Field archery is one of the most enjoyable and challenging games archers can play.
It tests your ability to handle weather and varying shot angles while shooting lots of arrows at distances from 16 feet to 80 yards.
Think of field archery as the Ironman of archery games. This game takes archers through an outdoor range that’s set up much like a golf course. The course features bull’s-eye targets at varying distances, with close shots featuring small targets and long shots featuring larger targets.
Two primary organizations govern field-archery events: World Archery and the National Field Archery Association. Both offer unique takes on field archery.
At World Archery events, archers compete in barebow, Olympic recurve or compound divisions. They shoot 48 targets over two days, 24 per day, and shoot three times at each target.
The target faces measure 20 to 80 centimeters, and shooting distances vary from 5 to 60 meters. The target faces have six rings that score 1 to 6 points. The 5- and 6-point rings are gold, while the rest of the target is black.
World Archery’s two-day competitions feature archers shooting at marked-distance targets one day, and unknown distances the next. On the unmarked-distance day, archers estimate the distances themselves to increase the challenge.
NFAA offers several equipment divisions, including crossbows, open compound and bowhunter gear, and Olympic recurve and traditional equipment. For the full list of NFAA divisions, click here.
NFAA offers three versions of its field game: target round, hunter round, and animal round. Each version has a 14-target course that’s shot twice, or one 28-target course.
During the target round, targets are set from 20 feet to 80 yards. All distances are marked at 5- and 10-yard or feet intervals. That is, targets are at 20 or 25 feet; or 25, 30, 35, 40 yards and so on.
Target sizes vary from 20 centimeters for closer shots to 65 centimeters for longer shots. The target faces feature a center black area that scores 5 points. The 5-point center is marked with an X that scores 5 points, and the X is marked on scorecards for breaking ties.
Two white scoring rings surrounding the center black area both score 4 points, and they’re surrounded by two black scoring rings that both score 3 points.
Archers shoot four arrows at each target station in NFAA events, for a maximum 20 points and four X’s. Some stations might have four target faces on the butt, and archers might shoot one arrow at each face. At other stations they shoot all arrows into one face.
During the “hunter” round, archers shoot targets set from 11 to 70 yards, and most are at odd distances that don’t end in 5 or 0, such as 17, 19, 53 and 59 yards.
The faces on hunter targets vary from 20 centimeters to 65 centimeters, with targets getting larger as distances increase. The face has different colors, featuring a white center dot that scores 5 points. The center X scores 5 points, but it’s marked on scorecards to break ties.
The hunter round generally is considered easier than the target round because its maximum distance is 70 yards. In addition, the center white scoring area, which is surrounded by black, is easier to aim at than the black-white-black target-round faces.
Hunter rounds often include walk-up targets, where archers shoot one arrow at four different distances as they walk toward the target.
The NFAA animal round features paper animal targets instead of bull’s-eye paper faces. Animal round targets are set from 10 to 60 yards, with small animals at close distances and larger animals at the longer distances.
Scoring for the animal round differs from the other two. Each target has three scoring areas: a center dot, surrounded by a larger scoring ring, which is surrounded by an even larger ring. Archers shoot a maximum of three arrows at each target. If the first arrow hits a scoring area, it earns 21 points for the dot, 20 points for the next scoring ring, and 18 points for the outer ring. In those cases, no other arrows are shot at that target.
If archers miss a scoring ring with their first shot, they shoot a second arrow. Further, when archers miss the scoring rings with their first and second arrows, they take a third shot. Point totals for second and third arrows are less than those awarded for the first arrow. Hitting the center dot with a second arrow, for example, scores 17 points instead of 21.
NFAA field events often mix two or three types of rounds. At the annual NFAA Field National Championships, for example, archers shoot one 28-target course each of target, hunter and animal rounds. That’s a minimum of 252 arrows shot for score.
If you like a challenge that combines precision, concentration and endurance, field archery might be your game.