Top Bow : World Archery Competitions, Tournaments and Rules

Anthony Cote
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Archery Championships, Divisions and Shooting Distances

The bow is a very powerful weapon, which can kill animals, people and bring down big game. Some archers prefer to use crossbows. Crossbows are similar to bows and are used to project an arrow. Crossbows have been used for hunting in many Asian and African countries.

Archery is a major sport, and championships are commonly organized on a national, continental or world level. Some participants at the top level are professionals, whose income depends on winning the archery competitions. They will practice several hours a day to continuously improve their performance. Archers who are not professionals can still practice several times a week to maintain their level and prepare for local, national and international tournaments.

There are several forms and division of archery, which are recognized by the Olympic Committee.

Olympic Archery

As archery is an Olympic sport, many countries have their own national Olympic archery team. Teams from different countries compete against each other at the Olympic Games. There are events for both men and women and a separate event for mixed teams (men and women competing together). The events that are in the Olympic Games are:

Compound Bows: Compound bows use cams or pulleys to bend the bow. The string is attached to both ends of the bow, and the cams or pulleys are in the center section. They have a sight that shows where the arrow would hit the target. Sometimes there is a mechanism in the bow that makes it easier to pull the string back. Archery targets may be fixed in the Olympic Games, but they are usually set up differently for each match. In the Olympic Games, the men shoot at 70 meters and the women at 60 meters. The arrows used are 7 meters long.

Recurve Bows: Recurve bows are another type of bow. They were first used at the Olympics in 1900. The string attaches near the ends of the bow. The archer must pull the string back and hold it on one end. The distance they shoot at in the Olympics is 70 meters. The distance for the women is 60 meters. The archer uses three of these arrows, and they are 7.2 meters long.

Olympic Bow and Target Distance

All types of Olympic bow are about 7 feet long and they shoot arrows weighing about 16 to 20 grains with a maximum of 18 inches of draw. Compounds may vary a bit in draw weight, but we are talking about a few pounds at most.

They shoot at 10 to 20 meters, which is around 32 to 66 feet.All these are set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).Archers are measured in body parts for distance for both the men’s and the women’s divisions. This is called Hunter Lengths. Similarly, the bow is measured for both men’s and women’s capacities. The target is 18 inches wide by 20 inches tall.

The two Olympic bow types are Recurve and Compound bows.The Recurve is the traditional kind of bow and the compound is the newest type.

There are no weight divisions in archery. Archery is unlimited and the only way to score is to hit the target, which means you score the most points.

Olympic Archery Competition Rules

The modern Olympic competition is based on the events, introduced by the founder of the Modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. The Olympic Archery competition rules and format have been somewhat modified since 1924, but the Olympic competition has always included 5 disciplines:

  • Men's and Women's Individual and Team event;
  • Men's and Women's Team event (composed of 3 archers each instead of individual events);
  • Mixed Team event (1 man and 1 woman team archers);
  • Men's and Women's Individual competition;
  • Step Round for individual event in order to determine the seeds for the elimination round;

N.B.: Mixed events (composed of 1 man and 1 woman each) are held in Recurve, Compound and Barebow style.

Each team consists of 3 competitors who are selected by the National Olympic Committee. Each NOC may submit the details of entry requests by the deadline which is normally 30 days before the Olympics, and the IOC Executive Board prior to the Games. The team entry requests will then be reviewed by a team of NOCs delegates selected by the IOC.

The top 24 men and top 24 women ranked archers qualify for the Olympics. Only one of each gender per country may participate. The next 48 men and top 24 women ranked archers qualify for the Olympics based on their ranking from the 2014 Archery World Championships.

Paralympic Archery

The history of Paralympic archery began when the International Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Sports Federation began hosting competitions for wheelchair athletes with spinal cord injuries. This eventually became the Paralympic debut in 1972. Followed by the first Paralympic Archery competition in 1988.

At present, the sport of Paralympic Archery has three classes. They are: Men's Standing, Men's Sitting and the Mixed Disability (2 classifications which includes standing).

Paralympic Archery Classifications

How Does It Work?

