Shooting classes & terms

One thing that has struck me since taking up archery is the number of different classes of bow and terms used to describe them and shooting in general. All this can prove very confusing to the newbie archer and even the more experienced one at times. So I thought I would put a page together to cover some of the terms, classes etc. So here goes, I’ll keep adding to this as I go.

Shooting classes (NFAS only)

First thing I’m going to cover some of the different bow classes in the NFAS (National Field Archery Society) Much of this information is taken from the NFAS shooting rules, a full copy of which can be found here. Please note this is only a brief summary and doesn’t cover the full description and regulations.

  • American Flatbow, wooden arrows, feather fletchings, one piece, no sights. Crucial part is “braced limbs curve in one direction only from the handle riser to the string nock”
  • BareBow – recurve bow, without sights, shot with alley or carbon arrows
  • Bowhunter – compound bow shot off the fingers without a sight
  • Crossbow – any crossbow that is not a compound crossbow
  • Compound Limited – compound bow shot off the fingers with a pin sight
  • Freestyle – recurve bow, no release aid but otherwise no limitation I can recall.
  • Hunting Tackle – recurve bow, without sights, shot with wooden arrows, feather fletchings
  • Longbow – without sights, shot with wooden arrows, feather fletchings
  • Primitive – “a bow made using natural materials only“, without sights, shot with wooden arrows, feather fletchings
  • Traditional Bowhunter – bow shot off the shelf or hand (Not compound), with carbon arrows, no sights
  • Unlimited – compound bow can use release aid no limitation I can recall.

I normally shoot either American Flatbow (AFB) or Hunting Tackle (HT)

Selection of bows

Selection of bows

Mediterranean loose

Some of the above classes make use or release aids others have to be shot with 3 fingers under or using the‘Mediterranean loose’ also sometimes called split finger.

A Mediterranean loose, requires the archer to have one finger above the arrow when nocked and 2 fingers below (middle and ring finger).

11 comments on “Shooting classes & terms

  1. Our 12 year old grandson is very interested in joining your club as a Beginner. Please could you advise when the next sessions are.
    Many thanks, Caroline Eastwood


  2. Hi Rob, just found your blog and it looks great. After a long break from 1985 to 2013 I started shooting again, a really old compound called the Denim by Bear. Another layoff and I have started up again on Friday night with The Yelverton Bowmen. Same old Bear, no release, no sights, no stabilisers.. 🙂 Will be joining the NFAS and shooting in the woods ASAP.


  3. In the woods on a cold Sunday yesterday and shot a few arrows into a few 3Ds and had a fine old time. I’d like to try a flatbow but thats a bit of a way down the track… all the best, Scott


      • Hi Rob, yes I am expecting small windfall in the next week or so and looking to replace the really old Bear with a recurve. At first I looked at the Martin Jaguar until warned away! Now looking at SF Axiom riser so I can increase limb strength as necessary.. I would like to at least try a flatbow though….might have to see if the club has any. all the best, Scott


  4. It sure would be nice if the IFAA or some such organization would help us standardize all of the styles. Sheesh! We haven’t had “light tackle” and “hunting tackle” designations here in the US for decades. Our Bowhunter styles all involve compound bows. Our NFAA Freestyle is your Unlimited. And on and on …

    Cheers, mate!


  5. Hello! I’m trying to contact Lyme Valley archers but can’t find them. No one seems to be manning facebook. Could you help at all please? 🙂 many thank, sarah

    Liked by 1 person

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