Field archers shoot in a woodland setting or over hilly terrain or even quarries on rare occasions. If Target archery can be likened to the practice that was required of medieval war archers, then Field archery is akin to the practice required of bow hunters since Neolithic times.
Field archery today is, in effect, hunting with a bow. The quarry is not a deer or a hare but a substitute target set in a 'field' environment. These targets can be of the concentric ring variety or 2D representations/pictures of animals or even 3D replicas of animals. Shooting is often made more difficult by having to shoot up or downhill, by having to shoot 'around' a tree or an obstacle (so that you cannot shoot in the upright T-form as you would in Target archery) and by having to shoot across varying light - from full sun to shade or from shade to full sun. It is important to note that no live animals are harmed in field archery!
As in Target archery there are many rounds which can be shot but, unlike Target archery, the distances can vary from one shot to the next. A typical field round will involve shooting at anything from 14 to 40 targets, one after the other. The archer starts from the first 'peg', shoots at the target and then walks on to the next peg and the next target. Depending on the round, the distance to the target may be marked or it may not and can be anything from 20yds to 80yds. As often as not the distances are not marked and the Field archer has to rely on judgement and instinct for each shot. In some rounds there are several pegs at each target and the archer misses with their first arrow they move slightly closer and take a second shot. If they miss again, they move even closer to take a third and final shot. Although in theory moving closer should make it easier, the fact that the distance has changed alters the shot!
Obviously, Field archery requires a lot more physical effort than Target archery, as sometimes the terrain can be somewhat challenging, although an experienced field archer will in theory shoot a lot less arrows. Scoring isn't as straightforward as in Target archery and very much depends on the round being shot. There are classes for all bow types, as well as age and gender.
3D field archery is massive in Austria and in 2013, after a trip to Wye Valley Archers fuelled their interest, Tim and Mandy Cale of Tyndale Archers took a trip to see for themselves. They enjoyed it so much they went back the next year and took their son to make it a fun family holiday. You can watch a five-minute clip of their adventure here or click on the button to read the article Mandy submitted to Archery UK magazine for publication: