Types of Archery

Archery is a far-reaching and expansive hobby with some archers practicing for the enjoyment of competition, or as a physical pursuit, with others using the bow as a means to put sustenance on the table.

Whatever facet your interest in archery takes, you may be surprised to learn of some of the more varied and exciting ways the bow is used.

Throughout this article, we will provide oversight of many of the most common uses for bows and types of archery that archers compete in worldwide. And if you are ever curious about how to make a bow and arrow, we have you covered there as well.

Target Archery

Target archery is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of archery and is the most popular form of archery practiced today.

Requiring little equipment, the set-up time for target archery is just a few minutes. Target archery can be performed both indoors and outdoors; making it perfect for all seasons. 

Target archery is precisely as it sounds; arrows are fired at stationary targets from a set distance.

Typically, a WA (world archery) target is used, formerly known as a FITA target. WA targets feature a bullseye in the middle with concentric rings surrounding it denoting different amounts of points to be awarded.

The bullseye is worth 10 points, with each consecutive ring worth a point less than the first.

These targets are available in a multitude of sizes, dependent on outdoor or indoor shooting, and distance from the target.

The most common sized target and their distances:

  • 40cm – 18m outdoor archery
  • 60cm – 25m indoor archery
  • 80cm – 30m and 50m outdoor archery
  • 122cm – 70m and 90m outdoor archery

Olympic Archery

Olympic archery is target archery at a distance of at least 70m, using a 122cm WA target, standard rules apply for both male and female events.

Team events are also held, and it is worth noting that only recurve bows are allowed in Olympic archery.

Popinjay

Archers attempt to knockdown wooden birds that have been perched on a stand. With its history rooted in shooting birds from church steeples, contestants use blunt arrows from a distance of 3.7m to take fire at the targets.

A point is awarded for each bird knocked down.

Beursault

Originating in France and Belgium, two targets are placed at either end of a runway, or Allee du Roy, facing each other.

The archer then proceeds to take turns shooting at either end of the track, at opposite targets.

Wandshoot

An English tradition in archery, archers take aim at upright ‘wands.’ Wands are strips of wood standing 1.8m high and measuring 75mm-150mm in width.

Points are awarded for each arrow that hits the wand.

Types of bows used in target archery

  • Recure
  • Compound
  • Barebow
  • Crossbow

Field Archery

Field archery is an extension of target archery, typically performed over a set course.

Usually woodland or adverse terrain sets the stage for field archery, with stationary targets set up at various distances and heights. 

Field archery is a good test of an archer’s overall skill, as there are several variables around the course that an archer wouldn’t face in a controlled environment.

Light levels, aiming both up and downhill, odd angles and varying wind factors across the course are sure to challenge even the most experienced archers.

Generally, only 50% of targets are marked with their distance, meaning over a typical 48 target course, only 24 will be distance marked. Each archer is allowed to fire three arrows per target, for a total of 144 over an ordinary course.

Targets may not always be WA style targets and may include replica animals similar to 3D archery, or unexpected targets.

Types of bows used in field archery

  • Recurve
  • Compound
  • Barebow 
  • Crossbow