I have noticed that FITA does not recognise longbows as an individual bow style for Outdoor Target Archery. Rule 220.127.116.11, relating to "Longbow divisions", is in Book 4, Chapter 9, "Field Archery", but, in the FITA Rule Book 2, "Outdoor Target Archery", there is no mention of longbows in their own right, as a class or division of bow. There is Recurve (7.3.1), Standard Bow (7.3.2), Compound (7.3.3), and that is it. NO LONGBOWS for Outdoor Target Archery.
So, apparently, it is left up to individual countries, to define longbows for Outdoor Target Archery, and, to design and implement their own rules and classifications, relating to longbow archery in Outdoor Target Archery. This results in a lack of international standardisation of rules and classifications, applying to longbow archery in Outdoor Target Archery. The equipment rules below, show a distinct lack of consistency, in rules definitions of longbows .
This omission is probably due to Longbow Archers apparently being regarded as not being serious archers, by FITA, which has an “Athletes' Committee”, which apparently excludes Longbow Archers from being members of the Committee, as shown by the information published about the Committee by FITA, in July 2008.
In further investigating classification of archers by the archery organisations of different countries, I have found the following.
The following is from information obtained from the particular organisations' sets of rules, as viewed on the Internet as at 31 January 2006, and from some other sources.
1) From Rules Book 3 – Competition Regulations, Chapter 8 – Archer's Equipment, effective 01/07/2005
“8.8 Longbow Equipment
Longbow equipment shall comply with the following:
The bow shall be of the traditional longbow or flatbow pattern; straight-laid with a thicker centre section incorporating a handle and, optionally, an arrow shelf. The bow is braced for use by a single bowstring attached directly between the two (2) string nocks only, and in operation is held in one (1) hand by its handle (grip) while the fingers of the other hand draw, hold back and release the string.
The bow may be of self or laminated construction and of any materials and shall be nominally straight when unstrung. When strung the limbs and handle form an arc with no recurve and when unstrung, it may only have a very slight recurve at the very end of the limbs. The bow may incorporate an arrow shelf cut into the handle not more than 10mm deep with respect to the maximum handle cross-section. This arrow shelf may be protected against wear by a single thickness of leather or similar material and the arrow is to be shot from this shelf. No separate arrow rest may be used. The grip is not to be deeply sculptured, that is, it shall not be indented more than 12.5mm with respect to the maximum handle cross-section. It may incorporate a covering of leather or similar material. No sighting aids in the form of attachments to the bow or markings on the bow or string are allowed. No placed point-of-aim ground marks are permitted.
A bow-string may be made up of any number of
strands of the material chosen for the purpose, with a centre
serving to accommodate the drawing fingers. a nocking point
consisting of one (1) or two (2) nock locaters may be added to the
string serving. There may be a loop in each of the two (2) ends of
the bow-string to be placed in the string nocks of the bow when
The serving on the string must not end within the archer's vision at the full draw position. The bow string must not in any way offer aid in aiming through a peep-hole, marking or any other means.
Arrows are to be shot from the fingers using a Mediterranean release only,that is, one (1) finger above and two (2) fingers below the arrow on release.
Arrows of any type may be used provided they
are of uniform length and size, have a shaft that consists
entirely of wood or aluminium, that the fletches are feathers and
that such arrows do not cause undue damage to target faces and
An arrow consists of a shaft with head (point), nock, fletching and if desired, cresting (see Appendix 8C for diagram).
The arrows of each archer shall be marked with the archer's name or initials on the shaft and all arrows used for the same end shall carry the same pattern and colour(s) of fletching, nocks, and cresting (if any). The archer's name or initials shall bee on the shaft in the area of the fletching or in the area which shall be provided by the manufacturer.
Finger protection in the form of finger stalls
or tips, gloves, shooting tab or tape (plaster) to draw, hold back
and release the string, provided they are smooth with no device to
help to hold and/or release the string.
Shooting tabs may be built up of several layers of any materials suitable for their use and allow for the part of the tab behind that used for drawing the string to be stiff using different materials for this build-up (the latter can be leather, plastic, metal, etc). No shapes have been specified and no limitations in respect of sizes set.
A separator between the fingers to prevent pinching the arrow may be used.
An anchor plate or similar device attached to the finger protection is not permitted.
