What is Archery Dodgeball?

Archery dodgeball is exactly as it sounds–the classic sport of varied origin stories wherein opponents attempt to pelt one another with rubber balls–except with bows and arrows. The sport falls under the category of ‘combat archery’, which includes classic dodgeball, paintball, and laser tag. Arrows in archery dodgeball have their lethally sharpened tips replaced with harmless foam or rubber, making strikes harmless outside of the cost to a team’s score. Matches usually consist of two teams of 3-5 combatants on each side, scoring points off direct hits.  Like dodgeball, teammates that have been hit and eliminated from a round can be reinstated if a teammate catches an arrow before it hits the ground.

Bows must fall under a certain draw weight, usually 30 kg (66 lbs) of force. Draw weight represents the amount of strength required to pull the bowstring before it can fire properly. It can be seen as a way to establish equal footing in competition among participants with different levels of strength, but also a way to ensure that no one is injured by a projectile fired with too much force.

The arrows are usually placed in a quiver at the center of the court, where team members scramble at the beginning of the match to acquire ammunition before the opposing team. This creates another layer of excitement at the beginning of each match.  Other competitions allow combatants to hold their arrows in their own personal quivers, giving each shooter an equal amount of chances to strike their opponents first. It can be said that the latter gives more of a sense of actual archery combat, since opponents start with their own ammunition.

Archery Dodgeball Vs. Paintball

Paintball is the more popular sport because it is accessible to people with limited skill; that is, to fire a paint gun is as easy as firing a real one. As there is no concern over the kick of a paint gun, measures that sharpshooters must take to keep their barrels steady are nullified.  Archery dodgeball, on the other hand, is to paintball what real skill with a bow and arrow is compared to the ability to fire a gun. It takes considerably more skill to become proficient aiming a bow. The gratification provided by a lower learning curve in paintball would be much less pronounced than becoming an archery legend, since any success shows hours spent at the craft of bow marksmanship.  

We can also consider that archery dodgeball is not just trying to hit a target from a distance, as it is done in standard archery competitions. Archery dodgeball takes the challenge of precision and practiced motion found in all archery and adds elements of agility, calmness under pressure, and mastery of hand-eye coordination required to catch an arrow in mid-flight.  Through these attributes participants can get a real sense of what combat may have been like in ancient times, using the most basic of long range weapons. Essentially success at this sport–and much of what makes it fun–is dependent on a certain level of ability and physical prowess, which makes it a more ideal setting for thrilling competition rather than just a sport of leisure. Of course, archery dodgeball is also fun, and a great cardio workout for those who just want to be active rather than compete.