Note: The below is talking about the new AGB classifications introduced 2023.
Archery classifications are a simple shorthand way of identifying how good you are – If you like, what ‘league’ you belong in. Similar to handicaps, you must shoot a number of rounds (which depends on the tier) to gain a classification. There are separate indoor and outdoor classifications however unlike handicaps, classifications take into account an archer’s, gender, age and bow style. They therefore give an indication to an archer’s broad standing in the competitive community in relation to their peers after taking these factors into account. (More importantly there are badges!!!!)
The outdoor classifications are widely recognised by other archers as the more important and tend to be the one that you identify yourself as. The indoor classification have, up till now, been more of a general guide to skill and are only really used to group archers in competitions. As with handicaps, Archery GB produce classification tables which state what scores must be obtained for a given round to qualify for a given classification.
After two years work, a whole new Outdoor classification system was implemented during January 2023 for the 2023 season with new indoor classifications to follow on 1st July 2023.
Outdoor classifications are now split into three tiers. The Archer Tier who constitute a very broad range. From beginners shooting their first rounds to social archers who hunt the odd badge. The Bowman Tier are experienced archers shooting regularly in competitions – from club all the way to national level. Finally the top Tier is Master Bowman. These are the elite competing in national and international shoots. Each of these tiers is subdivided into three. The first two are 3rd, 2nd and 1st class obviously getting progressively harder to achieve. The elites get the nice titles (and we assume classy badges) of Master Bowman, Grandmaster Bowman and Elite Bowman.
Obviously you will be divided by bow type and by gender but a huge change in the new system are the age divisions. There are eight of them. Firmly streaming juniors, seniors, even the more venerable (like our editor ;o) and giving them their own tables and required scores so allowing fairer competition between peers and between age groups.
There are going to be new outdoor badges for Archer and Bowman but at present they are still being designed and will be sold in some archery retailers. The Master Bowman badges will probably continue to be awarded by AGB.
Indoor Classifications (to be replaced 1st July 2023)
Indoor classifications at present are different to the outdoor scheme in that they run from A to H, A being the best. As with outdoor handicaps, classification tables are produced by Archery GB. Three qualifying scores are required before a classification can be obtained. Most regular club recurve archers fall within the D classification with better club recurvers being mainly C class just as a rough guide. If you submit your indoor scores to the GA Records Officer via Archers Toolkit, you will get any classification badge achieved at the end of each month. (First one is free, thereafter we make you pay for getting gud! ;o) This system will be replaced come 1st July 2023 with a new one compatible with the above outdoor approach.
When our editor found out that that there were badges produced for indoor classifications, he was so excited he actually put down his copy of KiSik Lee’s book and smiled! <ok, mibi not smiled but it certainly wasn’t his usual expression>
How to Calculate the new Classification
Unlike the handicapping tables which are incremental, classifications are a little more step based. Depending on the tier, there is a minimum number of arrows required to be shot as part of qualifying rounds (ie the Archer tier requires rounds totalling 12 dozen arrows). They don’t need to be the same round, you can mix and match as long as the score you achieve equals or exceeds the required score for a particular classification. You hold that classification for 1 year. The defined year for indoor classifications is from 1st July to 30th June BUT outdoor is a calendar year (January 1st to December 31st). To prevent confusion just think indoor and outdoor. Once you achieve a classification, you never regress to a lower one during that year but can improve. You can look at the appropriate tables here.
Lets take an example of a senior gentleman shooting recurve for an outdoor classification. He is a a new archer shooting in his first season where he shot in club run events at 70m and two Americans. He scores 427 in the 70m (a Bowman 3rd class). Then shoots 599 and 590 in the Americans (both Archer 1st class). He has exceeded the required score for Archer 1st class three times shooting more than the required 12 dozen arrows (actually 21 dozen). He can now claim the classification Archer 1st class and will retain that for the rest of the year unless he shoots two more Bowman 3rd class scores which would allow him to claim the classification of Bowman 3rd class.
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Worth noting: The new tables have also corrected some of the insanities that came about due to traditionalists demanding 90m/100yrds had to be shot to get higher rankings. With changes to archery in the last 20 years, this led to the Number One compounder IN THE WORLD only being ranked Bowman (the 3rd highest classification available) in the 70m round – the de facto standard competition for the World Cup and the Olympic games!
Image from the Treasure of the Sierra Madre used for meme purposes and no ownership is implied.