Archery Fun and Games – Bare is Best

Our medieval style archery club, Companions of the Longbow, have over the years have devised loads of archery games and challenges. Unfortunately Its almost impossible to find archery games on the web since Googling key words such as “archery games” only brings up computer games. This will be one of many articles which describes them for you to try out and hopefully, enjoy. They can be played by all styles of archery but may need tweaking to suit different types of bow. For those archers who shoot seriously, these games will give some light relief from pounding arrows into a butt and can be helpful in honing your skills. Most importantly, these games are safe (I once saw one for blind mans buff……).

Hitting anything with a longbow is pretty tricky, not surprising since it is basically a length of bent wood and a piece of string. So when you do hit the target, you really get a sense of achievement. At the other extreme we have the modern recurve and compound bows with their sights, stabilizers and release aids. In the hands of a decent archer, their accuracy is phenomenal. When it comes to playing archery games, their accuracy becomes a bit of a problem in that most games would be over very quickly. For games to be fun and competitive, a degree of randomness is required which these shooting aids take away. Now I’m not against modern archery, its just that it is geared towards one thing – accurately hitting a FITA target.

Removing all these aids – shooting barebow – means you have to shoot intuitively in order to hit the target. By intuitively, I mean that you look at the target, draw and shoot – the eye and brain guides the shooting arm without you thinking about it. It is similar to throwing a stone at a tin can. You don’t aim as such but simply focus on the can and throw the stone. With (lots of) practice, what you see is what you hit. Some of the games have targets at different distances which means you need to rely on binocular vision to judge the distances. Shooting indirect is also a common technique – shooting the arrow high into the air to that it lands near the target.

So, if you try out any of these games, I recommend you play them barebow style.


A team game that requires both speed and accuracy.


One 80cm FITA style target face per team, mounted on a butt and stand.
Each archer has 6 arrows.

Game Details

Archers are divided into teams, each archer having 6 arrows. I advise no more than 6 archers in a team otherwise there is a strong possibility of arrow damage (don’t)use your best carbon fiber shafts!).
One archer from each team shoots up to three arrows at the white ring of their target. If they hit it, they then withdraw from the shooting line (even if they have not shot all three arrows) and the next member of the team steps up to the shooting line and aims for the black.
When the black is hit, the next archer steps to the line and aims for the blue.
The game continues until the team has hit all the colours in order from white to gold and then from gold back to white.
If an archer misses the colour having shot three arrows, the next archer will continue to aim for that colour.
During the game, as soon as all the archers have shot twice each (6 arrows), then “Fast” is called and the game is paused so the archers can retrieve their arrows from the targets. The game then continues with the next archer to shoot.
The winning team is the first to go from white to gold and then gold back to white.
If a team member is unsure where their arrow has landed (e.g. very near the line between two rings), then they can alert the range captain who will shout “Fast”. All shooting stops immediately whilst the range captain checks the position of the arrow. If the arrow cuts the line, it is the higher scoring colour that counts. The range captain then resumes the game.


Speed Colours

When an archer in the team hits a colour, they continue to the next colour (assuming they have any arrows left). The team attempts to get from white to gold and back again as quickly as possible.
The first team to have all their archers shoot twice calls “Fast” and the game is immediately paused and all the other teams must stop shooting. Arrows are collected and the game resumes.
The winning team is the first to go from white to gold and then gold back to white.

Individual Colours

Although colours is a team game, there is no reason why it can’t be played individually.
Each archer shoots six arrows, beginning with the white, then black etc.
An archer can only go for the next colour once the previous one has been hit.
As soon as an archer has shot all 6 arrows, they shout “Fast” and everyone else must stop shooting even if they have not shot all their arrows.
Arrows are collected and the game resumes.
The first archer to go from white to gold and then gold back to white is the winner.