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16 Different Types of Archery – Carefully Explained for Beginners

types of archery
Written by Catherine Weeks
Last Update: August 11, 2023

If you are new to the game of archery, going through this article will increase the level of your knowledge and mastery. In a short while, you will learn about all types of archery in demand and the archery bows that are commonly used. Going through this article will also inform you about the stack difference between flight, 3D, Ski, Clout, and Target archery.

Different Types of Archery

Different Types of Archery

Archery can be carried out with either a recurve, longbow, or compound. Aside from the bowhunting, there are other types of archery like traditional archery, 3D target archery, field archery, and many more. In most cases, the archer aims and shoots at different archery targets for amusement.

1. Traditional Archery

A longbow, self bow or recurve bow can serve as traditional archery. Though people have different opinions about traditional archery, to some, it’s about shooting a longbow or a recurve bow without the use of a bow sight or a stabilizer or any form of equipment. The process is also known as barebow.

Types of Archery - Traditional Archery

Some think that traditional areal consist of arrows and bows alone that are designed with natural wood with an additional feather at the end that allows fletchings.

Traditional archery is designed to cover a maximum distance of 20 -30 yards, although the distance also varies depending on the rules of each club.

2. Kyudo

The word Kyudo means “The path of the bow.” Kyudo is a form of martial art that is focused on the bow. This act of archery is practiced for spiritual and physical development, its principle is based on Kyujutsu (which means ‘Art of archery’) and is founded from the samurai class based in Japan.

Archers who practice Kyudo use the Yumi bow. The bow is designed to have an approximate height of 2 meters. The bow can be crafted out of bamboo, leather, or wood.

Types of Archery - kyudo archery

3. Crossbow Archery?

Crossbow archery is a form of archery governed by (IAU) an international Crossbow Shooting Union, with an intercontinental championship across all forms of disciplines like Match and Field. The match Competition explains a target competition that covers over 10 meters to 30 meters.

The difference in crossbow archery is linked to that of field archery. But it requires competitors to focus on different target elevations. Some common bow uses for cross archery are crossbows, crowbars, and compound bows.

Types of Archery- Crossbow Archery?

4. Archery? Tag

This is a contemporary way to shoot up enemies with bows and arrows without causing serious damage. Archery tag involves the use of specially designed arrows that are built with foam heads. The archers wear arm guards, protective headgear. Fiberglass is the most recommended bow.

Archery? Tag

5. Target Archery (Indoor and Outdoor)

Target archery is one of the major archery types, mainly featured during the Olympics games. The game can be practiced both outdoors and indoors.

Target archery appears to be easier to set up in an outdoor/indoor environment within any space of target range. This type of archery involves its practitioner firing an arrow toward a target that is stationary and has a goal or bull-eye in the center. There are various kinds of archery bows available depending on the type you’re interested in.

Different Types of Archery - Target Archery

6. 3D Target Archery

The 3D target archery is generally used for outdoor activities, but in some cases, where the facility appears to be large enough, the game can be played indoors. In most cases, shooters can choose the longbow, a compound, or a recurve.

The 3D Target archery is used to target 3D animals like alligators, deer, turkeys deer, etc.

Types of Archery - 3D Target Archery

7. Field Archery

This type of archery is very similar to 3D archery but only differs in the use of targets. Paper targets or bag targets are mostly used. Most archers prefer using compound bows while others longbow or recurve.

Types of Archery - Field Archery

8. Target Archery

This is a strictly timed event. You can either choose to use a recurve bow, longbow, bare bow, or compound bow. Its targets are designed to be round and large and are rightly positioned at a specific distance that ranges from 45 to 95 meters (approximately 40 to 100 yards). This can be done outdoors or indoors.

Types of Archery - Target Archery

9. Bowhunting

Bowhunting involves the use of arrows and bows to hunt down game animals. It can be carried out with any type of bow, regardless of its shape or size. The use of a primitive bow will demand more skill, as hunting with a bow can often be more daunting than it is with a rifle.