An ordinary glove, mitten or similar may be worn on the bow hand but must not be attached to the grip.
Prescription spectacles, field glasses,
telescopes and other visual aids may be used for spotting arrows
provided they do not represent any obstacle to other competitors
as far placement on the shooting line is concerned
Prescription spectacles or shooting spectacles or sun glasses are permitted. None may be fitted with micro-hole lenses, or marked in any way, which can assist in aiming. the non-sighting eye may be fully covered.
Accessories are permitted such as bracers (arm guards) dress shield (chest guard), belt or ground quiver, tassel and foot markers (which shall not protrude more than 10mm above the ground) a tripod for a scope (providing it does not create an obstacle for any other competitor on the shooting line).
Stabilisers or Torque Flight Compensators (TFC) are not permitted.
Note: The Archery Australia Board met in April 2006, to decide whether to implement proposed changes to the Archery Australia Shooting Rules, which would affect the longbow definition rules, with the changes, if passed, to take effect from 1 July 2006.
As of 30 June 2006, Archery Australia had failed to clarify what rules apply to archery in Australia as from 1 July 2006.
2) Archery Australia Equipment Rules For Longbows as at 01 September 2007
From Chapter 08 of the Archery Australia Shooting Rules, dated 01 September 2007:
“Chapter Eight: Athletes' Equipment
For all specifications relating to athletes equipment, refer to current FITA Articles 7.3, 8.3, 9.3 and any amendments that may be introduced from time to time.
Note: For Outdoor Target and Indoor Target Archery, the specifications for Longbow equipment as detailed in FITA Article 9.3 shall apply, with the exception of Clause 18.104.22.168. In this respect wooden and/or aluminium arrows may be used.
Arrows may be shot using either the Mediterranean release that is, one (1) finger above and (2) two fingers below the arrow, where the fingers above and
immediately below must touch the arrow, or using a thumb ring as per FITA Clause22.214.171.124.”
From the FITA Shooting Rules, Rule 9.3 (Book 4- Field Archery) (FITA Rule 9.3, as mentioned in Archery Australia Shooting Rule 8.1, refers to Longbow Archery; FITA Rules 7.3 (Book 2 - Outdoor Target Archery ) and 8.3 (Book 3 - Indoor Target Archery), as mentioned in Archery Australia Shooting Rule 8.1, exclude Longbow Archery, as FITA does not recognise Longbow Archery in those two archery disciplines), dated 01 April 2008:
“9.3 ATHLETES' EQUIPMENT
This article lays down the type of equipment athletes are permitted to use when shooting in FITA competitions. It is the athlete’s responsibility to use equipment which is in accordance with the rules. If in doubt the athlete will show this equipment to the Judge(s) before using it in competition.
Any athlete found to be using equipment contravening FITA Rules may have his or her scores disqualified.
Described below are the general regulations that apply to all divisions followed by the special regulations that apply only to certain divisions.”
“126.96.36.199 Longbow divisions:
The bow will correspond to the traditional form of a long bow which means that when strung the string may not touch any other part of the bow but the string nocks. The bow may be made from any type of material or combination of material. The shape of the grip and the limbs are not restricted. Center shot is allowed.
188.8.131.52.1 For Juniors and Women the bow will not be less than 150cm in length, for men the bow will be not less than 160cm in length – this length being measured between the string nocks.”
“9.3.2 Bow String:
A bowstring of any number of strands.
184.108.40.206 All divisions:
The string strands may be of different colours and of the material chosen for the purpose. The string may have a center serving to accommodate the drawing fingers, a nocking point to which may be added serving(s) to fit the arrow nock as necessary, and to locate this point, one or two nock locators may be positioned, and at each end of the bowstring a loop to be placed in the string nocks of the bow when braced.”
“220.127.116.11 Barebow and Longbow divisions:
The serving on the string must not end within the athlete’s vision at full draw. The bowstring must not in any way assist aiming through the use of a peephole, marking, or any other means. No lip or nose mark is permitted.”
“9.3.3 Arrow rest:”
“18.104.22.168 Longbow division:
If the bow has an arrow shelf that shelf may be used as an arrow rest. It may be covered with any type of soft material. No other types of arrow rests are allowed.”
“9.3.4 Draw check indicator:”
“22.214.171.124 Barebow and longbow divisions:
No draw check device is permitted.”
