cleve archers supporting archery in south gloucestershire and bristol

Handicaps & Classifications

The archery calendar is separated into overlapping indoor and outdoor seasons. The indoor season runs from 1st July to 30th June, and the outdoor from 1st January to 31st December. Handicaps and classifications are maintained separately for each season, but the rules are similar for both.

New Archers

New archers will not receive a classification or handicap until they have submitted at least three separate ‘scored rounds’ to the club’s records officer.

How do I score?

If you’re unsure how to score we have put together a guide to scoring or you can ask an experienced archer or one of our coaching team for help.

Do I have to shoot rounds and submit scores?

Not if you don’t want to, it’s not a requirement. However, shooting scored rounds is a really good way to track your progress as you improve. You will move up through the classifications and get lower handicaps as you get better.

You will also be able to participate in any handicapped tournaments that the club runs, including being eligible for the handicap trophies at the Club's End of Season Shoot.

So what are handicaps?

The handicap system is designed to ‘level the playing field’, so beginners can compete on equal terms with experienced archers. A high beginner’s handicap means you effectively get a large allowance added to your score which the experienced archers won’t get. The allowances are designed such that every archer, no matter what gender, bow style, round shot or classification will score 1440 if they shoot exactly to handicap. The winner is the person that shoots better than they normally do on the day.

How is the handicap calculated?

Club members can submit their scores online, this will automatically work out your handicap and classification for you.  If you are interested in how they are calculated feel free to read on.

There are tables which contain all of the rounds and possible scores. The handicap for each round is looked up in those tables. Lower handicap numbers mean you are shooting better. Your first three round’s handicaps are averaged and rounded up to a whole number. This is your initial handicap.

Each subsequent round you shoot can potentially lower your handicap further, but can’t make it higher.

Let’s use an example:

  • Your first 3 round handicaps are 65, 63 & 60, giving an initial handicap of 63 (62.66 rounded up).
  • Your next round scores a handicap of 64. This is higher than 63 so no adjustment is made.
  • Your next round has a handicap of 56 – well done! This 56 is averaged with your current handicap of 63 and rounded up. This gives a new handicap of 60 (59.5 rounded up).

The process now continues for each new round you shoot. Remember, your handicap can only improve during the year 🙂

So, can my handicap ever go down?

At the start of each season (January 1st for outdoor, July 1st for indoor) your handicap is re-assessed. Your best three handicap rounds of the previous year are averaged to produce your starting handicap for the next season.  So, if you have a year where none of your scores improve, your handicap may go up at the start of the next season, but that’s not going to happen to you, is it?

What about this ‘classification’ system then?

The Archery GB classification scheme gives you progressive goals to aim for. Each level of the scheme you reach entitles you to a new achievement badge. These are presented at the AGM each year, usually in November.

In addition to monitoring your handicaps, the records officer also monitors your classification achievements. The classifications have different names for indoor and outdoor shooting.

Outdoor classifications: Archer, 3rd Class, 2nd Class, 1st Class, Bowman, Master Bowman and Grand Master Bowman.

Indoor Classifications: H, G, F, E, D, C, B and A.

Each score you achieve for a given round determines the classification you receive. Again, there are tables for each round, bow style and gender with the scores required to achieve each classification.

Generally, the higher classifications can only be achieved when shooting rounds which have longer distances. Seniors can’t achieve 1st class unless you shoot 80 yards or 70m for example (60 yards / 60m for ladies).

Here’s an example:

A gentleman shooting a National round with a recurve bow scores 457. The table shows that 436 and above are 2ndclass scores, so this is a 2nd class round.

You must shoot three qualifying rounds in a season to attain the classification. If you shoot two 2nd class rounds and a whole bunch of 3rd class rounds, your overall classification will be 3rd class. One more 2nd class score would have made you a 2nd class archer.  Ooh, so close!

Your classification will change immediately once you have shot three improved classes. At the end of the season, your best classification during that season will carry to the start of the following year.

Classifications up to Bowman are handled by the club records officer. Master Bowman and Grand Master Bowman classifications are handled by Archery GB and can only be achieved at UK record status shoots or higher.

Can my classification ever get worse?

Yes. Let’s pretend you’re lucky enough to be classified as Bowman as the start of the season. If you only shoot two Bowman class scores during the season and a few 1st Class scores you will be reclassified as 1st Class at the start of the next season.

Does this system apply to Juniors?

Yes it does. The majority of this is the same whether you are a Senior or Junior. There are, however, two slight differences. First, being younger, you can obtain classifications at shorter distances. For example, an U12 girl can become a Junior Bowman by shooting at no more than 30 yards. Second, as you get older and change age categories, your classification is re-assessed. Your handicap is not re-assessed as it is not dependant on age. When you move into a new age category, your three best scores from the previous 12 months are assessed against your new age category and from that your new classification is worked out. This re-classification only applies to Outdoor shooting as there is no separate Indoor classification system for Juniors.