About bows

IFAA Bow Styles table

A Adult
M Male
F Female
V Veteran
J Junior
C Cub

Letter 1 – age
Letter 2 – gender
Letters 3 and 4 – bow style

Bow Styles abbreviations












Adult                 Veteran                     Junior                               Cub
Women    Men    Women    Men     Girls    Boys   Girls   Boys
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

Women        Men

 Adult                     Veteran                   Junior
Women        Men       Women        Men      Girls    Boys
AFBU     AMBU       VFBU      VMBU   JFBU   JMBU
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

 Adult                     Veteran                  Junior
Women     Men       Women     Men    Girls     Boys
AFBL     AMBL    VFBL     VMB    JFBL     JMBL
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

  Adult                               Veteran                 Junior                    Cub
Women        Men       Women        Men       Girls    Boys       Girls    Boys
AFFU       AMFU      VFFU      VMFU   JFFU      JMFU   CFFU   CMFU
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed


Adult                     Veteran                   Junior                        Cub
Women        Men       Women        Men         Girls       Boys          Girls    Boys

Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

Adult                 Veteran                  Junior                        Cub
Women        Men     Women        Men       Girls     Boys            Girls       Boys
AFFS(R)  AMFS(R)     VFFS(R)   VMFS(R)    JFFS(R)   JMFS(R)     CFFS(R)   CMFS(R)
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

Adult                     Veteran                            Junior
Women        Men          Women        Men               Girls    Boys
AFBH(C)       AMBH(C)  VFBH(C)   VMBH(C)         JFBH(C)     JMBH(C)
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

Adult                  Veteran              Junior
Women    Men       Women   Men          Girls    Boys
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

Adult                     Veteran                        Junior                          Cub
Women        Men       Women        Men       Girls        Boys            Girls          Boys
AFBB(C)     AMBB(C)     VFBB(C)   VMBB(C)   JFBB(C)     JMBB(C)    CFBB(C)   CMBB(C)
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

 Adult                  Veteran                     Junior                       Cub
Women        Men       Women        Men        Girls      Boys           Girls      Boys
AFBB(R)  AMBB(R)     VFBB(R)  VMBB(R)     JFBB(R)   JMBB(R)   CFBB(R)    CMBB(R)
Note: x – not allowed; v – allowed

IFAA Classification Classes

IFAA rules cover many field archery disciplines, however only Field and Hunter disciplines are classified for they are the most complicated. The way of classification is pretty simple: classifyng amount of points depends on bow style; say for Longbow class C being obtained when the score is from 0 to149 points, i.e. even with one participation (getting 1 point score leastwise) archer obtains class C . To reach class B it is necessary on official tournaments to score not less than 150 points two times during 12 months. For A classs the score must be 250. To preserve the class, archer must at least once in 12 months repeat the score. Not succeded archer drops one class lower according to his score. Swiching to different bow style classification class must be obtained again according to score reflected in IFAA rules. For juniors the scores are the same as for adults while they are shooting their own distances.

Classification pins: class C – bronze , B – silver, A – golden. These pins do egzist in Lithuania only. Decision of classification marking by pins (for adult division only) has been made 2007. Pins are numbered and recorded in a register, they are kept by archer forever to be for him and his family as s memory of his archery achievements and as a payment of honour.

Table of classification classes


C 0-150 points
B 150 – 249 points
A 250 and more points

Bowhunter Recurve

C 0-224 points
B 225 – 374 points
A 375 and more points

Recurve Freestyle

C 0-349 points
B 350 – 449 points
A 450 and more points

Barebow Recurve

C 0-299 points
B 300 – 399 points
A 400 and more points

(Compound) Freestyle Unlimited

C 0 – 399 points
B 400 – 499 points
A 500 and more points

Compound Freestyle Limited

C 0-349 points
B 350 – 449 points
A 450 and more points

(Compound) Bowhunter Unlimited

C 0-324 points
B 325 – 474 points
A 475 and more points

(Compound) Bowhunter Limited

C 0- 299 points
B 300 – 449 points
A 450 and more points

Barebow  Compound

C 0-299 points
B 300 – 399 points
A 400 and more points

Bowhunter Compound

C 0-224 points
B 225 – 374 points
A 375 and more points

According to IFAA rules classification classes for historical bows currently are not given.

