The Target of Korean Traditional Archery

The targets of Korean Traditional Archery are unique to Korea, and embody the history and development of the artform. Because of the relatively large distance involved, (the target is 145 meters from the archer's shooting line), the target is quite large by western standards. It is approximately two meters wide by 2.66 meters in height.

While the target face has specific and unique colors and forms painted on it, the system of scoring used in Korean Traditional Archery is based upon a simple hit or miss principle. I.e. Hitting the target anywhere on the face with the full force of the arrow is once point, anything else is considered a miss, and is awarded a score of zero.

The different colors on the target face are passed down from the days of the Emperors, when King and nobility would perform the art together, and diffferent scoring rules applied. More information can be found in Colonel Hoon's essay on Korean archery, found here. For nearly all general practice, as well as scoring in actual competition, archers only need to strike the face of the target, anywhere, to register a point. At most archery pavillions in Korea, a minimum of three targets are built. This is to ensure fair and balanced conditions during comeptition. In most matches, archers loose a total of 15 arrows, grouped into three sets of 5 arrow ends, or 'seun'. To permit as many archers to compete in a unbiased game, clubhouses use a three target system, where every archer looses one 'seun' for every target, and in this way, must face the challenges and difficulties posed by the three different targets. Often, these differences will include slight changes in position, sunlight, wind conditions, or even noise from nearby spectators or other archers. Any factor that could distract an archers concentration is considered, and competitions are designed to be as impartial and fair as possible.

As mentioned in section of this website describing the arrows of Korean Traditional Archery, the targets are rubber-fronted. This serves several functional and symbolic purposes at the same time. In a practical sense, rubberized targets prolong the life of an archers arrow, since an arrow never needs to be pulled from a target, reducing the chance of damage. The same holds true for a loosed arrow striking an arrow already lodged in the target. Symbolically, arrows without a target tip reinforce this artform as no longer having a martial purpose; It is a skill and craft which now exists only for the cultivation of etiquitte and courtesy. Often, due to limited visibility, rain, or other factors, the target is so far away that the archer is unable to register when or not an arrow has successfully struck the target. To provide a confirmation of a hit, each target is equipped with a microphone, which leads back to the shooting line. Here, there are speakers which relay the signal from a successfully loosed arrow. With this modern addition, archers are fully able to practice right through dusk into early nightfall! (This type of training is beneficial to train archers to focus on their body position and form, since they will no longer be able to see the arrow once released.) In actual competition, hosting pavillions will provide target judges so that these modern devices are not needed. Instead, target judges register a hit or miss by flag, or occasionally electronically by signal. With either method, it is still left to human judgement whether an arrow has successful struck the target. To count as a successful point, the arrow must not break the plane of the target.