Field Archery

Date: 30 August 2022
Field Archery

ARCHERY – What is Archery?


Why do women not compete in sports that men are predominant in? Well, here is why!  This Blog is a 7- to 10-minute read.


Archery is the art, sport, practice, or skill of using a bow to shoot arrows. The word comes from the Latin arcus. Historically, archery has been used for hunting and combat. In modern times, it is mainly a competitive sport and recreational activity. A person who participates in archery is typically called an archer or a bowman, and a person who is fond of or an expert at archery is sometimes called a toxophilite.


Field Archery



What is Field Archery exactly?

Field archery involves shooting at targets of varying and often unmarked distance, typically in woodland, field and rough terrain. As well as being a sport in its own right, it can be used to improve the techniques and abilities required for bowhunting in a realistic outdoor setting. Archers sometimes refer to the additional skills required to deal with challenging terrain and lighting as “fieldcraft”.


The science behind it

Competitions include three rounds: field, hunter, and animal. A round consists of 28 targets in two units of 14.

Field rounds are at ‘even’ distances up to 80 yards, using targets with a black inner ring, two white middle rings and two black outer rings. Four face sizes are used for the various distances. A score of five points is awarded for shots which hit the centre spot, four for the white inner ring, and three for the outer black ring.

Hunter rounds use ‘uneven’ distances up to 70 yards (64 m). Scoring is similar to a field round, the target has an all-black face with a white bullseye. Child and youth positions for these two rounds are closer, no more than 30 and 50 yards (46 m), respectively.

Animal rounds use life-size 2D animal targets with ‘uneven’ distances reminiscent of the hunter round. The rules and scoring are also significantly different. The archer begins at the first station of the target and shoots his first arrow. If it hits, he does not have to shoot again. If it misses, he advances to station two and shoots a second arrow, then to station three for a third if needed.

3D rounds use life-size models of game animals such as deer. It is most common to see unmarked distances in 3D archery, as the goal is to accurately recreate a hunting environment for competition, albeit a more loosely organized form of competition than other types of field archery. Though the goal is hunting practice, hunting tips on the arrows are not used, as they would tear up the foam targets too much. Normal target or field tips of the same weight are used.

International field archery includes three bowstyles: recurve, compound and barebow. Field archery is included in the programme of the World Games for recurve and barebow athletes. Field archery is not shot over flat land, but includes up and down and cross-slopes, unmarked distance targets and challenges of light, dark and shadow. These additional aspects require skills known as “fieldcraft”.


Competition Formats

Field archery has individual and team competitions at international events. World Archery also recognises several other competition field archery rounds not used at international events.


Individual Competition Format

Qualification: Athletes shoot two days of 24-target courses across changing terrain, through woods and around the mountainous landscape. One day consists of marked-distance targets, one day consists of unmarked-distance targets. Athletes shoot three arrows at each target.

Targets are set between five and 60 metres away. The targets measure between 20 and 80 centimetres in diameter and have six concentric scoring rings, separated into two colours. The inner colour, gold, scores six or five points. The black scores four, three, two or one points.

Team Competition Format

Qualification: Teams comprise three athletes of the same gender, one of each bowstyle: compound, recurve and barebow. Teams are ranked using the combined total of the individual ranking round scores.

Field archery is considered by many archers to be one of the most challenging and enjoyable archery formats out there.

It’s been dubbed “archery golf,” because it requires an archer to navigate an outdoor course, featuring shots at targets set at varying distances.

There are many competition classes for archers using compound bows, recurves and longbows. And each of those classes is broken down further by age, so that archers of similar age, shooting similar equipment, compete against one another.

The target sizes also vary, with smaller target faces being shot at shorter distances and larger ones at longer distances.

Since the course is outside, archers have to deal with weather, changing light conditions if the course moves from open fields to woods, and potentially uphill and downhill shot angles, depending on the course terrain.

Field archers shoot a lot of arrows during a typical round. Where a 28-target 3-D course would require 28 shots, a 28-target field round might require shooting 112 arrows – four per target – depending on the format.

In the animal round, a course of 14 paper animal targets is set, with archers shooting 10-60 yards. Archers shoot up to three arrows at each target until they hit a scoring ring. If the first arrow hits a scoring ring, then the archer shoots no more.

Paper animal targets. Each target features a center bonus dot worth the most points, a large scoring ring surrounding the dot that’s worth the second-most points, and a larger ring surrounding that one that’s worth the least points.


Why do the majority of women not partake in Field Archery?

