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Target archery

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Target archery

An archery competition.

Modern competitive archery is governed by the World Archery Federation, abbreviated WA (formerly FITA - Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc). Olympic rules are derived from the WA rules. WA is the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) recognized governing body for all of archery.

Currently 142 nations are represented by WA archery governing bodies. The largest of these are the FFTA (French archery federation) with approximately 60,000 members, FITARCO (Italian federation), DSB (German federation), AJAF (All-Japan archery federation), and the GNAS (Grand National Archery Society) of Great Britain, with approximately 30 000 members which has now re-branded itself as Archery GB. In the United States the WA affiliated governing body is USA Archery (National Archery Association of the United States), which dates to the 1870s, making it the third oldest archery governing body after GNAS and FITARCO, which dates to the 1860s.

Target archery is the most popular form of archery, in which members shoot at stationary circular targets at varying distances. All types of bow - longbow, barebow, recurve and compound - can be used. In Great Britain, Imperial rounds, measured in yards, are still used for a lot of tournaments and these have slightly different rules to WA (metric) rounds, which are used internationally. Archers are divided into seniors and juniors, with juniors being those under the age of 18.


  • Rules 1
    • 1440 Rounds (WA rules) 1.1
    • Imperial Rounds (GNAS rules) 1.2
      • GNAS Classifications 1.2.1
  • Scoring 2
  • Tournament rounds 3
    • Imperial rounds 3.1
    • Metric rounds 3.2
  • Olympics 4
  • See also 5
  • External links 6


An indoor archery competition.

Archery competitions may be held indoors or outdoors. Indoor rounds are normally shot at one distance, whereas outdoor competitions normally consist of several distances. For lists of tournament rounds, see section entitled Tournament Rounds. Since archery involves the use of potentially lethal equipment, much attention is paid to order and safety. Whistle commands are used to signal the different phases of shooting, or an 'end'. Two whistle blasts means archers can approach the shooting line. One whistle blast means archers can begin shooting. The archers are not allowed to collect their arrows whilst other archers are shooting. The signal to collect your arrows is three whistles from the field captain. These rules apply to all forms of target archery. Other rules, or points of etiquette, include:

  • The command Fast means stop shooting immediately and return the unshot arrow to the quiver. It is used when the situation becomes suddenly and unexpectedly dangerous.
  • Do not distract another archer when they are shooting. If an archer is at full draw, wait before taking your place on the shooting line.
  • If an archer damages another archer's arrows (or other equipment), they must offer to pay for any damages.

1440 Rounds (WA rules)

For a 1440 round, known until 2014 as 'FITA Round', standard indoor distances are 18m and 25m. Outdoor distances range from 30m to 90m for senior Gentlemen archers, and 30m to 70m for Ladies. The juniors have shorter targets to shoot at. In Olympic archery, 70m is the standard range.

Competition is divided into ends. An archer shoots either 3 or 6 arrows per end, depending on the type of round. After each end, the competitors walk to the target to score and retrieve their arrows. There are 20 ends of 3 arrows in a standard round of indoor competition (i.e. the FITA 18 or the FITA 25).

Archers have a set time limit in which to shoot their arrows. For indoor competition, under World Archery Federation rules this is 2 minutes for 3 arrows. Signaling devices such as lights and flags inform the archers when time is up. For a 1440 outdoor round the archer has 4 minutes to shoot 6 arrows at the two longer distances, and 2 minutes to shoot 3 arrows at the remaining two shorter distances.

Imperial Rounds (GNAS rules)

For Imperial rounds, the standard indoor distance is 20 yd (18 m), with 5 dozen arrows being shot in a round known as a Portsmouth round. Outdoor distances range from 40 yd (37 m) to 100 yd (91 m), for seniors, and 10 yd (9.1 m) to 80 yd (73 m) for juniors.

Competition is divided into ends. An archer shoots either 3 arrows per end (indoors) or 6 arrows per end (outdoors). After each end, the competitors walk to the target to score and retrieve their arrows.

At all record status tournaments, archers must adhere to the GNAS dress code, which consists of wearing dark green and white clothing, or 'club colours'. Club colours are unique to a club, and registered on the GNAS shooting colour register.

In a tournament, awards are normally split into categories according to sex and, for juniors, age. All registered GNAS archers also have an indoor and an outdoor classification, and classification awards may also be presented - this allows archers to only shoot against those of the same ability.

