Scoring and Classification of Archers

Tournaments are conducted under rules and regulations promulgated by the National Archery Association and the National Field Archery Association. The various state organizations generally adopt the rules of the national organizations for the sake of uniformity. The state organizations are a very important part of archery in the United States. They handle the administrative work necessary to promote and coordinate the activities of the clubs within a single state. In many cases they sponsor state-wide competition. Through their state organizations, the archers have a voice in advocating legislation or regulations which will benefit archery.

The fact that there are two national parent bodies should not lead the beginner to conclude that there is a fixed line of demarcation between target and field archers. To the contrary, field archers, who use the high anchor and the so-called instinctive method of shooting, are quite capable of shooting a double American Round on the target line, and turning in a card of 600 or better. The Pennsylvania State Archery Association, Incorporated, sponsors both a state-wide Target and a Field Championship tournament annually. Individual archers participate in both events and are among the top competitors in both shoots.

In order to provide competition at all stages from beginner to expert, archers are classified according to the degree of ability which they have attained. As their scores improve they are reclassified accordingly. It is one of the functions of a good state organization to administer the details of the classification system. To do the job in an efficient manner the state body is dependent upon the secretaries of the local clubs to make a return of the scores shot by the club members in tournament competition. An archer is automatically placed in a higher classification on the basis of improvement in his or her score. If, however, an archer is no longer able to shoot a score within his or her classification, it is the general policy of the state organizations, upon written request of the archer, to lower the classification of the archer so that competition with those of comparable skill is again possible.


The National Archery Association of the United States has established a universal system of classification that enables all target archers to be pre-classified so that they may compete equitably in tournaments. It is mandatory for N.A.A. official tournaments and became operative during the 1955 shooting season. In prior years classification systems were controlled by the state organizations and varied in their requirements from state to state. Comparison of an archer’s ability on a nationwide basis was impossible under the state classification systems.

The N.A.A. Classification System

  • N.A.A. members entering the Annual Championship Tour nament shall be assigned to one of four (4) classes according to their ability, as shown by competitive scores, or their choice, in so far as it is stated herein.
  • Only official N.A.A. Six Golds Shoots and Tournaments held by club, state or regional associations are acceptable for classifying and may be referred to as Classification Tournaments.
  • The official classifying round for men and women divisions shall be the American Round which may be referred toas the Classification Round.
  • The back of the N.A.A. Membership Cards are provided with suitable columns for entering classification record, (Date, Club or Association, Attested By, Score, Total and Class) and may be referred to as the classification as well as the membership card.
  • Club and Association Secretaries must retain on file all Classification Scores for a period of one year for possible refer ence. (In practice, this is very simple; just keep all scores shot at your meets for a full year, properly filed and annotated, where necessary. This file will not be cumbersome if shoots are filed by months. After a full year of operation when a current monthly record is filed the corresponding month of the previous year may be discarded.)
  • Classification is based on the following scores:
1400 and upA A1300 and up
1250 to 1399 1150 to 1299
1000 to 1249 950 to 1149
Below 1000 Below 950
  • Classification is based upon the highest Classification Round shot during the six month period prior to the tournament, plus the most recent Classification Round shot. If the last score shot is also the highest, add the last two Classification Rounds shot.
  • At least two (2) Classification Rounds must be recorded on the Classification Card during the previous six months to qualify for classification. Archers having fewer than two (2) attested rounds entered on their cards will automatically be classified AA.
  • Procedure: Each N.A.A. Member desiring classification, shall, upon registration at a Classification Tournament, turn in his N.A.A. Membership (Classification) card. At the conclusion of the tournament, his single or double classification round is recorded in ink on the classification card and initialed by the proper tournament official (the secretary or the score-keeper) and returned to its owner. When a double Classification Round (Double American) is shot in one day, each round is recorded individually and in the order shot. Erasures are not permissible. If an error in recording is made, a line should be drawn through the error and the correction written and initialed beneath. Each N.A.A. member completes the Total and Class Columns on
    his classification card (Item 7). If the contestant is a place winner, the officials should check the Total and Class columns carefully for accuracy.
  • An archer who does not turn in a Classification card at the time of registration shall automatically be classified AA.
  • An archer may elect to shoot in a higher classification.
  • An archer may win in a higher classification if his score is such as to put him in one of the place positions at a tournament, i.e., 1st, 2nd, or 3rd—more if further awards are provided of the higher class. The archer must accept the higher class award and forfeit rights to the award in the lower class.
  • When new Classification cards are issued, the old card must be retained for a six month period in order to meet the requirements of items No. 7 and No. 8.