Types of Archery - bow hunting

10. Bowfishing

Bowfishing appears to be funfair archery for those folks who love angling and hunting. Bowfishing can be carried out with any bow; all you will need is to create a setup that is similar to a reel or rod.

The arrow has a unique line attached directly to any arrow with a barbed hook on one part.  Once you spot and shoot at the target (fish), it is automatically reeled. You can also purchase an already-made bow or set your own bow for the hunt.

Types of Archery - Bow fishing

11. Mounted Archery

Mounted archery is a special style of archery designed specifically for those who love challenges. It involves shooting at a specific target while galloping on a horse. To be effective in this act can most time be very daunting because it requires it requires training yourself and the horse, to get effective.

Each target has a specific point that is marked out to signify a specific value. A winner is identified whenever a participant finished with some points in the game.

Types of Archery – Mounted Archery

12. Ski Archery?

The biathlon is a cross-country track system that is grouped into round shooting with a rifle on a specific target, and a failure to strike the target can lead to a one-time penalty. The ski archery is pretty similar to the biathlon contest, but this time the rifle it been replaced with arrows and bows.

It is basically 8 km long for women and 12 km for men and the contestants are required to shoot out four arrows at every four and a half kilometer from a kneeling spot.

Types of Archery – Ski Archery?

Every participant is required to carry their bow behind their back. The target is positioned 18m from each archer and has a diameter of 16 centimeters. An archer strike is either considered a miss or a hit.

Once a strike is considered a miss, the archer is required to ski a circuit of 350 meters as a penalty before departing from the targeted position.  Any participant who successfully makes a cross above the line is considered a winner.

13. Flight Archery

Flight archery involves shooting off arrows to fly over a given distance without any specific target. The game is done outdoors in an open field to gain access to a wider range of distances. You’ll need special types of equipment that have lesser air resistance.

As to this effect, the arrows used in flight archery are specially optimized to travel over a greater range, and each arrow is tapered and short toward each end from its middle. This is designed to decrease weight and reduce air resistance.

Foot bow, compound, crossbow, and traditional are some examples of the bows used in flight archery.

Types of Archery – Flight Archery

14. Run Archery?/Arcathlon

The techniques employed in Run archery is pretty similar to Ski archery, although the contest involves each participant traveling along a course or a distance track. Run archery is a form of ski archery that is done specifically in warm countries.

The course ranges from 5 to 12 kilometer, and each archer is only allowed to make three shooting stops. The bows used are stored in the shooting range, and in some cases, targets are with a target of 16cm with a distance of 18cm from each archer.

Types of Archery – Run Archery

15. Para Archery

Archery is broad and open to everyone. Para archery is especially for those athletes who are physically impaired. The world competition organization has a series of classifications of sports – all are made for different categories of athletes. This is similar to a sport like visually impaired V1/2/3 and Open, W1.

Types of Archery – Para Archery

16. Clout Archery?

Clout archery is pretty related to target archery, although it has a bigger target and is mapped out flat on the ground. It has a flag that is considered as its bull’s-eye. A participant is required to arrow upward toward an arc as its target, causing it to drop as very close to the flag. A perfect scenario for this is the way a golf ball is played. Some examples of bows used in clout archery are crossbows, traditional bows, compound bows, and recurve bows.

All of the above-listed types of archery have their code of conduct and rules that participant must adhere to. If you are still considering which of the archery is available within your area? You can Google out archery clubs or bow shops close to you. Doing this will be one of the easiest alternatives to locate a better spot, have fun, and hook up with fellow archery enthusiasts who share the same value as you.

Types of Archery – Clout Archery?

17. Disabled Archery

As you can guess, disabled or adaptive archery is a great way for people with disabilities to participate in archery. This is a modified version of traditional archery that provides adaptive equipment, techniques, and rules to ensure that the participants with different physical, sensory, or cognitive impairments can engage in the sport safely and effectively.

For instance, they may shoot from a seated or standing position, use devices for stability or aiming, or receive assistance from a guide or support personnel. These types of archery are recognized internationally with competitive events and organizations. Disabled archery is also included in the Paralympic Games and other multi-sport events so the athletes with disabilities can showcase their skills and compete at elite levels.

