Archery is an exciting and fun sport, but it is essential to know the rules and etiquette for first-time archers. As with any shooting sport, it can be dangerous if certain regulations are not followed.
Many archery range rules focus on safety. Keep knocked arrows aimed downrange at all times. Do not shoot when anyone is downrange collecting arrows, and listen to commands of “stop shooting” and “clear.” Treat archery seriously and do not horse around with dangerous equipment.
Safety is the single most crucial part of any archery range, and the basics are followed at any archery range in the world. For more information on the specifics, as well as some general etiquette to follow, read on below.
Putting Safety First
Putting safety first is a great, general rule to remember. Even as you are learning some of the specifics of any range, it is good practice to critically think about safety. If something feels dangerous, even if there is no rule directly against it, it is best to avoid it.
Most safety rules revolve around keeping bows and arrows aimed downrange and shooting when you can only hit a target.
Range rules are in place to keep everyone, regardless of archery experience, able to safely enjoy the sport and practice of archery.
It is vital to remember that all ranges will also have their own specific rules.
While this article is a great way to get started and will apply almost anywhere, these rules default to posted ones. Read all guides and signs carefully before shooting.
Quietly talking to employees and asking questions when you are unsure of something is a good idea to keep the environment safe.
Here’s my Guide To Archery Safety for practicing archery on your own.
Knowing When to Shoot and When to Stop
Knowing when to shoot and when to stop is the first category of rules you should learn before entering any archery range.
Before shooting, go through the following checklist:
- Ensure nobody is downrange, where you will be shooting.
- Listen for any commands from employees or other archers.
- Knock your arrow without aiming it away from the range.
- Aim and shoot.
This is a quick way to ensure that you are following the basics of shooting. If, at any point in the process, something comes up and gets in the way, un-knock your arrow and wait.
All archers retrieve their arrows at the same time.
Do not leave the line to retrieve your arrows until others have stopped shooting as well. This ensures your safety and sets a precedent for other beginners to operate safely.
When it is time to retrieve arrows, an employee will call out a command such as “clear” or “stop shooting.” Until such a command has been called, do not leave the line.
Here’s a helpful video from an actual archery range discussing safety and etiquette:
Pay attention to how others near you are shooting and how long people are waiting to retrieve arrows; if most people are waiting for you to finish your quiver before grabbing their arrows, you should shoot less so that everyone can have fun.
If you are shooting in an outdoor area, there may not be an employee watching the range, and targets are likely much further spread apart.
In this case, be sure to call out a similar command so that other archers are aware that you are generally downrange. Bow Hunting Magazine mentions this as an important lesson to learn.
Keeping Your Bow Aimed Down Range and Arrows in Quivers
Keeping any knocked arrows or bows ready to shoot aimed down range is a fundamental safety rule. Particularly as a beginner, you may instinctively turn to face someone talking to you, or turn around on accident after knocking an arrow. This should be avoided at all times.
Pointing a ready-to-shoot bow away from downrange is highly dangerous. The arrow could be accidentally released directly into someone and cause serious injury or even death.
Similarly, you should not keep an arrow knocked while someone is downrange, even if you do not plan on shooting it yet. Wait for them to return to the line or a safe distance away before knocking and lining up your shot.
Whenever an arrow is not being readied to be shot, it should be in a quiver.
They are dangerous tools that can cut and cause damage. In addition to helping with technique, keeping them quivered is a great way to eliminate accidents.
Source: Archery 360
Staying Respectful at Any Range
Rules around safety are the most important to respect anywhere when it comes to archery, but certain etiquette is also good to follow. Knowing a bit about the following things will help you feel comfortable around the range and ensure an excellent experience for you and other archers.
Specifics of etiquette are sure to change between different ranges and areas. In general, it is best to be respectful of others and treat people kindly. Eventually, after you have gone to a range a few times, you will certainly pick up their specifics.
Avoid Being Conceded or Bragging
Especially while learning, it is easy to want to compare yourself to other archers or get excited after a particularly good round of shooting. These are not problems, but it is good to check yourself every so often.
Stay excited about your progress in archery without bragging or comparing yourself to others.
Constantly asking others, especially strangers, about their score or telling them about a great run you had can come across as grating. The same applies to bragging about new equipment or questioning others about theirs.
This additionally applies to focusing on yourself at the range rather than others; watching how other people’s arrows land will take focus away from your game and may make some people uncomfortable.
Of course, it is imperative to pay attention to the mood and personality of those around you; if others seem to enjoy some friendly competition or discussing gear, there is nothing wrong with engaging with them. Always be sure to keep it respectful and fun.
If you are attending a range with a group or talking to others there, ensure that conversation is respectful and quiet.
Involving others in conversation or speaking loudly will certainly disturb other people’s shooting and make you a few enemies. Imagining the archery range like a golf course is a good reminder of how loud you should get.
Let Others Focus
Archery ranges tend to be quiet areas, especially near the line where people are shooting. Across all levels, people often prefer to be left to their own devices and focus on their technique rather than making small talk.
Of course, there are some exceptions to this, but in general, avoid talking to others while actively shooting. This also applies to making comments about other’s shots, both good and bad. What you intend as a compliment could break someone’s concentration and focus.
While talking with your group or walking around an outdoor course, it is best to talk quietly and avoid making distractions. Temporarily stopping conversation or moving further away to continue whispering is a good idea if someone nearby begins lining up a shot.
Archery range rules and etiquette are all about maintaining a safe and enjoyable environment for practicing the sport. Pay attention to those around you, their locations, and your bow.
Before shooting any arrow, it is a good idea to ensure that nobody is downrange or will possibly get hit by the arrow. Shout out when you are leaving the line to collect arrows, and be sure that the rest of the group is also ready to do so. When operating on the range, keep conversation to a minimum and be respectful of others.