Rules of Archery: A noble sport

Rules of Archery


Archery is one of the oldest sports known to man. It has built empires, taken down armies and still to this date, remains a very popular and well heeled sport. The earliest people are known to have regularly used bows and arrows were the Ancient Egyptians, who adopted archery around 3000 BC for hunting and warfare.

From there, it went to China and then rooted itself strongly in Japan, where “kyudo” or ‘the way of the bow’ developed. It developed simultaneously in the Greek and roman era and reached peak engineering and design in the Middle East.


Here, cavalry archery developed and was an instrumental force in the Crusades. A breakthrough in archery and bow mastery developed in England, during the invention of the Longbow which was used in numerous battles.

It even was such a cultural phenomenon that there were laws in Britain that required common people to practice archery on Sundays.

Nowadays, we’re pretty grateful that no government or king is breathing down our necks trying to get us to whip out our crossbows and arrows out on the weekends, determined to give us practice is ancient Warcraft and sport. However, archery still remains a very beloved, well intentioned sports for those who intend to pursue it or are enthusiasts.

One might say it combines the elements of both a creative art and a well precisioned sport. It has been a part of the Olympics since the 1900s and remains very popular today.

I learned it, a couple of friends learned it and my sister is learning it right now. It is a challenging game built to enhance your focus and concentration as well as your strength so long as you follow the rules and so without further ado, let me enlighten you of the rules of this noble sport!

Equipment needed:

The basics needed are a type of bow (It may be adult compound bow ,crossbow, long or recurve bow  ), bowstrings and arrows and drop down arrow rest.  Other items that are useful are risers for the bow that do not touch the shooter’s hands or wrist. A bow sight and a one draw check indicator, sight marks, a finger trip protection pad, etc. You can go full on with your accessories as well but more on that later!

The Rules of Archery:

The objective of the game is simple enough: to hit a target, preferable to the center of the target as much as possible. In the Olympics, competitors aim at a target from a distance of 70 meters, and rounds include a ranking round where the overall scores determine the athletes’ rankings priors to a head to head elimination format.

As per the rules of the game from the World Archery Foundation, the specifics of the equipment entail:

 “A bow of any type provided it complies with the common meaning of the word “bow” as used in target archery, that is, an instrument consisting of a handle/riser and grip (no shoot-through type riser) and two flexible limbs each ending in a tip with a string nock.

The bow is braced for use only by a single string attached directly between the two string nocks, and in operation is held in one hand by its handle (grip) while the fingers of the other hand draw and release the string.

finger placement archery


A bowstring of any number of strands which may be of multi-coloured strands and serving and of the material chosen for the purpose.

  • It may have a center serving to accommodate the drawing fingers, one or two nocking points to which may be added serving(s) to fit the arrow nock as necessary, and to locate the nocking points.


  • At each end of the bowstring, there is a loop which is placed in the string nocks of the bow when braced. In addition, one attachment is permitted on the string to serve as a lip or nose mark. The serving on the string shall not end within the athlete’s vision at full draw. The bowstring shall not in any way assist aiming through the use of a peephole, marking, or any other means.


  • Arrows of any type may be used provided they comply with the common meaning of the word “arrow” as used in target archery, and do not cause undue damage to target faces or butts.


  • An arrow consists of a shaft with a tip (point), nocks, fletching and if desired, cresting. The maximum diameter of arrow shafts shall not exceed 9.3mm (arrow wraps shall not be considered as part of this limitation but may not extend further than 22cm toward the arrow point when measured from the nock groove where the bowstring sits to the end of the wrap).


  • The tips/points of the arrow may not exceed 9.4mm in diameter. All arrows of every athlete shall be marked with the athlete’s name or initials on the shaft. All arrows used in any end shall be identical in appearance and shall carry the same pattern and color (s) of fletching, nocks, and cresting if any. Tracer nocks (electrically/electronically lighted nocks) are not allowed.”


  • There a few more specifics regarding finger pads, risers and braces and the use of Bow sights(scopes), binoculars, and eyeglasses, Bow stabilizer in the game which you will find in thorough detail in the website of the World Archery Foundation which I highly recommend you check out!


  • The target itself varies considerably in size ranging from those used in Olympic archery events that measure 122 cm in diameter – but all contain 10 concentric rings which represent the different scoring sectors.


  • The outermost two rings (called one ring and two rings) are white, three and four are black, five and six are blue, seven and eight are red and nine and ten – the innermost rings – are gold.


  • Ten rings also has an inner ring (known as “inner 10” or “X ring”) which is sometimes used to decide ties. From outside to inside, the points range from 1 for the outermost ring to 10 for the two innermost rings and of course, arrows completely missing the target get no score at all.


  • Athletes cannot shoot in groups more than 3. In Individual competitions, three arrows per target will be shot in all rounds and in 3D rounds, two arrows per target will be shot in the qualification rounds, one arrow per target will be shot in elimination and final rounds.


  • For teams, Three arrows per team shall be shot at each target in all rounds, one arrow by each team member. At the first target, the higher ranked team decides who shall start shooting.


  • Thereafter, the team with the lower cumulative score will shoot first at the following target and, if the teams are tied, then the team which started the match will shoot first.


  • Add up the points achieved whether by the individual or the team and you’ve got your score. Tournaments vary considerably in format and the number of arrows competitors must shoot and the distance to the target so it will be up to decide on the format of your games and tournament.

To win the game, you or your team must either have the highest cumulative score on the field or in a knock out version of the tournament, you must have successfully defeated all your opponents to be declared the victor. In the event of a tie, the shooter with the highest number of inner 10s is declared the winner. Or you can opt for a shootout to resolve the tie.

Few key other formal rules for maximum competition would include:

Archers must adhere to all official rules in terms of the equipment they use in the performance of their sport, with the main emphasis being on them using no equipment or accessories that would give an unfair advantage over an opponent. If found using wrong or unfair equipment, they will be disqualified.

The maximum time permitted to shoot an end of three arrows is two minutes, and four minutes for an end of six arrows.

Athletes may not raise the bow arm until the signal to start is given and penalties can be given – in the form of points forfeits – if the bow is drawn after the official practice has been closed.

An arrow cannot be re-shot under any circumstances. The arrow may be considered not to have been shot if it falls from the bow or misfires, or if the target blows or falls over. Extra time would be given in such circumstances.

An arrow that rebounds or hangs from the target will still score based on the mark it makes on the target face.

Athletes can be disqualified, have points deducted or be banned from competition for various breaches of rules, based on the severity of the offense.

If the equipment is damaged, appeals can be made to the judge for such equipment to be replaced or fixed, and any time allowances will be at the judge’s discretion.

I know these rules might be a lot to take in, especially for a budding archer but mostly remember to have fun with it as much as you can. Learn the rules, hone your skills but above all have fun with it. Remember you aren’t a Brit alive during the wars with France. You still have your Sundays off!

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