Course and Target Laying – Distance

In this series of posts I’ve been looking at course laying and shot selection.  The last post covered some thoughts on elevation and in this one I’m going to cover distance.

Society Rules

In the NFAS (National Field Archery Society)  you shoot over unmarked distances so it is down to the archers own skills in distance judgement to calculate how far the target is. You aren’t allowed to use any range finding equipment and only a few classes are allowed to use sights. I know other societies allow the use of range finders or shoot marked distances. Likewise some societies specify you have to have x number of 30 yard shots, y number of 40 yard etc.
On this topic some would say the role of the course layer is to try and make the judgement of distance difficult by using dead ground or the like. Personally I would say a good course layer should be able to lay a course that encourages sighted archers to change their sight marks or pins.

What effect does distance have?

Well the further the shot the longer time in air the arrow has and therefore more chance for environment to effect the arrows flight. What I mean by environment is  maybe gust of wind or when  shooting in the rain. The other thing to consider is a shot can’t be too close.
Well think of the archers paradox, you need to give the arrow chance to straighten, for this reason I would say never put a shot in closer that 3 yards. Look at this weasel shot form the 2013 Nationals.
Paper Ermin

Paper Ermin

It was only a few yards away from the shooting pegs but the level it was set at and height off the ground along with proximity to the stumps made you think.  It goes to show that a long distance relative to target size is obvious but sometimes a close shot can challenging.

Below is a good example of a medium shot of just about 30 yards. The reason I include this here is it also highlights the effect tree branches can have. If you putting a longish shot in keep a thought for overhanging tree branches, you might need to clear a few to ensure the shot is safe.

First view from Red peg

First view from Red peg

Stretched shot

I can’t cover distance without saying a word or two on stretched shots. Stretched shot are not challenging, simply beyond the distance it should be. This differs from a long shot, which can be challenging if there is a good chance of hitting.
The 3d tiger was a long shot as far as distance is concerned being over 50 yards but as it’s a large target its still hittable.
3D tiger from red peg

3D tiger from red peg

Wolverine Archers are famous for their long shot Kong. Just to give you an idea here is a video of the distance

What is long or is considered long varies. Personally I think anything over 40 yards is boarding on long for most archers. Don’t get me wrong I like the occasional longer shot, so long as the target size is appropriate.

In the next post on course and target planning I will address the ideas and issues associated with identifying suitable target size.

If you find this useful or have any questions then please contact me.

As always thanks for reading.

Shoot report – Doverdale September 2013


My grandparents raised me when my mam went out to work. They always said if you can’t say something good don’t say anything.

I don’t entirely believe in that as constructive comments can be very helpful.

So here goes. On Sunday we headed about 15 minutes drive down the road to Doverdale shoot ground, a local club who have seen a number of changes in recent months.

We’d shot there previously and been demoralised by their tendency to stretch distances to shots. Stretching is a term I use when the target face or 3d is set further than the norm i.e. if a target is normally set at say 20 yards it might be a challenge at 22 yards but stretched if at 25 yards or more. (under NFAS rules all targets are shot over unmarked distances)

I know a few members of our club had not booked on the shoot because of past experiences, but we thought we would give them the benefit of the doubt.

Sunday was sunny but had a slight chill in the air, fortunately it stayed dry all day. Some 80 archers attended the event which would see a mix of 3d and paper faces. They have a mix deciduous mature woodland with a few dips and avenues.

So on to the course. Well I would say some targets weren’t stretched they were plain ridiculous.

Can think of two out of 36 that were sensible distance.

To give an example of the type of shot we faced. JVD, a paper target face publisher, produces a pheasant target face you often see on shoots. Normally it is set at 15 -18 yards for the first shooting peg, maybe 20 yards at a push. That day it was set at over 30 yards!!


We shot (or attempted to) a paper face mallard that could have been a duckling for the distance.


The shoot was immensely depressing to shoot and I must admit to giving up half way round. The only redeeming feature was the company as all of us were fed up.

I have never walked off a shoot but came close at lunchtime as did a number of others. I think many will vote with their feet next time and simply not book for their next shoot.

The day before we did our club shoot, which was a 36 target 3d course. Sharon scored 536 on Saturday and at Doverdale she scored 412, that was the winning score. I shot 670 on Saturday and 500 at the open shoot. Although we were both placed we were immensely demoralised by the shoot. Heaven knows what others thought.

Thanks for reading.