Archery Equipment

You’ve taken lessons and are interested in getting your own equipment, what do you need to know? First, you need to know what kind of archery you plan to do, and what type of bow best serves that purpose. It is important to understand that there are many types of bows and different types of archery.

How will you practice archery?

You may be interested just for fun, shooting at tournaments, or hunting. You might even want to experiment and try some different things. Shooting arrows at paper circles or at tree stumps can become boring fast, so here are the main types of archery.

Target Archery

Target archery

According to World Archery, the governing body of our sport, target archery is the discipline of shooting at stationary circular targets set at specific distances. Standard competition distances are 70 metres for recurve and 50 metres for compound and barebow but can be at distances of up to 90 metres. It is the type used at the Olympic Games, Paralympic Games, and for the compound competitions at the World Games and many major international events. The World Archery Championships, held every two years, is an outdoor target archery tournament, first held in 1931. Variations on the discipline are used for indoor archery and para-archery.

More information on target archery can be found at


Field Archery

Field archery

World Archery defines field archery as the discipline of shooting at stationary circular targets of different sizes set at varying distances, heights, and angles around a course of natural terrain. Distances are between 5 and 60 metres where archers shoot at yellow and black targets and is for recurve, barebow, and compound. The distances can be marked (known by the archer) or unmarked (unknown by the archer). Additional skills to succeed in field archery include judging distance, shooting uphill and downhill, dealing with changing light conditions and challenging terrain. World Archery Field Championships, held every two years, were first held in 1969.

More information on field archery can be found at


3D Archery

3D archery is the discipline of shooting at stationary three-dimensional foam targets in the shapes of different animals that are set at varying distances, heights, and angles around a course. The course can be in natural terrain or indoors and the distances can be marked (known by the archer) or unmarked (unknown by the archer).

Archery Canada provides rules for Field and 3D

Field archery

These forms of archery have categories for different styles of bows. Archery has been around for thousands of years, and bows were developed and used across the world by different cultures. Ancient bow styles and materials such as wood and bamboo are still in use today. Newer materials such as aluminum and carbon, and new technologies such as sights and stabilizers have changed and improved both bows and arrows.

In general, bows can be separated into three main categories:

  1. Traditional
  2. Olympic
  3. Compound

There are several styles in the traditional category, while Olympic and Compound vary mainly by cost.



English/Welsh longbow – a simple looking medieval bow often made of a single yew stave that is a minimum of 6 feet in length. It has no arrow rest, sight, or stabilizers.

Horse bow – a short reflex bow usually made from a composite of woods, successfully used by the light cavalry of the invading peoples from the Central Asian steppe lands.

Recurve bow – either in one piece or with a separate riser, upper and lower limbs, the tips of the bow limbs curve back away from the archer giving it the ‘re-curve’ name.

Flat bow – a bow with non-recurved, flat, relatively wide limbs that are approximately rectangular in cross-section also known as the American longbow.

Recurve bows

Recurve bow

Flat bow

Flat bow


The Olympic recurve bow is the modern evolution of traditional bows that have existed for 1000s of years. With a sight and stabilizers, it has been the bow style used at the Olympic Games since archery was reintroduced in 1972. The rules for the recurve bow have remained largely unchanged since the founding of World Archery in 1931.

Olympic style


A compound bow made of high strength and flexible materials such as carbon fibre, aluminum alloy and fibreglass composites, uses cables and pulleys to bend the limbs. It was developed in 1966 by Holless Wilbur Allen and patented in 1969.

Differences between recurve and compound bows are presented in this video:

Recurve vs Compound Bows –

Compound bow
Recurve equipment

Other equipment you will need:

  • Arrows
  • Arm guard
  • Finger tab or glove (traditional, Olympic)
  • Release (compound)
  • Quiver
  • Stringer (traditional, Olympic)
Compound equipment
The activities of the Kingston Archery Club take place on lands of the Haudenosaunee & Anishinaabe peoples. In the course of engaging in the traditions of archery the Kingston Archery Club and its members endeavour to practice good stewardship of the land.

Contact Info

The Kingston Archery Club
1092 Princess Street
P.O. Box 35032 Kingston Centre
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
K7L 1H2

Email us at:

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