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How to Shoot Outdoor Target

Shooting outdoors can be a fun and exciting change to the monotony of shooting 18 meters indoors. Making sure to practice at the proper distance for your equipment category, however, can be beneficial to your success in outdoor competitions. Here is a list of what you need to know when transitioning from indoor to outdoor shooting, and some of the equipment tweaks you’ll need to do for shooting an outdoor setup.

Know Your Distance

There are plenty of different distances to list off, especially with the various age categories, but the main disciplines that you’ll find are the senior (adult) age division “full” distances:

  • Senior Compound – 50 m on an 80 cm target face
  • Senior Barebow – 50 m on a 122 cm target face
  • Senior Recurve – 70 m on a 122 cm target face

Recurve and barebow archers will be shooting on a full target face with scoring rings from 1 to 10 visible to the archer. Compound archers shoot on a reduced target face with only the 5 to 10 ring — this enables four individual targets to fit on a single target butt. It’s important to practice on your proper target at your designated distance so that you get accustomed to the feeling, especially if you’re a barebow archer who needs to figure out where to aim.

Tweak Your Equipment

When switching to your outdoor setup, you should consider modifying your equipment slightly to gain all the advantages you can for outdoor shooting. Each type of bow will have some minor changes. One constant that changes with pretty much every setup is that the arrows will go from big-diameter indoor arrows to thin, long-range outdoor arrows.


With the switch to thinner arrows, barebow archers have a change to make that is very similar to what recurve archers will do: Move the arrow rest up and the plunger in to account for the smaller diameter. Having the arrow properly positioned on the arrow rest and plunger will help with center shot (arrow alignment), which aids in having the arrow leave the bow in a straight line.


Just like the barebow archers, recurve (Olympic-style) archers will have to adjust their arrow rest and plunger to account for the thinner diameter of outdoor arrows. Besides that, some archers will also change up their weight distribution on their stabilizers to help with aiming in the wind. This is a personal preference that each archer will have to figure out for themselves. Another personal preference for recurve archers is how they see their sight pin now that they will be shooting in the sun; a minor change to the sight pin can make it more (or less) prominent depending on what the archer likes while in full sunlight.


One of Canada’s top compound archers, Dr. Andrew Fagan, shared a few things that he (and many other compound archers) does when he moves from indoor to outdoor shooting. 

“I change my blade,” Fagan said. “Indoors 0.12-inch standard width and outdoors 0.10-inch freakshow (narrow) blade for x10s. A lot of people with lighter arrows shoot 0.08-inch, but my arrows are 400 grains, so I find 0.10-inch is good for me. 

“I will need to drop my peep slightly as we are shooting farther distances. I set my peep while shooting 50 meters and run it this height for target and field. 

“With tuning, I will need to change my nocking point, then of course blade position.”

Fagan also adjusts his cable guard inward because he doesn’t need to maintain clearance for his indoor arrows with big fletching.

Knowing your equipment will help you decide what needs to be done to shoot well as you transition to the open air. Getting a good feel for your outdoor distance and target will also help your confidence. Keep your experimenting to a minimum, though, and try not to make extreme changes because this could make your transition more difficult. Practice in every type of weather condition you can endure to be more successful in competition — where shooting only stops when there’s thunder and lightning — and you will build your resilience in the face of the elements, which is key in outdoor shooting.



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Learn the basics here, from the different styles of archery to how to choose the bow that’s right for you.


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