Handicaps (Balancing skill)



The difference between “handicapping” and “putting people off”.

Everyone is aware of golf handicaps (other than the biggest handicap of actually being a golfer)! Well, we have the same sort of system in archery. Apologies for the dryness of this subject but its pretty hard to find much to make it lighter.

An archery handicap is a number between 0 and 100 indicating the ability of an archer. Essentially the lower the handicap the better the archer. Obviously the lower the number, the better you have to score to get to that level. Every archer should have an outdoor handicap and an indoor handicap for each bow style they shoot.

Handicap tables are produced by Archery GB which gives a handicap for every possible score for every round irrespective of the archer’s age, gender or the bow style used. The club Records Officer should have a copy of the latest handicap tables. They can use these to calculate a member’s handicap figure. (These are Copyright D Lane 2001 so we don’t have the tables as downloads for you. Sadly, you need to buy them.  Link below if you are interested in your own copy in a nice AGB binder). HOWEVER … Crystal Palace Bowmen have a page on their website where they have recreated the handicapping tables in an easy to use format if you want to work out your own .. unofficially ;o). The tables can be found here.

The archery handicap system has three uses:

1. It helps archers to monitor their progress
2. Enables scores to be compared between different rounds.
3. Enables archers of different abilities to compete on equal terms.

Calculating Handicap

Calculating a handicap is the same for both indoors/outdoors and is simple maths.

Initial Handicap:
For archers without a handicap their initial figure is the average of the handicaps for the first three official rounds recorded. All handicaps are quoted in whole numbers and the average must ALWAYS be rounded up to the nearest whole number.

For example, if an archer shoots 3 outdoor rounds the scores of which have handicaps of 63, 70 and 69 then the initial handicap is 68 (63+70+69=202 then 202÷3=67.33 which you round up to 68). Easy Peasy!

During a Season:
Once an archer has established a handicap it can be improved after each round shot. If a round is shot with a score at least 2 handicap points better than their current figure, then the archer’s new handicap will fall since its the average of the current handicap and the handicap for the round just completed. As with the initial handicap, this MUST BE rounded up to the nearest whole number. Note: a handicap can never go up during a season.

For example:
• An archer with a handicap of 68 shoots a score rated as a 70, the handicap stays at 68 (68+70=138. 138÷2=69, handicap’s don’t increase so it stays the same)
• An archer with a handicap of 68 shoots a score with a handicap value of 65, the handicap becomes 67 (68+65=133. 133÷2=66.5, round up = 67)
• An archer with a handicap of 68 shoots a score ranked 61, the handicap becomes 65 (68+61=129. 129÷2=64.5, round up = 65)

Using Handicaps in Competition

Handicaps can be used to enable archers of all standards to compete against each other. Just a noob but you’re competing against a scottish champion? No problem if its a handicapped competition! This is achieved by adding a certain number of points onto an archers score at the end of the round to balance out the difference in skill. The lower an archer’s handicap, the fewer points get added to his score. This adjusted total will be 1440 for everyone IF they all shot to their handicap level. The winner is the archer with the most points after the handicap has been taken into account ie shot to their skill level or better. This means that a beginner could actually beat the world champion in a handicap match IF the beginner shot better than their handicap and the world champion only shot to his handicap.

example: Using the values found in the handicapping tables, in a handicapped competition (lets say an indoor Bray 1 recurve), our newer archer with the handicap of 68 calculated above would add (according to the AGB tables) 1329 to their score. They shoot a 106, very close to their handicap predicted score of 111, meaning their final adjusted score was 1329+106=1435. The club hotshot has a handicap level of 26. He gets to add 1168 from the tables to his score of 262 = 1430. When compared the newer archer has beaten the club hotshot – 1435 beats 1430. Reason being the newer archer shot closer to their handicap level than the hotshot.

Again all this information is in the handicapping tables which unfortunately requires you to buy the AGB Rules of Shooting if you want to get your hands on physical copies. Hopefully there will be a copy in your club (somewhere) although the chances of this improve significantly if you have a records officer. Alternatively use the Crystal Palace Bowmen’s link.