What Is Archery Tag?

If you are into your archery or are looking for something to do in your local area, you may have stumbled across archery tag. But what is this and what does it entail? I spent some time researching to find out. I’d like to share my findings here with you today.

So, what is archery tag? Archery tag is an archery-inspired team game that takes place in an enclosed combat arena. The game is played by two teams, who are equipped with bows and homologated arrows tipped with foam. The objective is to eliminate the players of the other team or collect points by hitting them.

Archery attack, archery battle or archery combat – you may see archery tag advertised as these too.

And its all one and the same. The same game going by different names.

And its become quite the sport.

Since inception in 2011, archery tag has expanded – both in terms of the locations you can play at and the popularity of the activity.

Besides, outside the United States, it is now played in 65 other countries spanning six continents!

And you can see why.

It looks a lot of fun!

Let us now take a closer look at how archery tag is played so you can see exactly what its all about.

And more importantly, if its for you!

How Do You Play Archery Tag?

Archery tag is a game played by two teams; who face up against one another in a combat arena. This combat arena consists of two action zones (zone A and zone B) separated by a neutral zone. It is in many ways similar to the game of dodgeball.

Teams consist of between 4-9 players, depending on the location.

That means it will be 4 vs 4, or 9 vs 9 and a total of between 8-18 players in total.

Each team will have its own zone (either zone A or B), and players can only fire from their bows when they are positioned in their own zone.

There will be large objects to hide behind, and take cover, in each end zone.

It is against the rules to fire any arrows in the neutral zone that is positioned in between.

This allows players to collect any arrows without leaving themselves vulnerable to attack – although players cannot loiter in this zone in an attempt to hide or remain out of the game – this is punishable by the referee.

Archery tag is often played against the clock – a time limit which can range between 5-10 minutes. Some games may have a half-time and be divided into two halves.

The game typically starts with what is referred to as the “opening rush”. When the referee whistles for the start of the game, players from each team will run into the safe zone to collect their first arrows.

They will then run back to their respective zones in order to fire and attack.

As the game involves shooting at other players, protective masks are worn at all times during the game.

Some locations have an inside arena, whereas others will be played outside.

Indoor Archery Tag Arena
Indoor Archery Tag Arena

While the arena remains the same, there are actually various different game modes to play; a recreational game, league game, or a tournament game.

The rules of each are set out below.

The Rules Of Archery Tag

The rules of archery tag differ slightly depending on the game mode. That being said, the basics and objectives of the game remain constant through all game modes – to score the most points during a timed match. Points are awarded for “hits”, “target hits” and “catches”. 

Nevertheless, here are the general rules for the three main game modes:

Scoring System

  • A “hit” against an opponent = 1 point.
  • Knocking a spot out of the opposing team’s target = 2 points.
  • A “catch” is worth 3 points. This is when an opponent’s arrow is caught mid-flight.

General Rules

  • During play, all players must remain within the boundary lines.
  • The only timeouts are for equipment safety issues and injured players.
  • If teams have more than 4 players, they can substitute players only between periods.
  • Arrows that land outside of the playing field may be collected by the staff and placed back in the safe zone.
  • Violent behavior, foul language or inappropriate taunts, or aggression to the referee or opposing team members will not be tolerated and can result in forfeit or suspension.

League Mode

In league mode, when a player is hit with an arrow, they remain in the game and continue to play.

Elimination Mode

Elimination mode is slightly different, and as the name suggests – this is knockout archery tag!

In elimination mode, a player that is hit must leave the field. Catching an arrow mid-air, will bring a player back in!

It’s ultimately a battle to the end!

The game will last until all players from one team are eliminated, or the time on the clock runs down.

At that point, the team with the most players remaining on the field will be deemed the winners.

Below you can see a great video outlining the full rules for archery tag, and the nuances between the game modes:

Does Archery Tag Hurt?

Archery tag does not generally hurt. All bows and arrows have been purposefully designed and certified for use in the game. For instance, the arrows are relatively lightweight and lined with foam to ensure they do not cause injury on impact. At the same time, players must wear protective equipment and are only legally allowed to shoot from their attack zone, which is positioned at a relatively far away distance.

At the same time, the security zone is in place to prevent arrows from being shot from too close.

With all this being said, it is possible to get injured playing archery tag.

It is a competitive sport, after all.

Generally, archery tag will only hurt if it is played incorrectly, or the rules are not followed.

Thankfully, a referee will be observing and managing the game to ensure it does not get out of control and foul play is penalized and prevented.

At the same time, due to the running around and general nature of the game, it is possible to hurt yourself accidentally while playing. Such as when trying to dodge an arrow, landing awkwardly or overstretching.

For these reasons it’s a good idea to warm up appropriately before the game, and ensure you are fit and healthy before signing up for a game.

Where To Play Archery Tag

To play archery tag you need to visit an Archery Tag approved and registered location.

Perhaps the best way to find your nearest archery tag location is to visit the archery tag location finder tool and map here -> https://archerytag.com/locations.

As you will see, archery tag is played worldwide; there are currently 2,027 locations in 66 countries!


Archery tag is where archery meets dodgeball.

Its a fun, action-filled game that is great for groups of people.

The game has been carefully designed to be all-inclusive. That means anyone who can safely draw a bow can play.

There are no age limits, no athletics requirements to play.

So whether you are looking for your next kids party, you are planning a stag do, or you want to get a group of friends together for an afternoon of fun – archery tag is certainly something to consider.

Give it a try, you’ll enjoy it. I’m sure of that.

Have other questions about the sport of archery or archery terms? Then my following guides may be of help: