Where is Archery Tag in 2020? The game known as battle archery or combat archery has quite an interesting history since its humble beginnings in LARP battles tens of years ago, to the creation of Archery Tag in 2011. Since it’s explosive growth 9 years ago, where is it now? Let’s take a look.

Archery Tag History
Archery Tag Rules
Game Play Break Down
Most Popular Archery Tag Games (with images)
Archery Tag Rule Variations
Archery Tag Lawsuits
Archery Tag Field Set Up

Archery Tag History

Archery tag is a sport that was developed in the United States by John Jackson with the Global Archery Products brand. The history of this discovery says that the founder was sitting on his porch in the middle middle of a hot Arizona day, and he just thought: “wouldn’t it be fun to put a foam tip on an arrow and hit each other with it.” He was working on some prototype arrow design when he thought of the idea..

Fast forward approximately 10 years and they’ve patented the term archery tag, and the sport has blown up around the world. When we say blown up, it’s more like a ton of facilities offering archery tag have opened around the world and tons of people have played the game, but as a sport it never really picked up. We’ll discuss this aspect but mainly will focus on describing what archery tag is and how it’s played, and then how you can dominate in this leisure sport.

Archery Tag Rules

Archery tag is a sport involving bows and arrows and is most commonly associated with dodge-ball. If you’ve played dodge-ball before, then you’ll feel at home with the rule set for archery tag. It’s pretty safe to say that if it works in dodge-Ball it’ll work in archery tag.

The main objective is to hit other players with the arrow that has a foam tip on top of it. You can duck, dodge, dive and do whatever it takes not to get hit, but also you’re allowed to catch the arrow. So if your dexterity is at an all-time high or you’re a baseball player looking to show off, then go for those arrow grabs. If you grab an arrow out of the air, then the player who shot the arrow is out and you get to bring a player back in. These are the basic rules of archery tag, but we’ll dive a little bit deeper for venue specific rules.

Game Play Break-Down

  1. If you are hit anywhere including the bow, it counts as a hit.
  2. If you get hit, you are OUT.
  3. Players can return to the game if the referee calls it, or if a teammate catches a flying arrow.
  4. Teams must start on opposite sides of the field.
  5. On GO players run in the middle to grab 1 arrow each.
  6. Game modes include medic, team vs team, free for all, capture the flag etc.
  7. You must wear your mask at all times

Most Popular Archery Tag Game Modes

Team vs Team

Divide everyone into two teams, trying to make the teams as fair as possible. Regular hit rules, where if you are hit you are “OUT”. Team that eliminates the other first wins.

archery tag game mode team vs team


Similar to Team vs Team except that now you have a medic on your team. The medic can carry a shield or some sort of object identifying him/her as the medic. Instead of being ‘OUT’, players take a knee and have to wait for the medic to heal them. Objective to take out the opponents medic.

archery tag game rules for medic

Capture the Flag

Each team gets a flag. You must hide the flag somewhere on your side of the arena. When the game starts, the rules are similar to TEAM vs TEAM except that you can send runners across the field to look for the flag and retrieve it. These runners can be shot. Winning team is the one that retrieves the opponents flag first.

archery tag game mode capture the flag

Free for All

Everyone gets 2 arrows to start. 10 seconds to find a spot on the field. Once the countdown is up, game starts and it’s everyone for themselves. Last one standing wins.

Archery Tag Rule Variations

There are as many variations to the sport as there are different locations. At Battle archery Canada’s number one location for archery tag, they have metal pans hanging from the ceiling that if hit, will bring a player back into the game. Battle archery also has a specific arena that’s full of catapults, towers, and castle walls, so they also have a rule that allows you to launch foam balls with the catapults to knock players out. these catapults are powerful because even if they ricochet off something they count as a hit and cannot be blocked by the shields. Oh yeah, they actually also have a crazy medieval armory that they use in their archery tag games as another variation. Check out this armory!

Some other venues use a few different rules but another common one is to place the arrows in the middle of the field and have the two teams run on “Go”. They run to the middle and collect one arrow each and then have to run back and load them and shoot them, before being able to go back for more arrows. At that point, the arrows around the field that are flying all over and are all free pickings on a first grab first served basis.

Archery Tag Lawsuits

Have you heard about the lawsuit between Global Archery and a small LARP enthousiast Jordan Gwyther? Check out the story here.  The LARP community was scared they’d lose the right to use arrows in their games, the arrows that were around well before Archery Tag became a thing. Global Archery has a history of being in the news for trying to sue companies or people that misrepresent their views of Archery Tag.

archery equipment

Archery Tag Field Set Up

Let’s talk about the different setups for archery tag and how you can set up the field and what obstacles you can use. There are many different field set ups you can use. The image shows an original archery tag field set up for groups of 4-9 players with 3 blow up bunkers on each side. There is also a mini foam target board on each side, that players can shoot to gain points or to bring other players back into the game. Battle Archery’s field set up is a much more epic medieval version, which is not Archery Tag approved for their facilities. Battle Archery also uses different arrows, made by a company called IDV based out of Germany. Better flight, but also not Global Archery approved. Check out the photos for a comparison.

archery tag official arrows
idv foam arrows
idv arrows outside sasfety

I think we can agree that Archery Tag has changed quite considerably since 2011. With its explosive growth, to its inevitable die down. It’s too bad archery tag never became a sport, but more of a leisure activity. If you’re interested in playing archery tag and you’re in the Greater Toronto Area – stop by one of battle archery’s locations in Brampton or Mississauga!

If you have any questions or concerns regarding archery tag, send an email from Battle Archery’s contact form.