Archery Disciplines

Outdoor Archery

1. Olympic Round:

Discipline being performed while shooting at stationary paper target faces from distance of 70 meters on a flat archery range. In Olympic Games only recurve bows with sights and other additional equipment (Olympic bows) are allowed.

2 Qualification Round:

Discipline being performed while shooting at stationary paper target faces from 4 distances:

Men: 90, 70, 50 and 30m
Women: 70, 60, 50 and 30m

Targets are of descending size for shorter distance respectively. For compound bows distances are the same.

Indoor Archery
Discipline being performed while shooting to paper target faces from 18 and 25 meters, mostly during the winter both for compound and recurve divisions.

Field Archery
Round being shot while shooting at various stationary paper targets of different diameters, set on the shooting range at different distances (from 7 to 73m), the range being set in natural terrain; mostly forest, or mountains. In the case of a flat conformation elevated platforms being used for upward or downward shots either as shooting or target positions respectively. Distances being shot from marked shooting positions can be either known, or unknown. Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional bows.

3-D Hunting Round
Round being shot while shooting to different size 3-D animal targets set at different shooting distances. The range is being set in natural terrain. Archers walk from one target to another. Shooting distances are 9-55m. Distances being shot from marked shooting positions can be either known, or unknown. Number of arrows to be shot, either can be 1, 2 or 3 (in the last case – until the first scored arrow). Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional bows.

Animal Round
Rules and conditions are similar to 3-D Hunting Round, targets are paper target faces.

Game Trail 3-D Archery
Round being shot while archers walk along „trail“, marked by the rope. Targets are 3-D animal targets. Archer must decide, which position is most favorable for the shot, if he passes it, he can’t come back and loses the shot. One shot for each target being allowed. Distances are unknown. Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional bows.

Floght Archery
All conventional bows and special flight bows are being used. The purpose is the longest possible arrow flight. So called foot bows being used (as a distinguished flight archery style) while drawing and releasing bowstring while laying on one’s back. Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional bows.

Wand Shoot
It is a traditional English archery contest. The target is about 152 mm wide and about 1,8m tall wooden or foam strip (wand) fixed in a vertical position. Distance for men is 90 m, for women – 70 m. Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional. Wand shoot distance used in Medieval times being recorded as 180 yards (165 m). Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional bows.

Clout (or Cloth) Shooting
Target is being set on the ground which is either flag (called “clout”) or lines, drawn on the ground with (or without) the long post in the centre. In England men usually shoot Clout from 180 yards (165m), women – 140 yards (128m). In other countries distances may be different. Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional bows.

It is a traditional Belgian and English archery discipline. Wooden birds pegged or hanged on the frame at the top of the mast (18-30m). Arrows used for Popinjay – Flu-Flu with blunts. Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional bows.

Speed Shot
Discipline is being performed while shooting to a stationary target from the distance of 15m. The purpose is to shoot and score as much as possible arrows in 1 minute. Bows: traditional bows.

Moving Target (pendulum) Shot
Discipline being performed while shooting to a target, fixed to a moving pendulum from the distance of 15m. The purpose is to shoot and score as much as possible arrows in 1 minute. Bows: traditional bows.

Shooting at areal targets
Archer shoots at the target thrown in the air in front of him Arrows used – with Flu-Flu fletching. Bows: traditional bows.

Yabusame (part of Kyudo)
It is a traditional Japanese horse archery discipline. Archers shoot at targets which are set on the ground at different height on sticks or held while riding a horse at full gallop. Arrows are with blunt points.

Horse Archery
The discipline originates from the purpose to recreate ancient skills of horsemen archery of Asian nations and ones of Native Americans. Rules are similar to Yabusame ones. The idea itself did appear under efforts of Mongolian and mainly Hungarian archers. There are several competitions and meetings around the world in any given year – mostly in Hungary, Germany and other Central European countries, but also in Canada (Mt Currie, BC), the United States (notably Fort Dodge in state of Iowa) and also in South Korea.

