Things Sussex Archery has to offer

The Sussex County Archery Association is the Body that represents the Archery Clubs in East and West Sussex which are affiliated to ArcheryGB. Most of the Activities county-wide happen at the Clubs, even Matches and Championship events organised by S.C.A.A are nearly all hosted at Archery Clubs. This page tells you about the kind of Archery the clubs do.

Note: Archery Range distances are measured either in Metres and Yards, depending on the origins of the ‘Round’ being Shot. International Rounds are measured in Metres, and English Rounds in Yards. In case you’re not familiar with this old-style measurement, a ‘Yard’ is the length of a grown man’s pace, which is  3 feet – that is three times the length of a grown man’s foot, or 91.5cm.

Can anyone join?

What kinds of Archery can I do in Sussex?

What kind of bow can I shoot at SCAA Clubs?

ArcheryGB Bow-Styles explained

Who can join?


Clubs follow the ArcheryGB Equality Policy and unless there is some over-riding safety consideration their activities are open to all. This is a projectile sport involving weapons, and safety considerations can include risks associated with young children, and so many clubs have a lower age limit for membership, often eight years.


14 of the 23 Sussex Target Archery clubs have integral Junior Clubs – which is often just a device to save parents cost by taking advantage of the block payment available for junior Clubs, the Juniors are really full members of the clubs. There are also some dedicated Junior Clubs in Sussex, as well as some School Archery Clubs.


There are plenty of Archers with physical limitations, but we do what we can to get around that kind of thing. Archery usually involves a fair amount of walking, mainly to collect arrows from the target. The long established traditional answer to mobility problems is for Clubmates to collect the arrows. If you need to sit or use a wheelchair, then help, if needed, is available, maybe by carrying out some adaptation to the seat back. The same would apply if restricted movement or strength means equipment needs to be modified. And if your eyesight is limited, there are answers to that too – including the Tactile Sight for blind archers, which was invented in Sussex. Some grant aid is available, and there are Sports Associations for the Disabled in East and West Sussex who can assist.


I know ArcheryGB sends the British Teams to the Olympics. Does that mean SCAA Clubs only shoot Olympic-Style Archery?

Olympic-style Archery is called Target Archery and this is the bedrock of nearly all the Sussex Clubs, but it’s certainly not all they do.

The Olympic Discipline for Competitive Archery is just one of several recognised and supported by ArcheryGB.
These include Indoor Target Archery, Field Archery, Clout, Traditional Longbow Archery, Crossbow Target Archery,  Flight Shooting, Poppinjay, Archery Golf and Archery Darts.

Most of these disciplines are also recognised by the World Archery Federation, but a few are local to this Country. Some of the disciplines – such as Crossbow Target Archery – are almost extinct among ArcheryGB member clubs, and some such as Poppinjay and Archery Golf are rather rare, but worth hunting for.
ArcheryGB is not a Re-enactment organisation, and it no longer includes traditional shooting such as Wand or Roving or Volley Shooting in its Rule Book, but there are other organisations nearby that do, and many members of SCAA also belong to them.

Indoor Target Archery


Most clubs have an Indoor Shooting Range of some sort. The commonest indoor distance is 20 yards / 18 metres, but if the hall is large enough, there are recognised ‘Rounds’ at 25 metres and 30yards. Targets are smaller than outdoors.

Outdoor Archery tends to be greatly influenced by the weather, particularly by the wind, which is often a feature of Sussex Weather. Indoors is dry and still. It gives everyone an opportunity to develop their ‘pure’ shooting style, and to set-up and ‘tune’ their equipment. There are almost as many Indoor tournaments through the Winter months as there are Outdoors in the Summer, one of ‘majors’, the Southern Counties Championships is hosted by SCAA at the K2 in Crawley.


Field Archery


This is meant to simulate hunting in rough terrain, usually in hilly woodland. The Archers move along a course of about 24 targets, set at different distances ranging from around six to seventy metres, on different gradients, up and down, and with very different degrees of difficulty, often involving guiding arrows though narrow gaps between trees. Depending on the Round, targets faces may be circular with concentric scoring zones, or be a picture of a wild animal, or even a rubber model of an animal.

In some rounds the distances are known (but tend to be further), in others the competitors must make their own estimates. Course designers select tricky shooting positions and misleading natural features. Rather different from standing on a flat open Archery Field.

There are seven Field Courses in Sussex – Crawley, Eastbourne, Friars Gate, Hellingly, Kingsbury, Newhaven and Worthing, and a number of Open Shoots are held each year.
National and Regional Championships are also hosted in Sussex regularly, which gives local archers a chance to shoot with the top performers (some of the top people ARE Sussex Archers).



This is a branch of Target Archery shot at very long distance, typically 180 yards for men and 140 yards for women. Fortunately the target is correspondingly larger, and comprises a four-yard-radius circle (so about 7.5 metres diameter) on the ground marked by a flag in the centre.

