Archery Competition: Introduction, Rules, & Scores

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In these modern times, archery is no longer considered a weapon of war and destruction but an organized sport and a true test of precision and accuracy. The most popular of all the archery competitions is Target Archery. Here, the archer is given a target which he will have to hit with arrows from certain distances.

From 1900 to 1920, Archery was included in the Olympic Games four times. It was reintroduced in 1972 as an individual event and a team event was added in 1988. In the Olympics, only the recurve bow is allowed because the level of skill it requires. At the recent Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, Korea has dominated the playing field in this event, especially in the women’s division. The Korean women won the gold, silver and bronze medals in the individual events and the gold medal in the team event.

The International Archery Association, which is an English abbreviation of FITA (Fédération Internationale de Tir à l’Arc), regulates and standardizes the rules, policies and techniques of the Archery events of the Olympic Games.

Rules and Regulations

Competitions in Archery can either be held indoors or outdoors. The distances from the shooting line to the target are 18 meters and 25 meters for indoor players. Outdoor players shoot from distances of 30 meters to 90 meters for senior archers because outside competitions consist of several distances; junior archers can shoot from closer distances. The distance used in the Olympic Games is 70 meters.

Each competition is separated into ‘ends’. In one ‘end,’ an archer is allowed to shoot three or six arrows depending on the type of round played. After each end, the players walk towards their targets to determine their scores and retrieve their arrows. In a round of indoor competition, there are twenty ends with three arrows each end. Outdoor competitions usually allow more shots per end although this may vary. All competitors shoot from a set shooting line and only release and retrieve their arrows on command.

In formal competitions, there is a standard time limit set for archers to shoot their arrows. This requires a quick and sure aim from the archers. The FITA gives two minutes to shoot three arrows in indoor competitions. However, sound generating devices like whistles are never used to signal that the time is up. Other silent signaling devices such as lights and flags are used so as not to unnerve or distract the archer that may result in a stray arrow. A lot of attention is given to ensure order and safety of the archers, officials and the spectators since archery is a sport that utilizes a weapon that could be lethal.


In Archery, the targets are marked with ten evenly spaced concentric rings. In each concentric ring, a value from one to ten is assigned. The innermost ring is called the ‘X’ ring and becomes the tenth ring in indoor competitions. The ‘X’ ring is considered a tiebreaker in outdoor competitions and whoever scores the most number of ‘X’s wins. FITA colors the rings of the target as follows: the 1st and 2nd rings are white, the 3rd and 4th rings are black, the 5th and 6th rings are blue, the 7th and 8th rings are red and the 9th and 10th rings are gold.

The score of each archer is the sum of the values of the rings hit by his arrows. In the event where the arrow hits the boundary line of the rings, the higher score is given to the archer. All the values scored by each player are recorded on a score sheet and they must be in a descending order regardless of the real order of the scoring. Before and during the scoring, absolutely no one is allowed to touch the arrows. When conflicts arise in the scoring, a judge is called upon and he will rule on where the arrow lies. Only after the scoring and when each hole is marked will the arrows be removed. Points may be awarded to an unmarked hole which happens in events like a ‘pass through’ or a ‘bouncer.’ A ‘pass through’ is when the arrow passes through the target while a ‘bouncer’ is when the arrow hits the target but bounces off.

The size of the target faces depend largely on the type of round played and the distances from the shooting line. Common sizes however are regulated by FITA which are: 40 cm for indoors with 18 m distances, 60 cm for indoor with 25 m distances, 80 cm for outdoor with 30 and 50 m distances and 122 cm for outdoor with 70 and 90 m distances. In the Olympic Games, 122 cm target faces are used.

write by Rodela Arturo

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