When you first walk onto the range having just finished a course, whether that’s a 5-week course or the intensive weekend version, there’s a lot to remember—and a fair bit extra to learn. Suddenly, all of those excellent gold shots you made on the last day of the course disappear and your arrows are wending their way three targets to the left because you can’t remember which way to move your sight or what the hell we were talking about when we explained string pictures.
Which is why I say: don’t worry about your score, especially for the first few sessions. Focus on remembering your stance and set-up and sequencing—that’s the order of steps that you take from planting your feet on the line to releasing your arrow. Focus on getting 3 arrows in more or less the same place on the correct target, and then on moving that group towards the gold.
Eventually, though, your arrows should all be hitting the target relatively consistently. It’s at this point you might consider scoring.
The phrase ‘keeping score’ carries a whiff of competitiveness, but scoring isn’t about beating other people unless you’re actually in a formal competition. Keeping score is about having a numerical value that tracks your progress as an archer. As such, I thoroughly recommend you score yourself every few months. Scoring every time you shoot is frankly boring and can be off-putting because any improvements are likely to be slight, if they’re there at all.
How to score
Scoring is easy. There are loads of different types of competition scoring in archery, but the 2020 club generally uses a standard GNAS Portsmouth round of 60 arrows on a 60cm target face, for a maximum possible score of 600 points. We cover how to score on our beginner courses, but as a refresher, see the following image of one of our Portsmouth scoresheets:
Each end of 3 or 6 arrows should be totalled in the ‘E/T’ (End Total) columns. End scores should be written from highest to lowest (ie, ‘10, 9, 8’ instead of ‘8, 10, 9’). The ‘H’ column tracks the number of hits on the target, the ‘G’ column counts the number of gold hits (the number of 10s), and the ‘IG’ column the number of inner golds (‘X’s). *
Scoring at the club
It is usually possible to do a full Portsmouth in a single club session, along with a couple of ends for practise. The rule is, though, is that you can’t discount any ends from your scoresheet once you’ve started: no sneakily discounting rubbish shots! You should also assign someone to be your target captain, who will make sure you’re not being too generous with arrows that aren’t quite touching the lines and who needs to check your maths at the end of the session. Just ask the nearest club member—they’re usually happy to help and they might ask you to return the favour!
If you want to submit your score to the club, you’ll need to commit to a full 60-arrow Portsmouth round at the full indoor distance and have a target captain sign your scoresheet. Your score will be listed on our internal leaderboard and we might send you a shiny badge if your score is high enough. However, if all you want to do is check your progress, you don’t need to be so strict. We have scoresheets for Half Portsmouths of 30 arrows—just enough to get a good numerical sample.
Scoring with different bows
Do remember that the type of bow and setup you use will dramatically change your scoring potential. Most people shoot either ‘Freestyle’ (recurve plus whatever attachments you like, including a sight) or Modern Recurve Barebow (recurve without a sight), but you might also want to keep score if you shoot traditional bows. Whichever style you choose, make sure you mark your scoresheet appropriately if you submit it to the club, as unmarked scoresheets are defaulted to ‘Freestyle’ on the leaderboards.
And, of course, make sure you keep score if you go and buy a new bow: the biggest jump in your personal best is very likely to be the day you stop using a club bow and buy something tailored to you.