June 30, 2013

Field and 3D Archery

What is Field Archery?

Some think of field archery as a blend between bows, arrows, and golf. This is likely because of the different course layouts, the varying challenges presented by each target, and the fact that archers tend to shoot in groups as they navigate the course. Field archery features targets set at varying marked distances over rough terrain, often in rural or wooded areas. One of the goals of field archery is to help an archer become more proficient in 3D and target archery by challenging him or her with unusual terrain.

In this discipline, archers shoot from pegs set in the ground that are painted different colors for the distances appropriate to each division. The most common type of bow used in field archery is the compound bow with a sight and a rear “peep” sight. Recurves and traditional bows are also welcome, and all archers shoot arrows with field tips. Targets may be flat or three-dimensional, set at marked or unmarked distances.

Mastering the challenges of a field course can be exciting. In field archery, targets may be arranged on a slope, so the archer must shoot uphill or downhill. Sometimes the angles are steep enough that the archer may do best to kneel on one knee for increased stability.


What are Some Field Archery Organizations?
There are two major parent organizations that oversee field archery in the United States: the first is the National Field Archery Association and the second is the World Archery Federation, formerly known by its French acronym FITA. Both allow for indoor as well as the more popular outdoor styles of field archery.

An outdoor field archery course sanctioned by the NFAA will have marked yardages for each of the 28 targets, which are divided up into two suites of 14 each. Some courses only have space for 14 targets and so archers will shoot the course twice to make a full round. Rules vary according to course and event, but here are some sample rounds included in NFAA archery, all of which use marked distances.

Sample Outdoor NFAA Field Rounds
Type Distances Furthest Target Target Styles
Field Round even-numbered,
80 yards black bull’s-eye, white center
and an outer ring of black
Hunter Round  even, marked  70 yards  white bull’s-eye surrounded
by two black rings
 Animal Round   even, marked 70 yards Animals printed on paper,
such as deer, bears or turkeys


An outdoor field archery course sanctioned by World Archery will have two suites of 12 targets, for 24 targets total. Again, rules vary depending on the course and the event, but here are samples of four different kinds of rounds in World Archery field archery.

Sample Outdoor World Archery (formerly FITA) Field Rounds
Type Distances Number
of Targets
Marked Round marked 24 one day
Unmarked Round unmarked 24 one day
 Mixed Round  half marked,
half unmarked
24 one day
Combined Round half marked,
half unmarked
24 targets
per day
 two days


What do field archers do in the winter?
Although this type of archery focuses on outdoor courses, field archers frequently compete indoors during the colder months. The NFAA World Archery Festival takes place every February in Las Vegas, Nevada. Over 1000 archers travel far and wide to compete indoors in many different divisions for cash prizes. The estimated payout for the 2011 World Archery Festival was $165,000, the largest purse ever for an indoor archery competition.


What is 3D Archery?
A subset of field archery, 3D archery is characterized by its use of life-size three-dimensional animal targets made from foam. The primary goal of shooting 3D is to improve your skills as a hunter, but in recent years the discipline has attracted a growing number of competitive-minded archers who are as interested in shooting good 3D scores as they are in bowhunting.

Because most bowhunters have to guess distances during the hunt, 3D target distances are usually unmarked. Therefore, often one of the most challenging aspects of this type of archery is learning to estimate distance. The targets themselves have a set of scoring rings, with the higher points generally centered over areas such as the heart or lungs. As with field archery, broadheads are not allowed for shooting at foam targets. Also, for the colder months many 3D groups have an indoor range where they can practice until they can return to their outdoor courses.

Many 3D competitions feature a wide range of cash prizes, some as high as several thousand dollars, depending on the resources of the club and the number of entrants into the competition.