“9.3.5 Bow sight:”
“126.96.36.199 Barebow and longbow divisions:
No sight or nor sightmark(s) on the bow that help aiming are allowed;
For barebow face and string walking is permitted.”
“9.3.6 Stabilizers and Torque flight Compensators:”
“188.8.131.52 Longbow division:
No weights, stabilizers or torque flight compensators are allowed.”
“184.108.40.206 Longbow division:
Only wooden shafts are allowed.
220.127.116.11.1 The following restrictions apply:
• The points will be the field type meant for wooden arrows;
• Only natural feathers will be used as fletching.”
“9.3.8 Finger and Hand Protection:
18.104.22.168 All divisions:
Finger protection in the form of finger stalls or tips, gloves, or shooting tab or tape (plaster) to draw, hold back and release the string is permitted.
22.214.171.124.1 The following equipment is permitted:
• A separator between the fingers to prevent pinching the arrow;
• On the bow hand an ordinary glove, mitten or similar item may be worn but must not be attached to the grip of the bow.”
“126.96.36.199 Recurve, Barebow and Longbow divisions:
188.8.131.52.1 The following restrictions apply:
• Finger protection must not incorporate any device to hold, draw and release the string.
184.108.40.206 Longbow division:
In addition to what is allowed for all divisions, thumb rings are allowed – provided they do not incorporate any device to hold, draw and release the string. When shooting one finger must touch the nock of the arrow.
220.127.116.11.1 The following restrictions apply:
• An anchor plate or similar device attached to the finger protection (tab) for the purpose of anchoring is not permitted..”
“9.3.9 Scopes, spectacles, field glasses / binoculars:
18.104.22.168 All divisions:
Field glasses, telescopes and other optical aids may be used for spotting arrows
22.214.171.124.1 provided they do not represent any obstacle to other athletes at the shooting peg.
126.96.36.199.2 Prescription spectacles, shooting spectacles and sunglasses may be used.
188.8.131.52.3 None of these may be fitted with micro hole in lenses, or similar devices, nor may they be marked in any way that can assist in aiming.
184.108.40.206.4 The spectacle glass of the non-sighting eye may be fully covered or taped, or an eye patch may be used.
On the unmarked Field, Forest and 3D rounds none of the above is permitted to have any kind of range finding device or equipment (e.g. scales) incorporated or attached.”
220.127.116.11 All divisions:
18.104.22.168.1 The following accessories are permitted, such as:
• Bracers (arm guards), dress shield, bow sling, belt or ground quiver and tassel. Foot markers may not protrude more than 1cm from the ground. Also permitted are limb savers, lightweight string material on the bow or stabilizer as a wind indicator.”
“9.3.11 For athletes of all divisions none of the following equipment is permitted:
22.214.171.124 Any electronic communication device, or headsets in front of the waiting line on the practice field, and at any time on the field course.
126.96.36.199 On unmarked Field, Forest and 3D courses any type of range finders or any other means of estimating distances or angles not covered by the current rules regarding athletes' equipment.
188.8.131.52 Any part of an athlete’s equipment that has been added or modified to serve the purpose of estimating distances or angles, nor may any regular piece of equipment be used explicitly for that purpose.
184.108.40.206 Any written memoranda or electronic storage device that may be used for calculating angles, and distances apart from notes of the athlete’s normal sight marks, the recording of the present personal scores or any part of the FITA Rules.”
Dated January 2005.
There are two types, English Longbows and American (or Flat) Longbows.
15.1 English Longbow Description
(i) The bow is made entirely of wood with no fibreglass, carbon fibre or metal inserts.
(ii) A cross section of the bow is a “stirrup” or D formation, with the back of the bow flat or slightly convex and the belly of the bow rounded. The sides of the bow are to be convex.
(iii) A men's bow will not be of less than 66 inches in length (from nock to nock) at a draw length of 24 inches or more.
(iv) A women's bow will be not less than 60 inches in length (from nock to nock) at a draw length of up to 28 inches.
(v) There shall be no means of sighting on the bow. This includes pencil marks, rubber rings, tape, pins, etc. Neither shall there be any obvious addition to the string such as a kisser or built up part of the centre serving. No form of stabilisation is permitted.
(vi) Bows may be made from any number of wood laminations.
(vii) Bamboo is accepted as a proper lamination.
(viii) The bow need not have horn nocks fitted to each end.
