Handicapping 2023



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

Note: The below is for new AGB handicapping system for outdoors released January 2023.

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.

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.

In January 2023, Archery GB produced new tables which give a handicap for every possible score for every round irrespective of the archer’s age, gender or the bow style used (well, recurve, barebow, longbow and compound at least). The new handicapping tables for Outdoor rounds can be found on Archery GB’s website in the document and policy finder tool by using the keyword handicap. The January 2023 tables are to be found here and AGB Explains the new system.

The archery handicap is a number between 0 and 150 indicating the “ability” of an archer. Essentially the lower the handicap value, the better the archer. Obviously the lower the number, the better you have to score to get to that level. Every round shot generates a handicap value and every archer should have an outdoor handicap and an indoor handicap for each bow style they shoot.

Assuming you don’t want to stare at pages of tiny numbers on the above tables while you work out the handicap for a score … two of the guys who created the new system have helpful websites.
ArcheryCalculator has all the calculators and tools required to crunch those scores as well as helpful information on how the scheme works.
ArcheryGeekery has some interesting blog articles getting inside the new system as well as the calculators and tools to help you through the number crunching.
Both sites rock. Thanks guys.

Calculating Handicap

Calculating a handicap is simple maths although its not quite the same as it was in the past so don’t make assumptions if you knew the old system.

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 is rounded DOWN to the nearest whole number. This is a departure from how it was in the past and is taking a little getting used to! (SAP 9.4 If the average handicap rating is not a whole number, it will be rounded down to the next whole number.)

For example, an archer shoots 3 outdoor rounds which need not be the same sort of round. They check each score’s handicap rating on either the AGB table or by using the above websites. Those scores have handicaps of 63, 70 and 69. This gives an initial handicap of 67 … (63+70+69=202 then 202÷3=67.33 which you round DOWN to 67). 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 is rounded DOWN to the nearest whole number. (still struggling to remember!) Note: a handicap can never rise during a season ie get worse. You don’t get a worse handicap because you had a nightmare round.
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 in value, that is to say get worse, so it stays the same)
• An archer with a handicap of 68 shoots a score with a handicap value of 65, the handicap becomes 66 (68+65=133. 133÷2=66.5, round down = 66)
• An archer with a handicap of 68 shoots a score ranked 61, the handicap becomes 64 (68+61=129. 129÷2=64.5, round down = 64)

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 exactly to their handicap level. The winner is the archer with the most points after the handicap has been taken into account i.e. 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 outdoor WA 70m recurve), our newer archer with the handicap of 68 calculated above would add (according to the AGB tables) 1214 to their score. They shoot a 216, very close to their handicap predicted score of 226, meaning their final adjusted score was 1214+216=1430. The club hotshot has a handicap level of 26 predicting a score of 617. He gets to add 823 from the tables to his score of 600 = 1423. When compared the newer archer has beaten the club hotshot – 1430 beats 1423. Reason being the newer archer shot closer to their handicap level than the hotshot (10 points adrift of a 1440 against the hotshot’s 17).

Please be aware the new handicapping system has just been released so there may be some alterations or refinements in the coming days as any rough edges are identified by ranty and whiny archers! ;o)
We will of course update the page if any modifications are needed.

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AGB Explains the new system
Shooting Administrative Procedures …. See SAP 9 for how this works
AGB Tables and Tools for the new system