Outdoor Classifications & Handicaps

The Archery GB Classification and Handicap scheme allows archers of all levels to understand their skill level and progress through the various awards available. From the initial Archer 3rd Class classification, right through to Elite Master Bowman.

Our sport is always developing and as part of this progression, we have revisited and updated the classifications and handicap scheme, both modernising and creating more awards to give all archers a roadmap to progress along, no matter their skill level.

Inclusivity is important in our sport and that is why the new update includes new Archer tiers to give beginners a more substantial way to mark their progression through the sport. New archers should typically be able to achieve a classification within their first 1-2 years. Additionally, for the most ambitious in our sport we've added an Elite Master Bowman classification, which will be no easy task to achieve in an outdoor season.

What awards are available?

There are nine different classification levels available to all archers, which are grouped into three sets of three. An archer starts off with the Archer tier, with 3rd Class, 2nd Class and 1st Class awards. They then move up to the Bowman tier, again with 3rd Class, 2nd Class and 1st Class, and then finally the Master Bowman tier, where the naming gets a little more fun with Master Bowman (MB), Grand Master Bowman (GMB) and Elite Master Bowman (EMB).

These levels cover the full range of experience for the vast majority of archers, with Archer 3rd Class achievable by many new archers within their first year or two in the sport, whereas Elite Master Bowman will be a challenge for even the very best in the country to maintain.

If classifications are awards, then what is a handicap?

The Archery Handicap Scheme exists to measure an archer’s ability regardless of who they are and what they shoot. Any score can be assigned a number on the handicap scale representing the accuracy with which it was shot. Handicaps form the basis of the classification system and tables, but have a wide variety of uses beyond this such as comparing performance on different rounds and tracking an archer’s progress throughout the season and their career

Click here to visit out Handicap Explainer webpage

  Sub Levels Award Requirements
From rounds totalling Rounds Type of event Administered by
Archery Tier Archery 3rd Class 12 dozen arrows all rounds of an appropriate distance Any Event Clubs
Archer 2nd Class
Archer 1st Class
Bowman Tier Bowman 3rd Class 18 dozen arrows Any competitive event
Bowman 2nd Class
Bowman 1st Class
Master Bowman Tier Master Bowman 36 dozen arrows Age appropriate rounds in York, Hereford, Bristol, WA1440 & WA720 rounds families Any Record Status competition Archery GB
Grand Master Bowman
Elite Master Bowman

The bowstyle, gender and age of the archer determines the specific scores applied. The scores across different rounds are calculated from handicap tables. In addition to the skill element, each award has a minimum distance required for each classification.

Calculating Your Outdoor Handicap & Classification

The Archery GB website contains the official handicap and classification tables and also a tool to calculate handicap and classifications for a given score. Many people also make use of third-party online tables, calculators or score tracking apps for calculating their handicaps and classifications. Whilst it may take some time for all of these to become up-to-date with the new schemes, these two online calculators already support the new tables: Archery Calculator and Archery Geekery.

Click Here To View The Official Handicap & Classification Tables and Tools

To help you understand how to calculate your own handicap and classification, we will now walk through the different tiers. As the largest part of membership is Adult Recurve, we will base the following examples on this category.

The Archer Tier

The Archer tier is designed so that a wide range of club-level archers should be able to achieve one of its levels. Most archers should be able to complete Archer 3rd Class during their first 1-2 years within the sport. 

To achieve any award in the Archer tier, the archer needs to shoot a number of complete rounds totalling at least 144 (or 12 dozen) arrows, which can be achieved in a number of ways. For Archer 3rd Class, each round must include a distance of at least 30y or 30m. If the archer reaches the minimum score required, then the scored round contributes towards their classification. Once they have shot two rounds at that level, they have 144 score counting arrows, so they have achieved the award. Congratulations! The archer then may look at aiming for the Archer 2nd Class award.

As the awards progress there are two main variables that change: first is distance and second is the consistency, so a similar score level must be achieved on the longer distances.

To find the specific scores applicable to your bowstyle, age and gender please click on the button below to view the tables.

Click Here To View The Official Handicap & Classification Tables and Tools

At the Archer level, we encourage clubs to make these awards as accessible as possible with it being possible to obtain the scores during practice. That said, we do encourage the score to be shot following the rules of shooting and be witnessed by another archer to ensure the integrity of the scoring process.

This level of classifications is typically administered by Records Officers or Coaches, so ask them what requirements they have.

The Bowman Tier

Once they have gained the Archer 1st Class classification, archers can move up to the Bowman tier. Archers at this level are typically taking part in competitive events from club level right up to national level.

To discuss the rounds which need to be shot for Bowman tier classifications, we need to take a short diversion to one of the key concepts of the classification system:  the Prestige Rounds.

Prestige rounds

Each archer has three rounds, which for competitive and historical reasons are more prestigious than other rounds. Each category has three such rounds, which vary depending on their bowstyle, gender and age. 

