Archery Handicap System, mini-round during the lockdown

This past winter, I’ve been studying a lot scoring and the classification system and thanks to the expertise of our fellow members, I’ve discovered the handicap system. In a very simplistic sentence,

the handicap system gives you a representation of your current ability that spans universally across all round types

If your handicap is for example 47, or 82, it will very much likely be that on a WA1440, on a WA50 or on a Stafford (see the footnotes).

The handicap system goes from 100 to 0. Where at 100 you’ve got all the chances to improve, and at 0 you are probably part of Team GB.

If you have shot many times already, you will also be familiar with good and bad days. To this purpose, the official handicap is therefore an average of at least 3 handicaps.
You should never consider just the current score, but you should put good as well as bad results in the bucket. Example, (48+52+50) / 3 = handicap 50.

Now, where do you get that 48, 52, 50 from?

That value is taken from the Handicap Tables and rounding “up” to the closest (worst) value. You won’t find printouts online, as they are protected by copyright, but some websites and some apps calculates it for you. You can also buy the full ArcheryGb rulebook and you will get a copy of handicap tables as well.

You shoot a round, you check your score in the handicap tables, and you get the handicap value. Example, you shoot 533 on a WA 18, you check there is handicap 29 for 534 and 30 for 530, so the handicap for 533 will be 30.

Don’t panic! A records officer for a club can help archers to calculate their handicap and track it.

The handicap value is just a statistical value and is not dependent on world champions performances, so for a compound will be much easier to get a handicap of 40 than for a longbow, because it’s much much more challenging to master the technique with the beautiful heritage bow.

From the handicap to your classification level

And now, the fun part.

If you compare the score of a classification, say for example 3rd class recurve, against the tables, you will discover the handicap is the same on any round.

Round name – category – Classification – Score required – Handicap value

York – gentlemen – 3rd class – 283 – Han. of 58
St George – gentlemen – 3rd class – 265 – Han. of 58
Windsor – gentelemen – 3rd class – 563 – Han. of 58
WA 1440 – gentlemen – 3rd class – 481 – Han. of 58
WA 50 (80cm) – gentlemen – 3rd class – 225 – Han. of 58

As we said in the beginning, once you know your handicap, you can quickly check what level of classification you could get.
So if you shoot a handicap of 54 (which is definitely better than a 58) it means achieving a 3rd class classification is definitely within your possibilities.

Easy you see?

So, down to business now.

It’s lockdown time. We’ve got to stay safe. Better safe and fun than safe and boring though.

Handicap tables have values for many non round scores, among them, scores for 3 dozens (36 arrows) on 80cm faces at 30 and 50mt.
A WA 1440 (Gents/Ladies) is shot at 90/70 and 70/60 on 122cm face, and at 50 and 30mt on 80cm faces. 36 arrows on each 4 of these distances.

With Covid restrictions, we book the range online, and we shoot for a 2 hour session.
2 hours is plenty of time for 36 arrows, a proper training mini-round at 30 or 50mt.

(I personally discourage shooting at longer distances where you might miss the target, as you don’t want to spend your hours looking for arrows, and 50mt takes already quite a lot of time walking up to the target and back)

I’ve created this tool, to help archers compare their handicap level, and check their handicap against
ArcheryGb Classifications (pag 46).


Once a month, in at least two different days, run a “mini-round” to assess your progress.

  • Shoot 6 sighters, and then 36 arrows at your chosen distance each day.
  • Input the score here, note down the two handicaps.
  • And finally average them (divide by the number of scores you are adding!)

In three months you’ll be surprised by the results and compare with official classifications.



(input your score here)


Shooting at 90mt, is far more difficult than shooting at 18mt. Where a variance in draw length on a 40# bow won’t change much the result on an indoor round, at 90mt will very much make the difference between hitting the target or missing it completely. At longer distances, a very good archer, knows not only to aim straight, but how to be consistent and how to set up his equipement in order to actually hit the farther targets.

For this reason, for example, a handicap of 49 is Bowman lever for barebow archers, but you can’t claiming shooting a WA18 and need instrad (for at least 3 times) a proper WA 1440.

Please also note, that this is a brief guide and there is more detail in the official rulebook by ArcheryGb (PS: we don’t get any fee from it, but that’s candies to every archer!) 🙂