Similar to Golf, archers can maintain a handicap in order to help them determine how well they are shooting over a period of time. Archers maintain separate handicaps for indoor rounds and outdoor rounds, because of the different shooting conditions, distances, target sizes and overall difficulty.
Archery GB has introduced new Outdoor Tables for 2023 - All Handicaps prior to January 2023 are now invalid and will be re-calculated following the new system. Please see the AGB website (as at 5th April 2023) here. The new Indoor Tables will apply from 1st July 2023.
As you improve, your handicap will as well. This is because after every round you shoot and submit to the Records Officer (be aware you'll need to submit any scores you shoot at other clubs to the Records Officer yourself separately), they will calculate your handicap for that round and adjust your handicap accordingly if you shoot better than your current handicap.
At the end of the Outdoor Season your handicap value is re-assessed based on the average of the best three shoots of the season and at that point may go up or down (or stay the same). During the season your handicap can only either remain the same or reduce.
Throughout the year clubs will host Handicap Competitions. These competitions are designed to allow all the archers on the shooting line to compete with each other based on how consistently they are shooting and improving, and not based on their existing skill level. In essence a Handicap Competition can put a Novice and Olympic Archer on an equal basis for the medals.
Alongside the handicap value in the tables there are a set of "Allowances". If you shoot a round at the same level as your handicap, adding your round score and handicap allowance will result in a total of 1440. A total of less than 1440 means you've shot worse than your handicap value and a total of more than 1440 means you've shot better (and your handicap value may improve as mentioned above).
So if our Novice Archer has a handicap of 65, has a good day and shoots very well and has a total of 1490 and our Olympic Archer has a handicap of 20 but has a bad day ending on a total of 1430, the Novice would beat the Olympic Archer in the Handicap Competition (even though the Olympic Archer may have scored a lot more in the unadjusted score).
If you have any questions about the handicap system or what your current handicap is, please get in touch with the Records Officer.