Athletes are divided into classes, based on their disability. Following four classifications are recognised by the International Paralympic Committee and used at international events:

  • Les Autres – for athletes with disabilities other than those in other classes
  • Standing – for athletes standing on prosthetic devices
  • W1-W9 – for athletes with impairments in one limb
  • Open – for athletes with cerebral palsy and other athletes who do not fall in any of the other classifications

In this sport, athletes shoot arrows at a target 70 metres away at the end of the shooting range. The target is divided into five zones. The smallest scoring area is the nine ring that is 0.6 m in diameter. It scores 10 points, Second smallest is the eight ring, and it is 0.8 m in diameter. It scores 9 points and so on.

Archers are scored according to their ability to shoot closer to the centre of the target rather than the periphery. They are scored based on the total score multiplied by 28. By multiplying by 28, the total score exceeds the maximum possible score of 122.

Paralympic Archery Rules

Archery was first contested at the Summer Paralympics in 1976, where seven events were held. The sport was dropped after the 1992 Paralympics, but reintroduced for the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Archery is competed in wheelchair, standing, or visually impaired classes. Classes are designated by the athlete's functional level: Class I is the sport class for athletes with a disability affecting one or more limbs and wheelchair users (class II athletes have the same disability but use a wheelchair). The other classes are those for standing competitors with no specific disabilities and are defined by their target distance.

Archers in all classes shoot with 50 cm long arrows with tips that are 16–23 mm wide and 2 cm calibre, and are made of carbon, wood or plastic. All arrows must bear the inscription FITA or Fédération internationale de tir à l'arc (English: International archery association), must be inspected during the competition and must have a distinctly visible serial number.[1] Athletes in the standing classes shoot all appearances at 70 metres (22 yards) and wheelchair competitors at 60 metres (20 yards). The competition is held in a target but includes an extra white outer ring to reduce the likelihood of hitting it. The archer dons a pair of protective goggles in the shape of eyes, which also helps the archers aim.

World Archery Championships

The World Archery Championships or World Archery Cup is an international archery competition encompassing the several disciplines in archery including: Target Archery, Field Archery, Para Archery and Bowhunting. It is organized by World Archery Federation (WA).

The World Archery Championships (WAC) has been held every two years since 1991. The history of the World Archery Championships dates back to the 1908 Olympic Games held in London. The American team upset the heavily favored French team. The US did not compete in the World Archery Championships until 1990.

There are World Championships events organized by WA, for the individual archery disciplines, indoor and outdoor. The WA also organizes World Archery Youth Championships (for juniors aged under 20) and World Archery Para Championships (for archers with a disability).

World Recurve Championships Target Distance and Size

The recurve target distance for the 2012 World Championships was 90 meters, set up for the standing category with no range finder. The target is set up with 6 red and 6 black rings. 6 to the left, 6 to the right, from 8 meters to the left edge, and from 8 meters to the right edge to a distance of 20 meters.

8 meters to the left, 8 meters to the right, and 20 meters will have the same design but in white rings. The center of the target is a really heavy 10 ring. All rings have a diameter of 7 cm.

World Recurve Championships Rules

The world recurve championships are held every two years, in even years, and the last time the event was in held in 2017. The next tournament will be held in 2019 in Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka.

The exact rules of the recurve world championships competitions can be found here. However, the competition is divided into 2 sessions: qualifying rounds and finals. There are also specialized teams and individuals rounds, for both men and women, and juniors and seniors. The individual section has 6 rounds, and 3 of them are elimination rounds.

In the finals, each archer shoots 72 arrows, with an arrow length of 70 cm.

The rules are pretty much the same as the individual competition, but 4 more rounds are added.

The two special categories are men’s team event with 24 players and 8-player women’s team event. The other category is mixed team event, which is for 12 men and 12 women.

World Compound Championships Target Distance and Size

The World Compound Championships Target Distance and Size specifications are listed below.

World Compound Championships Rules

The last three rounds are at the 50m mark. The number of shots in the final three rounds will not be set but shall not exceed 20 shots.

For the ranking, the compound score is the sum total of the individual scores of the last three rounds at the 50m mark.

World Indoor Archery Championships (Target)

The World Indoor Archery Championships, founded in 1977 and held every two years, is hosted by a different National Archery Association. The tournament is an outdoor tournament and consists of a series of matches held in or near the host city. The competition takes place over six days of indoor competition (target matches).

