How does scoring work in Archery?

Traditionally, archery was used for hunting and in battles. The activity can be traced back thousands of years; there is some suggestion that as many as 20,000 years ago, humans were using a bow and arrow.

While it is still used in hunting today, archery is now an everyday sporting activity, and many people compete in this both as a hobby and professionally. Archery has been at the Olympic games many times, and its popularity does not seem to be waning.

So, if it is such a well-loved sport, it is important that we understand how it works, and one of the best places to start is by learning how archery is scored.

In this article, we have put together a beginner’s guide to archery scoring, giving you everything you need to know to get started.

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The Archery Target

Whether you have been an avid archer for many years or a total newbie, you will be familiar with the archery target. This piece of equipment is a circular target with a series of rings, each of which has a different points value. However, the value of each ring will depend on several factors.

In the main, you can expect the points system to change depending on:

  • Whether the game is being played outdoors or indoors.
  • The type of bow that you are using.
  • Whether you are playing a metric or imperial round.

However, for the most part, you will notice that the archery target features a series of colored rings. In general, these rings are valued at a set number of points.

There is one key difference, and that is if you are using a compound bow, it can be slightly more challenging to score a ten. This is because the ten rings for compound bows is much smaller than the one used for recurve bows.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the color values on an archery target.

Ring Color Number Of Points
White outer ring 1
White inner ring 2
Black outer ring 3
Black inner ring 4
Blue outer ring 5
Blue inner ring 6
Red outer ring 7
Red inner ring 8
Yellow outer ring 9
Yellow inner ring 10

As you can see, while there are five different colored circles, each of these has an inner and outer ring. Each of the colors on an Olympic target comes in at a little over 12cm, with the archer standing a distance of 70 from the target.

Rules Of Olympic Archery

Archery was first featured as an Olympic sport in 1900 but did not make such a huge impression and was only featured a further three times up until the 1970s when it made a reappearance and has remained since. You may often hear Olympic archery being referred to as a 720 round.

The rules of the game are relatively straightforward. Your score is a total of how many rings you hit and their value. Each archer shoots 72 arrows over 12 phases, and the scores of each person give them a place in the overall ranking. Once this portion of the competition is over, the players will go head to head, where the person with the highest score is declared the winner.

If the scores are tied, the winner is then determined by the number of tens that were shot throughout the tournament.

The Rules

As with any sport, archery is governed by a strict set of rules, and these don’t only relate to the scoring system. Rules related to the scoring system have been highlighted in bold.

  • Archers must not use equipment that would give them an unfair advantage over the other players.
  • An end of three arrows must be shot in less than two minutes, and an end of six arrows cannot take any longer than four minutes to shoot.
  • Competitors must wait until a signal is given before they are permitted to raise their bow; failing to adhere to this rule could incur a penalty.
  • In the case of the arrow dropping before it is fired or the target blows over, the archer would be permitted extra time. However, under no other circumstances would the archer be permitted to reshoot their arrow.
  • If an arrow does not stick in the target but leaves a visible mark, that score would still be given. In the case that an arrow sticks in the nock of another arrow in the target, it would receive the same score as that arrow.
  • Points may be deducted if the archer breaks any of the rules.  

A Little More About Archery Scoring

In archery, you can achieve a perfect score of 300. This is one of the most common forms of target archery and is known as a 300 round. Archers shoot thirty arrows, and this type of contest is normally over in around an hour. The perfect score is achieved by hitting the ten ring with every arrow.

However, you may also hear about the 600 round, which is a different form of archery, played indoors at a long distance. Each round is played from 40 yards, 50 yards, and then 60 yards. From each of these distances, players will shoot four ends of five arrows.

In some cases, your arrow may hit the line in between two rings, and when you are new to the sport, it can be confusing to determine the correct score. According to World Archery, if your arrow lands on the line, you will be awarded the higher value of point of the two rings on either side.

What About 3D Archery?

There is more than one type of archery, and one of the most popular types is 3D archery, which is played outdoors with a series of 3D targets that resemble animals. If you like the idea of bowhunting but don’t want to go after live game, this is a great alternative.

The scoring in this version of archery is different owing to the lack of a single, static target. Each round of 3D archery features 40 targets.

Each of the targets will vary in terms of difficulty, with some being closer and relatively easy to hit, whereas others are further away and much smaller. These targets will also have various ‘killing zones’ which determine the number of points awarded for hitting them.

There are two main bodies for 3D archery, IBO and ASA, and their scoring systems are slightly different in that the killing zones are not the same.

However, there is also a universal scoring system for 3D archery. On each target, there will be a series of circles, but these are not concentric like those on a traditional archery target. Each one has a value of between five and fourteen points.

Indoor Archery

There are several versions of indoor archery, and the points system for each of these varies. In the main, you will play or watch four types of indoor archery, so let’s take a look at the nuances between them all.

  • USA archery uses a target with ten rings and a golden center. In this type of archery, archers will shoot 60 arrows in total, with three per end. The smallest ring in the middle of the target is the ten ring for archers using a compound bow; those shooting a recurve will aim for a ten ring just outside of this.
  • Vegas archery uses very similar rules and targets to USA archery with one critical difference. Regardless of the type of bow being used, archers will aim for one larger ten ring. Each round involves 30 arrows, and it is relatively easy to get a perfect score owing to the larger target.
  • National field archery association archery uses a target that is mainly white with a blue center. Players use five arrows per end and go for twelve rounds, shooting a total of 60 arrows.
  • Lancaster archery classic is again similar to USA archery in that the target is the same. However, rather than the center ring being worth ten points, it is worth eleven, meaning that players could get a score of 660 should they hit this with all 60 arrows.


There are many forms of archery, and while the overall theme of the sport remains the same, archers must hit a target with an arrow; the scoring for each one can vary slightly.

When played as an Olympic sport, the rules and scoring system of archery are relatively straightforward. But when you move into other types, such as 3D archery, things can get a little more complex.

That being said, once you learn the scoring of your favorite type of archery, it will soon become embedded in your mind.

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