Whilst the majority of women don’t partake, quite a few do, but not enough.


From an instructor’s point of view:

Although there are more similarities between women and men than differences, it is important to understand these differences and the role they play in helping women enjoy our sport. Women can have a slighter build than men of the same age, therefore may have a shorter draw length; they also carry their weight mainly in the lower part of the body which gives them a lower centre of gravity.

Women may have less muscle development in their upper body and can be more flexible than a man of the same age and similar build. The differences should be considered when helping female archers choose their equipment. They may need lower poundage bows, and like men need appropriate draw length and arrows to match.

Men and women share similar challenges in Field archery and can enjoy the same level of involvement. Women primarily participate in sport for the same reasons as males do; exercise, the social aspect, as well as competition.

Unfortunately in many countries field, archery is still seen as a predominantly male sport, based on the misconception of having to be strong to use a bow, while in some countries archery is associated with hunting.

As a club member, you have probably noticed that there are fewer females than males in your club. As an instructor, you will have to take these factors into account just as you consider cub and junior archers as minorities within your club and within the sport in general. These minority groups all have their own needs and you have to be mindful of them. Girls from the age of approximately ten years start to develop differently from their male counterparts of the same age. Up until this time, young boys and girls are basically built the same with the same amount of strength for their age. However, as young girls develop the hormonal changes which take place change the shape of their bodies which you as an instructor need to consider:

Broadening of the hips can result in a lower centre of gravity which can increase balance for some women.

Arms and Shoulders of Women can be narrower in the shoulders, some also having a shorter arm length. This can mean that some women have a shorter draw length than men of the same age.

Upper and lower body strength in women has less muscle on the back and chest. They often have an imbalance of upper and lower body strength. This can mean that women generally use bows which are proportionally lower in poundage than males of the same age. The build of Women can be shorter and lighter than men of the same age and height. Flexibility or greater joint flexibility can cause the elbow joint of most juniors and some adult females to be more prominent when they hold the bow. More time may be needed to help with rotating the elbow and an armed guard should be carefully positioned when first instructing your new female archer.

When working with male or female archers with a larger chest, the string should be brought back to the side of the chest, to prevent or reduce string interference with the body or clothing. It may be fitting to use a chest guard, especially for recurve and longbow shooters.

While pregnant women should be physically active, they should adjust the type of physical activity to accommodate the increasing size of the baby. Pregnant women should seek regular medical advice to ensure safe physical activity levels.

Equipment selection as an instructor you will have to take the physical differences of your women athletes into consideration when helping them choose the correct equipment. There are many great bows around these days that are specifically designed for archers with shorter draw lengths and lower poundage requirements. Be mindful of your archer’s ability and try and match the bow to its capabilities. For all archers, equipment that is too heavy to pull back and too cumbersome, as well as arrows that are too heavy will only make it more difficult for any archer to achieve.

Young women have participated in archery since their inception, but they have not been given the same recognition as their male colleagues. Still, many are creating a place for themselves in this testosterone-filled world.

There are also financial issues, women do not earn the same prize money as men.

Challenges for women in this sport can be mental, psychological, emotional and physical abilities of its participants.

Many women have a hard time finding other women to compete with and at times can be frustratingly surrounded by men. The men often make fun of the women, but once they see the women in action, they are very impressed.

At the competition level, the men would make fun of the women degrading their abilities, leading to self-destruction and doubt.

There are professional men that don’t believe women should be partaking in this sport and don’t think they deserve any prize money either.

Most of the top male professionals in this sport are on a salary with their sponsors and are given large prizes. When a young woman is “sponsored,” however, it often just means free clothes, equipment and promotional materials.

There are of course, as always, sexism, gender equality, the physical structure of women, and emotional, psychological and social issues. One must be physically and mentally fit as it is quite a strenuous sport. Regular exercise of aerobic and weight lifting will assist women and men greatly to achieve better results.

Also, part of the problem may be that archery, like mainstream sports, is driven by big business. If the industry doesn’t expect a large enough audience, they don’t think it’s worth supporting the athletes.

Like most arenas, the sports world has its share of objectification. Some female athletes say they are judged based on how they look and whom they know versus their athletic ability. Then there’s the media, advertising and lack of internet and television exposure available to the world that surrounds archery, which is, as you might guess, not the most respectful of women in general.

Some women’s clothing companies hire models to wear the clothes in ads, instead of the female athletes themselves. Something that would never fly when it comes to selling men’s sporting apparel, so it’s no wonder young girls and women have a hard time.

