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February 02, 2011

Getting Ready for U.S. National Indoor Championships: Rules and Procedures

Tournament Basics:

USA Archery (USAA) tournaments follow FITA rules and procedures that are supplemented with USAA national requirements.  Many rules "basics" apply to both outdoor and indoor competitions. The FITA Rule Book and USA Archery documentation may be found by clicking here.

Categories:  Three components (bow, gender, and age) make up a specific archer "Category" used to group archers for competition. 

"Division" is based on bow type.

"Classification" is based on the combination of "gender" and "age" group. 

  • Bow type is specified in the FITA rule books plus the USAA provides for some additional national divisions such as fingers compound for age 50 and older.  The USAA also sanctions a variety of traditional bows for specific events.
  • Gender classification in both USAA and FITA are men (male/boy) and women (female/girl).
  • FITA age classifications are:
    • Cadet, in the of year the 17th birthday and younger (Cadets can compete as Juniors)
    • Junior, in the year of the 20th birthday and younger 
    • Senior (Adult) any age (Masters, Cadet and Junior can compete as Seniors)
    • Master, in year of the 50th birthday and older
  • USA Archery offers additional national classes of master divisions of 60+ and 70+ as well as 50+, the FITA equivalent of Master. 
  • Two additional to FITA youth age classes are USAA JOAD program classes of:
    • Bowman, in the year of the 12th birthday or younger
    • Cub, in the year of the 14th birthday or younger
  • Like Cadets and Juniors, Bowmen and Cubs may compete in an older age class.

Format: Indoors, a 600 round consists of twenty, three arrow ends.  The U.S. National Indoor Championship consists of two 600 rounds, for a total cumulative possible score of 1200.  The USAA JOAD National Indoor Championship consists of a JOAD style single 600 round. The distance for both events is 18 meters. 

Target faces:  FITA/USAA 18 meter competitions utilize the 40cm target face. 40cm is the measurement to the outside diameter, one point scoring area.  In a ten-ring target face, scoring rings progress from one point for the outer ring to ten in the middle.  25 meter events use a 60 cm size face.  There are FITA triangle three spot and vertical three spot target face. 

The FITA World Indoor Championships use a 40cm vertical three spot which consists of a three partial 40cm, 5 ringed printed target faces or "spots" stacked three high.  Only one arrow is to be shot per "spot."  There are negative consequences for shooting more than one arrow in a spot; don't do it!

Most of the time, indoor archers shoot on a dedicated target face where only their arrows are in the target face, or "spots".  It is important to know which target face and spot to aim for and shoot.

FITA/USAA Scoring:  Masters, seniors, juniors and cadets all shoot and score the same way indoors.  Unique to indoors, compound archers score the inner 10 ring (the "x") on the target as a 10.  The rest of the yellow is scored a 9.  Indoors, recurve archers score the outer 10 ring (consisting of the "x" and the 10 ring around it). However, the "x" is not officially counted for indoor rounds. 

Special JOAD style shooting event scoring:  IMPORTANT!  Bowmen and Cubs must pay special attention to indoor tournament types:

  • During USA Archery National Indoor Championships, the Bowman and Cub categories shoot and score using the same target face size and scoring of inner compound 10 and recurve outer 10 as is typical for FITA categories.
  • At "JOAD" style events such as the JOAD National Indoor Championships, the Bowman and Cub compound archers shoot at a 40 cm face and score the outer 10 ring.  Bowman and Cub recurve archers use a 60 cm face and score the outer 10 ring.

Reports of mistaken Bowman and Cub targets and scoring are all too frequent.  Always confirm the  correct target type and scoring rules before the event and again before mounting target faces.  When in doubt - ASK A JUDGE.

Equipment:  FITA rules outline equipment limitations.  Equipment rules can be found in the FITA Rule books for each discipline. Click here for more information.

Dress code:  USA Archery national events, as well as sanctioned tournaments, require USA Archery dress code compliance.


Start time and official practice:  At the beginning of your tournament, you will need to check in, set up your equipment, have equipment inspected, find a shooting position, hang a target face, find a seating area, and review any last-minute changes to the tournament format. Archers must pay particular attention to the start time of the event as it relates to scoring versus official practice. For example, some tournaments will announce the start time as 9:00 a.m., which refers to the first scoring end rather than the beginning of practice. The archer arriving for a 9:00 start would therefore miss their practice rounds and potentially the start of their tournament. A good rule of thumb is to arrive at least 45 minutes ahead of practice for an indoor tournament, and at least an hour ahead for any national event.

During sanctioned indoor tournaments, archers will have designated official practice ends. During outdoor tournaments, there will be a designated number of official practice ends, or a certain time frame in which official practice will be conducted. For many outdoor events, there may also be an official practice day that precedes the first day of the competition. Be aware of the practice format for your tournament, and remember to be set up and ready to shoot well in advance of the start of practice.

Coming to the shooting line:  Archers may only occupy the shooting line when called to do so.  The Director of Shooting signals the archers to move from the waiting area to the shooting line with a two horn or whistle blast signal. 10 seconds are given to move from the waiting line to the shooting line, before the signal to shoot.

