Confucius said: “In archery, it does not matter whether you pierce the target, because some archers are stronger than others. This was the view of the ancients.”
While Confucius may have taken archery seriously as a ritual practice, there were no doubt many others who saw it as a trial of power and strength even when practiced as part of a ceremony. By repeating this ancient saying, he is calling – no doubt in vain – for participants to observe the true spirit of the ritual rather than treat it as a contest of manliness.
Confucius also commented on archery in Chapter 7 of Book III of the Analects.