Classification & Handicap Updates

Archery GB (our governing body in the UK), have recently overhauled a rarely mentioned area of the sport – Classifications & Handicaps. These are only used during the outdoor season.

As someone who enjoys torturing myself with data and having used the old classification system for some time, I was kindly asked by the Club Chairman to try to give an overview of the changes and introduce our membership to another aspect of the sport that many are probably not aware even existed. I will attempt to keep this as brief and simple as possible to save boring everyone….

While “classifications” have been for a long time, it was widely accepted that it was in need of review. Archers were only able to get the classifications by shooting one or two specific rounds that required you to be able to shoot either full days, or the longest distances available. Following the update, which was released by Archery GB last month, the system is now designed to actively to encourage someone new to the sport to try to improve their scores and shooting capabilities early on.

Following the review, archers of any ability are able to obtain one of the classification on a multitude of rounds. The new classification tables are available through the below link. At first glance, these are quite a confusing collection of colours and numbers. However, to boil it down, there a now three Classification of Archer, which in turn have been split into three Classes.

The Archery Tier is the lowest of the three and is aimed at allowing those new to the sport (or the scoring side of the sport) to gauge their progress, give them achievable goals and help them move through the distances when ready. This Tier can be shot at any time, so Thursday club nights are acceptable, but it is recommended that you have another archer shooting with you who can help score and verify the results.

Next up is the Bowman Tier, this tier is generally aimed at those who are now comfortable shooting some of the longer distances/rounds, but there is no reason why someone who has just started out cannot go straight in at this level. These rounds have to be completed in a “competitive” format. This is what we typically do on Sundays at the club. It is effectively the same as a Thursday night; the only difference being is we shoot a specific round instead of wandering around various distances as you might do on a club night.

The highest level is the Master Bowman Tier. This level is for those who are capable of shooting full days / distances. There are only three rounds, which are eligible to obtain these scores and they must be shot at an approved Record Status shoot. While we regularly shoot these rounds on island on Sundays, we do not have the judges or facility to hold them as Record Status shoots and you would therefore need to travel to the UK to obtain this Tier.

The tables provide a list of the relevant rounds for each Tier, what distances, how many arrows at each distance and how big the target face is at each distance (which I find is extremely helpful). It is also split out to allow all ages to partake, from under 12’s to the plus 50’s in their appropriate rounds.

I would stress to everyone who has taken the time to read my waffle, please note that you do not have to be a competitive archer or have a drive to shoot further/longer to partake in this. I feel this is just an excellent tool to gauge how you are doing and provide you with some thoughts if you wanted to try something a bit different when you visit the club.

If you feel the above might be of the slightest interest to you, or you have any questions whatsoever, then please do get in touch with me or the other coaches at the club. Either catch us at the club or throw me a message on Facebook, I am more than happy to go through it with anyone.

On a final note, I know I mentioned at the start that they updated the handicap system as well, but I would recommend avoiding that one if I was you. It is Dark Magic. If you are not correctly trained like our friendly records officer, it might melt your brain (as it did mine). Nevertheless, if anyone is keen to know more, I am sure we can go through it.

All the best,


Archery GB’s overview on the changes (includes a helpful video):

The new Classification Tables: