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Beginner's Courses

Beginner's Courses Our current courses are now fully subscribed for 2019 please re-visit our website in 2020 for details of the next available course. When courses are advertised we recommend snapping up your place as quickly as possible to avoid disappointment.

Class of March 2019 - July '16 - November '15 - July '14 - March '14 - February '14 - October '13
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Forms of Archery

South Wilts Archery Club covers a wide range of archery disciplines; target, field, clout and wand archery. Take a look through the pages of this website to find out more about each!

Target Archery: Alison Williamson's Guide to Olympic Target Archery


Main Types of Bow

Recurve Bow:

This is an example of a recurve bow (right). The basic set up includes a riser (the handle bit in the middle), two limbs (the ends that the bow string attaches to), an arrow rest and a bow string.

When using a bow it is important that you know the length and poundage of the bow.  The poundage refers to how much weight is being pulled when you draw back the bow string to your anchor point. 

With recurve bows the poundage increases according to how far back you draw the string.  The name 'recurve' is due to the ends of the bow curving forwards.

The example on the right is the same bow style as those shot at the olympics! However, you can shoot a recurve without a sight or stabilisation to be classed as barebow


Compound Bow:

A basic compound bow set-up includes a riser, cams (the elliptical wheels at the ends of the riser), an arrow rest and a bow string. The compound bow is designed so that the poundage decreases as you pull back the string; however the force behind the arrows is increased making them faster and therefore improves the accuracy.

Due to the immense pressure being put on the fingers a release aid is often used.  Telescopic lenses and spirit measures can also be attached to the bow to help with accuracy and consistency - here your style would be classed as Unlimited.

In field archery you can shoot a Limited style using five pins acting as sight markers for set distances and without any sight aids for the Bowhunter class. Both these classes would shoot off their fingers!

Please note:
If you wish to shoot a Compound you will need to first complete the beginners course using recurves. You will then need to inform a club coach of your wish to pursue compound archery, they will introduce you to an experienced compound shooter who will mentor you through your first few weeks.

A video on how a compound bow is put together and works can be found HERE


Long Bow:

A long bow is a D-shaped bow roughly the same height as the archer and made from one piece of wood.  It is the sort of bow people associate with Robin Hood and traditional archery. A huge emphasis is put on technique when shooting a long bow as there is no stabilisation, sights or arrow rests.  


There are other styles of bow you can shoot such as the American Flat Bow (AFB), Crossbow, Hungarian or Mongolian.  So there is really a bowstyle there for everyone!

Recognised Competition Classes


The table below gives an indication of which styles can be shot in each Governing Bodies' competitions. This is only intended as a brief guide, full definitions of the range of styles available are listed in the Rules of Shooting for each Governing Body.

Archery GB (formerly GNAS) is the Governing Body covering most forms of archery in the UK, including Target, Clout, and Field; NFAS (the National Field Archery Society) is the Governing Body for the particular form of Field Archery that SWAC does.

Other bows which don't have their own recognised class are shot under the closest class which they comply with, e.g. a Mongolian horse bow may be shot under Hunting Tackle for NFAS, or Recurve Barebow for Archery GB Target.


Bow Style Brief Description Release Method Archery GB NFAS
Primitive Bow and arrows made from natural materials, with wooden arrows shot off the hand (no arrow rest) and no sight Finger release, mediterranean style specified (1 finger above arrow)
Longbow Longbow with wooden arrows Finger release, mediterranean style specified for NFAS
American Flatbow Flat bow with wooden arrows, no sight Finger release, mediterranean style specified Field only
Hunting Tackle Recurve bow with wooden arrows, no sight, no stabilisers Finger release, mediterranean style specified
Recurve Traditional Recurve bow with wooden arrows, no sight, no stabilisers, non adjustable arrow rest Finger release Field only
Recurve Barebow Recurve bow with metal/carbon arrows, no sight, limited stabilisation weights Finger release
Recurve Freestyle Recurve bow with metal/carbon arrows, sight and full stabilisers Finger release
Bowhunter / Compound Barebow Compound bow with no sight, metal/carbon arrows, limited stabiliisation weights Finger release, mediterranean style specified for NFAS Field only
Compound Limited Compound bow with pin or multi-pin sight, metal/carbon arrows Finger release, mediterranean style specified for NFAS Field only
Compound Unlimited Compound bow with scope sight, metal/carbon arrows, Release aid mechanism
Crossbow Crossbow with sight and metal bolts N/A, trigger mechanism