The World Indoor Archery Championships is the most prestigious Indoor Archery competition and is one of the few events in which competitors can gain an Olympic Quota place for the ISSF World Olympic event. Attracting archers from over 60 countries.

World Indoor Championships Target Distance and Size

For Olympic style competitions, the distance measures 29 meters (30 yards) from the tip of the arrow shaft to the target face with a 60 cm (23.6 inches) diameter scoring area. The 2 competition types are 72 arrow, head to head-20 ends of 6 arrows, shoot off; and, 60 arrow, head to head-12 ends of 6 arrows, shoot off.

The world indoor championships are held every year in March. The field includes competitors from the global archery federation (FITA), the World Archery Federation (WA), an Olympic governing body, archery Australia and the host country.

The Australian National Round (ANR) is an indoor FITA round, shot either with FITA rounds or the WA round. Both male and female indoor distance targets measure 60 cm by 60 cm, and the maximum allowable score is 720 points.

World Indoor Archery Championships Rules

Qualifications: At least 40 nations must be represented in the World Archery Rankings. At least 8 nations must be represented in the World Archery Rankings for men and 8 nations must be represented in the World Archery Rankings for women. All female and male athletes who are qualified must shoot in their respective genders. World Archery U21 Championships and Continental Championships which have had all three competition distances and are included in the World Archery Rankings do not qualify as qualifying tournaments.

Competition Venue: The competition venue is an indoor range, of at least 40m in length, in an air-conditioned hall, in order to ensure the best possible conditions for the athletes to perform their best. The competition venue must fulfill world championship requirements, with special attention to:

The back walls of the competition room had to be completely covered with a material which is sound absorbing and distributes warmth evenly. The sound absorbing material must be free of any surface that could reflect and/or produce sound in a form that could influence the competition. There also had to be a material covering the ceiling. The walls and ceiling must eliminate reflection and sound amplification. Sound would also have to be equalised before coming in contact with the microphone. The venue must also be able to cope with the reduction in sound during follow through.

World Youth Championships (Outdoor Target)

The World Archery World Youth Championships (outdoor target) is a global event for archers who are 18 years of age or younger, organized by the World Archery Federation. The World Youth Championships involve archery competitions spread over a number of days; the competitions are held in a variety of formats including Recurve, Compound, Barebow and W1.

Participants must be between the ages of 10 and 18 years-old on the 1st of January in the year of the championship.

For each competition day, there are a maximum number of games, depending on the sex and event, as follows:

  • Recurve
  • Compound
  • Barebow
  • W1

The points obtained in each competition are summed for all matches played on all competition days, including a semi-final and final, in a category of 10 or 12 archers.

World Archery Para Championships

The World Archery Para Championships are held every two years and is the pinnacle event of disability archery.

The first edition of this event took place in Berlin, Germany on July 12, 2010. It featured athletes from 31 countries competing in male and female recurve events with a cumulative score.

The second edition was hosted in Nottwil, Switzerland and featured a compound bow event with a cumulative score. Italy won this edition with 203 points, South Korea in second with 187 points and USA in third with 186 points.

Archery is a sport for all and these championships are a great inspiration to archers with and without a disability. Everyone can take away positives from the way these world-class athletes train, compete and represent the sport. Check out YouTube for the latest videos.

World Archery Field Championships


This is the most prestigious Field Championship event and only open to archers representing the country for which they hold a passport. The host city is selected by the World Archery Executive Committee (WAEC) a year in advance, with the first World Archery Field Championships taking place in Lwow, Poland in 1931. The host nation for the World Field Championships usually hosts the game for the following two or three years too.

World Archery 3D Championships

The World Archery Championships, nicknamed the World Cups, are a series of competitions in Archery organized by World Archery Federation (WA) and held in odd-numbered years. World Archery Championships are considered the most prestigious archery competitions in the world.

The 3D Championships are held annually for recurve and compound archers. They serve as the Archers' World Cup since 1992 and are a test event in the Olympic Archery program since 1996.

With the exception of the Youth World Championships, which are held in even-numbered years, the Championships are held every two years in a four-year cycle. The cycle begins in non-Summer Olympic years and ends in a Summer Olympic Games year. The location of the championships changes every cycle.

The first world championship for archery, another international event open only to men, was held in 1900 and the women's event was added in 1988. Junior events date back to 1992.