Archery: Roving Marks, Flight, Popinjay, & Ski

Roving Marks

Roving Marks is perhaps the oldest form of archery competition and was practiced by Henry VIII. In this type of archery, the archers shoot to a certain mark, which is usually a post or a flag that is used as the target. From this particular mark, the archer will again shoot to another mark and again to another. Similar to Clout Archery, ropes or ribbons are used to score the arrows. The scoring system in the Finsbury Mark awards twenty points to arrows that hit the mark exactly, twelve points for arrows that hit within three feet of the mark, seven points for arrows that fall within the next six feet from the three-foot mark and then three points for arrows that fall within the next nine feet off the six-foot mark. The archer with the most points at the end of the marks is declared the winner.

Flight Archery

Flight archery is a competition wherein the winner is declared as the one with the farthest arrow because the score is determined by the sheer distance of the arrow from the shooting line. Archers shoot a number of arrows from a set shooting line. After all arrows are released, the archers go out to find their arrow that went the farthest and mark it with a distinct marker. At the end of each round, the archers sit or stand near their marked arrows while assigned judges measure the distance from the shooting line. There are many classes that an archer can participate in and they vary according to the bow technique used and its draw force.


Popinjay is otherwise known as ‘Papingo’ and is a type of archery that originated from shooting birds that sat on church steeples. This sport is quite known in Belgium but not outside it. In Popinjay, archers stand within twelve feet from the bottom of a mast that is as tall as ninety feet. The archers shoot ‘blunts’ which are arrows with rubber caps for tips almost vertically upwards. Their target is to remove any of the wooden birds on top of the mast. These wooden birds are different and have their own value. On top of the mast is one Cock worth five points, four hens worth three points each and a minimum of twenty-four chicks worth one point each. A point is scored when the wooden bird is knocked off its perch.

Ski Archery

Ski Archery is a modern type of archery that is quite similar to a Biathlon but the players use recurve bows instead of guns. Obviously, the archers are required to ski around a predetermined cross-country track. However, there are two specific stances in which each archer is required to shoot the targets: one is kneeling and the other is standing. In any course of the competition, the archers are prohibited from removing their skis; however they can unfasten their ski to permit shooting in a kneeling position as long as their foot is kept in contact with the ski. The target range is 18 meters and the target size is only 16 cm in diameter. In some competitions, when an archer misses a target, he is punished by having him ski a penalty loop that is 150 meters long.

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