Field 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,
marked
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
Duration
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.