Juniors, Intermediates and Beginners are not classified by the N.A.A.

Field Archers use a classification system based on scores shot in twenty-eight target competition. These scores must be consecutive tournament scores, if possible. If not, they must be consecutive scores shot in competition with one or more archers. The National Field Archery Association basis for classification is the average score, which is defined as the average of the three highest of the four most recent scores.

The archer’s official handicap may also be used as a basis for classification.

The N.F.A.A. Classification System

A field archers first handicap is computed from the three highest of the archer’s four most recent competitive 2 8-target scores, shot either in tournament or in competition with at least two other archers. In the latter case, the score cards must be signed by at least one witness. All scores must have been shot within the past 90 days. To arrive at the handicap, add the three highest scores and divide the total by three to obtain the average score. Subtract this average score from 400. Eighty-five percent of the resultant is the theoretical handicap. In practice we drop the last


Col. A Col.B Col. A Col.B
Average Score Handicap Average Score Handicap
394 up 0 194-205 17
382-393 1 182-193 l8
370-381 2 171-181 19
358-369 3 I59-170 2O
346-357 4 147-I58 2I
334-345 5 136-146 22
322-333 6 124~135 23
311-321 7 112-123 24
299-310 8 IOO-III 25
287-298 9 88- 99 26
276-286 10 76- 87 27
264-275 n 65- 75 28
252-263 12 53- 64 29
241-251 13 41- 52 30
229-240 14 30- 40 31
217-228 15 10- 29 32
206-216 16

Handicaps are revised the first of each month provided two or more twenty-eight-target scores have been shot. To compute the revised handicap, total the scores for the month and divide by the number of scores. The result is the average score for the month. Locate this average score for the month in Column A of the Handicap table and the corresponding

Any archer will have his handicap reduced by one point if he fails to turn in any score for a period of 60 days, and an additional point will be deducted for each additional 30 days during which the archer fails to turn in scores. This rule is not applicable in localities where competition during the winter months is customarily held indoors. Handicaps should be reduced as fast as the archer’s ability warrants, but may not be increased by more than one point at a time, and revisions shall be made no oftener than once a month.N.F.A.A. OFFICIAL CLASSES
Average Twenty-eight-target Score

Expert Bowman, Class A 299 and over
Expert Bowman, Class B 229 to 298
Bowman 159 to 228
Archer 88 to 158
Novice 87 and under

Expert Bowman 194 and over
Bowman 124 to 193
Archer 53 to 123
Novice 52 and under


We shall discuss scoring as it is generally practiced where double score cards are used to insure an accurate record of each individual score. Where double score cards are used, one set is retained by the local club and the second set is frequently sent to the central body or organization which maintains a record of classification of members to which any club may refer. Where the central organization is a state-wide body, this classification record is also used to classify member archers entered in state wide tournaments.

In a target tournament, four archers are assigned to each target in the order of their registration for the tournament. By custom, the first archer assigned to a target is designated the target captain, the second and third archers are score keepers, and the fourth archer has the duty of retrieving arrows which miss the target.

The target captain orders the shooting at his target and decides all local questions. His decisions may be appealed to the field captain, who has overall charge of a target tournament. The decisions of the field captain are final. In the case of field tournaments, the target captain is the final judge of all disputed arrows. It is the duty of the target captain to withdraw the arrows from the target and announce their value to the scorers. The value of each arrow is announced by the target captain as the arrow is withdrawn. The scorers must keep a strictly itemized account of each arrow that hits the face of the target within the scoring area. The number of hits on the scoring face must also be recorded.

Scoring a Target Tournament

On the target line, arrows are scored in the following manner: each archer shall shoot six arrows at a time, called an “end.” Unless excused by his target captain, he shall shoot three arrows, yield his place to his target mate and, then in his turn, shoot the remaining three arrows. All archers remain back of the shooting line until the last archer on the line has finished shooting. The field captain will then signal by a blast on a whistle that all archers are to go to the targets. An arrow leaving the bow is deemed to have been shot if the archer, standing where he has been shooting cannot reach it with his bow; i. e., as interpreted this rule means both feet in shooting position. It is not permissible to keep one foot in shooting position and step forward with the other in order to reach the arrow with the bow.

In walking to the target, each archer should guard against stepping on arrows that have fallen short of the target. These arrows should be retrieved immediately and handed to their owner. Arrows must remain in the target until withdrawn by the target captain or his deputy. Arrows withdrawn otherwise shall not be counted unless excused by the field captain. If the arrow cuts two colors, it counts as having hit the inner one. Before touching the target, the target captain examines the target for such arrows, determines their value, and customarily if no objection has been raised to the target captain’s ruling, he withdraws the arrow and inserts it in the color corresponding to the value assigned to it.