(ix) Bow strings may be of any suitable material.
(x) The handle of the bow may be bound in cloth, leather or plastic but must not be built out to form an arrow shelf.
(xi) Bows shall bear no more than the maker's name/design, bow weight, bow length and serial number and these marking (sic) are permitted only on the back of the bow and not on the belly.
(xii) Arrows must be shot from the bow hand and any other form of arrow rest is strictly illegal.
(xiii) Elevated platform tabs shall not be permitted.
(xiv) All arrows shot from the English Longbow must be of wood and fletched with feathers. Plastic nocks are permitted.
15.2 American (or Flat) Longbow Description
(i) The bow is made of wood, which can be encapsulated in fibreglass or have fibreglass inserts but does not include metal strips.
(ii) The cross section of the bow is square or rectangular with the back, belly and sides flat.
(iii) There shall be no bow height or arrow length restrictions for women or men.
(iv) There shall be no means of sighting on the bow. This includes pencil marks, rubber rings, tape and pins etc. Kissers and obviously built up sections of the centre serving are not permitted. No form of stabilisation is permitted.
(v) Bows may have an arrow shelf but only one that is created by the junction of the handle and a center line 'cut out' of no more than three quarters of an inch.
(vi) Any number of wood types and laminations are permitted.
(vii) The bow may be deflexed at the tips but a full recurve tip is not permitted.
(viii) Elevated platform tabs are not to be used.
(ix) Arrows must be of wood and fletched with feathers. Plastic nocks are permitted.
15.3 The Release or Loose
The release or loose must be performed with either two fingers below and one above the arrow nock, or one finger above and one finger below the arrow nock. String walking and/or face walking are not permitted.
(i) Wherever three or more archers shoot in each of the English Longbow and American Longbow sections, awards are awarded to the highest scorer in each section.
(ii) Whenever fewer than three archers shoot in each of the English or American Longbow sections, a single award will be made to the highest overall scorer in both sections.
(iii) The winner of the English or American Longbow competition shall be the person achieving the highest score not the highest number of hits.
(iv) These rules apply to all competitions shot under the jurisdiction of Archery New Zealand.
From the GNAS Rules of Shooting – Part 2 Bowstyles
dated April 2004
(a) Bow. The bow shall be the traditional longbow made from wood, either “self”, “backed”, or “laminated” with cambered (stacked) belly and horn nocks. It shall not be less than five feet in length for an arrow of less than 27 inches and; not less than five feet six inches in length for a 27” or longer arrow, this being measured along the back between the string nocks. At no point shall the depth of the bow, measured from back to belly, be less than 5/8 (five eighths) of the width of the bow at the same section. The bow may carry no support for the arrow. Bows of bamboo, constructed in conformity with the above, shall be permitted.
(b) String. Strings may be either natural or man-made substance, and may, if desired, embody a “kisser” at any point as required to facilitate a consistent draw position, but for no other purpose.
(c) Sights and Points of Aim. Sights, as such, are not permitted but one of the following may be used:
(i) Marks on the bow limb.
(ii) Rubber bands of no more than 1/8” in depth and thickness.
(iii) Artificial points of aim on the ground, provided they do not exceed a height from the ground of 6 inches or a diameter of 3 inches nor impede any other archer.
(d) Arrows. Arrows shall have wooden steles (shafts), shall be fitted with feather fletchings, and may have either horn-reinforced, self or applied nocks. There is no limit to the maximum shaft diameter. Piles shall not exceed the diameter of the shaft at the point of fitment. Shouldered plates, whilst not disallowed, should be avoided because of excess damage to targets. Arrows shall be properly marked, so that there shall be no difficulty in claiming them.
(e) Hand Protection
(i) Finger protection in the form of finger stalls or tips, gloves, or shooting tab or tape (plaster) to draw, hold back and release the string is permitted, providing that such protection does not incorporate any device to hold, draw and release the string.
(ii) A separator between the fingers to prevent pinching the arrow and/or a platform tab may be used. An extension so as to provide a greater angle, prior to release, other than that achieved by the use of a normal tab, glove or other form of finger protection, is not permitted.
(iii) On the bow hand an ordinary glove, mitten or similar item may be worn but shall not be attached to the grip.
