What do Archery Tournament
Officials Do, Anyway? What do Archery Tournament Officials Do, Anyway?

Officials and judges ensure safe, fair competition at target, field and 3-D archery tournaments. If you’re attending your first tournament, it’s helpful to know what judges do and how you should interact with them.

What Archery Judges Do

Before each competition, judges measure the distances to targets to ensure they’re set properly. When the archers arrive, judges inspect their equipment – your bow, arrows, release or finger tab – and ensure you’re following the event’s dress code.

Once the competition begins, judges watch the archers to ensure everyone shoots safely. When archers score their arrows at the target, they eventually find a shot that’s difficult to score, or two archers disagree on what it should score. A judge makes the final call. Judges also answer any questions about rules or tournament procedures.

Tournament judges and officials make the final call on arrows that are difficult to score due to their proximity to different scoring rings. Photo Credit: World Archery

Judges are There for You

Judges do not want to be punitive. They prefer to find teaching moments. If you accidentally break a rule, no judge will yell at you or punish you unnecessarily. “If someone breaks a rule, I’ll explain it to them and show them the rule in the rule book so they understand it completely,” said Doug Ludwig, a judge for USA Archery and World Archery.

If You Don’t Know, Ask

If a rule confuses you, ask a judge. “We’re there for the archers,” Ludwig said. “My job is to remove as much anxiety from the archers as possible so they can just concentrate on their shot. The sooner they can ask the question, the sooner we can answer it and make them feel comfortable.”

When archers arrive at tournaments, judges inspect their equipment and ensure competitors are following the event’s rules and dress code. Photo Credit: World Archery

Know the Rules

Ludwig said the most commonly broken rules involve equipment and dress codes. Most rule violations are unintentional and easily avoided if archers look at the rulebook beforehand. To learn the tournament’s rules, first determine which archery organization sanctions the tournament. Once you know whether it’s USA Archery, NFAA, IBO or ASA, visit their website and read the tournament rules.

Tournament judges are there for your benefit and the event’s integrity. If it’s your first tournament, let the judge know. And ask questions. Many judges are former coaches or competitors, or they’re parents of archers. They can relate to your questions, and they’re understanding, especially of new archers.

To try a tournament, first find an archery coach, and contact a nearby archery shop to get started.

Find a store near you.