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Rules & Etiquette on the Archery Range

There are many things that you can’t do on the archery range because it is against the rules.  On the other hand, there are things that you shouldn’t do because of range etiquette.  For the most part common sense can help you do the right thing and avoid having a marshal or another archer expressing their unhappiness towards your actions.  The problem is that common sense works much better if you have some experience level with the situation.  If you are new to SCA shooting you don’t have this experience to draw from.  The following should help you not make someone else part of your learning curve. 

Inspection first!
All shooting equipment must be inspected.  Bows, crossbows, arrows, and bolts must be inspected by an archery marshal (or supervised archery marshal-in-training) before the archer steps to the line.

You should never approach the shooting line until your equipment has been checked.  You can refresh you memory on what equipment is allowed if you are unsure or ask the Target Archery Marshal.

Safety Always

The Archery Marshal has several important goals when they are running the range.  Safety is always first.  Remember that your bow and arrow or crossbow and bolts are in fact a deadly weapon and should be treated as such.  You should call “Hold” anytime you see a unsafe act as well as listen and comply with the Marshal calling “Hold”. 

Hold means hold

If a hold is called you stop what you are doing.  Do not release your arrow.  Unnock you arrow and wait for further instruction.  If you are shooting a crossbow and hold is called keep your finger off the firing trigger, remove the bolt and keep the crossbow pointed towards the ground.

Don’t be a space hog.

A shooting line will be set up with each archer having a minimum or three feet of space on the line.  Your share of the shooting line may only be three feet.  If you turn you bow sideways to put an arrow on it, you have a very good chance of putting your bow tip into the shooting space that belongs to the shooter besides you.  If you then spread out when you stick your arrows into the ground or a ground quiver and then bend or stretch to get one each time you shoot, you once again are probably going to be in the space that belongs to the other shooter beside you. 

Straddle the line.
Know your proper position on the shooting line Archers shall straddle the line. That means one foot behind the line and the other in front of the line.  Prone and seated archers must assure that the point of their projectiles are in front of the line before shooting.

Pay attention and follow all commands of the Target Archery Marshal.

There are several commands or versions of commands that you will hear from the Marshal.  Among these are: 

 “Archers approach the line”.  The Target Archery Marshal will call the archers to the line.  This command is your O.K. to approach the shooting line and to “Straddle the line”

The Target Archery Marshal will look to see if the range is clear and safe. 

The Target Archery Marshal will call out  “Clear down range” and wait a few moments for any responses.  This command is to ensure that no one is out of sight looking for arrows or bolts and is down range in the impact area.

Sometimes the marshal will say “It is clear down range” or “the range is clear” after the first call of “Clear down range”.  This lets the archers and other marshals know that the range is safe to use. 

The Target Archery Marshal may/will say, archers show their readiness by holding a arrow or bolt in the air.  The Target Archery Marshal will look to ensure that everyone is ready, that everyone is in the proper position on the line. 

The Target Archery Marshal will then give you the commands as what you are to do:

Archers may nock and “fire / loose” their bolts/arrows.  The command may be more detailed and say how many arrows you may fire and if it is for practice or score.  A sample command may be “Archers may nock and fire six arrows for score”.  If it is a timed round the Target Archery Marshal will tell you how long you have to do what.

Do not nock an arrow until told to do so.

Never launch an arrow until told to do so.

Do keep distractions on the shooting line to a minimum.

Step Back from the line

Once you have finished shooting you will step back from the line.  This will show the Target Archery Marshal that you are finished or permit another shooter to fill in and shoot from the spot you just left.

Set your bow/crossbow down

What you do with your bow/crossbow after you finishing shooting will depend on the situation.  If there are only a few shooters and no need to fill in sometimes you may be able to lay your bow/crossbow on the line and move back.  If the line is small and other shooters are filling in you need to take your equipment back with you when you leave the line.

Pay attention to where you place your feet and don’t walk on, or stand on someone’s  equipment.  In turn, use lots of common sense to ensure you don’t place your equipment in a position for it to be stood or walked upon.  See how that works. 

Retrieve your arrows/bolts

The Target Archery Marshal will say “Bows down, archers may retrieve their arrows”  Never, ever take your bow or crossbow down range with you.  They should never go beyond the firing line. 

DO pick up any of your arrows lying short of the target.

Only one archer should pull arrows at a time. All others should stand off to the side.

An archer should place one hand on the target face and one hand on the arrow shaft close to the target face when pulling out their arrows. 

DO NOT yank your arrows out, remove them by “worrying” them out.

DO NOT handle anyone’s equipment unless you have asked and received the owner’s permission.

It is not usually proper to ask someone to shoot their equipment.  Serious shooters spend time and money to fine tune their equipment.  You can lose or break an arrow that is part of a matched set that can’t be replaced that easily

Finding someone else’s shaft

If you find someone else’s shaft buried in the grass and decided to pull it out, do it carefully.  Pull it out in the direction it was flying.  This will keep from messing up the fletching any more than necessary.  You may lay it on the ground where you found it, carefully holding it near the point (if the ground is soft) stick it into the ground to be better seen, take it back to the target, or return it to the line.  Whatever method you use, pay attention to how you treat other people’s equipment. 

If you follow the above hints, guidelines and rules you will be safer on the line and your shooting experience should be more fun.