8 Combat Archery Tag Games: Safe And Fun For All Ages


Combat archery tag, or sometimes just called archery tag, is one of the funnest things I’ve ever done with a bow and arrow. It’s like a turbo charged nerf war, and there are many variations of the game too, here are my favorites.

Combat Archery Tag Games:

  1. Dodgeball
  2. Capture The Flag
  3. Team Death Match
  4. Medic
  5. Protect The King
  6. Bomb
  7. Bullseye
  8. Free For All

There are many variations you can apply to these games to make them more fun for your group. A lot of players will use what are called ‘house rules’ in addition to the standard game rules. House rules are always optional and can be whatever you’d like, but they need to be decided before a game starts.

1. Dodgeball

Dodgeball, sometimes referred to as tag, is by far the most popular combat archery game. You are basically playing a traditional game of dodgeball, except with bows and arrows. You will need at least six combat archery arrows and a bow for every player.

How To Play:

  • Split the field up into two sides (use cones or lawn paint)
  • Split the players up into two teams (preferably 5 vs 5)
  • Each team starts with three arrows
  • Players are not allowed to cross the center dividing line
  • When a player gets hit by an arrow they are out
  • The game ends when all the players of one team are out

Fun House Rules:

  • If a player catches an arrow, the shooter is out, and a teammate of the catching player may return to the field
  • The winning team will start with one less arrow, and the losing team will start with one more arrow in the next round
  • Every player starts with an arrow
  • You have to be tagged twice to be out

This game works really well in a backyard or open field area. It’s always a huge hit at birthday parties. Of course, make sure everyone wears the proper safety gear like face masks and arm guards.

Here’s a fun video of some people playing archery tag or dodgeball to give you an idea of how the game will go.

2. Capture The Flag

Capture the flag is a time honored tradition. Team work is important for this game. Many players like to assign roles for each member of the team. Some players will be tasked with guarding the home base, and other players will be scouts, out to capture the enemy flag.

The goal is to get the enemy flag back to your home base without being hit with an arrow. You will need a bow for every player, and as many arrows as they can carry.

How To Play:

  • Split players up into two teams
  • Assign each team a home base
  • Give each team a flag (can use a bright colored shirt)
  • Each team will keep their flag at their home base
  • Game starts when teams agree and yell ‘start’
  • If a player is hit by an arrow, they are out
  • The game ends when one team gets the enemy flag back to their home base

Fun House Rules:

  • You only get three arrows, but may pick up other fired arrows to use
  • Winning team needs their flag, and the enemy flag to win
  • Can use shields to deflect arrows (storage tote lids work)

This game can be played in an open field, but it’s a lot more fun in a wooded area or somewhere with some obstacles. The players need to work as a team and plan out a strategy. With obstacles on the course, it makes it funner to flank an enemy home base, or find a good defensive hiding spot.

Here’s a video of a group playing combat archery capture the flag. You can see how obstacles and plenty of play area will make this game so much fun.

3. Team Death Match

Team death match is very popular for larger groups of players. If you have enough space, this game can be played with multiple teams. Players usually like to plan a strategy with their teammates before the game begins. To play you will need a bow for every player, and as many combat archery arrows as they can carry.

How To Play:

  • Split the players up into teams (4 players per team works nicely)
  • There are no boundaries or field division lines
  • If a player gets hit with an arrow, they are out
  • A team loses when all players on the team are out
  • The game ends when only one team remains

Fun House Rules:

  • Each team gets one shield
  • It takes two hits from an arrow to get you out
  • If a player gets hit in a limb, they are not out, but they are not allowed to use that limb for the rest of the match

This game is great for team building, especially if you only have one or two shields per team. It forces the players to think strategically and stick together to win.

This game is well suited for open fields or wooded areas, it really depends on what you have available and the players preference. If you’re playing in an area with a lot of natural obstacles, maybe allow less shields per team.

4. Medic

The medic puts a fun spin on the team death match game. The rules are basically the same, except you will have a medic on each team that can revive players. The medic won’t have a bow or arrows, but it’s more fun if they at least have a shield to defend themselves. You will need a bow for all players, except the medic, and as many arrows as you can carry.

How To Play:

  • Split the players up into teams (4 players per team works nicely)
  • Choose a medic for each team
  • There are no boundaries on the field
  • If a player gets hit with an arrow, they are out
  • The medic does not get a bow or arrows
  • The game ends when only one team remains

Fun House Rules:

  • The medic gets a shield
  • The medic can hold extra arrows for teammates
  • If a player is hit in a limb, they can not use that limb until the medic heals them
  • It takes two arrow hits to get out

If your medic gets hit by an arrow, there is no one to revive them. This is what turns the tide of the game. Once you lose your medic, your team starts it’s downfall. You need to work together to keep your medic alive at all costs. Sacrificing yourself to save your medic is viewed as an honorable act of bravery. Besides, they can just revive you if you keep them alive.