Kyudo is a traditional archery and a martial art of Japan. There are many schools of Kyudo, distinguishing from each other by differences of rules and technique. There are more sport oriented versions of Kyudo with the main goal of a greater score and ceremonial ones, when purpose is a perfect shot and the bulls eye score is regarded as just a consequence: i.e. through the concentration and special breathing technique orchestrated with archer’s movements when they approach to the shooting line, through preparation for the shot while drawing the bow and executing the shot and after it. Archer seeks for a perfect harmonious performance. There are also schools practicing military shooting style. According to the Nippon Kyudo Federation the supreme goal of Kyudo is the state of “shin-zen-bi”, roughly “truth-goodness-beauty”, which can be approximated as: when archers shoot correctly (i.e. truthfully) with virtuous spirit and attitude toward all persons and all things which relate to Kyudo (i.e. with goodness), beautiful shooting is realized naturally. Traditional Japanese asymmetric bow – Yumi is being used. The target is set at 28m distance, other distance is 60m.

Inuoumono (Dog Chasing)
It is a traditional samurai horse archery dog chasing game when a set number of archers with blunt padded arrows shot at dogs from a horseback. Inuoumono was practiced in Japan since medieval times up to even the beginning of XX century.

Archery game shooting arrows to 122 cm diameter dart target face at 10 or 15m distance according to original darts rules.

Archery Golf

It is an archery game with rules similar to original golf ones. Archers approach to targets by shooting golf distances.
Ski Archery (Ski-Arc)
It is an archery game with rules similar to original biathlon. Archers shoot a stationary target faces, penalty loops for missed shots being imposed. Bows: Olympic bows.

Run Archery
It is archery game with rules similar to Ski Archery ones. Archers run 700- 1000 m distance and shot at targets, penalty loops being ran if missed.

Archery Cricket
It is a team archery game with rules similar to original cricket ones. Each team shoots to its target (to the target score zones in ascending order – from 1 to 10). Teams try to shoot as quick and as accurate as possible and to finish the game. Bows: Olympic, compound and traditional bows.


Bow types

The bow is one of the most ancient weapons, which is beleaved did appear at the junction of Mesolithic and Neolithic era, somewhere about 10 -12 thousand years ago. The bow shortly could be described as a mechanism, which operates by a spring and string principle. By pulling the string (bow string), potential energy is stored in the spring (bow limbs). While released, this energy turns into a kinetic energy (with some inevitable energy loss). Released energy of the spring, when it tries to come back to its rest position, is transfered to the arrow to be lounched. The more power you need to apply for string bending (spring is harder) and the longer is the way (the draw length of a bow is bigger) when this force is applied, the greater velocity will be corresponded to the arrow while it leaves the bow.

There is a question: what is a top material for such a spring to make? This material must be tough and, so this means that its density mustn’t be too great and it must withstand as much as possible bending cycles. The best modern material is fiberglass and carbon-fiber combination, while in ancient times the material of choise was only a natural one. Wood was mostly befited material for simple bows. Later and more sofisticated bows were reinforced: the internal side (belly) with glued on bone, antler, later – horn laminations, and back was reinforced with layers of sinue. The sort of wood depended on trees available in a given region. In some regions the material of choise was bamboo which is not wood but grass, or in some special cases – Damascus steel.

Historical shapes of bows:

a) straight

b) straight with horn tips

c) with two bends

d) asymmetric

e) with double tip bend

f) with four bends

g) triangular

h) triangular with the grip

Historical bows:

Primitive bows:

Early Egyptian bow

English longbow

Danish bow (Holmegaard bow)

North Native American short bow

Amazon Native American long bow

Indian steel bow

Pigmy bow

Composite bows:

Mongolian bow

Chinese bow

Korean bow

Russian bow

Indo-Persian bow

Hungarian bow

Hun bow

Skythian bow

Turkish bow

North Native American composite bow

Inuit bow

Japanese Yumi

Assyrian triangular bow

Modern bows:

Recurve bows:

Recurve (Olympic) bows

Modern traditional bows:

Recurve bows (Field bows)

Modern longbows (American flatbows, semiindian bows)

Compound bows:

With cams on the top of limbs.