There is also the difficulty finding the correct fitting of equipment for women when men design them, it doesn’t always work!

Whilst the UK widely acknowledges that more should be done to promote women’s sports, sexism is still rife in the competitive sports industry, particularly among the older generation. What is arguably even more concerning is that some of the most damning responses about women in sports are from females!

Conclusion Remember to be aware of both similarities and differences between men and women. Support and nurture your coaching relationship with your female athletes and provide information on the correct equipment appropriate for the physical ability of the female athlete. The time you spend now will help to keep our female archers in our sport.


Mounted archery

Central tribesmen of Asia (after the domestication of the horse) and American Plains Indians (after gaining access to horses)  became extremely adept at archery on horseback. Lightly armoured, but highly mobile archers were excellently suited to warfare in the Central Asian steppes, and they formed a large part of armies that repeatedly conquered large areas of Eurasia. Shorter bows are more suited to use on horseback, and the composite bow enabled mounted archers to use powerful weapons.

Decline of archery

The development of firearms rendered bows obsolete in warfare, although efforts were sometimes made to preserve archery practice. This was because it was recognized that the bow had been instrumental to military success during the Hundred Years’ War. Early firearms were inferior in rate of fire and were very sensitive to wet weather. However, they had a longer effective range and were tactically superior in the common situation of soldiers shooting at each other from behind obstructions. They also required significantly less training to use properly, in particular, penetrating steel armour without any need to develop special musculature. Armies equipped with guns could thus provide superior firepower, and highly trained archers became obsolete on the battlefield. However, the bow and arrow is still effective weapon, and archers have seen action in the 21st century. Traditional archery remains in use for sport, competition and for hunting in many areas.

A modern sport

From the 1920s, professional engineers took an interest in archery, previously the exclusive field of traditional craft experts. They led the commercial development of new forms of bow including the modern recurve and compound bow. These modern forms are now dominant in modern Western archery; traditional bows are in a minority. In the 1980s, the skills of traditional archery were revived by American enthusiasts and combined with the new scientific understanding. Much of this expertise is available in the Traditional Bowyer’s Bibles (see Further reading). Modern game archery owes much of its success to Fred Bear, an American bow hunter and bow manufacturer.




While there is great variety in the construction details of bows (both historic and modern), all bows consist of a string attached to elastic limbs that store mechanical energy imparted by the user drawing the string. Bows may be broadly split into two categories: those drawn by pulling the string directly and those that use a mechanism to pull the string.

Types of arrows and fletching (Fletching is the fin-shaped aerodynamic stabilization device attached to arrows, crossbow bolts or darts, typically made from light, semi-flexible materials such as feathers. Each piece of such fin is a fletch, also known as a flight or feather.


The most common form of arrow consists of a shaft, with an arrowhead at the front end, and fletchings and a nock at the other end. Arrows across time and history have normally been carried in a container known as a quiver, which can take many different forms. Shafts of arrows are typically composed of solid woodbamboofiberglassaluminium alloycarbon fiber, or composite materials. Wooden arrows are prone to warping. Fiberglass arrows are brittle, but can be produced to uniform specifications easily. Aluminium shafts were a very popular high-performance choice in the latter half of the 20th century, due to their straightness, lighter weight, and subsequently higher speed and flatter trajectories. Carbon fiber arrows became popular in the 1990s because they are very light, flying even faster and flatter than aluminium arrows. Today, the most popular arrows at tournaments and Olympic events are made of composite materials, in particular the X10 and A/C/E, made by Easton.

The ultimate recurve competition shaft.  The Easton X10 has won more World and Olympic titles than any other arrow- or any other archery product of any kind- since its competition debut at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA.  Since making that gold-medal-winning debut, it has gone on to be used to win every single Olympic Medal since the Atlanta Games.  High-modulus carbon fiber on a precision, thin-wall aluminum core creates an unmatched synergy of precision and durability.  With components engineered to match the performance of this ultimate target shaft, every size X10 features a custom barreled design, providing the ultimate in clearance, finger release forgiveness, and the correct frequency match for modern recurve bows.  X10.  Nothing else comes close.

The arrowhead is the primary functional component of the arrow. Some arrows may simply use a sharpened tip of the solid shaft, but separate arrowheads are far more common, usually made from metal, stone, or other hard materials. The most commonly used forms are target points, field points, and broadheads, although there are also other types, such as bodkin, judo, and blunt heads.