5. Protect The King

Protect the king, sometimes referred to as VIP, is another great team building cooperative game. The king will not have a bow, but will have three lives. The kings goal is to bring as many flags back to their home base as they can without getting out. You will need a bow for every player, except the king, and as many arrows as you’d like.

How To Play:

  • Split the players up into teams (4 players per team)
  • Select a king for each team
  • Select a home base for each team
  • Place 5 flags in the middle of the field
  • If a player gets hit by an arrow, they are out, except the king
  • If the king gets hit three times in one match, they are out
  • Only the king may touch the flags
  • The king will have no bow or arrows
  • The team with the most flags at their home base wins

Fun House Rules:

  • Kings can steal flags from enemy home bases
  • The king gets a shield
  • The king can carry arrows for their teammates

If you allow the king to steal flags from enemy home bases, the game can continue until all the kings are eliminated. This game is best played in an area where archers can take cover and plan out their assaults. The team must protect the king in order to win the game.

6. Bomb

Think reverse capture the flag. The goal of this game is to get a bomb into your opponents home base. If you have multiple teams, each team will need enough bombs to destroy each enemy teams home base. You will need a bow for every player, as many arrows as you can carry, and enough bombs for every team.

How To Play:

  • Split the players up into teams (4 players per team works well)
  • Select a home base for each team
  • Give each team enough bombs (flags or brightly colored shirts can be the ‘bomb’)
  • If a player is hit by an arrow, they are out
  • Teams will need to get their bomb into the opponents home base
  • If your home base is destroyed, your team is out
  • The game ends when only one team remains

Fun House Rules:

  • Each team gets a shield
  • Each team gets one base rebuild (2 bombs to eliminate team)
  • It takes two arrow hits to get out
  • Only one player per team can carry bombs (they get a shield)

This game is best played like capture the flag, in an area with obstacles to hide behind. Plan out your tactics before the game starts. This game requires team work to win.

Some teams will split up and try to eliminate every enemy team at once. While other teams might leave a couple guards at their home base, and work together to eliminate enemy teams one by one.

7. Bullseye

This game reminds me of a wild west stare down duel. This game is best suited for smaller groups with teams of 2 vs 2 or even one on one. You will need to set up multiple targets, each player will need a bow, and many arrows.

How To Play:

  • Split players up into two teams
  • Set targets up on either side of the field for both teams to shoot at
  • Set boundary lines the teams must stay behind when firing
  • The teams will face each other and try to hit the opposing targets
  • The team that hits all the opposing targets first wins

Fun House Rules:

  • Players can hit enemy players to get them out
  • If a player is hit by an arrow, they are out
  • Use shields
  • Must eliminate every target and every enemy teammate

If you allow the players to get each other out by hitting them with an arrow, there will be a lot more movement on the field. It might make sense to have some obstacles for those house rules, if you eliminate all the enemy players, you can take your time hitting the rest of the targets.

For the most part though, this is a game of speed and accuracy. Eliminate all your opponents targets before they eliminate yours. There isn’t much team work or cooperation, so this is a great one on one game as well. This game is best played in an open yard or field where there are no obstructions blocking the view of the targets.

8. Free For All

Just as the name implies, every man or woman for themselves. Last player standing wins it all. You will need a bow for every player and as many arrows as they can carry. Either every player gets a shield, or no one gets a shield.

How To Play:

  • No teams
  • If a player gets hit with an arrow, they are out
  • Last player still alive wins the game

Fun House Rules:

  • Each player gets a shield
  • Each player gets three lives
  • There is a safety zone players can restock at, no one can shoot from the safety zone and no one can be shot in the safety zone

This game is best played with some obstacles to hide behind. There are no teams and no team work involved, so it’s great for any amount of players. Sometimes the game can drag on a bit, so be prepared with some targets set up off the playing field for those first players who get out. It will give them something to do while they wait for the game to end.

Equipment

Combat archery requires special arrows to play and bows with less than a 30 pound draw weight. I suggest just using some cheap youth bows for these games like this Bear Archery Scout Bow SetOpens in a new tab. on Amazon, there’s no need to spend a bunch of money on expensive equipment.

As for the arrows, you can find combat archery arrows online pretty easily. But you want to make sure you don’t skimp out when it comes to buying the arrows. It’s ok to cheap out on the bow, but you’ll be shooting these arrows at people, I suggest getting a good quality safe combat archery arrow. Take a look at these WoArchery Foam Tip Safe Combat ArrowsOpens in a new tab. to get a better idea of what you’re looking for, they’re safe and don’t hurt when you get hit by them.

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Robert Sampson

I'm Robert Sampson and I live in Colorado where I spend a lot of time in the backyard with my family either grilling, playing games and sports, or working on a project to make our backyard a better place to be.

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