Archery 3D Tournament Rules


Hunters and competitive archers participate in 3D tournaments to improve their skills. These shoots resemble hunting conditions, requiring the hunter to judge distance, shoot at an incline or decline and shoot a target shaped like a game animal. Standard rules apply to most 3D tournaments, but individual leagues or courses may have their own rules, too.


  • Scoring each arrow is the most important rule in 3D tournaments. The targets will have a series of scoring rings and bull's-eyes that are set up to resemble the animal's vital organs. Methods for each scoring area may vary based on course or league. The International Bowhunting Organization scoring system is 11-10-8-5-0, which means you get 11 points for a bull's-eyes, 10 for the second circle, 8 for a vitals shot, 5 for a body shot and zero for a miss. If an arrow lands on the line between two scoring zones, score the higher arrow. For example, if the arrow lands on the line between the bull's-eye and the second circle, score the arrow as an 11 when using the IBO system.

Unmarked Distances

  • 3D tournaments feature unmarked distances to the targets, which forces the bowhunter to judge the distance. Most courses will have targets ranging in distance from 10 to 40 yards. Each target will have a colored stake marking the shooting location. As you are shooting, some part of your body must be in contact with the stake. Courses may be set up so you have to shoot around or in between trees. In this case, you may be required to extend one leg to the side to shoot around the tree.


  • If, after two or more shooters complete the course, there is a tie, the tiebreaker will be determined by a step-by-step process. If one step doesn't break the tie, then you will move onto the next step. First, using the IBO scoring system, consider the least number of 5 scores followed by the 0s. Next, consider the most number of 11s, 10s and then 8s. If there is still a tie after the 8s, a sudden-death tiebreaker will take place in which the shooters will repeat the course until the tie has been broken.


  • Safety rules are strictly enforced to protect the league, course, spectators and archers. A few general safety rules that apply to any tournament include never pointing the bow at another person, never shooting the arrow straight into the air and never shooting the arrow in a direction other than the intended target. Stay on the trail while walking between stations and avoid going into flagged-off areas.

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