“Badges? We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” Obviously not an archer!

Note: the new AGB classifications system is now out for outdoors. The below is the old system kept for reference. We have rewritten this article and the one on handicapping – Classifications 2023 and Handicapping 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 at least three rounds to gain a classification. There are separate indoor and outdoor classifications for each bow style an archer shoots. 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 taking these factors into account. (More importantly there are badges!!!!)

The outdoor classifications are widely recognised by other archers and tend to be the one that you identify with yourself. The indoor classification have 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 score must be obtained for a given round to qualify for a given classification. The classification tables can be examined here with the  full versions to be found in Archery GB’s Shooting Administrative Procedures. You can work out your own classification or submit your scores to the club Records Officer (in GA this is via Archers Toolbox) and they will work it out for you.

Outdoor Classifications

Classification badgesOutdoor classifications are (the easier to obtained are listed first) 3rd class, 2nd class, 1st class, Bowman (BM), Master Bowman (MB) and Grand Master Bowman (GMB). Juniors can gain Junior Bowman and Junior Master Bowman instead of Bowman and Master Bowman respectively. You can achieve 3rd, 2nd, 1st classes or BM (Bowman) classification at any club shoot or competition. The badges pictured above have to be purchased by yourself from an archery shop … yes, I know, it sounds stupid being able to buy a skill based medal with no checks but we are a classy sport with no score fiddling (…………..JUDGE!) They cost about approximately £2.99. Stocked by Quicks and other archery shops.


My Precious

You can only qualify for Master Bowmen and Grand Master Bowman (see pic left) having submitted 3 scores to Archery GB, from Record Status competitions. These at least AGB do track and are sent to you on receipt of valid authenticated score sheets from qualifying competitions (but make sure you know the process in advance in case you are good enough for an award – I’ve seen people not do the paperwork and lose out!). They are paid for by your annual fees.

To get an idea of the difficulty of getting these classifications they are designed so that only around the top 15% are capable of achieving Bowman, the top 5% are capable of Master Bowman and the top 1% can achieve Grand Master Bowman.

Indoor Classifications

Indoor classifications 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 and 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)

indoor classification badges

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 Classification

Unlike the handicapping tables which are more incremental, you just need to shoot 3, don’t need to be consecutive, rounds in a season in the score range of a particular classification to gain that classification. They don’t even need to be the same round, you can mix and match as long as the score you achieve equals or exceeds the required score. 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. To prevent confusion just think indoor and outdoor. Once you achieve a classification, you never regress to a lower during that year but can improve.

ie: Lets take an example of a senior gentleman shooting recurve for an indoor classification. He is aiming for C class with the scores required for a gents senior Portsmouth being 554, for a WA 18 it’s 518 and for a Worcester it’s 273. During the indoor season he had 3 scores in those competitions exceed the required scores, doesn’t matter which ones nor do they need to be consecutive …. the key is he equalled or exceeded the required score 3 times during the season. As soon as he attains the third required score – hey presto, he’s a C class archer! He retains that classification for the year unless he subsequently shoots 3 B class scores before the end of the season where he would transform into a B class archer.

As noted above, you can find the tables for the various classifications here.

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Image from the Treasure of the Sierra Madre used for meme purposes and no ownership is implied.