Field Archery and Target Archery:
How Are They Different? Field Archery and Target Archery: How Are They Different?

At first glance, target archery and field archery might look the same. Archers in both disciplines draw a bow, take aim, and shoot arrows at a round target marked with circles. What’s the difference? Target and field archery have different rules, scoring systems and settings. If you’re just learning archery, these are two FUN games you can try, and both will offer you different challenges.

Indoors, target and field archery are somewhat similar. Outdoors, they’re drastically different. The three main differences between target and field archery are the:

  • Archery course.
  • Distance of the target from the archer.
  • Target faces.

Indoor Field Archery

For indoor shooting during autumn and winter, archers can try National Field Archery Association (NFAA) rounds at 20 yards. There are two primary “rounds” – or games – shot at NFAA events indoors: the “three spot” target, a multicolored target face with three individual targets; and a “five spot” target, a blue and white target face with five individual targets. If you’re brand new to archery, don’t stress: there are “single spot” versions of both targets available.

Archers enjoy indoor archery competitions hosted by the NFAA using several different kinds of bows, including compounds and recurves. The NFAA hosts one of the world’s most famous indoor archery tournaments: “The Vegas Shoot,” which attracts over 2,000 youth and adult archers to Las Vegas each February.

Outdoor Field Archery

Outdoor field archers shoot on a walking course – sometimes called a “roving course” – that’s usually wooded. Target distances vary from less than 10 yards to 80 yards, and target faces differ based on the round being shot.

Archers may shoot field, hunter or animal rounds. In the field round, targets are black and white with a black center; in the hunter division, targets are all black with thin white rings and a white center; and in the animal division, paper targets feature colorful images of animals.

If the animal division sounds fun, and you want to take it a step further, try 3-D archery!

 Notables about outdoor field archery:

  • Targets are placed at varying distances in realistic outdoor settings.
  • The sport emulates hunting situations.
  • The National Field Archery Association (NFAA) is the organization to check out.
  • Competitions are divided into rounds of two sets with 14 targets each.
  • Competitions often feature rough terrain.
  • Rounds take different forms, such as the “hunter,” “animal” or “field” style, each with specific rules.
  • Archers tend to shoot in groups as they navigate the course.

Target archery

outdoor target archery

During outdoor competitions, archers shoot large targets that are placed up to 90 meters from the archer.

Target archers shoot indoors or across a field, with everyone shooting the same distance. Targets are a five-color bull’s-eye measuring 80 centimeters or 122 centimeters, depending on the divisions, which are based on age and equipment style. Modern recurve bows – the type used in the Olympic Games – and compound bows are the most popular equipment options in target archery.

Notables about target archery:

  • It’s the only form of archery in the Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • USA Archery is the National Governing Body for the U.S., and follows the rules of the World Archery Federation
  • Archers take turns shooting three arrow “ends” indoors, and six arrow “ends” outdoors. Indoors, archers have two minutes to shoot; outdoors, it’s four minutes per end.
  • Targets are marked with concentric circles.
  • Points increase the closer an arrow hits to the target’s center.
  • Targets are usually 18 meters from the archers during indoor competitions.
  • Outdoor competitions generally use larger targets placed up to 70 meters from the archers.

For more archery inspiration, check out 5 Fun Ways to Get Started in Archery Right Now.

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