Fletching is traditionally made from bird feathers, but solid plastic vanes and thin sheet-like spin vanes are used. They are attached near the nock (rear) end of the arrow. The most common configuration in all cultures is three fletches, though as many as six have been used. Two makes the arrow unstable in flight. When the arrow is three-fletched, the fletches are equally spaced around the shaft, with one placed such that it is perpendicular to the bow when nocked on the string, though variations are seen with modern equipment. Misplacement of fletchings can change the arrow’s flight path dramatically.


Most modern archers wear a bracer to protect the inside of the bow arm from being hit by the string and prevent clothing from catching the bowstring. The bracer does not brace the arm; some archers (nearly all female archers) wear protection on their chests, called chestguards or plastrons. The myth of the Amazons was that they had one breast removed to solve this problem. A simple tab of leather is commonly used, as is a skeleton glove.

Release aids

A release aid is a mechanical device designed to give a crisp and precise loose of arrows from a compound bow. In the most commonly used, the string is released by a finger-operated trigger mechanism, held in the archer’s hand or attached to their wrist. In another type, known as a back-tension release, the string is automatically released when drawn to a pre-determined tension.


Stabilizers are mounted at various points on the bow. Common with competitive archery equipment is special brackets that allow multiple stabilizers to be mounted at various angles to fine-tune the bow’s balance.

Stabilizers aid in aiming by improving the balance of the bow. Sights, quivers, rests, and the design of the riser make one side of the bow heavier. One purpose of stabilizers is to offset these forces

Stabilizers can reduce noise and vibration. These energies are absorbed by viscoelastic polymers, gels, powders, and other materials used to build stabilizers.

Stabilizers improve forgiveness and accuracy by increasing the moment of inertia of the bow to resist movement during the shooting process. Lightweight carbon stabilizers with weighted ends are desirable because they improve the moment of inertia while minimizing the weight added.


Shooting technique

The standard convention in teaching archery is to hold the bow depending upon eye dominance. Therefore, if one is right-eye dominant, they would hold the bow in the left hand and draw the string with the right hand.

The release of the string will produce the most consistently repeatable shots and therefore may provide greater accuracy of the arrow flight. Some believe that the hand with the greatest dexterity should therefore be the hand that draws and releases the string. Either eye can be used for aiming, or the less dominant eye can be trained over time to become more effective for use. To assist with this, an eye patch can be temporarily worn over the dominant eye.

The hand that holds the bow is referred to as the bow hand and its arm is the bow arm. The opposite hand is called the drawing hand or string hand. Terms such as bow shoulder or string elbow follow the same convention.

If shooting according to eye dominance, right-eye-dominant archers shooting conventionally hold the bow with their left hand. If shooting according to hand dexterity, the archer draws the string with the hand that possesses the greatest dexterity, regardless of eye dominance.

Modern form

To shoot an arrow, an archer first assumes the correct stance. The body should be at or nearly perpendicular to the target and the shooting line, with the feet placed shoulder-width apart. As an archer progresses from beginner to a more advanced level other stances such as the “open stance” or the “closed stance” may be used, although many choose to stick with a “neutral stance”.

To load, the bow is pointed toward the ground, and the shaft of the arrow is placed on the arrow rest or shelf. The back of the arrow is attached to the bowstring with the nock (a small locking groove located at the proximal end of the arrow). This step is called “nocking the arrow”. A compound bow is fitted with a special type of arrow rest, known as a launcher, and the arrow is usually loaded with the cock feather pointed either up, or down, depending upon the type of launcher being used.

The bowstring and arrow are held with three fingers, or with a mechanical arrow release. Most commonly, for finger shooters, the index finger is placed above the arrow and the next two fingers below, although several other techniques have their adherents around the world.

Another type of string hold, used on traditional bows, is the type known as the “thumb release”, style. This involves using the thumb to draw the string, with the fingers curling around the thumb to add some support. To release the string, the fingers are opened out and the thumb relaxes to allow the string to slide off the thumb

The archer draws the string hand towards the face, where it should rest lightly at a fixed anchor point. This point is consistent from shot to shot, and is usually at the corner of the mouth, on the chin, to the cheek, or to the ear, depending on the preferred shooting style. The archer holds the bow arm outwards, toward the target.

The arrow is typically released by relaxing the fingers of the drawing hand or triggering the mechanical release aid. Usually, the release aims to keep the drawing arm rigid, the bow hand relaxed, and the arrow is moved back using the back muscles, as opposed to using just arm motions. An archer should also pay attention to the recoil or follow through of his or her body, as it may indicate problems with form (technique) that affect accuracy.

Aiming methods

There are two main forms of aiming in archery: using a mechanical or fixed sight, or barebow.

