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Brief Explanation of Archery Handicaps

In the UK system, each score is assigned a handicap value between 0 and 100; with better scores having lower handicap values. The category and age group you compete in do not have an effect on what the handicap for a particular score is, (although the same is not true for classifications).


Handicaps allow archers to compare their performance between different rounds, and track their improvement over a season. There are also some competitions which use a handicap-adjusted score, which allow archers with a wide range of ability to compete against each other.

Continuous Assessment

Your club's records officer will keep track of the handicaps of all of the rounds you shoot throughout a year, and maintain what is called your continuous assessment handicap.

Handicaps for indoor and outdoor rounds and handicaps for each bow style are kept separate.

To first obtain a handicap, an archer must shoot three rounds which are recognised for handicap purposes during a season. Their initial handicap is then calculated as the average of the handicaps for each of the three rounds, rounding up if the result is not a whole number.

For any further rounds shot, an archer's handicap is adjusted as follows:

  • If the handicap of the score shot is greater than or equal to the archer's current handicap, do nothing.

  • If the handicap of the score shot is less than the archer's current handicap, then their new handicap becomes the average of their old handicap and the handicap of the score shot, rounding up if the result is not a whole number.

An archer's handicap can never increase during a season, but may do at the end of a season when their end of season assessment is calculated.

End of Season Assessment

At the end of each indoor/outdoor season, an archer's handicap is reassessed to be the average (rounded up) of the best three handicaps they had shot in the previous season.

This is the only time a handicap can increase, and is also the only time an archer can obtain a handicap of 0.

This end of season assessment handicap becomes your starting handicap for the next season (you do not have to start again by shooting three scores first).


There are other rules to follow in the case of an archer shooting fewer than three scores (or none at all) during a season, and if you're interested in learning more about the system your club's records officer should be able to help you!

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