Modern competitive archery has come a long way since the days of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. Today’s archers perform in target and field archery more often that not and the two sports, though largely similar, draw slightly different crowds. There are numerous other brands of competitive archery as well, but these two are more or less the major tournament sports. So, knowing the difference between the two is a great place to start for anyone considering getting into the sport and wondering where they should start.
Target archery is a major world sport, included in the Olympics and governed by the International Archery Federation. The sport itself consists of both indoor and outdoor variations. The indoor variation is on a much shorter course than the outdoor.
Starting at 18 meters and going to 25 meters, indoor target archery is often performed with fewer arrows when in competition than outdoor. Outdoor events are held at a distance of 30 to 90 meters and allow more shots. Arrows are shot in ends of 3 or 6 depending on the competition and between each end archers retrieve their arrows and score their shots. The target for target archery is very familiar, consisting of 10 evenly spaced circles valued from 1 to 10 in points. The middle ring or x-ring (often misnamed the bulls eye) is used as a tie breaker in outdoor competitions. The archer with the most X’s wins the tie break. When an arrow hits a line between circles they’re awarded the higher score of the two.
The size of the target varies slightly as well, from 40 cm for indoor events to 122 cm for outdoor events.
Unlike target archery, field archery is more closely related to early uses of archery, that of field marksmanship and unmarked targets. A field archery event is often divided into rounds, with 28 targets presented. Rounds themselves include field, hunter, and animal variations.
During the field round, distances are up to 80 yards away and marked with three rings. Hunter rounds are at distances of up to 70 yards and targets are all black with a white bulls eye. Animal rounds are done with full sized animal likenesses. The scoring is different as an archer will keep shooting arrows until they hit the target. Similar to golf, the fewer shots taken the better. Scores are made by where the arrow strikes, either vital or non-vital spots on the animal.
While both sports are more or less the same in essence – archers attempt to hit targets at intermittent distances with their bow – the methodology is completely different between target and field archery. Target archery is a much cleaner Olympic-style sport with purely intangible targets at easily measured distances.
Field archery, on the other hand, is more akin to hunting and honing the hunting skill as it focuses on hitting hard to see targets at great distance in woodland settings. The animal round is essentially a hunting style round and the results are often measured on not only efficiency but overall proficiency.
Between the two, a new archer is given the choice of classic sport or practicality. Either way, archery offers a variety of exciting opportunities to practice and become a more skilledmarksman.