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Related Advancement and Awards
- Archery merit badge
- USA Archery JOAD Awards (Junior Olympic Archery Development)
Leadership – Archery must be conducted by trained, qualified onsite range masters who actually direct the operation of the range program and archery instruction. To qualify as an archery range master, the range master must be at least 18 years old and be a BSA National Camping School–trained shooting sports director or a USA Archery/NFAA instructor
General Archery Safety Rules
- Keep all arrows in their quivers until ready to shoot.
- The best way to transport an arrow safely is in its quiver. If you must carry arrows in your hands, hold them securely with both hands around all of the arrows and with your palms facing down.
- Be sure the area around and beyond your target is clear before you shoot. Never draw a bow if anyone is in front of the shooting line.
- Always aim and shoot at a definite target; never shoot just for the sake of shooting. Be sure of your target and that it is safe to shoot at it. If you are not sure, take a closer look. If, after a closer look, you are still not sure, do not shoot.
- Always have an arrow on the string when shooting a bow. Dry firing—shooting a bow without an arrow—can seriously damage a bow and possibly injure the archer. Never dry fire a bow.
- Always use proper safety equipment, including an arm guard and a finger tab or glove. A bow sling is not required but is recommended.
- Always inspect your equipment before shooting. Repair or replace damaged equipment. Replace the bowstring when it becomes worn.
- Shoot only at targets that are thick enough to stop your arrow. Do not shoot if there is any chance your arrow might ricochet from (bounce off) the target or another object and hit someone.
- Use arrows that are the proper length for you. Arrows that are too short can cause serious injury.
- Never shoot an arrow up into the air.
- Walk, do not run, on the archery range. If you run, you might accidentally cross in front of another group of archers, step on arrows lying on the ground, or fall and trip into a target and be injured by the arrows sticking out of it.
- When retrieving arrows from behind a target, particularly on a field range or at an isolated target, lean your bow against the face of the target or stick an arrow in the top of the target with the fletching up. This will warn other archers that you are behind the target.
A compound bow has a system of strings and cables connected to cams (pulleys) of various designs. When the bowstring is drawn back, the cams multiply the force the archer exerts on the bow, thus making the bow easier to hold and aim and storing more energy. When a compound bow is shot, the arrow is aided by energy stored in the limbs, and it releases the arrow with much more “compounded” energy—hence the name. Most compound bows are shot with different accessories and use sights to aid in aiming the bow.
Most traditional bows have no sights and are shot instinctively. There is less stored energy in a traditional bow than in any other form of archery. There are several types of traditional bows, with the recurve and the longbow being the most common. When a recurve bow is strung, the string will touch the limbs for 2 inches or more. When a longbow is strung, the string will touch only the grooves that hold it on the tips of the bow. There are several other types of traditional bows, including flat bows, selfbows, horsebows, and hybrid longbows.
A crossbow is most often shot like a rifle. There is a stock that holds the trigger mechanism; when the bow is cocked, it also holds the string back. The “prod” is attached to the front of the stock and is where the limbs are attached. Crossbows use arrows—called “bolts”—that are much shorter and stronger than regular arrows. The bolt is placed on top of the stock where a groove is cut and moves along what is called the “rail.”
Types of Competitions – Like many sports, archery offers different ways for people to get involved in competitions. Depending on where you live and the climate in your area, you can compete all year round. There are some general times of year where there are more competitions for each style listed below. Seasons overlap slightly to allow continuous archery competition.
3-D archery simulates different scenarios that may be encountered while bow hunting. Archers move around a course shooting at molded-foam replicas of different game animals; novelty targets are also available (including dinosaurs and even Bigfoot). The season for 3-D archery is year-round.
The indoor archery season lasts from late October through March. You aim at a multicolored target from 18 or 25 meters away or a blue-face target at 20 yards.
In safari archery, you shoot either 3-D targets or paper animal targets, aiming at bright orange dots that designate where you should hit. There are novelty targets for this competition as well. Like 3-D archery, safari archery is shot on a roving course. The season generally runs from late February through May.
Field archery competition includes three parts, all on a roving course. The “field round” is shot on a black-and-white ringed target with black in the center. The “hunter round” is shot on an all-black target with only the center being white. The “animal round” is shot on paper animal targets with a white dot where you are supposed to hit. The season generally runs from March through July.
Target archery is the most familiar competition, and the type seen in the Olympics. Target archery involves shooting at multicolored targets in an open field. The season generally runs from May through August. For each competition type, there are different categories depending on equipment, age, and gender.
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