Target archery

Target archery

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

Currently 142 nations are represented by FITA 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. In the United States the FITA affiliated governing body is USA Archery (National Archery Association of the United States) which dates to the 1870s, making it the second oldest archery governing body after GNAS, which dates to the 1860s.

Target archery is the most popular form of archery, in which members shoot at non-moving 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 FITA (metric) rounds, which are used internationally. Archers are divided into seniors and juniors, with juniors being those under the age of 18.


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. All competitors must wait for the command to start shooting and are not allowed to collect arrows while other people are shooting. 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.

FITA Rounds (FITA rules)

For FITA rounds, standard indoor distances are 18m and 25m. Outdoor distances range from 30m to 90m for senior archers, with juniors being able to shoot closer distances. In the Olympic Games, 70m is used.

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 FITA rules this is 2 minutes for 3 arrows. Signaling devices such as lights and flags inform the archers when time is up.

Imperial Rounds (GNAS rules)

For Imperial rounds, the standard indoor distance is 20yds, with 5 dozen arrows being shot in a round known as a Portsmouth round. Outdoor distances range from 40yds to 100yds, for seniors, and 10yds to 80yds 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 those which 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

[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 1930's, 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.

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 medals in the 2004 Athens games, and in the 2008 Beijing games. However, recently, China, Chinese Taipei, and Japan have emerged as serious challengers to the domination of the Korean women.

ee also

*field archery
*clout archery
*history of archery

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