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Archery Handicaps & Classifications

The archery calendar is separated into indoor and outdoor seasons.

  • The indoor season runs from 1st July to 30th June
  • The outdoor from 1st January to 31st December.
  • Handicaps and classifications are maintained separately for each season, but the rules are similar for both.

Archers will not receive a classification or handicap until they have submitted at least three separate ‘scored rounds’ to the club’s records officer.

The official list of available rounds can be found here and in the ArcheryGB Rules of Shooting.

Each round consists of shooting a number of arrows at several distances. For example, a ‘FITA’ involves shooting 3 dozen arrows at 90/70m followed by 3 dozen at 70/60m, 3 dozen at 50m and then 3 dozen at 30m.

The table of rounds details which distances and number of arrows are required in each case.

The basic idea is simply to record the score you achieve during the round and submit them to the records officer who will use them to update your personal record.

There are a few extra rules that you need to follow when shooting a scored round:

  • The round must be shot starting with the longest distance.
  • For imperial rounds you cannot practice beforehand. You are only allowed 6 arrows as ‘sighters’ at the longest distance before you shoot. You are allowed to practice before shooting metric rounds e.g FITA rounds, these are usually 3 ends of arrows.
  • Sighters cannot be scored.
  • The round must be shot under competition conditions, you must have shot with someone else, and you must submit the score on paper, in blue or black ink, signed by your target companion for verification.

Whats next?

You should submit your score to the club’s records officer or committee member. The same goes for if you’re claiming a club record. Club record claims must be made with the original scoresheet, duly countersigned by your target companion.

On this website, you will find your current handicap and classification if you’ve shot enough scoring rounds, and can compare with everyone else in the club.

Do I have to do this?

Not if you don’t want to, it’s not a requirement. However, shooting scored rounds is a really good way to track your progress as you improve. You will move up through the classifications and get lower handicaps as you get better.

A high beginner’s handicap means you effectively get a large allowance added to your score which the experienced archers won’t get. The allowances are designed such that every archer, no matter what gender, bow style, round shot or classification will score 1440 if they shoot exactly to handicap. The winner is the person that shoots better than they normally do on the day.

Even for the experienced archers amongst us, it is your responsibility to send any scores you wish to be recorded to the records officer.

How are they calculated?

There are tables which contain all of the rounds and possible scores. The handicap for each round is looked up in those tables. Lower handicap numbers mean you are shooting better. Your first three round’s handicaps are averaged and rounded up to a whole number. This is your initial handicap.

Each subsequent round you shoot can potentially lower your handicap further, but can’t make it higher.

For example:
  • Your first 3 round handicaps are 65, 63 & 60, giving an initial handicap of 63 (62.66 rounded up).
  • Your next round scores a handicap of 64. This is higher than 63 so no adjustment is made.
  • Your next round has a handicap of 56 – well done! This 56 is averaged with your current handicap of 63 and rounded up. This gives a new handicap of 60 (59.5 rounded up).

Can my Handicap go down?

At the start of each season (January 1st for outdoor, July 1st for indoor) your handicap is re-assessed. Your best three handicap rounds of the previous year are averaged to produce your starting handicap for the next season. So, if you have a year where none of your scores improve, your handicap may go up at the start of the next season.

The ArcheryGB classification scheme gives you progressive goals to aim for. Each level of the scheme you reach entitles you to a new achievement badge.

In addition to monitoring your handicaps, the records officer also monitors your classification achievements. The classifications have different names for indoor and outdoor shooting.

Outdoor classifications: Archer, 3rd Class, 2nd Class, 1st Class, Bowman, Master Bowman and Grand Master Bowman.

Indoor Classifications: H, G, F, E, D, C, B and A.

Each score you achieve for a given round determines the classification you receive. Again, there are tables for each round, bow style and gender with the scores required to achieve each classification. Copies of the classification tables are available on the Shooting Administrative Procedures.

Generally, the higher classifications can only be achieved when shooting rounds which have longer distances. You can’t achieve 1st class unless you shoot 100 yards or 90m for example (80 yards / 70m for ladies).

Here’s an example:

You must shoot three qualifying rounds in a season to attain the classification. If you shoot two 2nd class rounds and a whole bunch of 3rd class rounds, your overall classification will be 3rd class. One more 2nd class score would have made you a 2nd class archer.

Your classification will change immediately once you have shot three improved classes. At the end of the season, your best classification during that season will carry to the start of the following year.

Classification awards, in the form of badges, are given annually if your classification has improved. However, once you have achieved a classification (in any bow style, and at any point in the past) you cannot receive another badge at that level. For example, if you have ever been a 1st class recurve archer, but are now shooting longbow at 2nd class, you will not be awarded another badge if you become a 1st class longbow archer.

Classifications up to Bowman are handled by the club records officer.

Master Bowman and Grand Master Bowman classifications are handled by ArcheryGB directly and can only be achieved during UK record status shoots or higher. These will enable you to shoot at the UK Masters (Invitation only competition) if you have achived these scores

Archer’s Mate is a handy website that will tell you the handicap and classification for any score in any round.

What about Juniors? Is it the same?

The majority of this is the same whether you are a Senior or Junior. There are, however, two slight differences. First, being younger, you can obtain classifications at shorter distances. For example, an U12 girl can become a Junior Bowman by shooting at no more than 30 yards. Second, as you get older and change age categories, your classification is re-assessed.

Your handicap is not re-assessed as it is not dependant on age. When you move into a new age category, your three best scores from the previous 12 months are assessed against your new age category and from that your new classification is worked out. This re-classification only applies to Outdoor shooting as there is no separate Indoor classification system for Juniors.

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