Field archery involves shooting at targets of varying and often unmarked distance, typically in woodland 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”.
Events are usually conducted according to the rules of either the International Field Archery Association (IFAA) or the World Archery Federation (WA). Others may be held under the rules of national organisations such as the UK's National Field Archery Society (NFAS) and the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) in the USA.
Field rounds are at 'even' distances up to 80 yards (although some of the shortest are measured in feet), 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. Scoring areas are vital (20, 16, or 12) and nonvital (18, 14, or 10) with points awarded depending on which arrow scored first. Again, children and youth shoot from reduced range.
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 (broadheads) are not used, as they would tear up the foam targets too much. Normal target or field tips, of the same weight as the intended broadhead, are used instead.
The World Archery Federation, commonly known as WA and formerly as FITA (Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc), defines a suite of rounds based on a 24-target course.
Four target face sizes are specified: 80 cm; 60 cm; 40 cm and 20 cm. Six target faces of each size are used on the course. For each target face size there are upper and lower distance limits for the various divisions of archer. Target faces have four black outer rings and a yellow spot, each with an equal width. The yellow spot is subdivided into two rings. The black rings score 1 point for the outermost to 4 points for the innermost. A hit in the outer yellow scores 5 points. A hit in the inner yellow scores 6 points. Before April 2008, the innermost yellow ring counted as an X (the number of Xs was used for tie-breaks) but only scored 5 points.
Shooting positions are marked by coloured pegs set at a distance from each target. Generally the red peg is set the furthest from the target, the blue peg is set nearer, and the yellow peg (or white peg in the UK) is set the nearest. The course layer may choose to vary this, though. Each peg is associated with one or more divisions of archer:
|Red||Recurve and compound|
|Blue||Bare bow, cadet recurve and cadet compound|
|Yellow||Cadet bare bow|
The UK operates some variations on this for junior archers. When shooting marked distances, the distance to the target is shown on each peg. On unmarked distances, the distance is not shown.
A WA 24 Marked round is shot on a single day using 24 targets at marked distances only. A WA 24 Unmarked round is shot on a single day using 24 targets at unmarked distances only. A WA 24 Mixed round is shot on a single day using 12 targets at marked distances and 12 targets at unmarked distances. A WA Combined Field round consists of a WA 24 Unmarked round shot on one day and a WA 24 Marked round shot on the same course the following day with the distances having been increased.
WA rules state that the lanes between the shooting positions and the targets must not be obstructed by branches or tree trunks.
Archers follow the course in groups of between two and four. The pegs are arranged so that two people can shoot from one peg at the same time. Each archer shoots three arrows at each target, making a round of 72 arrows.
In the United Kingdom, the NFAS (National Field Archery Society) sets the rules for many shoots, including Big Game and 3D shoots. Most of these consist of 36 or 40 targets or 2x20 targets. The NFAS is not affiliated to any international organisation.
The most common NFAS rounds have a "walk-up" format, where the archer starts at the furthest peg from the target and proceeds to nearer pegs if necessary.
The first arrow is shot from the red peg (or sometimes wasp peg for compound). A hit in the kill zone scores 20 points (sometimes 24 if an inner kill zone is being used). A hit in the wound zone (anywhere outside the kill zone but not on antlers or base, or within wound lines on 2D targets) scores 16 points.
If the scoring area is not hit with the first arrow, the archer will proceed to the white peg for his/her second shot. A kill scores 14 points. A wound scores 10 points.
If a third shot is needed, the archer will proceed to the blue peg. A kill scores 8 points. A wound scores 4 points.
If all 3 arrows miss the scoring zones, the archer must stop shooting and a zero is scored for that target.
Juniors ages 12-14 and 15-16 must shoot blue, yellow, yellow and white, blue, blue respectively.
Cubs (under age 12) shoot all their arrows from the closest yellow peg.
All archers attending these shots must carry a valid NFAS card in order to shoot.
There are multiple classes including compound limited, compound unlimited, bowhunter, barebow, freestyle, crossbow, hunting tackle, American flatbow, and longbow. The traditional class is also accepted at some shoots.
As part of the Constitution of the National Field Archery Society, an annual championship shall be held, open to members.
3D Championships - Bank Holiday weekend, end of May
National Champs - 3rd weekend in September
To be eligible to shoot in Championships, NFAS members must have competed in three open shoots in the bow style that they wish to shoot, or a previous Championship, and existing members must have renewed their membership by the 31st of March.
- "Field Archery". World Archery. 2015-03-24. Retrieved 2017-01-20.
- International Field Archery Association rules
- "Archery and Bowhunter Range Guidelines" (PDF). NFAA.
- "IFAA Book of Rules 2013"
- WA Constitution and Rules Book 4 - Field Archery Rules
- NFAS Rules of Shooting