With cams on the base of limbs.


So called primitive bows are historical bows, made of a solid homogenous material; mostly of single branch of a tree, or carved from splited trunk, when heartwood part is left for bow’s belly, and sapwood or the white – for the back.


Short bows are such primitive bows, which length is up to 1,5 m. Their efficiency due to short draw length was low. They wer good enough for hunting, but on the battle field were pushed out by longbows and composite recurves. Arrow, casted from short bow (regardless their poundage) barely reached 100 meters distance.


These are primitive bows, which are over 1,5 m and up to 2 m long (sometimes over 2 m). their length allows to draw bow string more – to the face (this is important for more precissin in auiming) or to the ear. The longest arrow flight distance could reach long bow is 340 m.


It is supposed that English intercepted longbows from Welch, who used such bows both for huntingg and war against invader of British islands: first Saxons and later Normans. Welch bows were man height long, which is equal to both hands span. They usually were made of elm or ash wood. Longbows were most widelly applied during Hundred Yars’ War (1337-1453 m.). The best longbows were made of yew, which was specially grown in England. But the best quality yew was from Itally an Spain. The shape of longbow is wery simple: it is the stick, which gradually tapers from the center towards both ends with notches for bow string. Later, because yew wood is soft, were introduced more solid notches cut in glued on cow horn tips. The seccion of most english longbows was D shape, where the flat part is on the bow’s back side and round part on the belly. According to extant longbows, elevated from sunk XVI century Mary Rose ship, the poundage of English longbows was from 60 to 180 pounds (27 – 81 kG). However it is not 100% clear if all of them are finished bows or just billets to be shortened and thinned in future.


Steel bows formally are primitive bows – they are made of single homogenous material. The steel is Wootz steel (Damascus steel). Such bows were mostly used in XV – XVII century India. Their shape repeats the shape of asiatic composite recurves, and thay could be of similar characteristics. Usually they were richly decorated with engravings and inlays. Such bows were used used by nobility.


Composite bows, as a general rule, consist of wooden (or bamboo) core laminated with two horn strips (for each limb) on a belly side. Limds are short and flat, at the ends there are stiff curved syah’s, whish are glued in. Wooden grip is glued i the middle and all details on the back side are covered with bundles of sinue. Bow then is covered with birch bark (lacquered silk threads, leather, pergament, silver foil) to protect it from moisture and excessive drying out. Such bows because of their construction are about 30% more efficient than longbows. Greater arrow velocity is obtained by using several times more compression and tension resistant materials. Therefore deformations of bow’s belly and back materials store more energy required to cast the arrow. As a rule – limbs of such bows are bent outside (away from the belly side), some of them so much, that unbraced bow in rest position is of C shape, or even forms the ring. This creates (when braced) quite greate primal tensuion of the bow string. To brace bow of such extreme reflex is impossible without a special device. The syahs of the bow serve as acclerators and play the same role as cams on cam bows, i.e. they allow to draw the bow more, and at the miment of shot they sharply decrease the effective operating length of the bow string, herewith increasing it’s velocity. These constructive emprovements allow high deformation of bow’s limbs no primitive selfbow would withstand.

In Central Europe – Hungary composite bows are found at X century burials and are the result of longlasting contacts with their allies – Huns. In Western Europe such bows appear (as we can judge from iconography) after first Crusades to Palestine. In so called Maciejowski Bible, dated to XIII century and richly illustrated with miniatures depicting daylylife of period France, we can se composite bows.

Bas-relief of capital from XIII century Prussian Marienwerder castle’s (now Kwidzyn in Poland) hearth collumn depicts Lithuanian warrior shooting with such bow. Most probably they could reach Lithuania from neighboring Rus lands and with here Tartars and Crimean Caraite settlers, later during war against Turks. Exceptional are Japanese Yumi. They are sandwich glued from bamboo and some wood strips. Another distinguishing feature of Yumi is it’s asymmetry – their lower limb is 1/3 shorter than top limb.