Mechanical sights can be affixed to the bow to aid in aiming. Modern compound bows automatically limit the draw length to give a consistent arrow velocity, while traditional bows allow great variation in draw length. Some bows use mechanical methods to make the draw length consistent.

When using short bows or shooting from horseback, it is difficult to use the sight picture. The archer may look at the target, but without including the weapon in the field of accurate view. Aiming then involves hand-eye coordination—which includes proprioception and motor-muscle memory, similar to that used when throwing a ball. With sufficient practice, such archers can normally achieve good practical accuracy for hunting or for war. Aiming without sight may allow more rapid shooting, not however increasing accuracy.

Instinctive shooting is a style of shooting that includes the barebow (without sites) aiming method that relies heavily upon the subconscious mind, proprioception, and motor/muscle memory to make aiming adjustments; the term is used to refer to a general category of archers who did not use a mechanical or fixed sight.


When a projectile is thrown by hand, the speed of the projectile is determined by the kinetic energy imparted by the thrower’s muscles performing work.

When a bow is used, the muscles are able to perform work much more slowly, resulting in greater force and greater work done. This work is stored in the bow as elastic potential energy, and when the bowstring is released, this stored energy is imparted to the arrow much more quickly than can be delivered by the muscles, resulting in much higher velocity and, hence, greater distance. Of the remaining energy, some is dampened both by the limbs of the bow and the bowstring.

Even with a release aid mechanism some of this effect is usually experienced since the string always accelerates faster than the remaining part of the mechanism. This makes the arrow oscillate in flight—its centre flexing to one side and then the other repeatedly, gradually reducing as the arrow’s flight proceeds. This is clearly visible in high-speed photography of arrows at discharge. Because there is no arrow to receive the stored potential energy, almost all the energy stays in the bow.

Modern arrows are made to a specified ‘spine’, or stiffness rating, to maintain matched flexing and hence accuracy of aim.

The accurate flight of an arrow depends on its fletchings. (Fletching is the fin-shaped aerodynamic stabilization device attached to arrows, crossbow bolts or darts, typically made from light, semi-flexible materials such as feathers). Each piece of such fin is a fletch, also known as a flight or feather. Even with a carefully made arrow, the slightest imperfection or air movement causes some unbalanced turbulence in airflow.

The innovative aspect of the bow and arrow was the amount of power delivered to an extremely small area by the arrow, coupled with velocity, which made the arrow more powerful than any other handheld weapon until firearms were invented.


Using archery to take game animals is known as “bow hunting”. Bow hunting differs markedly from hunting with firearms, as the distance between hunter and prey must be much shorter to ensure a humane kill. The skills and practices of bow hunting, therefore, emphasize a very close approach to the prey, whether by still hunting, stalking, or waiting in a blind or tree stand. In many countries, including much of the United States, bow hunting for large and small games is legal. Compound bows are used for large game hunting due to the relatively short time it takes to master them as opposed to the longbow or recurve bow. These compound bows may feature fibre optic sights, stabilizers, and other accessories designed to increase accuracy at longer distances.




Suggested manufacturers for Field Archery Equipment – just to name a few:

South African Suppliers:


Take a look at this article:

When you are ready to aim and shoot, please take a moment and bow for people that are disabled, that cannot take part in such sports.


To all you avid Play Station Gamers out there, check out some of these really cool Archery games that are stand-alone games or where Archery features as part of the game.


  • Towerfall Ascention
  • Play Station Archery
  • Skyrim
  • Tomb Raider
  • Far Cry 3 and Far Cry Primal
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Elder Scrolls VR
  • Assassin’s creed
  • Crysis 3
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Titan Souls
  • Archery Master 3D
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Bowmasters
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • Terraria


Please note: I do not take any responsibility for an accident, disability, death, public liability, third party, medical costs, destruction of property, damages to self or others, destruction of all equipment, disability, personal liability, general liability, self-harm, suicide, harm to livestock, harm to animals, harm to children and intentional bodily harm, for using any of the listed products and suppliers. Please consult with the manufacturers and instructors, when buying the equipment that is suitable for you.

If you wish to learn more about this sport and its history, just pop me a mail and I will send the information to you:

When you are ready to take on those mounts, Please take a moment and bow to people that are disabled, that cannot take part in such sports.

My views, comments and content are strictly are of my own opinion and research and are not governed or influenced by any marketing of companies or brands. It is of my own free will to mention companies and brands that supply sporting equipment pertaining to the sport in the discussion.