Outdoor target archery is the sport shot in the Olympic Games and World Archery’s World Cup series, both of which attract the world’s elite archers. This type of archery is also shot in backyards, and at local clubs and state tournaments.
Outdoor target archery is beginner-friendly because most tournaments offer one distance, which simplifies the learning process. Shooting distances vary by age class and equipment category. Below are common distances at outdoor events. For a full list of rules and distances, click here.
- Compound archers shoot 50 meters at an 80-centimeter target.
- Recurve archers shoot 70 meters at a 122-centimeter target.
- Barebow archers shoot 50 meters at a 122-centimeter target.
Whether you try target archery for fun or competition, you must learn to score your arrows. The targets have white, black, blue and red outer rings with a gold center. The rings score from 10 points to 1.
The 10-ring on the 122-centimeter target measures 12.2 centimeters, or 4.8 inches, and is the middle of the gold circle. The gold area outside the 10-ring is the 9-ring. The red area is split between the 8- and 7-rings. The 6- and 5-rings are blue, the 4- and 3-rings are black, and the outermost rings—the 2- and 1-rings—are white.
The 80-centimeter target has a 8-centimeter 10-ring, which is about the size of a baseball. The scoring rings are just like the 122-centimeter target, except that 80-centimeter targets have no rings past the 5-ring. Limiting the number of rings allows four target faces per bale, which gives each archer their own target.
Arrows hitting the black line between two scoring rings are scored as the higher scoring ring. The shaft only needs to touch the line to earn the higher score. At tournaments, don’t touch your arrows until they’re scored, and call out the scores from highest to lowest value.
Once you know how to score, you can shoot a round and see how you do. To test yourself further, sign up for a tournament. Clubs, shops, and state and national organizations host target events. USA Archery’s website maintains a calendar of the events, which you can view here. Websites and social-media platforms for state organizations are also good sources for tournament information, as are experts at archery shops. You can find a nearby shop here.