“National Traditional Championships Equipment and Shooting Rules
I. At least two equipment divisions will be made
(Note: there are now 3 divisions counting the "Traditional
a) "traditional longbow"--all--wood British longbows/American flatbows without arrow rests/shelves;
b) "modern longbow"--longbows made with fiberglass or other "modern" man-made materials and other longbows with arrow rests or shelves.
c) "traditional recurve" -- Recurve bows with wood handles or risers.
II. All competitors must shoot wood arrows.
III. Binoculars and spotting scopes are not permitted.
IV. Specific equipment rules:
A. General Rules
1. Longbow - is defined as a wood bow without recurve in the limb tips, (i.e., the string must not rest on the upper or lower limb but rather must contact the bow only at the string nocks.)
2. Stabilizers or counterweights, or bows built up to serve the same function will not be allowed.
3. Protruding bow sights will not be allowed. However a movable band/"o-ring" or rubber band on the bow limbs will be permitted as long as this band is no larger than 1/8th inch wide or high. An alternative allowed sighting method is the moveable "Point-of-Aim" on the ground. This cannot exceed a height of 6" above the ground or be larger than 3" in diameter.
4. No cusion plungers or similar mechanical or metal apparatus shall be used. However, the side of the bow where the arrow comes in contact with it may be built out slightly with a leather pad.
5. Arrows will be of wood and fletched with feathers.
Points shall be of a type that will not inflict undue damage to target faces or buttresses. Arrows shall be identical in length, weight and color, except for normal wear. Point weight may be of any value and is not restricted to 125 grains.
6. Finger protection in the form of finger stalls or tips, gloves, shooting tab or tape (plaster) is allowed to draw, hold back and release the string, providing it does not incorporate any device to help in holding, drawing and releasing the string. (For example, mechanical releases or hooks are not permitted.) A separator between the fingers to prevent pinching the arrow may be used. On the bow hand an ordinary glove, mitten or similar item, may be worn.
B. Traditional Longbow Division Rules:
1. British Longbow or American flat all wood bows without arrow rests, shelves or center shot cut shelves are used in this division.
The bow may be laminated, but no man-made materials (beyond glue) may be used as backing or in other layers of the laminate.
2. Horn string nocks are not required.
3. Fast flight or other similar newer type (limited stretch) strings (except Dacron) are not allowed.
C. IBO and NFAA "modern" longbow Division Rules:
1. Longbows made with fiberglass laminates or other "modern" man-made materials are allowed in this division.
2. Arrow rests, shelves and center shot cut shelves are also allowed.
Traditional Recurve Division Rules:
1. Recurve bows with wood handles or risers are allowed in this division. Limbs may be wood or laminated with fiberglass or other “modern” man-made materials.
2. Arrow rests, shelves and center shot cut shelves are also allowed.
From all of the above, it is clear that, in shooting a longbow in outdoor target archery, in any of these four countries, under the rules of the national archery organisation, the same longbow cannot be used in any other country.
And, the longbow that I use, is a 76” longbow, with no handle, but a mark cut into the bow, to indicate where to put the bow hand, and no arrow shelf or arrow rest, and it is made of wood, with a linen backing. The bow is about as traditional as they come, and was made in the USA, but it would not be allowed to be used in the USA, in the Traditional Longbow Division, as it has the linen backing, so would be only eligible for the Modern Longbow Division, shooting against synthetic bows, including possibly steel longbows, with arrow rests allowed. And, the USA allows sights on the bow, in the form or rubber bands, and, ground-mounted sighting devices that are not allowed in Australia. The bow does not have horn nocks, so cannot be used in the UK, where they also allow sighting devices as in the USA. As my bow has a D shaped cross section, and is not a flat bow, it would come under the English Longbow definition in New Zealand, but, having the linen backing, is eliminated from that definition, as it is not “made entirely of wood”.
So, my longbow, made in the USA and sold as a traditional English longbow style, is not allowed to be used in any of the four countries above, other than Australia.
The model of my bow is described at http://www.woodbows.com/warbow.html .
Due to the lack of standardisation of outdoor target archery equipment definitions applying to longbows and longbow equipment, between the above four countries, as shown above, it is clear that there is no such thing as international longbow archery, under the authority of the national archery organisations.
This needs for FITA to implement acceptable, standardised international definitions of longbows and longbow equipment, for outdoor target archery.
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This web page was last updated on 15 July 2008