This requires more space than is available on many archery fields, but a few clubs have the space and are usually pleased if guests come and shoot with them. Sussex holds a County Clout Championship whenever possible, and although it missed 2011, it’s hoped there will be a shoot in April 2012.

Traditional Longbow Archery


This is Longbow Shooting the way it was done in Victorian times – “Two-Ways” – meaning you shoot an ‘end’ of three arrows at a target in one direction, score them and retrieve the arrows, then stand in front of the targets you just faced and shoot back in the opposite direction the way you came. This requires additional skill, so Records and scores are kept separate from modern Target Archery for that reason.

Modern Rounds mostly comprise ends of six arrows shot in one direction only, and Longbows can also shoot like that in ordinary club activities and non-Traditional events.
Several Sussex clubs hold ‘open’ Longbow Shoots, and occasionally SCAA organises Longbow days, but only two Sussex Clubs, Friars Gate and Newhaven, regularly host two-way Tournaments.


This is a Round that really hones left-and-right aiming skills. And a wickedly competitive one. Ideal for lazy archers, as the target weighs next to nothing and is easy to set up.

Mediaeval Archers used to shoot at a piece of split willow about six inches wide and six feet tall, set at 100 paces.
Mole Valley Bowmen, just over the boundary in Surrey, hold an annual Wand Shoot in May, 100 yards for the Gents, and they include a Ladies distance of 80yards, and a junior 60 yard range.

Flight Shooting


This is shooting for sheer distance. Flight shoots require long ranges, typically airfields are used. Some specially-made flight bows with specially crafted arrows can achieve huge distances, well over a kilometre. Most major U.K. flight shoots take place in Yorkshire, although there is hope a Southern Counties shoot may be arranged in the near future. But Flight shoots for Longbows only need about 400 yards including the safety over-shoot distance, so they are more common and can be found locally.

There seem to be lots of different designs and types of Bow – do I have to use a particular kind?

So long as it conforms with one or other of the ‘formulas’ recogised by ArcheryGB you may shoot practically any type of Bow. But if you opt for an unconventional or obscure type, and if you wish to compete at open shoots, you may find you are up against people who seem to have an unfair advantage. Field Archery offers more options in competition.

Here are some Bow types, with a note of the ArcheryGB Bow-Style Category they
would fit into…



A simple bent-stick type of bow, shot ‘instinctively’, with no sighting aids. Some are careful reconstruction of prehistoric bows found in peat bogs, such as the Mere Heath and Holmgaard finds,

Category: Traditional if using wood arrows, otherwise Recurve Barebow

English Longbow


No mechanically adjustable sights allowed, but a single marker like a rubber ring on the limb, or a ground marker placed on the range is permitted.
Traditionally made of imported Yew, carefully selected and arranged with the sap wood facing the target and heartwood nearest to the Archer. Most modern English longbows are made from laminated timbers, or possibly bamboo.
The bow has a characteristic ‘D’ shaped limb cross-section, meaning the limbs are narrow in width, deep in thickness and are rounded on the side nearest to the Archer. When not strung , the bow is more or less straight along it length.
Category: Longbow if using wood arrows, otherwise Recurve Barebow

American Longbow (or flatbow)


This is a simple straight bow like the English Longbow, but has two differences. The most important is the limbs are wider and much thinner.
This allows use of  ‘Whitewoods’ such as Hickory which are unsuitable for the thick-limbed English Longbows because they are not elastic enough.
The other difference is the cut-out ‘window’ at the handle, which allows the arrow to lie closer to the centre-line of the bow. These bows can be made of  ‘self’ timber, or are often laminated, whether in wood, or more commonly wood and glassfibre.
Category: Field Archery using wood arrows: in the UK: American Flat Bow; Internationally: Longbow. Target Archery in UK: Recurve Traditional if using wood arrows, otherwise Recurve Barebow

Asiatic Bow, no Sights


There are many traditional patterns of Asiatic Bow, such as Korean,
Mongol, Turkish, Scythian, Hungarian, etc.
They are nearly all made of  combinations of materials. Most currently made use glass-fibre laminations, but the truly traditional ones use horn and sinew. This type of bow has been around for three thousand years, and is the origin and inspiration of the modern Recurve bow.
The tips of Asiatic bows either curve forward, or, more commonly, have rigid extensions angled forward (called ‘Siyahs’ in Turkish) that ‘unwrap’ as the bow is drawn, which counteracts the increasing force required to bend the bow.

