Archery Etiquette 

The GNAS Motto is “Union, Trueheart and Courtesie“.

The complete rules are in the GNAS and FITA rule-book; the GNAS rule book also lists the main points of archery etiquette. Most of archery etiquette is simple common-sense, meant to make the sport enjoyable and to preserve good humour and not spoil other people’s concentration. Etiquette helps a club to run smoothly and is a must at tournaments.  Courtesy and good manners reflect on both yourself and our club and they enable other archers to enjoy their sport, hence the Courtesie in the motto.

  1. Keep 5 yards behind the shooting line when not shooting – umbrellas and equipment must be 10 yards behind the shooting line. Noise levels should be kept down while shooting is taking place. Don’t hog all the available space with your chairs, tents and umbrellas.
  2. Do not approach the shooting line just as an adjacent archer is coming up to full draw, and similarly, do not leave the shooting line under the same circumstances. Wait until they have completed their shot before you do anything that may distract them (FITA rules differ here – you MUST leave the line as soon as you finish your end under FITA rules).
  3. If there is still one other archer shooting as you are preparing to leave the shooting line, stay with them for company.
  4. Don’t talk or exclaim on the shooting line. Swear inwardly.
  5. Non-participants should not go forward to the targets with the archers. As you are responsible for your guests, you can always ask the field captain for permission for them to do so if you wish.
  6. Give your score to the target scorer in the following way: Highest score first, and in 2 groups of 3, e.g. 9-7-7 pause, 5-3-1, pointing at the nock of the relevant arrow as you do so.
  7. Don’t enter your own scores on the score sheet. Hand it to another archer to complete.
  8. Ask whether it is OK to draw the arrows once scoring is complete. Do not touch any arrows in the target prior to this.
  9. When drawing other archer’s arrows from the target do so with as much care as if they were your own. Look behind you before drawing so you don’t stab anyone and hand the arrows back carefully so you don’t poke anyone with a sharp nock or pile.
  10. Unless express permission is given by the owner, never touch other people’s equipment, not even the arrows in the target. The exception to this rule is when the arrows are found in the grass. The correct procedure there is: draw the arrow carefully out of the ground and stand it point down in the ground where it was found.
  11. Help look for lost arrows on adjacent targets once your own target’s scoring and arrow collection is complete.
  12. Don’t dawdle while retrieving arrows or while walking back from the target.
  13. In the absence of the field captain, the senior archer on the field always takes on that responsibility.
  14. When arriving at the club after the session has started, please remember to ask the archers already shooting (where there are 2 or more) if you may share their target. It may be that you could be interrupting a high scoring or qualifying round.
  15. Don’t talk loudly when others are shooting.
  16. Don’t talk to an archer who obviously prefers to be left alone.
  17. Don’t offer advice unless asked for.
  18. Don’t leave litter.
  19. Don’t inflict your problems on other archers while shooting is going on, they will probably have their own to contend with.
  20. Help put up/put away the targets and equipment on the field. This will make you popular.
  21. Don’t trip over the shooting line or tread all over foot markers.

Target days, Matches and Tournaments.

  • Don’t be late.
  • Leave nothing on the shooting line, except for foot markers.
  • When shooting in 2’s, don’t place yourself on the centre mark.
  • Keep your equipment behind the waiting line.
  • Don’t walk up and down the line comparing scores.
  • Retrieve arrows which have dropped in front of the target before the scores are taken down.
  • Don’t go behind the target until the scores have been recorded.
  • Keep to the left when leaving the shooting line or walking beyond the target.
  • You should pay if you damage somebody’s arrows through your own carelessness.
  • If you have shot badly, don’t spoil your friends’ success with your misery!
  • Don’t give up.

Remember that when competing in a tournament, practice is not allowed on the same grounds on that day. Some clubs and venues do not allow the use of all-carbon arrows.


The GNAS and the club operate a handicapping system which allows archers of all standards to compete against each other.

Your handicap should be a source of pride and interest to you and the process of handicap reduction is continuous – every time you shoot a round to a better standard than your current handicap, your handicap gets reduced (to the average of the new handicap and the current). If the recalculated handicap is not a whole number, then the handicap is rounded up.

If you shoot a round away from the club, you should make the club Records Officer aware of your score so that the handicap for this round can be reflected in your ranking. You will also normally be expected to declare your current handicap to the organisers of such a shoot before you take part. So, if you do shoot away from the Club, please submit your score to the Records Officer.

Handicap tables are published by the GNAS and are easy to use. However, be aware that you take the higher handicap rating if your score is between those listed in the table.

At the beginning of each season (indoor and outdoor), your handicap is reassessed based on your best three scores of the previous season. A beginner will establish their handicap after shooting three rounds.

Your handicap has an allowance for the round you are about to shoot (which can be seen in the GNAS look-up tables) and this number is added to the score you shoot to then make an adjusted score.

This allowance has been calculated so that, if you shoot to your handicap standard, your actual score plus the allowance will equal 1440 on any round. So, if you shoot better than your handicap, your adjusted score will be higher than 1440 and if you shoot worse than your handicap, your adjusted score will be lower than 1440.  In a handicap shoot (or for handicap medals), the person with the highest adjusted score wins.

Handicaps are kept separate for Indoor and Outdoor shooting but work in the same way.


The GNAS and the club operate a classification system, which allows archers to qualify for class pins. The scores required to achieve outdoor classifications depend on gender and bow type and also on age groups for juniors.

The levels for Outdoor are:

  • Unclassified
  • Third Class
  • Second Class
  • First Class
  • Bowman (or Junior Bowman)
  • Master Bowman (or Junior Master Bowman)
  • Grand Master Bowman

Your classification remains in place for one year from when you achieved it. You need to shoot three rounds at the required standard to qualify for a classification. The qualifying scores are shown in the GNAS Handicap tables.  It is important to note that the higher levels of classifications cannot be achieved for rounds that are short in terms of distance and/or the amount of arrows shot.

Classifications are kept separate for Indoor and Outdoor shooting. The scores required to achieve indoor classifications depend on gender and bow type. There are no indoor class pins but there are various ‘Portsmouth pins’ to be awarded for reaching scores of 500, 525, 550 and 575 on this round.

For Indoor recurve archers classifications are:

Gentlemen – Snr & Jnr                                Ladies – Snr & Jnr

Unclassified          (Handicap below 85)                            (Handicap below 90)

H                        (Handicap 85 to 81)                            (Handicap 90 to 86)

G                        (Handicap 80 to 71)                            (Handicap 85 to 76)

F                        (Handicap 70 to 59)                            (Handicap 75 to 65)

E                        (Handicap 58 to 47)                            (Handicap 64 to 52)

D                        (Handicap 46 to 34)                            (Handicap 51 to 40)

C                        (Handicap 33 to 22)                            (Handicap 39 to 28)

B                        (Handicap 21 to 15)                             (Handicap 27 to 22)

A                        (Handicap 14 and below)                      (Handicap 21 and below)