If you’re new to archery, it’s a good idea to be aware of archery range etiquette before heading out to your local archery range. Every archery range is different, with most offering multiple target options at various shooting distances. When it comes to range etiquette, there are rules and best practices for each range you choose to visit. Etiquette rules help to ensure fairness, respect, and above all safety.
Following a range’s rules not only helps keep you safe, it helps keep others in your vicinity safe, too. It also makes participating in the sport all that more enjoyable!
Archery Rules vs Etiquette
Archery ranges are spaces specifically created for the purpose of shooting bows and arrows. Some shoot for fun and/or to challenge themselves while others practice to improve their competitive shooting ability. Most archery ranges welcome first-time visitors and are happy to help you learn the layout, rules, and etiquette of the range.
Archery rules are formal and required of every archer to safely participate. Etiquette specifically refers to how you compose yourself while shooting at an archery range. Every archery range has its own setup and safety rules – never assume rules are the same for any two archery ranges. So, you’ll also need to pay attention to all posted signs once at the range.
Statistically, archery is one of the world’s safest sports. That’s because archery ranges have rules and processes in place to maintain a safe environment. The reason most archery ranges don’t experience a serious accident is because breaking the rules will get you banned from the range.
That said, the majority of rules and etiquette is common sense. Even so, be sure to thoroughly read and understand the archery range rules in place before visiting an archery range. That will ensure you’re safe with your equipment and ready to go.
Tips For Archery Range Etiquette
Everyone appreciates archery range etiquette. No matter if you’re young, old, a compound shooter or a longbow archer, etiquette is important. Some archers shoot for fun, while others shoot because archery is their livelihood. No matter the reason, etiquette helps to ensure everyone on the range is acting with consideration for others.
1. Range Safety
Every archery range should have safety rules posted for everyone to see. Not every archery range will have the same rules, but many of the rules will be the same. That said, there a number of rules that are common sense, but still posted for clarity. We’ll cover a few of them here to get you started.
Don’t nock (or even touch) your arrows until everyone returns from pulling their arrows and returns behind the shooting line. Keep all of your arrows in your quiver until it’s time for you to shoot. Once all clear is given, you’re welcome to start shooting again. Once you start shooting, also be sure to shoot at the target directly in front of you. Never shoot at an angle from other archers as arrow damage may occur in flight or in the target.
Once nocked, always be sure to keep your arrow pointed downrange. If you’re new to archery, it’s easy to become distracted so you must concentrate on always keeping your arrow pointed down range. I’ve even seen experienced archers start talking on the shooting line and naturally start to face the person they’re talking to…including their arrow!
Be very careful when entering or exiting the shooting line area. When preparing to shoot, make sure that both of your feet straddle the shooting line. Also, try not to talk to archers who are on the shooting line. While this is not a rule, some people may find it distracting.
Once of the most important rules is to never cross a live shooting for any reason. A live shooting line means others are still shooting and to wait until everyone is done to collect your arrows. When pulling, be sure no one is standing behind you and place the arrows in your quiver before you start walking back.
2. Be Respectful
Archery range etiquette means being respectful of others, even when they’re not shooting. This means absolutely no horseplay on or even near the range. This translates to no yelling, no screaming, no music (headphones are fine), no running, no distracting sounds (including your phone), give people plenty of space, keep conversations to a minimum while on the shooting line, and of course no smoking, no alcohol, and no drugs.
While you should be considerate, polite, and friendly to those around you, be mindful that many archers want to be left alone. Being constantly aware of your surroundings will take you far. And never offer unsolicited advice to another archer unless they ask! Even if you’re an experienced archer and you know your advice is correct, it’s not your place to offer spontaneous advice to other archers unless there is a safety concern.
It’s also very important to respect the range and other people’s equipment. The last thing you want to happen is for you to damage property or equipment that doesn’t belong to you. If you treat the range, people, and equipment with respect, you’re already halfway there.
3. Know When To Start And Stop Shooting
You may have a lot of arrows in your quiver, but you don’t need to shoot them all. Take a look around to see how many arrows other archers are shooting. If you find that people are waiting on you, try taking fewer shots.
If you’re a fast shooter or only have a few arrows, expect to wait a little bit while others notice that you’re done. Always be sure to stop when you’re one of the last still shooting, even if you have more arrows left because you don’t want to make people wait for you. All archers must stop shooting once the “all clear” command is given.
It’s also good to be aware when entering or exiting the shooting line next to an archer at full draw. It’s best to stay put until their arrow hits the target before moving as this can be quite distracting.
4. Don’t Touch Other People’s Arrows
While you may find it tempting, never touch or pull another person’s arrows unless they are okay with it or ask you to. Even if the arrow is right next to yours, you still can’t touch it unless given the go-ahead. Some archers are keeping score so they need to know exactly where their arrows land. Others may have arrows that bend easily and don’t want anyone accidently bending them. If you do have permission to touch another archer’s arrows, be sure to handle the arrows with the same care as you do your own arrows.
When it comes to scoring, you must wait for the scorer to confirm they’ve finished the scoring process before touching any arrows. This means you’re not able to collect any of your arrows from the target until the scorers are done. This ensures everyone is scored on shot placement unaffected by touch.
5. Stay Humble
Let your shooting accuracy speak for itself, nobody likes a bragger. Bragging about your high scores and/or how great your arrow impact is compared to other archers will likely have others avoiding you, even disliking you. While it’s definitely okay for you to feel excitement when you’re having a great day, just be sure to stay humble and keep your cool.
Taking this attitude will likely draw others to you and is suggested if you’re looking to make long-lasting archery friends. Simply pay attention to the personality and mood of others to help you recognize like-minded shooting friends. It’s also okay to ask, “how’d you do?”, but don’t pressure others into giving you their score. Rubbing your success in the face of others is not a good way to make friends.
Practicing Archery Range Etiquette
Archers who are new to the range should jump right in! Following the above etiquette guidelines helps ensure you’ll do just fine. If you pay close attention to archers who have a lot of experience, you’ll learn by watching. It’s important to read and understand the rules, but learning from experienced archers will help cement proper etiquette.
Also, be sure you practice within your ability. For example, if you’re having a hard time hitting the target, you need to move closer. Shooting at a closer distance is a good idea until you’re confident enough to move further away. The reason being, you don’t want others waiting for you while you gather arrows all over the place. Shooting at distances you’re not ready for doesn’t do you or anyone else any favor.
An archery range is not only a perfect place for practice, it’s also a great place for learning! If you have any questions after reading the rules associated with any particular archery range, don’t hesitate to ask one of the employees/members. They will not only help you with range safety, but answer any other questions you may have about archery.
As with any sport, there are rules in place that you must follow. Following the above tips helps ensure your safety as well as those around you. It also ensures an enjoyable, quiet setting where archers can focus on their shooting. Range etiquette allows for the best shooting experience, for you and those around you. Before you know it, you’ll feel comfortable shooting with archers at any range.