In the picture we can se Chinese bow bracing with the help of teplik device (this is as well as syah is the Turkish term), though the bow of such small reflex could be braced without it. On the ground we can se another bow, second teplik jig and ropes used tu tie tepliks to bow limbs. Highly reflex dows were left strung for longer time. In the case of bowstring brackage during battle or hunt, such bow was impossible to string.

In the picture we can clearly see bamboo core with the crack (which was the cause of brackage of this bow) cowered with two layers oof sinue. At the bottom side (belly) – dark horn strip. Everything is glued together with so called fish glue boild from fish air-bladders (Sturgeon was the best one).

Turkish bow                                      Mongolian bow                                 Hun bow

Chinese bow                                                      Japanese Yumi

Assyrian bow

Compound bows wiyh cams at the limb base                  Compound bows

Archery styles and methods

Short bow

As long as lenghth of the bow doesn’t allow the longer draw, such bows were drawn only up to the archer’s chest as it is seen in the Bayoux tapestry (shooting this way, fair precission of the shot at the greater ranges is hardly expected, and short draw doesn’t make possible storing greater amount of energy in the bow limbs, which is necessary for long shot. Another method: when string hand is drawn at a face level but not reaching it (usually at mouth or eye hight). This method is far more accurate and was used for hunting where precise shooting is essential. The bow string is being held in Mediterranean way, i.e. using three fingers and arrow between index and other two fingers. Native Americans alongside with this method used another one, when arrow is pinched between thumb and index finger and other two – hooked below the arrow on the bow string. Shooting without fingertips hooked on the bowstring and only pinching arrow nock is possible only when the bow is of very low poundage (this way usualy arrows being shot by kids, some African tribes use this way when taking game at very short range with poisoned arraows). Arrow been placed at the right side of the bow while resting on the thumb or between index and middle finger, or at the left side, near the knucle of index finger. Such bows suited to both right and left hand archers.


While shooting longbows, bowstring is being drawn up to the face, mostly at the mouth level (maximal draw – when string hand travels behind the archer’s ear). Bowstring is hooked in Mediterranian style. In Europe bowstring hand usually was protected by glove. Amazon Indians shoot their longbows in similar way as did some North American nations – holding arrow nock with fingers (their arrows are made of cane and got now noch at all). Arrow being placed at the left side near the knucle of indefx finger. Such bows suited to both right and left hand archers.

Asiatic composite bow (long asiatic draw)

Most of nations who employed such bows as: Chinese, Koreans, Mongols, Tartars, Turks, Persians do not hold the arrow and only a thumb is hooked under the arrow nock. Special ring made of horn, bronze, or semiprecious stones is used to protect the thumb. Japaneze shoot their Yumi in similar way but instead of ring they use threefingered r fourfingtred glove, which protects thumb, index and middle (and ring) fingers. Arrow is being placed at the right side of the bow while resting on the thumb. Bowstring – drawn to the string hand shoulder (Yumi draw is even longer). Such bows suited to both right and left hand archers.

Modern Olympic bow

The draw is quite similar like shooting with the longbow. Bowstring being held in Mediterranian way and drawn up to the face. As long as shooting in this style archer aims with the help of the sight (which must be at the eye level), he places bowstring hand palm under the jaw. Clicker – special flat spring, ensures draw length concistency: it holds arrow’s front part against the bow riser and “clicks” when arrow tip at a full draw slides off. This is the signal that required draw length is reached and it is time to loose the arrow. The arrow lays on the special arrow rest in a “window” cut in the bow riser. String hand protection is archery tab. Left hand bows are being used by archers who’s left eye is dominant (one eye sighting), or left handed ones.

Compound bow

Shooting is being performed in similar way to Olympyc style. Difference is that bowstring is held not directly but with the help of various types of mechanical release aids. However it is possible to use a modified Mediterranian finger release depending on either one uses bow sight or not.

Foot bow

South American tribes fought in such way when loosing arrows to their enemies. The archer, while laying on his back, places his feet on the bow handle and pulls bowstring with his both hands. In this case the bows with extremelly high poundage can be used. In modern days this maethod is used for flight archery as one of the shooting styles.