Waves and single/double lines:  Sometimes all the archers are signaled to shoot as one group at one time, put away their bow and then move to the targets to score when signaled.  This is often referred to as a single wave or single line. 

Sometimes there are two waves.  First end the "AB" pair of archers will shoot at their designated target face on the target buttress, retreat when two horns or two whistles blasts are given and the "CD" pair of archers will move forward and shoot at their designated target face on the target buttress.  This is called a double line, two waves or simply AB-CD. 

  • The waves or lines alternate shooting first.  First AB then CD, the next end CD shoots first then AB and continues to alternate end after end.  A physical sign is often displayed indicating that either AB or CD shoots first.   
  • When shooting two lines, there is a need to move to and from waiting area to the shooting line promptly and carefully as archers move off the line while others step to the line.  Note that there is no requirement that an archer must be on the line when the signal to shoot is given, but it is considerate to move quickly to the line to avoid distracting those on the line who are set and ready to shoot.

Shooting: The signal to shoot is one horn or whistle blast.  Each archer is expected to be in control of his or her shooting and equipment, stay within their immediate area and avoid affecting other archers.  A coach may speak (preferably, softly and calmly) to their archer, from typically no closer than the waiting line.  But the archers should not speak, so as not to disturb adjacent archers.  If five or more horns are whistles are signaled, immediately stop shooting and wait for instructions.

A primary concept that is specific to FITA archers is that there is virtually no such thing as "re shooting" an arrow.

Timing:  Indoor tournaments where archers shoot together or "simultaneously" are allotted 2 minutes to shoot three arrows. Shooting the allotted number of arrows in the period is referred to as an "end".  

Abnormalities:  During the ranking round several problems can arise where a judge can help such as:

  • Equipment failure: when a bow or arrow equipment problem arises.
  • Bouncer or bounce-out: where an arrow hits the target but then bounces out.
  • Pass through: when an arrow passes beyond the target face or through the entire target. 
  • Medical emergency: where like an equipment failure, a physical medical problem arises and requires attention.

In each of these cases, call a judge and they will help manage the situation.  During the ranking round archers are usually able to "make up" up to 12 un-shot arrows depending on the circumstances.  Note that there are no equipment failures, etc., allowances for makeup arrows in match play. Keep shooting.

3 meter line:  An arrow that does not travel completely beyond a line located 3 meters beyond the shooting line is considered an un-shot arrow.  So long as a portion of the arrow remains in the 3 meter area, the archer may safely retrieve the arrow or shoot another arrow.

End of shooting time signal:  The signal that shooting time has expired is two horn or whistle blasts.   0 are given after shooting time has expired directing archer to put their bow down in the equipment area and move to the targets, score, collect arrows and return for the next wave.

Scoring:  Procedures can vary but are generally as follows:

  • Do not touch the arrows, target or target face until all the arrows on the target buttress are scored.
  • Typically three or four archers on a target are the scoring group.
  • A designated "caller" calls the arrows, making sure the scoring group knows whose scores are being called and which score card to mark.  The arrow values are called in order from the highest value to the lowest.  All the archers should check to see that the calling is accurate. 
  • There are typically two scorecards per archer.  Two archers act as scorers and mark the arrow values on the archers' scorecards.
  • If an archer's arrow misses, mark an "M" on the scorecard.  (There is no need for Xs for indoor FITA archery scoring, but many recurve archers do so out of habit). 
  • Note that if an arrow value miss mark is discovered before the arrows are removed, do not erase, but instead put a single diagonal slash mark thru the mistake, mark the correct value and have the entire scoring group mark their initials next to the change to indicate that all agree. 
  • Mark the arrow holes with two 1/8" long marks at right angles to each other at the arrow hole before removing the arrows. 
  • Each archer should check the scorecards to see that the values are correctly marked before the arrows are removed.
  • Add the running total after every end.  Many keep a small calculator in their quiver to help check their math.
  • Again, arrow values marked on the scorecard are not to be changed after the arrows are removed from the target.  Addition may be corrected. 

There may be an electronic score entry device on which to enter arrow values at the target and/or score flip cards and/or leaders board tally sheets to fill out, depending on the event.   The process seems involved.  The routine becomes quick after a few ends.  Return to the waiting area once scoring is complete and all the arrows are marked and removed.  Questions?  Ask a judge.

End of shooting:  After the round is complete, fill in all the lines and boxes, including score totals, 10s, 9s, and archer/scorekeeper signatures.  Check and double-check the math.  Both scorecards should match.  Keep the scoring group together until all of the scorecards for the group are submitted.  Each archer should personally submit their fully completed scorecards without delay.   

The integrity of the competition requires that scorecards be complete, accurate and submitted promptly.  Once the next phase of competition has taken place, or the result made official, it is a practical impossibility to go back.

Have a judge sign the scorecard if any kind of record score is to be submitted. 

This is a brief description of the tournament procedures.  The best way to learn it to compete in tournaments.

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