Types of Archery - Disabled Archery

Different Types of Bows

Although archery was used for hunting and in war for millennia after millennia, it has turned to a recreational activity after the arrival of firearms. Since this sport involves bows and arrows, here’s a quick rundown of the different types of bows and arrows for you.

a) Longbow

Types of Bows - Longbow

Known for its simplicity and power, the longbow is a traditional English bow that originated in the medieval times. It is made from a single piece of wood with a long, straight design.

b) Recurve bow

Types of Bows - Recurve Bow

The recurve bow is named for its distinctive shape where the tips of the limbs curve away from the archer. This design allows for more energy storage and a more efficient arrow release. Recurve bows are commonly used in Olympic archery competitions.

c) Compound bow

Types of Bows - Compound Bow

The compound bow is a modern bow with a system of pulleys and cables that help the archer draw the bow. This mechanical advantage enables you to hold the bow at full draw for longer periods with less effort. They are commonly used in hunting and target shooting.

d) Crossbow

Types of Bows - Crossbow

The crossbow is a unique type of bow that is horizontally mounted on a stock, allowing it to be held and aimed more easily. There is a trigger mechanism to release the string that makes their operation similar to firearms.

e) Composite bow or horsebow

Types of Bows - Composite Bow

Also known as a composite bow, the horsebow is a short recurve bow that was historically used by mounted archers in Central Asia. Designed for use on horseback, these types of bows are compact and highly maneuverable. They are usually made of a combination of materials like wood, horn, and sinew.

f) Traditional or self-bow

Types of Bows - Traditional Bow

Traditional or self-bows are usually made from a single piece of wood without any additional mechanical components. They rely solely on the strength and skill of the archer. These bows can have various designs and are often associated with historical archery or traditional archery practices.

g) Flatbow

Types of Bows - Flatbow

Also known as a longbow in some regions, this simple and straight bow is wider and flatter in profile compared to the longbow. Flatbows are made from a single piece of wood and are known for their efficiency and accuracy.


1. What is the most popular type of archery?

Ans. Target archery is the most popular where archers shoot at a static circular target from different distances. This competition uses all types of bows and can be held both indoors and outdoors. Distances for indoor target archery competitions are 25m or 18m. Outdoor competitions take place from 30m to 90m distances.

2. What’s better recurve or longbow?

Ans. Taller archers find longbows smoother to draw than short bows. Cleverly-designed longbows may perform smoothly, especially when their length matches the draw length of archers. Recurve bows also have a smooth draw but that significantly depends on the bow design.

3. Longbow vs recurve bow: Which is more powerful?

Ans. Recurve bows have more speed and power than longbows. Their accuracy is also better than the longbow types. You will shoot at a lighter draw weight with takedown recurve bows. These bows allow you to buy new limbs when you need to increase the draw weight. This means you can skip buying new bows.

4. What kind of bow is easiest to shoot?

Ans. That should be the recurve bows. People of any age can use them and can find them easily. Shooting with them is also a forgiving experience.

5. What type of bow is the most accurate?

Ans. Recurve bows have better accuracy compared to longbows. The accuracy of longbows ranges from being okay to good but modern recurves are built for accuracy. This is also the reason Olympians only use these bows in the target archery event.

6. Should I start with a recurve or compound?

Ans. Start with bare-bow recurves if you have only begun to learn archery. You will get to learn the history, art, and basics of this sport. You can move onto compound bows once you master the barebow recurve.

About the author

Catherine Weeks

Cathy believes that hunting is not about downing an animal; rather, it’s about enjoying the purity of this challenge and making a connection with nature.

She loves country music, horses, shooting, and hunting; and spends her weekends in the great outdoors with her husband and two kids.

Though Cathy has hunted most of her life, it was not until her partner gave her a bow that she realized she had finally found her passion.

She is always determined to share her missed opportunities, dedication, emotions, and small details that people often forget to mention when they talk about their hunting experiences.

Cathy also works to promote wildlife preservation and protect natural resources. She thinks “patience” is the most important thing that can make a big difference.

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