The first category: those prescribed by World Archery for international competition and equivalent rounds for categories not recognised by World Archery. There are three families of rounds in this category, divided by bowstyle:

Bowstyle

Round Name

Distance

Face Size

Arrow Count

Recurve / Longbow

WA 70m

70m

122cm

6 dozen

WA 60m

60m

Metric 122-50

50m

Metric 122-40

40m

Metric 122-30

30m

Barebow

WA 50m

50m

122cm

6 dozen

Metric 122-40

40m

Metric 122-30

30m

Compound

WA 50m

50m

80cm

6 dozen

Metric 80-40

40m

Metric 80-30

30m

The second category:  these are the former standard World Archery rounds. These rounds are now known as the 1440s but may still be referred to as “FITAs”. These challenging rounds consist of 36 arrows each at four different distances and have been adapted to shorter distances as the Archery GB Metric I to V rounds.

Round Name Distance Face Size Arrow Count
WA1440 Men 90m, 70m 122cm 3 dozen at each distance
50m, 30m 80cm
WA1440 Ladies 70m, 60m 122cm 3 dozen at each distance
50m, 30m 80cm
Metric II 60m, 50m 122cm 3 dozen at each distance
40m, 30m 80cm
Metric III 50m, 40m 122cm 3 dozen at each distance
30m, 20m 80cm
Metric IV 40m, 30m 122cm 3 dozen at each distance
20m, 10m 80cm
Metric V 40m, 30m 122cm 3 dozen at each distance
15m, 10m 80cm

The third category: the traditional Archery GB rounds, based on the York round shot at the first Grand National Archery Meeting in 1844.. These rounds consist of 144 arrows shot across three imperial distances.

Round Name Distance and Arrow count Face Size

York

6 dozen at 100 yards, 4 dozen at 80 yards and 2 dozen at 60 yards 122cm
Hereford / Bristol I 6 dozen at 80 yards, 4 dozen at 60 yards and 2 dozen at 50 yards 122cm
Bristol II 6 dozen at 60 yards, 4 dozen at 50 yards and 2 dozen at 40 yards 122cm
Bristol III 6 dozen at 50 yards, 4 dozen at 40 yards and 2 dozen at 30 yards 122cm
Bristol IV 6 dozen at 40 yards, 4 dozen at 30 yards and 2 dozen at 20 yards 122cm
Bristol V 6 dozen at 30 yards, 4 dozen at 20 yards and 2 dozen at 10 yards 122cm

Scores for an archer’s prestige rounds (and longer variants) are available for ALL classification levels, irrespective of other restrictions.

Achieving a Bowman classification

With the Bowman classifications, the archer should be quite familiar with shooting rounds and probably is ready for a more formal shooting environment. Archers should now be shooting their scores at competitions, club target days, friendly matches or any other event in line with rule 304. It doesn’t need to be too formal, but as a guideline it should be an event organised in advance, with multiple people taking part and with rules around practice and scoring being followed as if it were a competition.

The event does NOT need to be Record Status for Bowman. This level of classifications is still administered at club level, so we recommend discussing events with Records Officers to avoid any confusion.

To find the specific scores applying to your bowstyle, age and gender please view the tables on the below button.

Click Here To View The Official Handicap & Classification Tables and Tools

The Master Bowman Tier

Journeying through the Bowman tier, archers are likely to have encountered their first full Record Status competitions and have shot a prestige round. These both now become a requirement for the Master Bowman tier, with only scores from the prestige rounds shot at World Record or UK Record Status events eligible to count towards the classification.

The level of consistency required increases significantly as well, with 36 dozen arrows (432 total) now required, representing three sets of 12 dozen arrow rounds, six sets of 6 dozen arrow rounds, or a combination of the two.

The Master Bowman level is the first award in this tier, moving up to Grand Master Bowman and, finally, to Elite Master Bowman. This final level represents scores which would typically be competitive at international events. While these scores are achievable, doing so consistently across a season is a huge achievement and only a small number of archers in each category will likely be able to do so in a given year. It’s possible that no one will achieve this level in some years, especially if it’s a really windy season!

The claim form for Master Bowman classifications will be launched ahead of the outdoor season once WRS and UKRS events begin. In order to obtain a Master Bowman classification, scores will need to be shot during this upcoming outdoor season (2023 onwards).

To find the specific scores applying to your bowstyle, age and gender please view the tables on the below button.

Click Here To View The Official Handicap & Classification Tables and Tools

Do you have questions regarding outdoor classifications and handicaps?

As part of the update process, we are producing materials to thoroughly explain the changes to members, from individual archers right through to Records Officers. If after reading this webpage and the articles attached and you still have any questions, please submit them here.

The Outdoor Handicap and Classification scheme is now adopting an ongoing review process to ensure it meets progressive changes in our sport and infrastructure.

While we’ve conducted this review to improve the inclusivity of the classification system, we recognise more work is needed around inclusive language throughout our sport. This forms part of our wider strategic ambitions.

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