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Beginners Guide to Indoor Archery Tournaments

The days are getting shorter, and it won’t be long until falling leaves become falling snow. Luckily, the cooler weather doesn’t mean you have to stop shooting your bow. An indoor range can be your winter oasis! Even better, these facilities are great places to try some competitive archery.

Indoor archery is an excellent way to try competing in archery competitions. You can participate in these tournaments close to home or travel to major tournaments domestically and abroad. Here’s what you need to know to get started. 


USA Archery and NFAA have adjusted their tournament procedures to accommodate COVID-19 guidelines. Photo Credit: USA Archery

Signing up for an archery tournament might seem intimidating, but they’re actually very approachable. You’ll find the archers welcoming, and the egos turned down. That’s because in archery, you’re mostly competing against yourself. Indoor tournaments are usually shot at 20 yards or 18 meters. You can quickly become proficient at indoor distances, especially with the proper instruction and gear.

Indoor tournaments during COVID-19 look a little different than they have in the past, but there are still safe options. Tournament organizers like USA Archery and the National Field Archery Association have changed their approach to large tournaments. USA Archery announced that the 2021 Indoor Nationals will be held alongside each state championship. The results from the state championship will be pooled for the national championship. Read more about that change here

The National Field Archery Association is also moving its national championship to smaller venues. Learn more about their tournament here.

If you want a convenient and socially distanced way to shoot in a tournament, consider an online tournament. You can shoot these events alone in your backyard or at a nearby indoor archery range. Discover more about online tournaments here

Another way to participate is through an archery league, which is a weekly tournament with a running score. When the league ends, the archer or team with the best cumulative score wins. Leagues are an excellent way to make friends and get involved in the local archery scene. Many leagues have handicapped scoring, which is like grading your archery score on a curve. Leagues are great for new shooters.


Need to get set up with gear for your indoor archery experience? Time to capture that same feeling you had as a kid when you walked through a toy store, mesmerized by packaged happiness!

Here’s everything you’ll need to get started in indoor archery.


– You have many options when choosing a bow. If you’re just starting, you can rent a bow while you save to buy your own. If you’re already a bowhunter, shoot your current bow in the bowhunter class for tournaments. Or buy a separate bow that’s tricked out for target shooting.


– Your standard arrows will certainly work, but most serious indoor shooters opt for indoor arrows. What’s the difference? Because archers aren’t battling wind, and the distance to the target is generally less than outdoor shooting, serious competitors shoot a larger diameter arrow. This arrow has a heavier point and larger fletching. These features make the arrows more accurate at indoor distances. The large diameter shaft helps catch lines for extra points.


– A quiver is worn at the hip and capable of holding all the arrows you need for the competition. Consider adding a release pouch and sturdy belt.


– A sight with fine adjustment options will help you precisely zero your bow. Target sights have adjustments that don’t require tools, so you can quickly move your arrows into the 10-ring.

Bow Stand

– When you’re done shooting and have to retrieve your arrows, you’ll need a place to set your bow. A bow stand is a portable device that keeps your bow off the ground when it’s not in use.

Arrow Puller and Lube

– Sometimes pulling your arrows from the target is more work than shooting. Both arrow lube and an arrow puller can help. Arrow lube is applied to the tip of the arrow before shooting and makes the arrows easier to pull. An arrow puller is a piece of rubber that improves your gripping power on the arrow shaft. These two tools will save your energy for shooting.


Let’s look at four common indoor tournament formats.

National Field Archery Association

The NFAA target has a white center circle surrounded by blue outer rings. The white center scores 5 points, and the surrounding rings score 4 points down to 1 point. The innermost ring of the white center is scored as an “X.” The archers’ X counts break ties.

NFAA competitors shoot five arrows per “end;” an end is one round of shooting. For example, once you shoot your five arrows, score them, remove them from the target and return to the waiting line, you have completed one end. A 60-arrow NFAA competition includes 12 ends. If all 60 shots hit the white center, the archer scores 300. A perfect NFAA indoor round earns 300 points with 60 X’s.

USA Archery

USA Archery uses a multicolored target with a gold center, and red, blue, black and white outer rings. The rings score from 10 points down to 1. The 10-ring varies depending on the archer’s bow. The smallest center ring is the compound bow’s 10-ring, and the next largest ring is the recurve bow’s 10-ring. USA Archery indoor competitors shoot three arrows per end, and 60 arrows in a competition.

The Vegas Shoot

Vegas uses the same target as USA Archery competitions, but scores the rings differently. Instead of the smallest ring being the 10-ring for compound-bow archers, all archers use the “big 10.” The smaller ring is scored as an X for breaking ties. A Vegas round is 30 arrows and, because compound archers have a larger 10-ring, perfect scores of 300 points aren’t rare.

Lancaster Archery Classic

The Lancaster Classic also uses the same target as USA Archery, but with a different scoring system. In this format, the smallest ring counts as 11 points. A perfect Lancaster Classic score is 660 points.

Now that you know how to score indoor targets, which equipment to buy, and how to find a shoot, you are ready to start practicing for your first indoor tournament. As always, your local archery shop is a great resource for helping you on the journey. 



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