GNAS Classifications

Classification grades
Senior Junior
3rd Class 3rd Class
2nd Class 2nd Class
1st Class 1st Class
Bowman Junior Bowman
Master Bowman Junior Master Bowman
Grand Master Bowman

The Grand National Archery Society runs two systems of classification: the main Classifications (for indoor and outdoor shooting) and Handicaps. To do this, they produce tables of scores for all recognised rounds and an archer's classification and handicap can be worked out from their scores, normally by a club's Record Officer.

For indoor rounds, an archer has a classification represented by a letter from A to H, with A being the best and H the worst. This applies for both seniors and juniors.


An official FITA target

Standard FITA targets are marked with 10 evenly spaced concentric rings, which generally have score values from 1 through 10 assigned to them, except in outdoor Imperial rounds under GNAS rules, where they have score values 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9. In addition, there is an inner 10 ring, sometimes called the X ring. This becomes the 10 ring at indoor compound competitions. Outdoors, it serves as a tiebreaker with the archer scoring the most X's winning. The number of hits may also be taken into account as another tiebreaker. In FITA archery, targets are coloured as follows:

  • 1 ring & 2 ring - white
  • 3 ring & 4 ring - black
  • 5 ring & 6 ring - blue
  • 7 ring & 8 ring - red
  • 9 ring, 10 ring & inner 10 ring - gold

The inner ring is usually used for tie-breaking (the competitor closest to the X is the winner)

Archers score each end by summing the scores for their arrows. An arrow just touching a scoring boundary line, known as a Line Breaker or Line Cutter, is awarded the higher score. Values scored by each arrow are recorded on a score sheet and must be written in descending order (e.g. if an archer scores 5, 7, 6, 10, 9, 8, this must be recorded as 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5). During and before scoring no one is allowed to touch the arrows. This is so that if there is disputed arrow score then a judge may be called and the judge makes a ruling on how the arrow lies. The archer in charge of scoring on a target at a tournament is known as the ''Target Captain'' and in larger tournaments, they may be assisted by a ''Target Lieutenant''; a Target Captain makes an initial judgment on all disputed arrows. Under FITA rules, in major tournaments, after scoring, each hole is marked before arrows are retrieved. In the event of a "pass through" (the arrow passes straight through the target) or "bouncer" (arrow hits the target and bounces out), points may be awarded to an unmarked hole. Under GNAS rules, and in some smaller tournaments, in the case of a bouncer, the archer must step off the shooting line and hold their bow in the air. A judge then decides whether the archer is permitted to shoot a replacement arrow. If an archer accidentally shoots more arrows than allowed, the highest scoring arrow is not counted.

Different rounds and distances use different size target faces. Common sizes (and example rounds they are used in) are:

  • 40 cm (18 m FITA Indoor)
  • 60 cm (25 m FITA Indoor)
  • 80 cm (30 m and 50m FITA)
  • 122 cm (70 m and 90m FITA)

122 cm faces are used in Olympic competition. A variant of the 80 cm face, called a "Spot" may be used when shooting FITA rounds. This variant shows only the inner 6 rings of a full 80 cm face. There are also versions of the 40 cm and 60 cm targets known as the "3 Spot". The targets contain 3 instances of the inner 5 rings of the 40 cm and 60 cm faces arranged in a line or an equilateral triangle. This is to stop competitors from damaging their own arrows by shooting a "robin hood".

Tournament rounds

Imperial rounds (measured in yards) are mainly shot in the United Kingdom. Metric rounds, also known as FITA rounds, measured in metres, are used for most other tournaments. These are the main rounds that are able to be shot in target archery:

How to use the tables

Go down the first column of the relevant table until you get to the round you require. Go across this row to find out how many arrows you shoot at each distance (yds=yards, m=metres, doz.=dozen). An – means no arrows are shot at this distance.

Imperial rounds

These rounds use 5-zone scoring, as opposed to the usual 10-zone scoring. The points are awarded as follows: 9 for a gold, 7 for a red, 5 for a blue, 3 for a black and 1 for a white. Arrows are shot at increasingly closer distances - for example, in a York round, an archer shoots six dozen at 100 yards (91 m), followed by four dozen at 80 yards (73 m), followed by two dozen at 60 yards (55 m). Senior rounds are for archers aged 18 and over and junior rounds are for archers under the age of 18.

