The Ultimate Guide to Field Archery

Apr 25, 2022Field Archery, Target Archery

Archery comes in many different forms and styles. One of the most popular archery disciplines is field archery. While many shooters may see or be familiar with field archery, few may know the basics or how to get started. If you are looking for a guide for field archery, then you have come to the right place!

What Is Field Archery?

Field archery involves competition shooting at circular targets at different distances, heights, and angles around a target course. During a field archery competition, archers shoot at black and white targets that have three different scoring rings. A typical course has 28 targets, which are divided up into two sides of 14. Some courses may only have 14 targets, in which case shooters will go through the course twice for a full round. A shooter gets 4 arrows at each target and points are tallied depending on where the arrows hit in the scoring rings.

Field Archery Formats

Field archery competitions can be found in a few different formats. Each of these formats is similar but has some key differences between them. They will have their own target faces, distances, and rules. You will find three different field archery formats: field rounds, hunter rounds, and animal rounds.

Field Round

The field round consists of 14 targets ranging from 20 feet out to 80 yards. The targets have a white face with a black bullseye. The black center area gives you 5 points, outside of the bullseye is the white area worth 4 points, and the outer black ring is valued at 3 points. At each of these targets, you shoot 4 arrows which are then scored per target with a maximum of 20 points per target (keep track of “X”s in the bullseye for tie-breakers). These targets are also different sizes, depending on the distance at which they lie.

Hunter Round

Hunter rounds are very similar to field rounds but have a few slight changes. First, there is a different target face that features an all-black face with a small, white bullseye in the middle. Scoring, however, is the same as the field round with the center being 5 points, the next rings being worth 4, and 3 points as you move to the outer ring. Each archer gets four arrows at each target, although they must shoot from the specified distances. This could also include multiple locations on the same target. The hunter round also includes distances slightly different than the field round. For example, the field round might include distances such as 20 yards, 30 yards, and 45 yards. The hunter round might include distances such as 23 yards, 32 yards, and 44 yards.

Animal Round

The last format is called the Animal round. For many shooters, this is the most enjoyable of the three formats. Similar to the other two rounds, archers shoot a total of 28 targets. However, instead of shooting circular target faces, you shoot at targets with images of animals. Shots will range from 10 to 60 yards. The way shots are scored is also entirely different. Only three arrows are shot and they must be numbered and shot in consecutive order if needed. An archer will only take a second or third shot, however, if the first arrow did not hit the scoring area on the target.

Only the first arrow to hit the scoring area is scored. Points are scored based on realistic kill zones made up of things like the heart and lungs. You can also score points by hitting up non-kill zone areas of the animal, although these are much lower in value. Scoring is 13 points for the white dot, 12 points for the inner scoring zone, and 10 points outside of that.

Field Archery Terms

“Walk-Up” Target

Walk-up targets are targets in field archery that have a sign that lists different distances. These distances indicate where you need to shoot, and there are stakes with the same color that indicate where to shoot from. You will shoot one arrow at each of the distances, starting with the farthest, and work your way up to the target. As you shoot, you will get closer and closer to the target, or “walk-up” to it.

“Fan” Target

A “fan” target is similar to a walk-up target in that it will have a sign with distances. If you see four of the same distances on the sign, you know it is a fan target. Start by shooting one arrow from each stake, rotating positions with any other shooters in your group. While you may be shooting from the same distance, you are not shooting all of your arrows from the same position. This is where the “fan” part comes in. If there is only a single distance listed, you will shoot all four arrows from the same distance

“Birdie” Target

A birdie target is the closest target on an NFAA archery course. It is shot as a walk-up target and has four small targets that are set vertically. One arrow is shot at each target, with shooters starting at the bottom target and working their way up as they get closer.

Field Archery Targets

The actual targets that makeup field archery are unique but can vary depending on the format you are shooting. For field rounds, target face sizes are black and white in color. They are set at 80 cm, 60 cm, 40 cm, and 20 cm. On each target face, there is a series of scoring rings and these numbers refer to the size of the outermost scoring ring. The black center for those sizes is 13 cm, 10 cm, 7 cm, and 4 cm. These targets have a black outer ring with white in the middle and then the center black dot that accounts for the most amount of points.

During the Hunter round, these target faces will change from the standard black and white Field target faces to an all-black target face with only the center scoring ring being white. Lastly, Animal round target faces are completely different. Instead of circle target faces, they are images of animals with scoring zones overlaid. Points are increased in the scoring zones as you get closer to the vitals of the animal.

Benefits of Field Archery

Field archery is not only fun, but it comes with multiple benefits. These are benefits and advantages that you may not even think about while shooting in a field archery competition. A few of these include:

Enjoy the Outdoors

Field archery has the distinct advantage of allowing you to enjoy the outdoors while shooting. Unlike other forms of archery competitions that take place inside, field archery always takes place outside. Oftentimes competitions take place in some of the most scenic and beautiful places that you can imagine. It is a great excuse to get out there and enjoy nature while enjoying a pastime that you love at the same time!

Challenging Terrain

To become a better archer, it helps to practice, train, and compete in difficult situations. One of these is challenging terrain that makes it more difficult to perform a good shot. There are awkward angles and obstacles like trees, branches, and brush to potentially get in the way. Each and every field archery course is different and will be unique with the terrain that it provides. The terrain will challenge you in new ways that you simply do not get when shooting indoors. This is a great way to improve your accuracy in any situation and good for anyone interested in bowhunting.

Challenging Weather

Being outside also means that you are going to be subject to the weather as well. While it’s always nice to shoot on a bright, sunny day, this is not always going to be the case. There will be a wind that can decrease your accuracy. Sun glare can be bright and affect how well you can see. Even rain or snow can blow in, making it even tougher. Again, practicing and competing in these adverse conditions will only help to make you a better shooter. If you can comfortably land a good shot on a day when conditions are less than perfect, then you will be a better shooter on days when they are!

Challenging Distances

Most shooting done in field archery will be done between 20 feet and 80 yards. This is a much wider range of distance than what you will see when shooting indoors. Since you shoot at so many different distances, you become much more comfortable and confident as a shooter. If you are a bowhunter, these competitions that involve challenging distances will better prepare you for the various distances that you will encounter while out on a hunt.

Final Thoughts

Field archery may seem a little complicated at first glance, but once you understand the basics it is very simple. Whether you want to get into field archery for the competition aspect or just for the fun and multiple benefits, it is a great discipline in the world of archery. You will also get to shoot your bow a lot more, which is always a good thing!

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