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A brief summary of Field Archery

Field Archery is intended to represent hunting, actual hunting with a bow and arrow is, quite rightly,  illegal in the UK.

Field Archery ... is usually shot in woodland, at pictures of animals, could be paper or hessian,

and maybe some life size animals made from foam.

Typically a club would have use of some woodland where a course of targets would be set up, generally there would be 20, 36 or 40 targets set out under strict guide lines set up by the National Field Archery Society, taking into account safety of the archers and other people/animals who may be in the local area.

Each target is shot from marker pegs set at unknown distances, the course will usually be set up by the course master using  all manner of undulating ground, shady area etc. to trick the archer,

making each shot a challenge for the archer to judge the distance.

Generally a maximum of 3 arrows would be shot at each target with the scores being highest for the first arrow.

There is a comprehensive explanation of the rules and guidelines on the

National Field Archery Society website 


Field archery and Target archery how are they different

One of the great attractions in archery is the diversity of shooting styles, the seemingly endless variations of equipment and of course the great variety in courses and targets that can be shot. In all of these variations there is one single intent and that is to hit the specific point on the target that you are aiming at. Like any sport unless the objective of the sport can be achieved with some regularity its not much fun. As with any other sporting pursuit practice is the way to improvement.

Whilst hitting what you are aiming at is the main ingredient of target archery and any number of its variants. There are those who seek to achieve such things as the furthest distance or in the case of Zen where archery becomes a state of mind and body.

Whilst one of the common objective of archery is to hit what you are aiming at, there are far easier ways of hitting something at which you aim , the use of a rifle for example. This leads one to conclude that archers are enjoying doing it the hard way, using their own strength and co-ordination to achieve a successful hit. Interestingly enough the sport recognises this and allows a wide variety of equipment which can be used to help hit the target. Sights, stabilisers and bows that provide a mechanical advantage are all catered for within the laws of the sport, providing various divisions to ensure fair competition.

So what’s different about Field Archery? Well despite what the name says it certainly is not normally shot in a field this is much likely to be done by Target Archers who typically will shoot in a flat field. The ideal Field Archery course will be set in woods with steep slopes and as variations in ground as can be achieved safely.

A typical shot on a “Field” round set at 50yds.

Whilst there are various rounds that are shot by Target Archers they will typically shoot greater numbers of arrows from fewer fixed distances. The process of shooting is tightly controlled by a Field Captain who will ensure that the arrows are shot within a specified amount of time and that all the archers collect their arrows and record their scores together. Archers are allowed to sit and rest between shooting, some will have special tents in which they can shelter from the weather. Target archery demands very high levels of concentration, with the archers needing to be fit physically and mentally to achieve success.

Field archery, meanwhile, means a day of shooting in the woods and necessitates walking from one target to the next. The distances walked will be determined by the available space and the course setters ability to set out 20 or 40 targets in safety. The sort of round and distances shot can vary widely. A Field shoot comprises 20 to 40  targets with three arrows being shot at each target. These rounds are shot from marked distances varying from 20ft up to a maximum distance of 80 yards. Most of the targets require the archer to move forward to the next distance between each arrow. Other rounds will include shooting at monochrome or coloured pictures of animals, these can be either from marked or unmarked distances. In some rounds all the arrows that hit the target will score, whilst in others the first arrow that hits from a total of three arrows will score depending which arrow or which zone on the picture is hit. In some cases the shots will be made more difficult by clever use of the intervening ground or the positioning of the peg from which you have to shoot forcing the archer to not only estimate the distance but allow for the slope of the ground or perhaps the incline of a tree which can influence the bow alignment especially for those that choose to shoot without sights. Other factors which can influence the shot will include the lighting conditions, in woods this may mean from shooting from the dark to the light or the other way round both contributing to the difficulty of the shot. This wide variety of terrain, shooting conditions and rounds are the true attraction of field archery, it is without doubt more physical than target archery, but it still demands high levels of concentration but with a wider spectrum of skills.