Competition Basics

In this article covering competition basics I will give a summary of how to prepare for a competition and what to do on the day itself.  Thought I would put something together for those archers that may not have taken park in a competition before…

Before the competition:

  • Check your equipment: Make sure you have everything you need and that its all in good condition. Try and keep spares for key items such as finger tab and finger sling in case something goes wrong (or you lose them). Know your sight marks before hand so you don’t have to waste your first few ends working it out at the comp.
  • Sleep: Try and get plenty of it the night before. Unfortunately since most competitions are in the morning and/or far away this will usually involve going to bed early. Annoying as this is, being well rested will make the shooting that much easier. Which leads into the next point…
  • Take it easy: As mentioned in the previous point being well rested is an advantage when shooting. Bearing this in mind don’t do anything too strenuous ft2the day before a competition, e.g going to the gym. If you have a shoot the day before a competition then try not to push yourself too hard, save it for when it counts!
  • Food: Make sure you eat something substantial prior to the competition (a good hot meal works best!). Of course, if we’re leaving at 6am or something stupid then this may not be so easy. While its possible to stop at the services en route, its best not to count on this and either have something before leaving or take something to eat on the journey.

What to take:

  • Your equipment: May seem obvious, but make sure you take all the equipment that you’re likely to need at the shoot. If you have spares then take them.
  • Food & drink: Plenty of it. Its important to keep your energy levels up while shooting so to keep hydrated throughout and have something to snack on between ends.
  • Suitable clothing: depending on the rules of the competition there may be restrictions on what to wear, so make sure you know about that in advance if it applies. Other than just make sure what you are wearing is comfortable to shoot in. Worth having several layers of clothes so you can adjust depending on how warm/cold it is there. Even indoors there can be a huge range of temperatures you’ll have to shoot in.
  • A pen: In case you need to record the scores.

During the competition:

  • Shooting: For the most part shooting is just the same as it is in the club. However there are a few key differences to note. Firstly, when you arrive at the competition there will usually be a target list available. Make sure you know which target you are assigned to. It may sound obvious but make sure you stay on that target throughout the competition. Any arrows shot at a different target will most likely be scored as misses. The target number will usually be given as e.g. slider_de_002“10A”. The “10” will almost always refer to the boss, which should be clearly labelled. The letter refers to your ‘detail’. While only 2 people will shoot at a boss at a given time, there will usually be 4 people assigned to each boss and will take turns shooting in pairs. The exact system varies between comps, but usually A & B will shoot first then C&D. The order will then change each end, so AB first, then CD first, then AB first again etc. If this seems confusing don’t worry, if makes much more sense in practice.
  • If something goes wrong: For example your arrow bounces out of the target or your bow falls apart, then step back off the line and hold your bow in the air. A judge should come over and help with whatever the problem is.
  • Special rules: Some competitions have more complex rules, such as strict timing or requiring you to mark the target faces. However these rules are uncommon and if they are not explaining thoroughly at the start of the shoot then just ask someone that knows whats going on.

Scoring/Collecting arrows:

  • Scoring zones: Indoors all scoring is done 10-zone. That is the rings on the target face range from 1 through 10 in increments of 1. The outer most white ring scores 1, the inner white 2, and so on until you get to the inner yellow which is worth 10. If you look at the inner yellow though, you’ll see it is has another ring inside it. This ‘inner 10’ is called the X, and for most archers it is no different from the rest of the 10 ring. The only difference is for compounds, who only score the X as a 10, and the rest of the inner yellow scores 9.
  • Line cutters: If an arrow has broken the line between two zones, then the higher score will be given. Determining if the line has been broken is often a contentious issue though, and if there is a dispute then a judge should be called over. If you’re not sure if your arrow has broken the line, it is often worth calling the higher value. It is the responsibility of the others on the target to check that the score is correct.
  • Approaching the target: When you go up the target do not touch any of the arrows! This is important as the score value of an arrow can be changed if it has been touched (if it is close to the line of a higher scoring zone for example). Wait until all the scores are written down, and everyone is happy with them before touching any of the arrows.
  • Recording scores: One person (or two in some cases) is required to record the scores of everyone on the target on a provided scoresheet. Each person will then call out their arrow values and the scorer will write them all down. When calling out scores it is always worth checking that the scorer has written it correctly, as once the arrows are out the target the score can’t be changed. If a mistake is made writing scores then a judge will need to be called over who will correct it. In the case of a problem always call a judge before any of the arrows are pulled from the target.
  • Calling arrow values: When calling out your score to the scorer, start with the highest score and work downwards. For example “9, 7, 4”. The scores should also be written down in this order. If an arrow landed outside the scoring zone then this should be called as a “miss” and written down as “M” on the scoresheet. Writing zero for a missed arrow can be confusing and should not be done.

The most important thing with a competition is to just relax and shoot the best you can. If it seems like its all going wrong, don’t worry! Just try and keep your cool and it’ll usually work out in the end. If you shoot badly then just treat it as practice for next time.

Prepare well and enjoy the shooting, and it’ll go just fine 🙂

If you have some thoughts on this please do drop us a line at and title your email “Competition Basics”, and some of the replies will be posted on line. Please let us know your thoughts.

Shoot ‘em strong and see you on the shooting line soon.

Author Archives: Dave Leader

Dave has been in and out of the sport for the best part of 40 years. Shooting with his family from 8 years old, Dave has seen many changes to the sport throughout the years. Dave mainly shoots Recurve, but has a secret passion for Compound.

Now having owned Aim4sport since August 2012, Dave has worked through his coaching and coaching training levels and has been an AGB Senior Coach since 2018 and AGB Coach Developer since 2016.

Still enjoys the opportunity to shoot and still have aspirations, however, time is the main issue :p