There are literally dozens of different types of archery competitions. For the purpose of our website, we will focus on the main ones that are shot in Canada.

This page is only intended as a guide. For complete rules, please consult the Archery Canada website.

To clarify some basic terms that are used below:

  • A round means the whole competition/shoot.
  • An end means one turn or set of arrows being shot.
  • A butt is the target backing that the arrows are shot into.

Archers shoot in categories based on the equipment they shoot and their age.

Styles of Archery

Behind shot of a compound archer shooting target archery.

Target Archery

Target Archery is when arrows are shot at a target (attached to a backstop called a butt) on a flat field. How many arrows and at what distances they are shot from are determined by what type of shoot that the archer is competing in. Normally 3 or 6 arrows are shot in an end, depending on the type of shoot and distances, then the scores are tallied.

A group of archers shooting field archery on compound bows in the bush.

Field Archery

Field Archery differs from target archery in that the shooting takes place in the field, or in the bush. When shooting competitive field archery you walk in groups of 4 around a marked course in wooden or open landscape. The arrows are still shot into the butts, but the size and type of the targets differ from target archery and the scoring is different as well. Additionally, depending on your age and equipment category, each butt is shot at differing distances and as well as uphill, downhill, or over streams, making the field course a little more challenging than target shooting. Challenging or not, field archery is great for archers that are looking to get some exercise and have some variety in their shooting.

Canada shoots the World Archery Field Round consisting of 24 targets (in 12 target groups) at various ranges from 10 – 60 metres. Cadets and barebow archers shoot at different shooting stakes from the other categories. IFAA Field is also shot, but mostly in Ontario.

Young female archer shooting 3D archery with a recurve bow in the bush.

3D Archery

3D Archery is one of North America’s fastest growing sports. 3D archery consists of shooting either burlap sacs (called a “bag course”) or 3 dimensional foam animals at unknown distances, usually in hilly terrain. The scoring is dependant on where your arrow strikes these foam animals or bags. Originally developed for hunting practice, it’s now shot by many non hunters due to its competitive nature.

Archery Age Categories

Age categories are different depending on what type of competition that you are shooting. Archery Canada Tir à L’arc has age categories that are the same as World Archery (the main international organization). These are important — specifically for the younger ages as they determine the distances that you shoot from during a competition.

Category Name Age (as of December 31st of the current year)
Master Men & Master Women 50+ years old
Senior Men [also called “Men”] Anyone can compete as a Senior regardless of age.
If you are 21 or older you must compete as a Senior and may not compete in younger categories.
Senior Women [also called “Women”]
Junior Men & Junior Women 20 or younger
Cadet Men & Cadet Women 17 or younger
Cub Men & Cub Women 14 or younger
Pre-Cub Men & Pre-Cub Women 12 or younger
Peewee Men & Peewee Women 9 or younger

JOP Age Categories

Sponsored by the BC Archery Association

Category Name Age (as of January 1st of the current year)
Intermediate Men & Intermediate Women 18-21 years old
Junior Men & Junior Women 17-18 years old
Cadet Men & Cadet Women 15-16 years old
Cub Men & Cub Women 13-14 years old
Robins 10-12 years old
Badgers 9 years old and younger

There are also a number of different equipment categories that archers must be aware of as each category has its own records and requirements.

Archery Equipment Categories


The shooting of a recurve bow with attachments such as sights (no scopes) and stabilizers. The bow must be shot with fingers. Sometime referred to ‘Olympic’ style, this is the style used in the Olympics, Worlds, Pan-Am, Canada Summer Games, Western Canada Games and the US Nationals.

  • Recurve bow
  • Sight stabilizers
  • Finger tabs
  • Arm guards
  • No: Scopes, Bow levels, Peep sights, Releases, Electronic equipment


Traditional archery is the use of a longbow and fingers. There are no equipment restrictions. A longbow is usually defined as a bow where the string does not touch the limbs until the nock.

  • Longbow or recurve bow
  • Arm guards
  • No: Sights, Stabilizers


Compound archers are usually broken into groups based on shooting with fingers or releases. As these categories do not fall under World Archery rules, there are no restrictions on arrow size, optics, electronics, or bow weight.

Categories are:

  • Bowhunter/Compound Unlimited (release)
  • Bowhunter/Compound Limited (fingers)
  • Bowhunter Unsighted/Barebow Compound (no sights, fingers)

Compound Unlimited

  • Shooting of a compound bow with all attachments (such as sights, stabilizers, scopes). The bow may be shot with a release aid.
  • Internationally, compound bows shot with fingers would still be in this category.
  • Compound bow
  • Scopes
  • Peep sights
  • Releases
  • Stabilizers
  • Bow must be within 60 lbs in draw weight
  • No: Electronic equipment

Compound Limited

JOP rules.

  • Compound bow
  • Peep sights
  • No: Scopes, Releases, Electronic equipment

Barebow Compound

A recurve bow shot with a release would shoot in this category. There is no barebow competition for compounds internationally. Compound bows must not be over 60 lbs.

  • Compound bow
  • No: Stabilizers, Sights, Releases, Electronic equipment

In Canada and most other countries a greater variety is allowed, but when shooting tournaments registered with World Archery, the above categories are all that are contested.

In World Archery competitions, arrows may be no more than 9.3mm in diameter.

Types of Archery Competitions

Canadian 3D Archery

In Canada 3D archery categories vary by province and area. Listed here are the most common Canadian 3D categories:

  • Traditional
  • Compound Unaided
  • Bowhunter Fingers (sight allowed)
  • Bowhunter Release (non adjustable sight)
  • Bowhunter Open
  • Recurve (Un-Aided) (Barebow) World Archery recurve rules apply
  • Instinctive

World Archery Round

This is the international round shot round the world for World Archery Stars (an award for shooting scores of 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1350 and 1400). This is also the round shot for qualifying at the World Championships.

  • 36 arrows at 90, 70, 50, & 30 metres for Men, for a total of 144 arrows.
  • 36 arrows at 70, 60, 50, & 30 metres for Women, Cadet, and Master Men, for a total of 144 arrows.
  • The standard World Archery 4 colour/10 ring 122 cm target is used at 90, 70, and 60 metres; each end is 6 arrows.
  • The 80cm target is used at 50 & 30 metres with 12 ends of 3 arrows at each distance.

Indoor Rounds

2 rounds are normally shot indoors:

  • World Archery 18M – The international indoor round 60 arrows (usually shot in 2 rounds of 30) at the 40cm target face, at 18 metres
  • World Archery 25M – The international indoor round 60 arrows (usually shot in 2 rounds of 30) at the 60cm target face, at 25 metres

720 Round (AKA Combined World Archery 70/60/50M Round)

The qualification round for the Olympic games (recurve only) is shot at 70M (72 arrows).

Compounds also shoot this round at world cups and other events, always at 50M. It is also shot at 60M for masters and cadets.

Canadian 900

5 ends of 6 arrows at 55, 45, & 35 metres on the 122cm target face.

JOP Rounds (Junior Olympic Program)

The JOP shoots mostly the World Archery I indoors and the Canadian 900 outdoors. The target size and distance changes based on skill levels attained. See our JOP Page for more info.