Archery is the art of shooting arrows from a bow at a target.

Competitions in the sport of archery are classified in the following disciplines: 

  • Outdoor target archery
  • Indoor target archery
  • Field archery
  • Clout archery
  • Flight archery
  • Novelty events.

Archery Western Australia (AWA) is the peak government body for the sport in Western Australia.

Rules for a safe target archery range.

The following are prerequisites for a safe archery range:

  • There is a clearly visible straight line on the ground, called the shooting line and archers only launch their arrows standing astride this line.
  • In target archery there is only one shooting line for all archers, even if they are not shooting the same distances. Targets may be placed at different distances for different target lanes.
  • There are target lanes, perpendicular to the shooting line and archers shoot only in the target lane corresponding to their place on the shooting line.
  • Shooting is in one direction only.
  • Archers aim continuously toward their target when drawing their bow. The bow must not be drawn in such a way that if the string was accidentally released the arrow would fly out of the safety zone.

Outdoor target archery

Field of play layout

As mentioned in the previous section the field is oriented to prevent archers from shooting with the sun in their eyes. The shooting line is located on the north side of the range as are the targets with a tolerance allowance from the magnetic of +/- 20 degrees. This allows the sun to be behind the archers most of the day.

The field of play is divided into shooting lanes containing one to four target butts. A line parallel to the shooting line is marked 3m in front of the shooting line. This line is there mainly for tournament purposes. If an archer has an arrow that falls within this 3m area the arrow is deemed as not being shot. Another arrow may be shot under the guidance of the officiating judge.

A waiting line is marked at least 5m behind the shooting line. There must be a minimum of 5m between the shooting line and waiting archers.

The shooting lanes are 5m apart to allow each archer a personal space of 80cm.

Barriers for the public are erected to keep spectators safe. These barriers must be:

  • At least 20m away from the sides of the first and last target set at 90m.
  • 10m behind the waiting line.
  • At least 50m beyond the 90m target line.

These exclusion areas each side of the range must be kept clear from all obstacles which could obscure any potential danger.

The 10m measurement between the two different shooting distances identifies the separate ranges. Archers on one range are not allowed to collect their arrows whilst archers on the other range are still shooting.The backstop must be high enough to stop arrows which have just missed the top of the butt at 90m.

Archery range layout minor events

Dimensions of an archery range


Indoor target archery Dimensions of indoor target archery range

Indoor target archery is shot at 18 or 25m, using the same targets as outdoor target archery. The venue generally has a polished wooden floor or a concrete floor and the range layout similar to outdoor field archery.

The number of targets in an indoor range depends on the width of the activity hall. Each archer requires a minimum of 80cm of space when on the shooting line.

Behind the targets there must be a safe arrow stop device, known as a special arrow stop curtain. Never rely on a special arrow stop curtain to stop arrows if there is any activity going on behind it. These curtains do deteriorate and with some high powered bows now available arrows have been known to pass through them.

At 5m behind the shooting line there is a waiting line. If the space available is restricted, this can be reduced to 3m but safety must not be jeopardised. Behind the waiting line there is space for the archers shooting equipment. Behind this area is a competitor’s area, which accommodates archers, team managers and coaches. A total length of about 30m is required for an indoor facility.

It is recommended for indoor ranges that:

  • Access to the range is only possible from behind the shooting line.
  • Any other access is locked during practice.
  • There is access to all emergency exits, but if some are in front of the shooting line entrance, access into the hall through these must be restricted.
  • If there are windows or glass in the wall behind the target line that can be hit by an arrow that misses the target, an appropriate arrow stop covers these windows.
  • If there are side windows less than 2m high, they are protected with an appropriate cover or with a shield.
  • Suitable barriers are erected around the range to keep spectators back. The barriers are at least 10m from the ends of the target line and a minimum of 5m behind the waiting line. 
  • No spectators are allowed beyond the target line. Where the size of the hall does not require the erection of side barriers no spectators are allowed beyond the barrier situated behind the waiting line.

Some multi‑­sport venues use a divisional curtain. The curtain is attached at the upper side only and must be able to stop an arrow. 

Under no circumstances should there be any human activity taking place behind the target area even if an arrow stop curtain is being used.

Field archery

Field archery differs from target archery in that the field of play has many different target lanes spread out over natural terrain.

The field course is arranged so that the shooting positions and the targets can be reached without undue difficulty, hazard or waste of time. Field courses should be as condensed as possible.

The walking distance from the central (assembly) area to the furthest target is no more than one km or 15 minutes normal walking.

There are safe paths for judges, medical personnel and to allow for transportation of equipment round the course while shooting is in progress.

The course is not positioned higher than 1800m above sea level and the maximum difference between the highest and the lowest point in a course is no more than 100m.

The targets are laid out in such order as to allow maximum variety and best use of the terrain. In the finals round two butts are placed side by side at each target on which a 60cm or 80cm target face is placed.

At all targets, one shooting peg for each distance is placed in such a way as to allow at least two athletes to shoot at the same time from either side of the shooting peg.

