Guide to Competitions

Guide to Competitions

An indoor shoot is usually at 18m, and consists of 4 rounds of 30 arrows each. Arrows are shot in ends of 3, so you have 10 ends per round. Some competitions have head to head competitions or team competitions in the afternoon sessions, and you can get instructions at your local club as to how these work.

Outdoor FITA shoots are usually shot at 90, 70, 50 and 30m (male) and 70, 60, 50 and 30m (female), and other shorter distances for cadets and juniors. Arrows are shot in 6’s at 90, 70 and 60m, and 3 arrows per end at 50 and 30m.

At each shoot, you will start with an equipment check. For recurve, this will check your tab, basic bow setup, and check that your name and arrow number is on the fletches and shaft of your arrows, for compounders, your release will be checked, your arrows as per above, and you will be asked to draw back your bow to check poundage.

Every shoot will have some important markings on the ground/floor that you need to know about. The equipment line will be 5 meters behind the shooting line, and you should always have all your gear behind that line. If it’s not, the judge will hold the shoot until it is. You should always be behind the line too unless you are moving to a shooting position.

You have the shooting line, which you shoot from, and then the 3 meter line which is 3 meters towards the target from the shooting line. If an arrow falls from your bow and lands before the 3 metre line you can shoot another arrow in its place. If an arrow falls or misfires and the entire arrow travels past the 3 metre line, that arrow is deemed to be shot and you will score a miss for it.

Shooting Order (the AB/CD thing)

Which means you shoot on target 5, slot a.

Two people at a time shoot, with A&B shooting together, and C&D shooting together. There will be a marker on the floor between the shooting line and the target that shows you who is first up to shoot for each end.

A&B always shoot first on the first end, C&D shoot first the second end, so the sequence normally for 30 arrows is

  1. End 1: A&B, C&D
  2. End 2: C&D, A&B
  3. End 3: A&B, C&D
  4. End 4: C&D, A&B
  5. End 5: A&B, C&D
  6. End 6: C&D, A&B

If there are sufficient numbers a competition organiser may have an A&B&C line (Outdoor Events only). All Three archers assigned to that target approach the line and shoot their arrows at the same time. 

Which target do I shoot?

If you are 5A, this means that you shoot on the first vertical 3 spot face, or the top left hand target. Vertical 3 spot faces are ordered A, C, B, D, so there is space for two archers to shoot at a time, and their arrows will not be too close together in the air! Here it is in a picture:

Safety, Whistles and Beeps!

Two whistle blasts is stand to the line, ready to shoot. One blast of the whistle is shoot. Three blasts is Let Down Now – basically do not shoot, Let down from draw. Ditto for beeps.

A special note on arrows: if you drop an arrow, you CANNOT step across the shooting line retrieve it. Please shoot your spare arrow(s) instead.


You will have two (2) minutes to shoot 3 arrows indoors, 4 minutes to shoot 6 arrows outdoors. You will get a warning from the judge via red flag or beep once you are within 30 seconds of the end of the time slot. If you do not shoot all your arrows within the allotted time, tough.

Arrows again…

Outdoors, it’s quite easy to use a wrong sight mark or just shoot badly for an end. If you miss the target completely, your arrow(s) will be in the ground. Typically, an arrow is either really easy to find or really hard to find. If it’s not immediately obvious, the judges will not hold the competition up for you to find your arrows! So when shooting at distance, it’s advised to have a few more arrows than the required 6! 

Equipment failure

If you have an equipment failure (bow explodes, sight falls off, etc) you should raise your hard to notify the judge, who can arbitrate the equipment failure, and if necessary, allow you to shoot your arrows once the other archers have finished their end. If you run out of arrows, it’s not an equipment failure, it’s a “you” failure. If repairs are required a maximum of 15 minutes is allowed.

The four people on the target will break into two groups usually – two people are needed to score, two people will pull the arrows once they are scored. If there are less than four people on the target, then two will be needed to score regardless. If you are on your own on a target (this rarely happens) the duplicate score card must be scored by someone else, i.e. a steward or impartial member of the field crew.

There will be two score cards or sets of scorecards per target, and the names should be filled in per the shooting order (ABCD in slots 1234 respectively).

Once all arrows are shot, you will (on the whistle) approach the target. Each archer (in ABCD order) will call their arrow scores, indicating which arrows they are calling by pointing to the nocks, scoring the highest arrow first, then in descending order. Note that at no point should you touch an arrow.

If an arrow touches a line, then you get the higher score. If you are not sure that an arrow touches, call what you think it is – note that a lot of archers will ask others on the target what they think, but at the end of the discussion, YOU have to call what you think, and if an archer wishes to dispute, they will call a judge. It’s no big deal, it happens all the time, so don’t feel under pressure to not call an arrow.

On a target of 4 archers you only need one other archer to agree with your score for it to carry.

If you are scoring, then you will need to fill in each score as it’s called, and at the end of each 6 arrows, tot the score per archer. as a note, its sometimes easier to count the “minus score” than add up the scores – i.e someone scoring 10,10,9,9,8,7 would have a “minus score” of

10-10 =0, 10-10=0, 10-9=1, 10-9=1, 10-8=2, 10-7=3

for a total of 1+1+2+3=7, 60-7 = 53 – it sounds complicated, but when you are scoring it’s not! Honest!

If you are pulling arrows, DO NOT TOUCH THEM until all the arrows are scored by the archers. Once they have been scored, then please carefully remove the arrows from the target. Note that some archers may ask to pull their own arrows, and if you are pulling aluminium arrows, or aluminium/carbon arrows, please take care not to bend them – firmly grip arrows at the target with an arrow puller, and remove them without bending! If need be for firmly buried arrows, get the other person pulling arrows to pull them with you.

Some competitions insist on Whites or Club Colours. Whites consist of a white t-shirt or jumper with white trousers, tracksuit bottoms or shorts. Club Colours are those registered with Archery Ireland by your club. There is a general exception to this rule for those attending their first couple of competitions but you should not take liberties with this exception. Most competitions adhere to the no jeans rule. Please don’t wear jeans or you may be refused permission to compete. Shorts, Sports gear/tracksuits, trousers, waterproofs (outdoor) or whites are all OK. Club colours are of course always the preference but it should be remembered that, while you are wearing your club colours, you are an ambassador for your club and should conduct yourself accordingly.

Firstly, pick up your litter! All shoots are run by clubs here, and it’s disrespectful to leave your trash all over the place – please make sure that you are gathering all your trash throughout the day and disposing of it in the correct manner when leaving. Secondly, please help tidy up at the end of the day – target butts, stands, and all manner of equipment will need to be put away – it’s always very much appreciated, and generally remembered, if you help out on the day.

Walking off the line after shooting: It is good etiquette that if the archers at either side of you are in the process of shooting (i.e. past drawing up) to wait until they have shot to walk off the line. It can be distracting if you are just about to release and someone walks off the line beside you. However you must not remain on the line if you have the opportunity to leave as this can be seen by the judges as a deliberate distraction to other archers still shooting. Note that you CANNOT return to the line once you leave it.

This is the most important thing- MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN!!!!


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