Bow and Arrow Laws
Table of Contents
In this easy summarized version, we cover the essential rules for playing competitive archery laws in the United Kingdom. It’s a guide to help you conquer the basic archery rules for beginners.
Let’s start with the basics:
Archers use a stringed bow to propel projectiles – called archery arrows. They shoot the arrows towards a ‘non-moving’ circular archery target face.
The skill and precision required to hit the mark originates from hunting for animals. In fact, archery hunting in deadly warfare dates back to the Stone Age – around 20,000 years BC.
So, the exigency for hunters and soldiers to master archery led to the birth of organized tournaments. The first recorded event materialized in Finsbury, England in 1583.
Archery began to lose its clout as modern gun-like weaponry occupied the battlefield. But, it remained a popular pastime, with competitions held regularly in many countries.
Olympic Archery became a recognized sport for men in 1900. It later dropped out of the international sporting limelight. But, it reappeared in 1972 and currently remains a bastion of the Games.
Note: The governing body for the rules and regulations of archery is the World Archery Federation (based in Switzerland).
Point of Archery Shooting Competitions
The aim of competitive archery rules and regulations is to shoot archery arrows at a stationary circular target set at a specific distance away from the competitors.
Archers aim to shoot and then land their arrows as close to the center of the target as possible to score points.
Archery Law UK for Archers (players)
As a rule, only one archer will hold a bow at any one time during the game according to the NFAS Official Archery Rulebook.
Even so, you can also play archery individually or as a group with several other competitors as part of a team.
Note: The section on offensive weapons has further information about whether you need a license for a bow and arrow in the United Kingdom (e.g. crossbows).
Bow and Arrow Laws for Archery Equipment
- The bow is an instrument consisting of a handle (grip), riser, and two flexible limbs each ending in a tip with a string nock.
- As a rule, the modern compound bow uses a sturdy levering system of cables and pulleys to help bend the limbs.
- Providing the bowstring fits the bow, it may have any number of strands.
- Players can use an adjustable arrow rest and a bow sight.
- Few regulations restrict the type of arrows used. But, they should not cause undue damage to archery targets.
- The diameter of the tips must not exceed 9.4mm and the diameter of the arrow shaft should not exceed 9.3mm.
- All arrows should be clearly marked with the athlete’s name or initials on the shaft.
- All arrows used in a round (end) should be identical when used in a competition.
- Archers can use protective accessories. The typical archer accessories include:
- Arm guards.
- Finger-protective tape or gloves
- Chest protectors
- Olympic archery targets UK measure 122 cm in diameter. All standard archery targets contain ten (10) concentric rings representing the various scoring sectors.
- The two (2) outermost rings are white (called one ring and two ring in archery terminology).
- Rings three and four are black, five and six are blue, whereas seven and eight are bright red in colour.
- Rings nine and ten are the innermost of all rings (gold in color).
- The ten ring has an ‘inner 10’ ring sometimes used to decide competitive ties.
Note: The archer’s equipment section contains further details and information on compound and recurve bow laws in the United Kingdom.
UK Archery Laws for Scoring
- It is simple to score an archery competition. Add up the number of points scored where your arrows have hit the target.
- The highest score for shooting a single arrow occurs if it lands in the inner gold ring.
- Hitting the outer white ring scores one (1) point.
- There is no score for any archery arrows that miss the target altogether.
- During Olympic competitions, the athletes must shoot 72 arrows in twelve (12) separate phases.
- The cumulative score decides their ranking, which would move them into a direct head to head knockout.
Note: Archery and the law UK may vary in format, the number of arrows shot, and the distance to the target for some tournaments.
General Rules of Archery UK
- Archers must adhere to all official rules of the archery equipment list and performance in the sport.
- The rules do not permit using equipment or accessories which might give an unfair advantage over an opponent.
- The maximum time permitted to shoot an end of three arrows is two (2) minutes (four minutes for an end of six arrows).
- UK bow laws do not allow athletes to raise their bow arm until they get the signal to start.
- Drawing the bow after the official practice period closes results in penalty forfeit points.
- An arrow cannot be re-shot under any circumstances.
- The arrow is ‘not shot’ and extra time occurs if
- It falls from the bow or misfires.
- The archery target falls to the ground or gets blown over.
- An arrow that rebounds or hangs from the target will still score based on the mark it makes on the target face.
- Arrows that stick ‘Robin Hood-style’ in the nock of another will score the same as the arrow in which they get embedded.
- Athletes can get disqualified, have points deducted, or banned from the competition for various breaches of archery rules. The punishment will be determined by the severity of the offence.
Note: Competitors can address an appeal to the judge if any of their specialist archery equipment gets damaged. Such equipment may get replaced or fixed with time allowances given – but only at the judge’s discretion.
Winning a Game of Archery
How do you win an archery competition? The winner is usually the player with the highest cumulative total score. It can also be the one who beats the opponents in a knockout event.
The archer with the highest number of 10s (or inner 10s) gets declared the victor in a tied situation. An archery shoot-off may also take place to separate competitors who have tied.
Olympic Archery Rules and Regulations
Under the rules and regulations of Olympic Archery, competitors must aim at a target from a distance of seventy (70) meters.
Rounds include a ranking round whereby the overall scores determine the ranking for each athlete. This system typically occurs before a head to head elimination format.
Note: The YouTube video explains more about Olympic archery rules with further detailed descriptions about the equipment used by the competitors.
Advanced Archery Rules and Regulations
- A to Z sports rules and regulations
- Olympic archery equipment list for beginners
- Archery terms and sports lingo used by players and officials
- NFAS Archery Official Rulebook PDF [Download option]
- Darts rules and regulations for novices
- Weird and extreme sports rules from around the world