a bye to the quarterfinal round and the rest face off in a single elimination format. The matching in the team setting takes 24 shots and the high score wins. In the team rounds each team is comprised of three players.
The USA Chances: The USA hasn't had a gold medal winner since the 1996 season and their hopes rest on the shoulders of Brady Ellison who has performed very well in the World Cup events. Interesting note on the men's side is that the front runner Im Dong-Hyun of South Korea is legally blind with a 20/200 eye sight but is the second ranked archer in the world. Impressive. Viktor Ruban won the 2008 gold medal. On the men's team side the USA should have a decent chance of taking down South Korea who has won the last three Olympic gold medals. France and China will also be around there. On the women's individual side the USA doesn't really stand much of a chance as South Korea holds the top three shooters in the world. Yikes. Russia is also pretty good but on the team side South Korea should have a pretty easy time getting through this.
If you imagine that archery is like you uncle Joe going and and shooting deer with a bow and arrow then shooting would be like your uncle Joe going out and shooting a bunch of guns at targets with his friends. Like archery it is much harder than that and these guys are much more talented than any relative you have but I think you get the point of what I am trying to say.
How it works: There are 15 events total between the men's and women's shooting event with the men's shooting in nine different area's and the women shooting in six. On the men's side they shoot the 10, 25 and 50 meter pistol shoot, the 10 meter air rifle, 50 meter rifle prone, 50 meter rifle three positions, trap, double trap and skeet. The women shoot in the 10 meter air pistol, 10 meter air rifle, 25 meter pistol, 50 meter rifle three positions, trap and skeet. In the three position events the shooters will take shots from the prone (lying on stomach), standing and kneeling position and the trap and skeet shoots the shooters will shoot at clay targets.
The USA Chances: Overall the USA has 105 total medals when you combine the men and the women which is many more than Sweden who has 55. The United States has 51 total gold medals, 45 on the men's side and eight on the women's side. The last Olympics showed the US and China taking home a ton of menials as China had eight overall while the US took six. There are way too many events to go through one by one but the USA should be right up there in each event.
Weightlifting is exactly what you think it might be. When you go to the gym and see those guys grunting and lifting heavy weights. The different between those guys and these guys is that these guys are way stronger than anyone at your gym. When you look at these guys you are going to say wow. There are certainly different weight classes they compete in but these guys are the absolute best at picking up heavy objects and holding them.
How it works: There are 15 different weight classes overall. On the men's side they have weight classes that break out as (all in pounds) 123, 137, 152, 170, 187, 207, 231 and 231+. On the women's side they break out as 106, 117, 128, 139, 152, 165 and 165+. There are two separate lifts that each participant will lift and those are the snatch and clean & jerk. The snatch is when the lifter takes the bar from the floor straight above the head. In the clean & jerk the lifter is pulled up to the shoulders and then lifted above the head after it is held at the shoulder. Each competitor gets three chances to make the lift. In between attempts the lifters gets no more than two minutes. Not a lot of time when you are lifting nearly thousands of pounds. The winner is determined by the best combined score from both lifts. If there is a tie for a lift the person that wins is the first person to achieve the total.
The USA Chances: The USSR has the most medals on the men's side with 71 with the United States right behind with 41. The US men hold 15 gold medals which is only second to the USSR with 44. On the women's side China is the runaway winner with 11 gold medals and 12 total while the USA has only one gold and two medals overall. For the men it will be Russia and China who are going to battle for the top spot overall as they have tied for the most athletes that qualified for the lifting events. The USA only sent four lifters total to London for lifting so it seems like a long shot for the homeland to make any noise.