Have you ever read The Hunger Games or seen the movie of the same name? If so, you’re familiar with archery. That’s the sport of hunting or shooting at targets using a bow and arrows.
When you shoot at an archery target, your goal is to hit the very center of the target. It’s a very small area and very hard to hit. That’s why it’s so challenging. If you do manage to hit it, you’ll likely cry out, “Bullseye!” Have you ever WONDERed why the center of a target is called a bullseye?
A bullseye — sometimes spelled bull’s eye — is the center of a target, such as those used in archery. Other targets, like those used in the game of darts or other types of shooting practice, also have hard-to-hit spots in their centers that are also called bullseyes.
The origin of the term bullseye is a bit uncertain. Some believe it dates back hundreds of years to when English archers would gather together after church services in small villages. To practice their skills and see who the most accurate shooter was, they would use the white skull of a bull as a target. Of course, the person with the greatest skill was the one who could shoot an arrow through the empty bull’s eye socket.
Others note, though, that the term bullseye has been used in many different circumstances over the years, many of which have nothing to do with targets or archery. One early use had to do with a blemish in the center of a glass window pane.
Perhaps it was this relationship to the center of something that led to its being used to refer to the center of a target. Some scholars believe that bullseye was used to describe anything small and circular since the 17th century.
Today, bullseye might be heard in many different contexts unrelated to archery or shooting at targets. It’s often used generically to refer to reaching a goal or getting something exactly right. For example, successfully solving a difficult math problem might elicit a satisfied “Bullseye!” Likewise, scientists who discover a new cure for a disease might shout “Bullseye!” upon making their discovery.