We are now ready to score the values of the arrows in the scoring face of the target. The target values for each arrow are: gold 9, red 7, light blue 5, black 3, and white 1. The target captain withdraws his own arrows first, beginning with the arrow having the highest value, withdrawing the arrows one at a time, in the decreasing order of their numerical value. He announces the value of each arrow to the scorer prior to its withdrawal. In withdrawing the arrow, the target captain places the back of one hand against the face of the target at the arrow, grasps the shaft of the arrow near the target face with the other hand, using the thumb and fingers, and withdraws the arrow along the line of penetration being careful not to bend the shaft. As each arrow is withdrawn, it is transferred to the hand which has been placed against the target, grasping it near the pointed end. He continues this process until all of his arrows have been withdrawn from the target and the value of each arrow announced to the scorer. At this time he announces the number of hits registered on the scoring face of the target.

Individual score cards are provided by the tournament officials. They are prepared in duplicate for each archer and distributed at the start of the tournament by placing them at the initial shooting position assigned to each archer.

An arrow passing through any part of the scoring face of the target counts five or a blue in target archery. An arrow shot at ranges of sixty yards or less rebounding from the scoring face of the target counts seven or a red. If the arrow is shot at ranges over sixty yards, a rebound counts 5 or a blue. Rebounds must be witnessed to be counted. Any arrow shot into the target and hanging so that any additional vibration may cause it to be dislodged and fall to the ground, where it would be scored as a rebound; may with the permission of the field captain, who will order all shooting stopped for the purpose, be firmly inserted into the target by hand so that the full value of the arrow may be scored at the conclusion of the end.

As soon as all the arrows of an archer have been withdrawn from the target, the scorers shall compare totals for the end in order to maintain a running check on the accuracy of the score. When all the arrows have been withdrawn from the target face, the archers assist in locating any missing arrows which have not been found by the number four man. Too much time should not be allotted to the search for missing arrows during the course of the round. At the conclusion of a round, the archers should all return to the target area and search for arrows lost by any members of their group. An arrow that has buried itself in the turf and is not visible to the eye, frequently can be found in one of the following ways. If the general area in which the arrow is lost is known, remove your shoes and slide your feet across the turf at right angles to the line of flight of the arrow. This is probably the safest way to retrieve lost arrows with wooden shafts to avoid breaking the shaft. Frequently the host club provides a metal tined fork which can be drawn carefully back and forth across the turf until the lost arrow is located. The fork should be used with extreme care, as it will break a wooden shafted arrow when it comes in contact if too much pressure is applied. A word of caution on carrying loose arrows. Grasp and hold them loosely at the pointed end so that the fletching of the arrows will not be injured, as it surely will be if the arrows are carried in a compact bundle.

Scoring a Field Roving Tournament

The general procedure and customs described in the foregoing paragraphs on target shooting apply equally in scoring a field roving tournament. The shooting routine and scoring are, however, quite different. The National Field Archery Association Field Roving Round is shot over a fourteen target field roving course called a unit. Twice around a unit constitutes a round, or two separate units making a total of 28 targets also constitutes a round. The terms Out and In are used to designate the order in which the unit is shot in a round. The first unit shot in a round is designated the Out unit and the second unit shot in a round is called the In unit.

The butt is any object against which a target face is placed, and the shooting position is marked by a post. All posts are numbered, but the yardage is not indicated.

As the archers register for a field roving tournament, the field captain sees that a target captain and two scorers are appointed for each group, which shall consist of not less than three nor more than five archers; four is the preferred number. The field captain designates the order in which the groups are to shoot or assigns the posts from which each group starts.

In the latter instance, each group proceeds to its assigned starting post, and all groups start shooting on hearing a prearranged signal; for example, a blast on a hunting horn.

Each archer shoots four arrows at each of the fourteen targets in the unit. In 10 cases, on a layout which has been approved by the National Field Archery Association, this will provide for shooting four arrows from a single post at a single face. In the remaining four cases it may mean that the bowman will shoot one arrow from each of four posts at the same face, or it may mean shooting all four arrows from a single post, but at four different faces. Archers shoot in the order of the scores made on the previous target; i. e., high scorer shoots first, etc. In case of a tie the target captain may state the order of shooting. If the course permits, two archers may shoot at the same time. If an archer is required to stop shooting because of a broken bow string, or similar cause, he must take witnesses appointed by the field captain with him when he finishes the round.


