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Does Combat Archery Tag Hurt? How To Lessen Arrow Impact

Combat archery tag is a game played by many people of all ages. But before you play, you might be wondering what it feels like to be hit by a combat arrow.

It does not hurt to get hit by an arrow in combat archery tag. Combat archery tag doesn’t hurt, it compares to being hit by a tennis ball or a foam football. The bows used have a draw weight under 30 pounds, and the arrows have soft foam surrounding the tip.

Even though you won’t sustain any injuries from a combat arrow, you can still minimize the impact of the arrow in a number of ways.

Does Combat Archery Tag Hurt?

If you’re playing the game right and using the right equipment, combat archery doesn’t hurt at all. I’ve been hit by nerf darts that sting more than a combat arrow. Combat archery bows are made to have a draw weight under 30 lbs, most of the combat archery bows I’ve seen have around 25 pounds draw weight.

If you go to a pay to play arena, they will most likely supply you with a proper bow and combat arrows. But many people that play in their backyards or at parks will use youth bows, like this Bear Archery Scout Bow Set on Amazon. The youth bows will have a lower draw weight of around 8-14 pounds, perfect for kids.

Here’s a quick video of some people playing combat archery tag. Notice that they are all wearing protective gear and no one seems to be getting hurt by the arrows impact.

Lessen Combat Arrow Impact

Although it doesn’t sting or hurt to get hit with a combat arrow, many people will still want to lessen the impact of an arrow hitting them. This can easily be done by using lower strength bows or wearing an extra layer of clothing. For example, the youth bows will not hurt even if you’re only wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

But what if you’re going to a pay to play arena where you can only use the provided bows? The best option in this case is to wear an extra layer of clothing. Try a thick long sleeve shirt over an under shirt, it will minimize the feeling of the arrow hitting you and keep you focused on winning.

Many combat archery players will use shields to deflect an incoming arrow, the arrow can’t hurt if it doesn’t hit you. A lot of the most popular combat archery games allow the use of shields and in some cases they’re required. Some of the games, like medic, require that one of the players not have a bow and only a shield to protect themselves.

For more details on some popular combat archery games, check out my article, 8 Combat Archery Tag Games For All Ages.

What To Wear For Combat Archery Tag

A lot of what you wear will depend on the weather. You may want to wear clothing that will lessen an arrows impact, but also consider the ability to maneuver. Try to pick clothing that you can run around in, but is suited for the weather that day.


I do still suggest a long sleeve, not only to lessen arrow impact, but to help prevent the bow string from hitting your arm. You should be wearing an arm guard, but in the rush of combat action it’s likely you will be shooting the bow at unconventional angles.


I usually wear shorts in the summer and pants in the winter. Just make sure you can run crouch behind obstacles in whatever bottoms you decide to go with. Wearing thicker pants like jeans will help lessen arrow impact when hit in the leg.


Wearing a hat could be useful for camouflage purposes, but I would only recommend it if it’s cold enough for one anyway. After you get out on the field, you’ll notice you need to move around a lot, and a hat can make you very warm very quickly.

You will want to wear a mask or face shield. If you go to a pay to play arena, they are mandatory in most cases. But even if you’re playing with friends in your backyard, I recommend wearing something to protect your face and eyes.


Any outdoor shoes that you can run and maneuver in will work. The courses that work best for the funnest combat archery games will have obstacles. You need to be able to quickly move from obstacle to obstacle. If you’re going to be playing in a wooded area (best for capture the flag), wear the proper foot gear to give you an advantage.

Combat Archery Tag Safety Gear

The proper safety gear will help prevent injuries across the board. You can get hurt playing combat archery if you’re not wearing a face shield or an arm guard. My favorite Archery Arm Guard has saved my skin more than once, and I recommend wearing one for combat archery even if you don’t wear one when you target practice.

Combat Archery Safety Gear:

  • Face Shield
  • Long Sleeve Shirt
  • Chest Protector (optional)
  • Arm Guard

When practicing archery, you’re typically on a range standing facing a target, and you know exactly what to do and how to shoot. But on a combat archery field, you’ll be shooting at angles and while you’re moving a lot of time. This increases the chances of the bow string hitting your arm and causing an injury.

Some pay to play arenas will provide chest protectors to players who want one. You won’t even be able to feel the arrow hit you if it hits the chest protector. I’ve never used one myself, and I don’t think they’re necessary. But if you’re worried about arrow impact, consider wearing a chest protector.

I know I’ve harped on this enough already, but wearing a safety mask or face shield is crucial. Not because anyone will be aiming at your face on purpose, but it’s not uncommon to take an arrow to the face in a combat archery game.

Combat Archery Safety Rules

Following some safety rules will help prevent anyone from getting hurt on the field. It’s a good idea to go over the safety rules and any boundaries of the course before the game starts. Many pay to play arenas will do this as well.

Here is what some combat archery safety rules will look like. I’ll add a download button so you can print this out and place it near your play area. Make sure very player understands the rules before starting a game.

Check Equipment

One of the simplest ways to avoid injury, is to have every player check their equipment before a match begins. A frayed or broken bow string could snap and really hurt a player. Check the riser and arms of the bow for cracks or splintering, and check the bow string for any damage before using.

Have a quick look over of the arrows as well before using them. This is especially import for combat arrows since you will be shooting them at people. Verify the foam tip is well padded and attached firmly to the arrow. Check the arrow shaft for splintering or fractures. Use soft foam tip combat arrows like these WoArchery Foam Tip Safe Combat Arrows on Amazon.

Course Area

The course area should be mapped out ahead of time, and every player should be made aware of the boundaries. In some cases, the game does not require a play area, but for the most part the players won’t want to stray too far from the action.

It’s also important that people just watching the game, stay out of the play area. Still be careful not to shoot anyone in the play area not wearing safety gear, people wander, especially children. Do not shoot at spectators even jokingly, some pay to play arenas will kick you out, and it’s not really safe to do anyway.

Combat Archery For Kids

Combat archery is well suited for kids as young as 7 years old. Some of the pay to play arenas will have age limits, but if you’re playing on your own, 7 or 8 years old seems to be a good age to start. They’re able to draw a youth bow fairly easily at that age and can understand working as a team.

Combat Archery Games

Some of the more popular combat archery games are very similar to paintball or nerf war type games. Capture the flag and team death match are just a couple examples. For an in depth review of how to play the most popular combat archery games, check out my article, 8 Combat Archery Tag Games For All Ages.

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