Beginners Guide to Archery Tag  

Apr 28, 2022

While ‘archery tag’ might sound like a deadly sport invented in the Middle Ages, it’s actually closer to a modern cross between paintball and archery. This fast-paced, family-friendly game is all about teamwork, aim, speed and good old-fashioned fun. Whether you’re lining up activities for a week of adventures or just a day in the wild, archery tag is one to put on the list!

How Does Archery Tag Work?

You can think of archery tag as dodgeball, but with bows and arrows. Here’s how game play works:

  1. Each team has a 5-spot target, with foam inserts that can be knocked out with arrows. Each team also has large, inflatable bunkers on opposite sides of the field, behind which they can hide as they aim at their opponents’ targets. Players are furnished with bows and foam-tipped arrows.
  2. Game play commences, with players shooting either the opposing players or at the target. Players who get hit by an arrow are immediately out and can no longer participate in trying to knock out the targets.
  3. The game is over when one of three things happens: all the players on one team have been tagged out, all the centers have been knocked out of one team’s target, or a time limit has elapsed. In the last case, the win is determined by the relative number of centers knocked out of the 5-spot.

Yes, that means archery tag can end in a draw, but it’s not that common.

people playing archery tag at Skytop Lodge

Does Archery Tag Hurt?

No, archery tag is not painful. The arrows are tipped with giant foam marshmallows, and even on bare skin cause little discomfort. However, if you are worried about younger children being sensitive to hits, make sure they wear long sleeves and long pants. That’s enough coverage to dampen even the most targeted arrow strike. No matter what, you don’t have to worry about injury.

What About the Face?

The only potential point of concern is the eyes, which must be protected. You’ll be given the right face protection equipment along with the bows and arrows. Once you put your protective gear on, don’t take it off for the duration of the game!

It is also a good idea to wear closed-toed shoes. Archery tag moves quickly, and if you trip over someone or get stepped on while wearing sandals, you could suffer a minor injury. And even if it doesn’t mean calling the medics, who wants that?

team of people playing archery tag in a grassy field at skytop lodge

Can You Bring Your Own Equipment?

No. You are required to use the equipment provided by the Adventure Center. We supply and require the use of helmets to make sure everyone’s face is protected, and do not allow the substitution of sunglasses, ski goggles or any other preferred equipment. Even more importantly, our arrows are used only with a bow whose maximum draw weight is 28 pounds, and we do not allow the use of any other type of bow (compound, recurve, etc.).

How Long Is Archery Tag?

The entire game is 60 minutes. It’s ideal for a pre-lunch game or as a way to while away an afternoon. If you get beat and want a rematch, feel free to sign up for another later that week!

Is There a Strategy?

You say that like there’s only one strategy for archery tag, but oh no … there are quite a few! While most people only play once or twice, those who love to get in the arena know there are several things you can do to maximize your chances of winning. Some of the most productive approaches include:

  • Coordination: You and your team members should have a plan from the beginning. If things go sideways, regroup and make another one. You’re going to need cover while you run from A to B, and the same is true of your team members. Everyone should always understand the plan and do their best to adhere to it.
  • Division of labor: Civilization was built on this concept, and for good reason. When everyone does what they’re best at, things get done. In this case, good roles include shooting, providing cover, collecting arrows or gathering intel. If possible, decide on these roles ahead of time so everyone knows what they’re doing, but don’t put a damper on the game by forcing someone to play a role they don’t want to. It’s still all about fun. *wink*
  • Prioritize arrows: You only get so many arrows, after which you have to collect them yourself if you want something to shoot. That’s dangerous, of course, as it exposes to you enemy fire. Make a plan with team members to cover you before you go out and get arrows or, if you’re a dead shot, choose someone on the team who’s fast and cover them. Don’t let your “quiver” get too low before you have to gather up more ammo, though. Desperation is never a good strategy!
  • Take arcing shots: Because the arrows are foam-tipped and a bit clunky, they are heavier than normal arrows. That means they tend to point down to the ground on the fly. You can counteract this by tilting your bow up before you fire and relying on more of an arcing shot. You would do well to practice a few shots at a non-moving target somewhere you can pick your arrow back up, such as behind your own bunkers, before you shoot your arrows into the melee.
  • Stay hydrated: Archery tag usually takes place in warmer months, but even during chillier times, it’s easy to sweat out your water and get a headache. Make sure you hydrate every 10-20 minutes while you’re running around to keep your game strong.

This is why it makes sense to be on a team with your family and friends, people you know how to talk and plan with. That said, if you’re on a couple or solo trip, make friends with your new teammates right up front and then start the planning!

man hiding behind inflatable bunker playing archery tag at skytop lodge

What Age Is Archery Tag Appropriate For?

Because the arrows are foam-tipped and will not hurt anyone, children as young as 8 years old are safe playing this game. Just make sure they don’t get underfoot with large adults running around, as they could get injured that way.

How Much Does Archery Tag Cost?

At $20 per person, archery tag is super reasonable. Just make sure to book well ahead of time, as it sells out fast! On the off-chance that you can’t get a reservation, check out the resort’s long list of other activities here and make sure to fill your week with adventure, romance and laughs.