Outdoor Rounds

For the target archer, outdoor shooting is at the core of our sport. It offers the opportunity to test your skill and accuracy (and for many of us amateurs our arrow-finding abilities) by shooting over larger distances and experiencing a variety of differing formats.

However, outdoor archery can appear bewildering with its vast array of rounds, each with archaic names, different distances, varying numbers of arrows, face sizes, and scoring systems. This complexity can be particularly daunting for casual or novice archers. But if you look at the overall picture of outdoor rounds and delve into their historical context, it (hopefully) all starts to make slightly more sense.

A Brief History of Time Outdoor Rounds

Archery contests have been documented as early as the 8th century BCE, in Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. Moving forward to the mid-16th century, King Henry granted a royal charter to establish the Fraternity of St. George, a guild of courtiers skilled in archery and shooting using “long-bowes, cross-bowes and hand-gonnes.”

While the military gradually transitioned to using “hand-gonnes” over bows, shooting with the longbow continued to be a popular recreational activity, with various archery societies across Britain being formed. These societies often created their own rounds, with a varying array coming into existence over time.

Toward the end of the 18th century, archery gained significant popularity as a sport. With an increasing number of clubs and societies emerging and regular interaction among them, it became evident that standardisation was necessary to address inconsistencies in rounds and rules.

Who better to tackle this challenge than the king himself?! Prince Regent George IV, an avid archer, initiated the drive toward standardisation. This effort began with establishing a standard target (known as the ‘Prince’s Colours’) and continued with the determination of set shooting distances.

Archery’s popularity continued to grow, and thanks to William Gray’s initiative to create an annual national competition, the first Grand National Archery Meeting took place in York in 1844. The competition adopted standardized rules, including shooting six dozen arrows at 100 yards, four dozen at 80 yards, and two dozen at 60 yards on a target face in the Prince’s Colours. This became known as the York round and has remained the standard for national competitions in Great Britain ever since.

A depiction of a meeting of the Royal British Bowmen

While the initial Grand National Archery Meeting was exclusively for men, the following year witnessed the introduction of a national ladies’ competition. Over the subsequent meetings, various rounds were shot until the National round, which consisted of four dozen arrows at 60 yards and two dozen at 50 yards, was established.

In 1861, the Grand National Archery Society was founded to serve as the governing body for archery and competition in Great Britain. With the establishment of a national organization, many of the local round variations from different regions were assimilated into the standard canon. Consequently, several traditional imperial rounds were created as standards with names derived from the places, societies or meetings where they were originally shot.

The history of metric rounds follows a slightly less ancient and more recent timeline but with definite similarities. In 1931, the International Archery Federation (FITA) was formed to standardise rules for international tournaments. Although archery had featured in the early 20th-century Olympics, each games utilised rounds specific to the host country. FITA worked over 41 years to develop an international format, which involved various iterations of long and short rounds, different targets, and scoring systems (5-zone and 10-zone). Eventually, the 1440 round was adopted as the standard for world championships and was reintroduced at the 1972 Olympic Games. Over the years, the standard competition round has undergone various changes, with the Grand FITA, 70m, and 50m rounds all being used for world championship competitions.

Understanding the Rounds

Both imperial and metric rounds can be categorised into groups based on the number of arrows shot at varying distances. Each group has rounds of similar names, with the number of arrows shot at various distances being the defining factor.

Imperial rounds are shot on a 122cm face (which is equivalent to 48 inches), while metric rounds employ either the 122cm or 80cm faces, or a combination of both.

Scoring in imperial rounds follows a 5-zone system, whereas metric rounds employ a 10-zone system.

Imperial 5-zone scoring
Metric 10-zone scoring

Imperial rounds are all shot at multiple distances, while some metric rounds are shot at different distances and others are shot at a single distance (e.g., the WA 70m round).

Arrows shot at each distance are represented in numbers of dozens, and are shot in ends of six arrows.

Below, you will find details of all the rounds that currently carry classification status, including both imperial and metric rounds, noting the differing names, distances, dozens of arrows and target face sizes used.

It’s understandable if you feel just as confused now as when you started reading. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Just remember Grandad’s immortal words, “Don’t forget to change your sights,” and everything will be okay. We promise.

Imperial Outdoor Rounds

 Distances (Yards) & Dozen Arrows Shot 
Round Name 100 80 60 50 40 30 20 10 Max Score
Hereford/Bristol I 642 1296
Bristol II6421296
Bristol III6421296
Bristol IV6421296
Bristol V6421296
Windsor 50333972
Windsor 40333972
Windsor 30333972
New Western44864
Long Western 44864
Western 5044864
Western 4044864
Western 3044864
St. Nicholas43 756
New National42648
Long National 42648
National 5042648
National 4042648
National 3042648
New Warwick22432
Long Warwick 22432
Warwick 5022432
Warwick 4022432
Warwick 3022432

Metric Outdoor Rounds

Distances (Metres) & Dozen Arrows Shot
122 cm Face80 cm Face
Round Name9070605040302010504030201510Max Score
WA1440 (Gents)33331440
WA1440 (Ladies)33331440
Half WA1440 (Gents)
Half WA1440 (Ladies)
Metric I33331440
Metric II33331440
Metric III33331440
Metric IV33331440
Half Metric II1.
Half Metric III1.
Half Metric IV1.
Half Metric V1.
Long Metric (Gents)33720
Long Metric (Ladies)33720
Long Metric II33720
Long Metric III33720
Long Metric IV33720
Long Metric V33720
Short Metric33720
Short Metric II33720
Short Metric III33720
Short Metric IV33720
Short Metric V33720
WA 9002.52.52.5900
WA 70m6720
WA 60m6720
WA 50m6720
WA Standard Bow33720