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03 February 2024

The wand targets: a fun medieval challenge for archers

As a beginner in archery, you might believe that the classic five-colour circles seen in the Olympics are the only types of targets used in archery. However, while they're the most common, they're not the only ones. In fact, there are dozens and dozens of different types of targets for archers to aim at. We're going to be looking at the wand target, which offers a rich history and quite a challenge for any archer.

Imagine a hazel branch stripped of its bark, standing proudly in the ground – that's the wand. It's not your typical target; it's a vertical challenge that adds a whole new layer of fun to your archery. Historically, the six-inch-wide, six-feet-high target mimicked an arrow slit in a castle tower, helping archers shoot straight along a vertical line. It was also used by medieval archers to represent (rather tall, rather thin) enemies.

The tradition continues in modern competitions, where longbows, barebows, and recurves take centre stage, embracing archery's historical roots. Today, the Mole Valley Bowmen in Surrey shoot at a six-foot high wand at 100 yards for men, 80 yards for ladies and 60 yards or closer for juniors.

Another club keeping the wand target alive is The Clout Collective (pictured). Usually known for their popular clout shoots, this club also hosts an annual wand shoot over the Christmas period, combining fun and tradition.

Archers from the club don their festive attire, munch on treats like mince pies and sip non-alcoholic mulled wine, all while taking aim at six-inch-wide strong foam-covered wands set at 100 and 140 yards made by members of the club. The objective is to hit the wand at any height. They also include a small circle on their wands, so, in the case of a tie, they can count back and see who has hit the circle the most. With awards up for grabs, it’s a fun, fiercely contested event.  

We can’t say that rocking up at your club with a six-foot piece of wood wrapped in foam won’t get you some strange looks and quite a few questions. So, if you want something a little less obtrusive, you can still recreate the wand target with duct tape. Mark some vertical and horizontal lines on the back of an old target face and you've got yourself a wand-like challenge that's visible, pocket-friendly, and easy to try down your archery club.

So, if you’re bored of shooting at those familiar circles, there’s always something else for you to try, including the wand.


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