These bows are short because they were designed to be shot from horseback, and as a result the string forms an acute angle at full-draw. For this reason many Asian archers draw the bow using their thumb, which takes up less space than several fingers.
Category: Recurve Traditional if using wood arrows, otherwise Recurve Barebow

One-piece Recurve Bow, no Sights


The Bow might be made of wood alone, or incorporate glass-fibre or carbon-fibre laminations.
It has a larger centre section with a shaped pistol-grip and a ‘window’ cut-out for the arrow-pass.
The limbs are ‘recurved’, meaning they curve forward like the Asiatic bows, but are formed in the lamination and shape of the limb rather than as separate pieces.
Category: Recurve Traditional if using wood arrows, otherwise Recurve Barebow

Take-Down Recurve Bow with no Sights


Basically similar to the one-piece bow, but in three sections to be dismantlable. The two flexible limbs slot into the metal centre handle section. The metal is more rigid than the wood of the one-piece, which increases arrow speed as less energy is lost in bending the handle. Archers shooting this kind of ‘unsighted’ way can make their bow more stable by adding weights below the hand-grip.

Most ‘barebow’ archers aim by  the placing their fingers below the arrow when drawing the bow, and look along the arrow shaft to aim; by changing their finger position they can adjust for different target distances – this style, called ‘string walking’, was invented over forty years ago in Field Archery where accurate aiming at different distances is vital.
Category: Recurve Barebow

Take-Down Recurve Bow with sights and Stabilisers


This is the most widely used set-up in modern archery. A number of additional components may be used to assist in accuracy and consistency. Sights are allowed, and are usually screw-adjustable, but no optical magnification or electronic lighting or additional alignment aids are allowed. Stabiliser weights are allowed, which are much more effective if mounted on long stalks.

The bow must be drawn back by the fingers placed on the string. In outdoor Target Archery, Adults shoot at targets placed at distances ranging  from 30 metres to 90 metres / 100 yards, Junior distances are less, depending on Age-Group. Any type of arrow may be used, but aluminium, carbon, or carbon-aluminium composite are preferred.
Category: Recurve (Freestyle)

Compound Bow with peep and lens sight, stabilisers and release trigger


Compound Bows use pulley-like mechanisms to provide a mechanical advantage, which results in the drawing-force loading on the Archer’s arm and back muscles being much less at full-draw than required at the start of the draw. This also results in greater acceleration and arrow speed, which means the effect of wind on the arrow is significantly less than for a equivalent draw-force Recurve Bow.

The peep and lens sight minimises alignment errors, and the release trigger results in much smoother arrow flight. Because compound bows are much shorter than modern recurve bows, they are harder to hold consistently upright, so the sighting lens usually has a spirit level incorporated. They will obtain higher scores, but more like shooting a firearm.
Category: Compound (Unlimited)

Compound Bow with no sights, and no release trigger

(No Picture Available)
This bow configuration has the advantage of the low holding-weight and high arrow speed of the compound bow, but tests the Archer who has to draw the bow using fingers, and aim instinctively.
Category: Compound Barebow

Some bows seem to be much more high-tech that others, which can’t be fair. Are prizes given for every kind of bow?

ArcheryGB is an important member of the World Archery Federation (also known as FITA), and it played a big part (as the Grand National Archery Society, as it was then called) in drawing up the rules for International Archery. International Archery only recognises two types of bow, Recurve and Compound. So, for simplicity really, ArcheryGB groups the various bows into three divisions – Recurve, Longbow and Compound – and this may not always seem totally fair. Recurve and Compound Bows are further sub-divided into those that have bow-sights and those that don’t, and there is a further recurve sub-Division for bows that do not have sights and use traditional wood and feather arrows. Of the three main divisions, Longbow is specifically the English Longbow, and other simple bows such as American Longbows, Flatbows and most Primitive Bows do not comply – they would have to shoot as recurves, but would probably fit into the Traditional sub-division. Flatbows are recognised as a style however in Field and Flight Archery.

There are two things that distinguish a Compound Bow from a Recurve; one is the way the string is fed around a system of pulleys, cams or rockers so the distance travelled by the draw hand is much greater than the distance travelled by the ends of the bow limbs; and the other is the possibility of using a trigger device, known as a ‘Release Aid’. The release aid originated in the ‘Thumb Rings’ used with Asiatic Bows that can be used to hold-back the string until the ring is allowed to rotate smoothly and release the string from a notch or shoulder on the ring; so anything other than a simple glove or leather/plastic finger-protector ‘tab’ is considered to be a Release Aid, and if using one the Archer would be classed as shooting ‘Compound (Unlimited)’. But Asiatic Bows would be classed as recurves so long as the archer drew the bow ‘Mediterranean’ style, using their fingers on the string.

Pictures of Field Archery – Lizz Gordon & Peter Newman
Picture of Penrith Clout line-up – Greg Grogan of Nethermoss Archers
Picture of Primitive Bows – Society for Promotion of Traditional Archery
Picture of Homgaard-pattern Bow – Green Man Longbows
Picture of American Longbow – Team Sagittarius
Picture of Field archer with Hungarian Bow – Mike Brampton

All other photographs Copyright (c) R.Brown 2003-2012