Competition Guide

The Beginners Guide to attending a Shoot

by tmg, harry, niall, & rohan

Want to go to a shoot, but no idea what to do or what that means? This guide is meant to give a rough idea of what you need to prepare, and what you need to do on the day. Archery is a great sport, and what makes it great are the people involved. It can be a bit off-putting if you have no idea what a shoot is or what you need to prepare in advance, and what you need to do once you are there. The aim of this document is to give you a good introduction to the basics, and give you the confidence to go out and shoot!

Before You Go

You need to prepare both your equipment and your supplies for the day itself.

Food & Supplies

Most outdoor sites don’t have much in the way of dining facilities, so bring pretty much everything you will need on the day – hot drinks, snacks, sandwiches, and a chair and tent (outdoors only). In Summer, don’t forget the sun cream even on a cloudy day – you will be outside all day and you will get burned!

For indoor events, expect at least a source of boiling water, some facilities offer more amenities so check in advance.

Normally there will be a break after 30, 60 and 90 arrows, so around 11am, 1pm and 3:30pm.

Getting There

Most shoot locations are pretty easy to get to, and can be found on bing or google maps. however, if you are carrying lots of gear (like a tent, seats, you bow etc), you may want to invest in a case with wheels or some form of trolley as some of the shoot locations can be a bit of a distance from the car park. your gear


Outdoors, you will need at least 6 arrows to compete (always keep at least one spare arrow in your quiver ready to go as you never know when you’ll discover a problem and arrows are not covered by equipment failure rules), as the longer distances require 6 arrows per end. Expect to have at least 1-2 arrows to have issues during the day, so have spares for your arrows, and have spare fletches and some glue handy.

If you are shooting into straw butts with Carbon arrows, some silicon oils spray (available at Lidl or your local auto parts shop) will stop them sticking – take care only to spray the end of your arrows, as it makes them hard to pull if there is silicon too far up the shaft.

Indoor competitions require 3 arrows, and its a good idea to keep at least one spare in your quiver.

You will need your name and an arrow number on each arrow on the shaft in gold pen. This is important and you wont pass an equipment inspection without it.


Make sure you have your sight marks written down in two separate locations for the distances you will be shooting. also make sure that your rest, sight and any other pieces of gear are working, and that you have spares where possible. For recurve, a second string is always a good idea, as is a spare stick-on rest if you use one.


You will probably need a spotting scope for outdoor competitions, and a good tripod & weight or a groundhook to stop it blowing over (a 2 liter water bottle also works well). Indoors, binoculars are more common to see how your arrows are landing.

Seating and Shelter

You should have a seat for both indoor and outdoor competitions, as most facilities don’t provide seating, and some form of shelter as none of the outdoor facilities have permanent shelter. an umbrella is also useful for walking out and back to the targets.

For outdoor, expect to be rained on. A lot of folks use pop up tents for shelter, and most clubs have some form of tenting available. check in with your local club to see if you can borrow a tent.

You will also have to shoot in the rain. Some folks shoot without rain gear, and run in and out of their tent. some folks shoot in rain gear to keep a bit dryer. if you want a reason why you need to think about what you want to do here, please take a look a this match in 2011 between Liam Grimwood and Duncan Busby – .

If you are going to shoot in rain gear, make sure to practice in your gear, and make sure its not getting caught up in your gear etc.

Competition Day

Starting Out

Most shoots start at 09:30 so its best to get there half an hour early. you can check in, see what target you are on, and what shooting slot you have (a,b,c, or d – more on this later). this is important for outdoor shoots, where its best to be near your target, and somewhat important for indoor.

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.

Equipment Checks

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.

How the shoot works

Every shoot will have some important markings on the ground/floor that you need to know about. The equipment line will be 3 meters behind the shooting line, and you should always have all your gear behind that line. If its 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 ABCD thing)

You will be assigned a letter on the day for your target so you would be called (for instance) 5A, which means you shoot on target 5, slot A.

Two people at a time shoot, with A and B shooting together, and C and 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.

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

End 1: A and B, C and D

End 2: C and D, A and B

End 3: A and B, C and D

End 4: C and D, A and B

End 5: A and B, C and D

End 6: C and D, A and B

If there are sufficient numbers a competition organiser my have an A and B and 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?

Indoor, if you are 5A, this means that you shoot on the first vertical 3 spot face, outdoor the top left hand target. indoor, the targets 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 (for outdoor too).

target layout diagram

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 to 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 is 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 its not immediately obvious, the judges will not hold the competition up for you to find your arrows! So when shooting at distance, its 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, its not an equipment failure. its a “you” failure. If repairs are required a maximum of 15 minutes is allowed.

Scoring & Pulling Arrows

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 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. its 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 its 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






for a total of 1+1+2+3 = 7, 60-7 = 53 – it sounds complicated, but when you are scoring its 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. For the nitty-gritty or precise rules please refer to the FITA Rule books for Indoor and Outdoor events.

Attire and conduct

Dress code

Most competitions adhere to the no jeans rule. please don’t wear jeans. Shorts, sports gear/tracksuits, trousers, waterproofs (outdoor) or whites are all OK.


Firstly, pick up your litter! All shoots are run by clubs here, and its disrespectful to leave your trash all over the place – please make sure that you are gathering all your trash across the day and disposing of it in a 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 is always appreciated 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 should not return to the line once you leave it.


This is the most important thing – Make sure to have fun!!!!