Archery Rounds, Classifications and Handicaps

At an individual level, archery performance is measured through the Classification and Handicap systems.  Both systems are calculated based on your best scores obtained shooting recognised rounds over the course of a season.  However, while the two systems are inter-related there are differences between them.  To complicate matters, separate classifications and handicaps are maintained for outdoor and indoor target archery (i.e. assuming you shoot both indoors and outdoors you will have two separate classifications and two separate handicaps).

The outdoor season over which handicaps and classifications are calculated follows the calendar year (January-December).  The indoor season runs from Summer-to-Summer, reflecting the fact that most indoor rounds are shot over winter.  In either case, an archer will not gain a classification or a handicap until they have shot (at least) 3 recognised rounds.  The classifications and handicaps are recalculated over the course of a season as you shoot more rounds, and are subject to a final recalculation at the end of the season (this is the only time when your classification / handicap might go down if you have failed to match or improve upon the classification / handicap attained the previous year).

A brief summary of both systems is provided here, to try and provide an introduction for new archers.  Full details of the classification system is described in the “Shooting Administrative Procedures” (free to download from here).  The full details of the handicap system are currently only available as an addendum which is included with (purchased) hard copies of the Shooting Administrative Procedures.   Copies of all the relevant rules / tables are kept in the garage at the field for members to consult during shooting. 

Full details of all the Archery GB recognised rounds, including details of which rounds are appropriate for different ages and genders are available in the “Rules of shooting” (a freely available download from here).  It should be noted, that for a score to “count” towards your classification or handicap it must have been shot in accordance with Archery GB rules, and the score must have been recorded and countersigned by someone other than the archer claiming the score.


For outdoor target archery there are 6 classification levels –  3rd, 2nd, 1st class and Bowman, Master Bowman and Grand Master Bowman (for juniors, up to “junior Bowman” and “Junior Master Bowman”).  For indoor target archery, there are also 6 classification levels from “F” up to “A”.

For classification purposes you must shoot rounds that are appropriate for your age and gender, that include a specified number of arrows at (or beyond) certain distances (dependant upon the classification being sought).  For example, to attain a “2nd class” outdoor classification a lady must shoot high enough scores in at least 3 rounds that include a distance of at least 50yds or 50m and include at least 4 dozen arrows.  For a “Bowman” classification a lady must shoot sufficiently high scores in rounds that include distances of at least 80yds or 70m and include  at least 6 dozen arrows.

You must shoot at least 3 qualifying scores to gain a particular classification (so if you shoot three rounds and achieve one 3rd class score, one 2nd class score, and one 1st class score,  your classification will still be “3rd class”).    In the example above, as you shoot more rounds your classification can progressively improve if you shoot at least two more 2nd (or better) class scores.   Over the course of the season, therefore it is possible to improve (but never degrade) your classification.

Classifications from 3rd class up to Bowman are administered at a club-level and the scores can be gained at any shoot (from a club “target day” up to a world record status event).   Master Bowman and Grand Master Bowman classifications can only be gained by shooting the required scores at Record Status tournaments.  These awards are administered by Archery GB.

Classification Tables – current file dated April 2014


These follow a similar system to the Classification scheme, but provide a finer gradation between levels.  The handicaps are calculated in a way that attempts to “normalise” some of the differences between the different rounds so it is possible to approximate equivalent scores between rounds (for example a handicap of 40 equates to a score of between 982-1004 for a “Gents WA1440” round and a score of between 813-839 for a “York” round).  However, there are complications that mean that the comparison is not helpful if the distances, scoring system and numbers of arrows shot are not, at least broadly, comparable.  Handicaps are also used for some “handicap” competitions, where an archer’s handicap is used to try and level the playing field between new and more experienced archers.

A series of tables are available which, for each recognised round, relate the score achieved to a handicap value (the higher the score, the lower the handicap).   The absolute value of handicap is not specific to bow type, gender or age (so a longbow archer with a handicap of 40 will be shooting to a higher standard than a recurve archer with a handicap of 40).

As with classifications you need to shoot at least three rounds to gain a handicap.  The initial handicap is calculated based on the handicap values achieved in the first three rounds.  Once you have gained your handicap, it is then recalculated according to a specific set of rules, should you shoot a round and achieve a score with a handicap better than your current one.  Therefore, it is possible to improve, but never degrade, your handicap over the course of a season.

There are no specific awards associated with specific handicap values (although, assuming you are shooting appropriate rounds, your handicap should correspond with your classification).   However, there is an award provided by Archery GB for the male / female archer in each club that improves their (outdoor) handicap by the highest margin over a given year.

Archery Rounds

Imperial Outdoor Rounds  (Scoring 9,7,5,3,1)

Round Name 100
Max Score
York. 6 4 2 1296
Hereford/Bristol I 6 4 2 1296
Bristol II 6 4 2 1296
Bristol III 6 4 2 1296
Bristol IV * 6 4 2 1296
St.George 3 3 3 972
Albion 3 3 3 972
Windsor 3 3 3 972
Short Windsor 3 3 3 972
Junior Windsor 3 3 3 972
New Western 4 4 864
Long Western 4 4 864
Western 4 4 864
Short Western 4 4 864
Junior Western 4 4 864
Short Junior Western 4 4 864
American 2.5 2.5 2.5 810
St Nicolas 4 3 756
New National 4 2 648
Long National 4 2 648
National 4 2 648
Short National 4 2 648
Junior National 4 2 648
Short Junior National 4 2 648
New Warwick 2 2 432
Long Warwick 2 2 432
Warwick 2 2 432
Short Warwick 2 2 432
Junior Warwick 2 2 432
Short Junior Warwick 2 2 432

 Metric Outdoor Rounds   (Scoring 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1)

Round Name 122 cm Target Face 80 cm Target Face Max Score
WA1440 (Gentlemen) 3 3 3 3 1440
WA1440 (Ladies) 3 3 3 3 1440
Metric II 3 3 3 3 1440
Metric III 3 3 3 3 1440
Metric IV 3 3 3 3 1440
Metric V * 3 3 3 3 1440
WA 900 2.5 2.5 2.5 900
WA 70m 6 720
WA 50m compound bows 6 720
Long Metric (Gentlemen) 3 3 720
Long Metric (Ladies) 3 3 720
Long Metric II 3 3 720
Long Metric III 3 3 720
Long Metric IV 3 3 720
Long Metric V * 3 3 720
Short Metric I 3 3 720
Short Metric II 3 3 720
Short Metric III 3 3 720
Short Metric IV 3 3 720
Short Metric V* 3 3 720
WA Standard Round *(special rules apply) 3 3 720

 Indoor Rounds (mixture of scoring)

Rounds Distance Face Size Dozens Max Score Special Rules
Archery GB Rounds
Bray I 20 yrds 40cm 2.5 300 Full size face only
Bray II 25 yrds 60cm 2.5 300 Full size face only
Stafford 30 m 80cm 6 720 Full size face only
Portsmouth 20 yrds 60cm 5 600 Special face and rules
Vegas 20 yrds 40cm 5 600 Special face and rules
Worcester 20 yrds 16in special 5 300 Special face and rules
World Archery Rounds
WA 18 18m 40cm 5 600 Full size or three spot face
WA 25 25m 40cm 5 600 Full size or three spot face
WA Combined 18 & 25m 40 & 60cm 10 1200 Full size or three spot face