New Member Information

Congratulations on signing up. As a member you have some responsibilities with respect to the facilities. Regardless of your ambitions for your archery career, the first thing you should do is identify what equipment you would like to shoot with. Once you’ve chosen your equipment type (rented from the club, or purchased) you should aim to advance your qualified shooting distance. As your qualified shooting distance extends, you can begin participating in the weekly club shoots. The scores you submit will help you establish and improve upon your Archer Rating. Read on to discover more about each of these things. There’s a lot to absorb here, so come back every now and then to re-read and learn a bit more.


As a new member, your responsibilities are fairly simple.

  • Ensure you have signed into the attendance book and paid any necessary fees.
  • Help with setting up the ground. If it is your first time, let the key holder running the setup know that you need some directions. Read the article on the layout of our archery range.
  • Help with setting up targets. Chances are you got a pretty good look at them during the Beginners Course, and maybe even helped put some away. Read the article on our portable targets.
  • Check your equipment prior to shooting for any problems. Alert a more experienced member if you see something that doesn’t look right. Frayed strings, broken arrow rests, bent arrows, etc.
  • Alert experienced members if there are problems with a target.
  • Help with putting targets away. If you’ve finished using a target put it away if nobody else needs it.
  • Help with packing up the ground. If it’s evident that people are all finishing up, help pack up the ground. If it’s your first time doing it, ask the experienced member leading the pack up for directions.
  • Safety is everyone’s responsibility. If you see something potentially dangerous, let people know.
  • Re-stating: If it’s your first time helping with some equipment, please ask for directions. The road to the junkyard of broken equipment is paved with the good intentions of well-meaning novices. There are no dumb questions.
  • Tidiness. Leave the clubhouse clean and tidy. Place your rubbish in the bin. Wash your cups after using them.


Our Beginners Course teaches you how to shoot with a recurve bow but you may also be interested in other bow types, such as longbows, traditional Asiatic bows, or compound bows. The skills you learn for shooting a recurve bow are transferrable to other categories. A mistake we see prospective compound archers make when they first ask about signing up for a beginners course is a misconception that recurve technique is irrelevant to compound shooting technique. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and many of the mistakes that can limit your ability to perform well with a compound share the same root causes as recurve shooting mistakes. Although compound bow technology helps eliminate many variables, each one eliminated from the shooting process simply places greater emphasis on the remaining elements of archery form and technique.

Whether you are a graduate or an experienced archer, if you are interested in making an equipment transition, we have members who are experienced in each or in some cases both. Please consult our Helpful Members page for someone that can help you with the equipment type you’re interested in.

We love to help with discussions about equipment purchasing, but we also encourage you to take advantage of the club’s inventory of bows. We have a wide range of draw weights available, and every pound of strength that you can gain shooting a club bow helps you to purchase a bow closer to your target draw weight. Adults will need to increase their draw weight from the beginner course bows (16-20 pounds depending on draw length) up to 30 – 40 pounds to make their maximum distances. For adult males 19 – 50 years, the maximum shooting distance is 90m. For females it is 70m. For younger or older members, please ask us about your maximum distance at the club. Although increasing draw weight can improve accuracy at longer distances, the trade-off is stamina and quality of your archery form. Shooting a draw weight that you are not strong enough to handle is called being overbowed, and will significantly impair your technique and introduce bad habits as you attempt to compensate for your lack of strength.

Don’t ever rush into bow purchasing. Try to first establish what you want from your equipment and your level of commitment to the sport. A great deal of improvement in archery is about improving your ability to reproduce the same result every shot, and owning your bow can certainly help get you on that path. Investing in equipment that is unsuitable for you is costly though, and can compromise your efforts at improving your technique. Discover your needs and requirements first, and you will be in a much better position to purchase a bow that is right for you.


Like many martial arts, archery uses a grading system to help ensure that the archers shooting a distance are capable of consistently hitting the target. We all make mistakes from time to time, but there’s not much fun to be had if most of your arrows are ending up in the grass.

Qualifying means shooting 2/3 of the maximum possible score at every distance up to 50m for those in the Open age category. You need only qualify up to 10m less than your maximum distance, so if your maximum distance is 40m, you only have to qualify to 30m. To qualify, you need to shoot a qualifying round. Qualifying rounds are 36 arrows at the distance you are attempting to qualify for on a large (122cm) target face. The maximum score for 36 arrows is 360, so you have to shoot 240 to qualify. This translates roughly to shooting all of your arrows inside the red. You need to shoot TWO successful qualifying rounds to be allowed to move to the next distance. The two successful rounds do not need to be shot on the same day.

There are qualifying score sheets in a drawer at the club. Use those and return them filled in completely – and signed – into the drawer that says ‘scoresheets to be recorded’. Eventually, your qualifying scores will end up here. If you can’t see them immediately, you may not be on the scoring system yet because you’re a recent member. Let the Recorder know if you’ve only recently joined, but keep qualifying and handing in scores, you’ll see them eventually.

Once you have qualified for 50m (or your maximum qualifying distance), you are then free to use your own discretion to shoot further distances. Congratulations! You no longer have any excuses for not participating in the weekly club shoot, and although you’ve reached the end of one method of tracking your advancement, there are still more measures.

Scoring and Rating

Qualification is one way of tracking your advancement, but your archer rating is another. The rating system looks at the distances and target face sizes used in a round and infers your accuracy from the score you shot. The inferred accuracy is used to generate a rating for your score.

When you first begin submitting scores, you do not have an archer rating. Your initial rating is calculated from your scores for the first five official rounds you submit. Qualifying rounds are not official ones, but the rounds shot during our Weekly Shoots are, so even if you haven’t completed the qualifying process, it’s a good idea to participate in the weekly shoots. Keep an eye on the club calendar. The first shoot of each month is an entry level competition, with official rounds chosen to be shorter distances that members are more likely to have qualified for.

Once you have a rating, it will show up on your Archer Information page on the scoring website, where you will also find other interesting statistics such as your average score per arrow, and your arrow distribution at various distances. Each score you submit will have a rating generated for it, and if the rating is higher than your current archer rating, your rating will improve by half of the difference, rounded down. For example, if your archer rating is 50, and you shoot a round rating of 55, your rating will go up by 2.5, which rounded down is 52. You can also track your Rating History on BHCA Scores.

Handicap Score Adjustments

At top level competitions archers compete in categories separated by age, gender and equipment, with winners decided by the highest score. This is great for determining the best archer in each category, but for a social shoot it can be far more entertaining to determine who was the best archer on the day of competition, regardless of equipment, gender or age. Handicap score adjustments allow us to do this. Once you have an initial rating, you get handicap points for the weekly shoots and the club championship. The higher your rating, the less handicap points your receive. Until you have a rating you do not receive any handicap points.

Handicap adjustment effectively levels the competition across equipment and shooting distance boundaries in such a way that the winner is the archer that shoots the best relative to their own rating. Taking a Geelong (90 arrows at 30m) for example, a rating 77 archer is expected to shoot a score of 864, while a rating 50 archer is expected to shoot a score of 774.

The rating 77 archer receives a handicap boost of 900 – 864 = 36 points.

The rating 50 archer receives a handicap boost of 900 – 774 = 126 points.

If they each shoot their exact rating scores, they will tie with a handicap adjusted result of 900 points each. If the rating 50 archer shoots 775, they will win with a score of 901, because they shot better than their rating.


Continue reading to see how your rating and handicap adjustments can be made use of in our Social Competitions!