Shooting Longbow: What Sighting Aids Are You Allowed?

I’ve mentioned in a previous article that I shoot occasionally with a gentleman named Roy, who mostly shoots longbow. Shooting with him recently, I noticed that Roy was using groundmarkers, something I haven’t seen for a while.

There’s often a bit of confusion if you shoot longbow regarding what sighting aids you can use, and as often seems to be the case, it depends on your location in the world and what competitions you intend to shoot at.

I asked Roy about this, and he put it in an easy – and memorable way. If the round you’re shooting has sighters; chances are it will be a GNAS round. If it has no sighters, but half an hour or so of ‘practice’ beforehand, it’s a FITA round. If you are shooting a FITA round, no sighting aids are allowed.

If your round is a GNAS round however, you have three options.

  • Marks on the bow limb
  • Rubber bands, not more than 1/8″ depth and thickness
  • Groundmarks – artificial points of aim on the ground, set between the shooting line and the target. Groundmarks cannot be more than 6 inches high, 3 inches wide, and obviously they cannot impede another archer.

Roy would periodically nudge his groundmark with his toe as we went to collect our arrows. Personally I’ve never shot using groundmarks, but I have the feeling they require a degree of patience in getting them to the right position (you can’t adjust them once you are on the shooting line), as well as skill in setting them out in the same position every time.

I think of the three, my preference would be the elastic band. Marks are okay, as long as you can adjust them easily as you change distance, and as long as they don’t permanently mark your bow! Ideally try and get a red postal band; they’re small enough to be within the rules, and being red they stand out from your bow for faster, more instinctive aiming.

Of course, there are more archery governing bodies around depending on your location, that all have their own variations of these rules. My advice is to find out what type of round your going to be shooting at, then prepare accordingly.

Happy shooting!