In October 2022, ArcheryGB changed the standard age-groups that are used for target archery in the UK. The 5 previous age groups were supplemented by 3 new age groups bringing the total to 8.
The addition of the 50+ and Under 21 groups brings the UK in line with the standard World Archery age groups. The new Under 15 age group is a necessary stepping stone caused by the fact that Under 12s and 14s now shoot the same distances, but later at U18 the boys and girls diverge. In order for there not to be a double jump in distance for boys at that point, the U15 group provides a one year “stepping stone” where the boys move up 10m in distance in two consecutive years rather than 20m all at once.
Birth Year v Birth Day
The other change that was introduced at the same time was the redefinition of age itself. Until now, an archer’s age group changed on their birthday. This caused a number of problems such as
- World Archery age-groups change at the start of the year, regardless of when the archer’s birthday is. These multiple definitions caused a great deal of confusion in tournaments where AGB or WA rules were being used.
- It could lead to age group changes during a competition. Some archers with birthday’s in mid-July, competing in multi-day competitions such as JNOC, might have been in a different age-group on the Saturday and the Sunday of the competition.
So, ArcheryGB have aligned with World Archery now in using the year of birth rather than the day of birth. This means that you are in an age group until the 31st December on the year of that birthday, regardless of when that birthday is in the year. It’s actually really hard to write a one-size-fits-all definition of how this works that covers all age groups, so I find it easier to write them all out
- You can compete in the Under 12 category right through to the end of the calendar year containing your 11th birthday
- You can compete in the Under 14 category right through to the end of the calendar year containing your 13th birthday
- You can compete in the Under 15 category right through to the end of the calendar year containing your 14th birthday
- You can compete in the Under 16 category right through to the end of the calendar year containing your 15th birthday
- You can compete in the Under 18 category right through to the end of the calendar year containing your 17th birthday
- You can compete in the Under 21 category right through to the end of the calendar year containing your 20th birthday
- You can compete in the adult category at any age
- You can compete in the 50+ category any time during the calendar year of your 50th birthday and thereafter
The ArcheryGB Rules of Shooting lists the official rounds recognised in the UK in tables 3-1, 3-2 and 3-3. In the left most column, there are some cryptic cross-references to Table 3-4, and together these tell you which rounds are eligible for records for each category of archer.
Reading these tables is quite hard work. With a little Excel formula, we can turn those sets of tables into one summary graphic which shows the record eligibility for each category. This table shows a green dot wherever the RoS tables indicate a record is available. Even though U12,U14 and U15 are the same for both Men and Women, I’ve duplicated them here to show the complete sets.
This visualisation shows the expected shape – for all round families, the Men’s table shows a straight diagonal up through the rounds, and they jump up one distance with each age group change. Since the recent change, the Women’s tables now have a plateau in them where the U16 Women stay on the same round as they were at U15 for another year while the U16 Men jump ahead.
What about Historical Records?
The change to birth year instead of birth day raises some interesting questions about how historical records should be handled. For junior age groups, the shift to birth year will make the members of each age group 6 months younger on average, so arguably the age-groups are no longer the same even though the names of those groups (e.g. U16, U14) might still be the same.
There may well be cases in national, regional, county and club records where records were shot by people who would no longer be eligible in the category as it is now defined.
It is not clear what the right course of action is here. Wiping the records to a blank slate would fix the problem, but in doing so would wipe out many records which would still be valid. Letting all current records stand is the easiest option, but we may be left in a situation where some records are essentially unbeatable as they were set by people who, through the luck of their birthday and the timing of competitions, were in a situation that nobody will ever be in again.
However, without a painstaking analysis of all records, which would need to include the date of birth of the record holders, it is difficult to separate the two types of records.
A more detailed analysis of this issue will form the basis of a future blog post.