Fun You Haven’t Heard Of: Archery Tag

Popular in Canada and slowly making its way southward through the U.S., archery tag is a team-based competitive activity similar in many ways to paintball. The game entails recreational combat with archery bows and foam-tipped arrows. Players work in teams to tag opponents with arrows while running around and hiding amid a variety of obstacles in a 7,000 or more square foot space. There are already hundreds of archery tag facilities in the U.S., though few people have heard of the game, which is perfect for throwing someone an activity-based birthday party, perhaps encouraging family fitness, or even team-building with a corporate outing.

Combining elements from paintball, dodgeball and archery, the game can be played in large groups of up to 20 people.  Players are provided face masks and arm guards and may shoot opponents on the head, body, bow or arrow to tag them out. Ricochets and rebound shots do not count as “hits.” When a player is hit by an arrow from the opposing side, they are tagged out and must go stand on the sidelines.

A 10-foot area in the middle of the space, known as the safe zone, separates the arena into two equal sides. Players can enter the area only to retrieve arrows and can only stay inside for up to five seconds. Players cannot shoot from, nor be shot while in, the safe zone. Players are not allowed to cross to the opposing side of the arena.

With simple rules, innovative equipment and nearly endless possibilities for gaming environments, archery tag offers a unique, athletic and fun experience for people of all ages. Games are played on military bases, archery grounds, football fields, basketball courts and of course customized facilities with inventive obstacle courses. They are also played in shooting galleries, enclosed arenas and creatively decorated warehouses that might evoke, say, a post-apocalyptic setting or medieval battlefield.

The three ways to win a game of archery tag are to knock out all of the opposing team’s five targets, tagging out all opposing players or score more points than the opposing side before the clock runs out. If you are tagged out when your teammate catches an arrow or shoots out one of the five targets, you or one other player on your team may “revive” and re-enter the match.

Teams may consist of five to ten people each, depending on the facility and specific version of gameplay. A referee ensures that no one fires at point blank range, fires broken arrows or fires those without foam tips. Face masks must be worn at all times.

Archery tag is a great way to introduce your kids—or yourself—to the sport of archery, while enjoying teamwork, strategizing and the thrill of battle. You are also guaranteed to get much more exercise than traditional straw target shooting. To find an archery tag facility in your area, visit, which boasts 462 archery tag licensees in an impressive 38 countries.

Archery District,

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