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Disciplines of Archery

In Canada there are four primary disciplines that are recognized and supported by Archery Canada. Deciding the one you want to get into will determine the type of equipment and facilities that will be needed. In addition to the four disciplines below, Archery Canada recognizes and supports members who are bowhunters.

The four primary disciplines of archery are: 

  • Target Archery
  • Para archery
  • Field Archery 
  • 3D Archery 

The following are a brief overview of the four disciplines. Find out more information on Archery Canada’s High Performance programs for each discipline.

Target archery

Target archery is the most recognisable format of modern archery. When you think of an archery range you will imagine a series of large target butts with colorful rings on it. Target Archers shoot at targets with circular rings from specific distances, depending on the type of bow and the category the archer is shooting in.  It takes place both outdoors and indoors, over distances of up to 90 metres and using the traditional five-colour, 10-ring target.

Archers shoot on a level field with their feet or the  wheels of their wheelchair on either side of a stationary shooting line.  Archers may use longbow, barebow, recurve, and compound bows in target archery. This discipline of Archery is one of the more spectator friendly formats, though large crowds are usually more common at the highest levels of competition. 

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Field archery

Field archery is the format of modern archery that takes place on a multi-target course (often compared to a golf course) set out over all kinds of terrain including fields, woods and forests. Archers move through the course in groups (like in Golf) along different course layouts, with each target along the course offering its own challenges. Field archery is not shot over flat land, but includes up and down and cross-slopes, unmarked distance targets and challenges of light, dark and shadow. These additional aspects require skills known as “fieldcraft”. In this discipline, archers usually shoot at black and yellow coloured target faces and from from pegs set in the ground that are painted with different colors for the distances appropriate to each division. 

Field archery includes three bowstyles: recurve, compound and barebow. 

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Para Archery

Para Archery refers to archery competition for archers who have physical impairments and who may require assistive devices under certain classifications. Archery is open to athletes with a physical impairment, who may shoot with assistive devices allowed under classification rules, if required. Para archery competition, which includes specific competition categories for athletes with certain classifications, is an integral part of the Paralympic Games.

Para archery was one of the original sports at the inaugural Paralympic Games in 1960. Male and female athletes with physical disabilities can compete either standing or in wheelchairs. There are three classifications, two for wheelchair and one for standing.  The events are compound, recurve and team.

The Paralympic competition format is identical to that of Target Archery. Archers shoot 72 arrows from a distance of 70 metres at a target of 122 cm. A perfect score is 720.   

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3D archery

3D archery is a subset of field archery focusing on shooting at life-like three dimensional animal shaped targets placed in dynamic settings and at varying distances. At grass-roots this is a sport that is widely participated in Canada and the USA. As with Field Archery archers will move from target to target, which will be of varying sizes, and set at varying distances. Its roots may have been to allow archers to improve their skills as a hunter, but in recent years the discipline has attracted a growing number of competitive-minded archers who may or may not be involved  in bowhunting. As with bowhunting, in which the hunter would have to guess distances during the hunt, 3D target distances are usually unmarked, requiring the archer to gauge the distance for their shot, adding another challenge to the sport. There are however categories for which the distances are known.

In this discipline, archers shoot from pegs set in the ground that are painted with different colors for the distances appropriate to each division. In Canada, the rules that are followed are a hybrid of the World Archery Rules and rules that have been developed for archery in Canada. 

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