How to Shoot Field Archery: The Beginner’s Guide

Field Archery

Field archery is among the most physically and technically exhaustive forms of archery. Basically, you fire arrows at targets ranging from 20 feet to 80 yards in a variety of outdoor terrain, including flat surfaces or steep hills. To master this game you have to be fit and know your gear inside out so that it performs accordingly regardless of conditions.

Let’s take a deeper look into shooting field archery as regulated by the National Field Archery Association (NFAA). Although “field archery” encompasses a plethora of other rounds and organizations that provide them, we will focus on the basic NFAA field round for this article. These games are similar to each other with some slight variations included.


Photo Credit: NFAA

The NFAA Field Round requires archers to shoot four arrows at each of the 28 targets or twice through a 14-target course, totaling 112 shots for a complete round. The maximum shooting distance depends on one’s age class; adult distances are the longest and younger archers only need to shoot shorter distances.

Archers will take shots from 20, 25, 30, and 35 feet away from their respective target as well as every 5 yards starting 15 up until they reach 80 yards – excluding 75 yards. Targets vary in size depending on how far away you’re standing when taking your shot!

All scoring measurements are in reference to the outermost target rings. You will be shooting 20 cm targets at a distance of 20-35 feet, 35 cm targets from 15-30 yards away, 50 cm targets between 35 and 50 yards out, and 65cm targets ranging from 55 to 80 yards distant. The NFAA field round has every shooting range marked out for you with the use of approved rangefinders being allowed!

How to Shoot Field Archery?

Shooting on a field target can be an easy task to master, as all of the targets have similar designs. You start with a black center surrounded by white rings and then proceed outward toward the outermost black ring. With each hit in one of these areas, you are rewarded differently – 5 points for arrows hitting the solid black center; 4 points for striking inside within the inner white area; 3 points when your arrow lands in this outer circle – while if you shoot within that X area at its core (In professional classes only), it’s worth 6! This way ties can always be broken even more easily than before.

Archery courses typically have three distinct shooting stations. The most popular is the singular station, in which all four arrows are discharged from a single spot. Additionally, there exist fan-style formations that boast four adjacent positions where an archer shoots an arrow per place.

Lastly, there are the walk-ups. In this classic style of archery, four distinct distances must be covered; each archer is entitled to shoot one arrow at every range while progressing up to the target. This can include a distance sequence of 80-70-60-50 yards or 45-40-35-30 yards and even 35 – 30 – 25 – 20 feet for more novice participants.

The equipment regulations vary from division to division, but when it comes to Freestyle archery, your options are plentiful. You can make use of any compound bow with draw weights less than 80 pounds and arrow speed lower than 300 feet per second. Furthermore, you may utilize whatever stabilizer setup or sight suits your needs best!

Mechanical release aids are allowed in most archery classes, but it’s important to remember that they aren’t permitted during Freestyle Limited competitions. In the Barebow class of the NFAA, a full stabilizer set is accepted; however, sights and mechanical releases must be left at home.

Freestyle Bowhunter is the ideal class for those who want to practice with equipment that closely resembles hunting tools. Compound bows may be used, but must feature a sight with five fixed pins and cannot have any adjustments made throughout the competition.

Additionally, only one stabilizer measuring no more than 12 inches can be attached. The Traditional class encourages the use of recurves or longbows without sights — again sticking to an identical rule regarding the stabilizers being limited to 12 inches in length at most.

Freestyle Limited Recurve is the optimal choice for Olympic recurve setups. Longbows, recurves and any stabilizer set-up are permissible with non-magnifying sights as well.

What is important to know when engaging in field archery?

Primarily, remember that the maximum arrow diameter for this game should not exceed .422 inches. Despite your competitive class or equipment preferences, small arrows are ideal for shooting long distances in windy conditions – it’s what makes this sport so unique! By opting for micro-diameter arrows instead of large ones, you’ll be guaranteed success at any distance and in weather conditions.

As a bowhunter, it is integral to understand how to arrange your five sight pins ideally. Since you cannot cover everything from 20 feet up to 80 yards with only five pins, decide which distances are most important and then hone in on “gap shooting”, or aiming at targets that fall between those predetermined ranges. Consequently, you should commit yourself to learning how precisely to hold those sights high and low for various targets if you wish for accuracy.

If you’re an archer with a movable sight, then you must acquire the most precise sight tape available. This will guarantee that your sights are exact for each shooting distance. Most target sights come pre-loaded with printed tapes which might be suitable for your setup; or else, Archer’s Advantage offers programs that can help construct one yourself!

Shooting a traditional or barebow bow is one of the most demanding skills because archers must learn to aim at various distances using only their arrowhead for guidance. This necessitates countless hours of practice, but the results are well worth it!

All archers should be knowledgeable of the gravity-induced effects on their aim when shooting uphill and downhill, referred to as “cutting yards.” This entails aiming at a target that is closer than its exact distance according to rangefinder readings. Archers need to understand how nature can affect their performance in order to shoot with accuracy.

Wondering how your bow will hold up in the rain? How much do you need to adjust for winds that can redirect your arrow off-target? What about shooting at uneven heights, like standing on a hill or an incline? To hone these skills and prepare yourself for any tricky situation, practice under varying conditions. The only way to ensure success is by being prepared!

If you are aspiring to be a great archer, field archery will test your abilities in every way. Take ample notes during practice on the effects of weather conditions such as rain, wind, or uphill/downhill changes and refer back to them when it comes time for the competition. Mastering this form of shooting will make you an adept marksman with unbeatable accuracy!

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