Senior outdoor
Round 100 yd (91 m) 80 yd (73 m) 60 yd (55 m) 50 yd (46 m) 40 yd (37 m)
York 6 doz. 4 doz. 2 doz.
Hereford 6 doz. 4 doz. 2 doz.
St. George 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Albion 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Windsor 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
New Western 4 doz. 4 doz.
Long Western 4 doz. 4 doz.
Western 4 doz. 4 doz.
American 2 ½ doz. 2 ½ doz. 2 ½ doz.
New National 4 doz. 2 doz.
Long National 4 doz. 2 doz.
National 4 doz. 2 doz.
New Warwick 2 doz. 2 doz.
Long Warwick 2 doz. 2 doz.
Warwick 2 doz. 2 doz.
Round Distance No. of arrows Target face diameter
Portsmouth 20 yd (18 m) 5 doz. 60 cm
Worcester 20 yd (18 m) 5 doz. 16 inches
Junior outdoor
Round 80 yd (73 m) 60 yd (55 m) 50 yd (46 m) 40 yd (37 m) 30 yd (27 m) 20 yd (18 m) 15 yd (14 m) 10 yd (9.1 m)
Bristol 1 6 doz. 4 doz. 2 doz.
Bristol 2 6 doz. 4 doz. 2 doz.
Bristol 3 6 doz. 4 doz. 2 doz.
Bristol 4 6 doz. 4 doz. 2 doz.
Bristol 5 6 doz. 4 doz. 2 doz.
Short Windsor 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Junior Windsor 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Short Western 4 doz. 4 doz.
Junior Western 4 doz. 4 doz.
Short Junior Western 4 doz. 4 doz.
St Nicholas 4 doz. 3 doz.
Short National 4 doz. 2 doz.
Junior National 4 doz. 2 doz.
Short Junior National 4 doz. 2 doz.
Short Warwick 2 doz. 2 doz.
Junior Warwick 2 doz. 2 doz.
Short Junior Warwick 2 doz. 2 doz.

Metric rounds

These rounds use standard 10-zone scoring. For outdoor rounds, arrows are shot at increasingly closer distances - for example, in a Gents FITA round, an archer shoot three dozen at 90 metres, followed by three dozen at 70 metres, then three dozen at 50 metres, then three dozen at 30 metres. The furthest two distances are shot on a 122 cm face target; the nearer two on an 80 cm face target.

Round 1st 2nd
Distance Arrows Distance Arrows
FITA FITA 18 18 m 5 doz.
FITA 25 25 m 5 doz.
Combined FITA 18 m 5 doz. 25 m 5 doz.
Bray I 20 y 2 ½ doz.
Bray II 25 y 2 ½ doz.
Stafford 30 m 6 doz.
Vegas 18 m 5 doz.
Round 90 m 70 m 60 m 50 m 40 m 30 m 20 m 15 m 10 m
Gents FITA 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Ladies FITA 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Metric II 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Metric III 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Metric IV 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.
Metric V 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz. 3 doz.

[Source for tournament rounds: Dave Pritchard and Phil Hale, Bowmen Of The Tors: Handbook For New Archers DRP Publications, 2001]


Archery was in the Olympics (and the 1906 Intercalated Games) between 1900, the second modern Olympics, and 1920. The sport was dropped from the program because there were no internationally recognized rules for the sport- each Olympics through 1920 held a different type of event. With the creation of FITA in the 1930s, set international rules were created. However, it was not until 1972 that Archery was re-introduced with the individual event, and in 1988 the team event was added to the program. Further competition rules changes were made for the 1992 Olympic Games, which introduced match play to the program in the form of the Archery Olympic Round.

The only type of bow allowed to be used at Olympic level is the recurve bow. Since the 1984 Games at Los Angeles, South Korea has dominated the women's event. At the Sydney 2000 games, the Korean women won bronze, silver and gold in the individual competition and won gold in the team event. They also won the gold team medal in the 2004 Athens games, the 2008 Beijing games, and the 2012 London games. However, recently India, China and Chinese Taipei have emerged as serious challengers to the domination of the Korean women .

See also

External links

  • Archery GB Rules of Shooting
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