There are so many ways to love archery. You can shoot Olympic style targets, 3D foam animals, and you can also try bowhunting. Field archery is just one more way to have fun with a bow.
Field archery games and the National Field Archery Association (NFAA) were conceived in 1934 by a little club in Redlands, California, whose members realized their hearts weren’t in target archery. Along with other archers nationwide, they sought a more challenging game.
Meanwhile, target archers from Ohio, Michigan, Oregon and other states were gaining a following at annual field shoots. These events started as novelty or fun shoots, and were often considered “comic relief” after a season of serious target shooting.
These tournaments inspired the Redlands club to set up a permanent field course. They built their first course in Spring 1934, and it was instantly popular, despite some shortcomings. The course featured 20 targets laid out over rolling hills and, contrary to today’s fancy target bales, dirt piles served as the targets’ backstops
As the sport grew, each course set its own standard for shooting distances and number of targets. It quickly became obvious the sport required consistency and organization to keep growing.
In 1939, the National Field Archery Association was born. Its goal was to develop rounds and regulations for field-style shooting and competitions. In 1940, the NFAA held its first mail-in Outdoor Field Tournament. Six years later, the First Annual NFAA National Field Championship was held in Allegan, Michigan.
Fast forward to 2014. Each summer the National Field Archery Association crowns state, sectional and national field champions, and hosts hundreds of field shoots nationwide.
Want to get more involved in field archery? Here’s your crash course.
Many compare field archery to a round of golf. Archers move target to target, all varying in distance and by “hazard.” Each round consists of 28 targets laid out among hills, mountains, flat fields or other terrain. What if you don’t have the room or budget for 28 targets? No, problem! Smaller courses offer 14 targets. Just shoot all targets twice to complete a full round.
A field round has three variations: Hunter, Field and Animal.
Archers shoot four arrows per target on Hunter and Animals rounds, for a total of 112 arrows per round.
Ready to mix it up? Field rounds add variety by creating multiple shooting positions at one target. Some positions let you shoot all four arrows from one marked stake. Others have stakes at four locations, requiring you to “walk-up” to the target on each shot, or to shoot in a “fan” pattern. Marked distances vary from 20 feet to 80 yards for a Field round, and 33 feet to 70 yards for the Hunter round. If you’re a young archer, you get a break. Youths shoot a maximum of 50 yards, and “Cubs” (under age 12) top out at 30 yards.
Both rounds feature four target sizes ranging from 20 to 65 centimeters. The farther the target, the bigger the target face. Each target offers 20 possible points, and a score of 560 vaults you into the Perfect Field-Round Club!
The Animal round resembles a 3-D round except the targets are 2-D paper targets. Scoring is a bit different, too. All archers take three arrows and mark them #1, #2 and #3. When you reach the first shooting stake, you shoot arrow #1. If you hit the scoring area, you do not need to shoot another arrow. If you miss, you move to the next stake and shoot #2. If you hit the scoring zone, you don’t shoot #3. If you miss #1 and #2, you move and shoot at the third stake. Only one arrow counts for score.
The scoring area is divided into vital and non-vital areas, and scored accordingly. The first arrow scores 21 for the X ring; 20, vital; and 18, wound. The second arrow is scored 17, 16, 14; and the third arrow is scored 13, 12, 10. The best score per target is 21, and a 588 puts you into the Perfect Animal-Round Club!
Scoring on NFAA field courses is identical throughout the United States, allowing competitors across the country to compare scores and accuracy levels.
Are you interested in getting involved at the local or state level? Click here to contact your state NFAA organization.