The target faces authorized for a field course are divided into two concentric scoring circles, with an aiming spot in the center. An arrow landing in the inner circle, including the aiming spot, scores a value of five; and in the outer circle, it is scored as a three. The line marking the circumference of the larger of the scoring rings is not included in the scoring area. For this reason, the arrow must cut the line so that no color of the line can be seen, between the arrow and the area included in the circle, before a hit can be recorded. The same is true for the inner line which divides the two circles; no portion of this line may show between the arrow and the center of the target in order to score the value of the inner circle. An arrow that skids, or glances into the target has no scoring value; and an arrow that passes through the face, and remains in the butt, may be scored as a hit in the circle through which it has passed only if it is pushed back through the face. It cannot be withdrawn from the butt and then stuck back through the target.

Women are permitted to compete against men, but men may not compete against the women in the women’s events.

No practice is permitted on a field course on the day of a tournament held on that course. Practice butts should be provided. If separate classes are set up for free style and instinctive archers, N.F.A.A. rules require archers shooting in the instinctive class to use bows free from sights, marks or blemishes that could be used in aiming. This applies to the string also. Free style archers may use any kind of a bow sight, but it must not have been calibrated for the tournament course. If no distinctive line is drawn between styles of shooting, a sight is permitted which consists of a single narrow mark, not to exceed one-eighth inch in width, or a fixed sight of similar dimensions. In event that two or more competitors are tied at the end of the tournament, the winner may be determined as the archer who has the highest total for a round of 28 targets. If this does not resolve the tie, then the archer who has the highest unit score will be the winner. A tie may also be shot off on the first three targets. Tournament officials should always announce the methods which will be used to determine the winner in case of a tie, prior to the start of the competition. The use of a range finder, or any device that could be used as an aid in determining distance on the course, is prohibited.

The archer is further prohibited from consulting any memoranda or notes which could be a means of improving his or her score.

Scoring a Broadhead Round

The broadhead round places a premium on the archer’s ability to score with his first arrow. The round is shot over specified distances which for convenience are generally staked out on the field roving course in order to take advantage of the target butts. There is not any limit on the weight of bow that may be used. Arrows used in the men’s division must be equipped with a broadhead that measures at least seven-eighths of an inch wide and have a cutting edge at least one and one-half inches in length. The ladies arrows must be at least three-quarters inch in width and have a cutting edge of at least one and one-half inches. To identify the order in which arrows have been shot, each archer’s arrows are numbered consecutively and they are shot in that order with the lowest numbered arrow shot first. Before the start of the round, an archer should provide himself with a sufficient supply of arrows so that time will not be wasted, and the progress of the tournament impeded by a necessity to search for lost arrows beyond a reasonable length of time.At each target the archer may shoot not more than three arrows. If the archer scores with his first arrow, he stops shooting at that target. If the first arrow misses, the archer shoots the second. If a score is made with the second arrow, the archer does not shoot the third arrow. In like manner, if the second arrow also misses the target, the archer shoots his third and last arrow at that particular target. An archer’s first arrow pays off with the highest scoring value on each successive target: 20 points in the inner and 15 points in the outer scoring circle. The second arrow scores 15 points in the inner and 10 points in the outer scoring circle. If the archer has failed to score with either of his first two arrows and is required to shoot the third arrow, its scoring value is 10 points in the inner and five points in the outer scoring circle. Thus, if the archer is required to shoot the third arrow and scores in the inner circle, 10 points the value of the arrow is only half of what the archer would have earned if a similar shot had been made with his first arrow, which would have had a scoring value of 20.

This is the round that a good target archer, who uses the under jaw anchor finds it difficult to compete successfully against the instinctive bowman. In the regular field roving round, a target archer uses his first arrow as a ranging shot to determine elevation, and considers himself fortunate if the first arrow strikes within the scoring face of the target. After he has shot one arrow, the target archer can correct for elevation and be confident that the remaining arrows will have the proper elevation to land on the target. Using this method, a target archer can compile a good total score in a field roving round, but ordinarily he or she cannot be expected to place high on the list in the broadhead round. The instinctive shot has developed his method of shooting to the point that each arrow shot is entirely independent of any other shot, and the first arrow has as much chance of registering in the inner circle as the succeeding shots.

The broadhead round is an ideal method of competition for those bowmen who are particularly interested in using the bow in the hunting field. Unfortunately broadhead arrows present a problem; they are difficult to withdraw from the butts, and are very destructive compared to target arrows. Butts and faces deteriorate rapidly from their use. For this reason, a modification of this round, called The Hunter’s Round, in which target arrows are substituted for broadheads, is frequently shot instead of the regular broadhead round.

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