All shooting pegs are marked with the distance when marked distances are to be shot. The shooting pegs have different colours, corresponding to each group of categories as follows:

  • Blue for the Barebow, Cadet Recurve and Cadet Compound.
  • Red for the Recurve and Compound.
  • Yellow for the Cadet Barebow.

The tolerances are:

  • For distances 15m or less ±25cm.
  • For distances between 15‑­60m ±1m. The correct distance is marked on the shooting peg. The distance is measured in the air approximately 1.5‑­2m above the ground. 

The butts provide for a margin of at least 5cm outside the lowest scoring zone of the face placed upon it. At no point may any target face be less than 15cm from the ground. In all instances, regardless of the terrain, the buttress is placed perpendicular to the athlete’s line of sight from the shooting peg in order to present the target face’s full picture. 

All targets are numbered in succession. The numbers are 20cm tall.  The colours are black on yellow or yellow on black and placed 5‑­10m before reaching the shooting pegs for that target.

The target numbers function as the waiting area for the athletes of the group waiting for their turn to shoot. The other members of the group shooting can be forward of the number board to assist with shading as necessary. From the waiting area it should be possible to see if anybody is standing at the peg.

Faces shall not be placed over any larger face, nor any marks on the butts or in the foreground that could be used as points of aim.

Clearly visible direction signs indicating the route from target to target are placed at adequate intervals to ensure safe and easy movement along the course.

Suitable barriers are placed around the course to keep spectators at a safe distance while still giving them the best possible view of the competition. Only those persons having the proper accreditation are allowed on the course inside the barriers.

The assembly area contains:

A communication system allowing contact with the chairperson of the Tournament Judge Commission and the organiser.

  • Adequate shelter for team officials.
  • Separate shelter for the Jury of Appeal and the chairperson of the Judge Commission.
  • Guarded shelter for the athletes gear and spare equipment.
  • Practice targets on the competition days near the assembly point for the athletes.

Flight archery

The object of fight archery is to propel an arrow as far as possible. Six shots constitute a flight shoot.

Range layout

The shooting range is to be as flat as possible.

The landing area, defined as any ground on which the arrows are expected to land, must be at least 200m wide. This area is free of obstructions and hazards such as trees, buildings, fences, ditches etc and provide where possible, turf favourable for arrows to lodge into and be readily visible.

A shooting line 20m long is marked on the ground and one metre in front of this is the foul line.
An area 20m long by 5m wide is roped off behind the shooting line with access through a 1 metre gateway. This is the equipment area.

A central line is marked on the ground from what is considered to be the minimum distance that will be shot, to 100m beyond the furthest distance expected to be recorded. Stakes are placed at nominal 100m intervals along the central line and are appropriately marked.

Clout archery

Clout archery is popular because of its fun aspect. Archers shoot their targets in the air attempting to land the arrows in the target.

Range layout

All athletes competing in the same division will, where possible, shoot on the same target. Ideally there is a maximum of twenty five athletes per target. If more than one target is required, the allocations for each target are as nearly equal as possible. There is a clear space between the outer clout scoring flags (white flags) of adjacent clout targets of not less than 5m. Clout scoring zones shall not overlap when viewed from the Shooting Line.

The targets are consecutively numbered with a number positioned to the right side of the clout so it will not be hit by athletes’ arrows and big enough that it is clearly visible from the shooting line. 

A corresponding target number is also placed in front of the shooting line in the centre of the target lane.

The preferred shooting direction is south, although this will depend upon the available venue. For safety there is a common shooting line, although if a staggered shooting line is required no athlete will shoot over the head of another athlete and there is be a minimum of 10m between the flight path of the arrow of the athlete on the longer distance and the athletes on the shooting line of the adjacent shorter distance.

The field of play is squared off, with a shooting line marked on the ground at right angles to the direction of shooting and are long enough to permit each athlete to have a minimum one metre of space on the shooting line.

A waiting/equipment line is marked 5m behind the shooting line. The athletes’ equipment is kept behind the waiting line until the Director of Shooting gives the signal to come forward and commence shooting. Spotting scopes may be left on the Shooting Line at all times.

A spectator line is marked 10m behind the waiting/equipment line.

A 3m line is marked in front of the shooting line.  

clout archery targetclout archery spectator line



World Archery Federation Lausanne, Switzerland World Archery Rulebook 24 July 2014 Books 3 and 4.

Archery Australia Inc ACT Constitution and Shooting Rules May 2014.

Sport association details

Archery Western Australia

Dr Nadia Cunningham
State President
PO Box 1048, Morley WA 6943
Facebook ArcheryWA


The information in this guide is general in nature and cannot be relied upon as professional advice concerning the design of, or marking out for, sporting facilities and playing areas. No assurance is given as to the accuracy of any information contained in this guide and readers should not rely on its accuracy. Readers should obtain their own independent and professional advice in relation to their proposed sporting activity.

Page reviewed 23 March 2021