ArcheryGB/GNAS Law 20 - Which Club, County or Region Can You Shoot For?

Assistance & review by: Derrick Lovell MBE [Direct Member]; Freddie Collier, Helen Eccleston & Karen Hodgkiss [ArcheryGB Membership Services].

While all members will be familiar with the 'Rules of Shooting', many will be much less familiar with the GNAS Laws, not least because they are included in the Society's Memorandum and Articles of Association (its constitution, much of it written in legal jargon to comply with company law) that few members refer to.

However they contain several provisions that have a direct impact on shooting, particularly if you are a member of more than one club or if you change clubs - this is where Law 20.b comes in.

As you read through this guide, you might wonder why some parts of this law are the way they are! You need to bear in mind that the current wording of Law 20 was set a considerable time ago, that the Laws tend to receive far less prominence than the Rules of Shooting and that they can only be changed at an AGM or EGM. The sport has changed much since this Law was set in its current form and it is probably in need of review.

One further point that should be emphasised is that, while we obviously need to observe and comply with existing regulations, they should not be 'gold-plated' to make them more restrictive than is necessary - after all, we are here to promote, encourage and take part in our sport within the necessary limits of safety and fair competition.

This short guide explains Law 20 as it currently stands, so here goes!

First Claim Club

The great majority of members join archery through a local club and pay their annual membership fee to ArcheryGB, their region and their county through that club. That club is known as your 'first claim club'.

We will keep it simple for the moment and deal later with what happens if you want to move to a different club!

You might wish join another club (or even clubs) as well, perhaps because it offers facilities that your first claim club doesn't have, or because it gives you the opportunity to shoot more often during the week, or even because you stay in different places at different times (for example as a university student living away from home). Most clubs call this 'associate membership'.

To become an Associate Member of another club all you normally pay is the club membership and/or session fees (you already paid the membership fees for ArcheryGB, a region and county through your first-claim club).

You can join as many additional clubs as you like (even clubs that aren't affiliated to ArcheryGB), but your first claim club remains your main club and all of the others come joint second to it, so for the rest of this article we will refer to any club that is not your first claim club as a 'secondary club'.

It is also worth noting that ArcheryGB will have no record of any associate memberships that you have, unless you tell them - this is not normally necessary (and seldom happens in practice), as they have no official significance at national level.

Move to a New Club

If you decide to move to a new club, whether the new one is in the same county or not, the club through which you paid your ArcheryGB membership fee remains your first claim club until the end of the membership year (30 September). This is still the case even if you move to the other end of the country.

You will become an associate member of the new club and it will therefore be a secondary club for the rest of the membership year. It is very likely that at the next membership renewal you will renew through your new club; if so, at the start of that next membership year (01 October) your new club would then become your first claim club.

In exceptional circumstances it can be possible to completely change club during the course of a membership year by contacting ArcheryGB Membership Services at Lilleshall - this will normally involve resigning your membership altogether and re-joining, in which case a new membership fee is payable. You will also still be subject to Law 20.b.i that prevents you from competing in the championships and teams of more than one county or region in a single membership year.


It is not unusual for members to move, even to a different county or region, and to join a club in their new area. Often the member will ask for a letter from their old club, agreeing to the change of club (although this often done after the event, when the new club, county or region asks). It is important to understand that no letter from the old club can change which club is your first claim club.

Having said that, a letter from your old club does have a use as you will see in the next section!

Which Club?

We have defined what the first claim club is - now we will explain why it matters and what it is for.

You want to enter a tournament - who do you shoot for? Normally when you compete at a tournament you have to include the name of your club on the entry form - which club do you write down?

First it depends on the type of tournament you are entering.

Type of Tournament

Historical Note

Changes to the membership system and the way that the centrally administered awards are processed means that some of the following restrictions on claims no longer apply; the following notes are included here only to provide a historical context for the current wording of Law 20.b.v.

In the past, if you wanted to make a claim for a national record, a Rose or FITA/World Archery Star award or MB, GMB or JMB classification (all of which are administered centrally), it was important that ArcheryGB could identify the archer on the results sheet or score card that accompanied the claim. Because of this, at any tournament where such awards were available, you had to represent the same club as you paid your ArcheryGB fees through - if you didn't there was a risk that the award claim could be declined.

At tournaments where no such awards were available, ArcheryGB was not interested in which club you shot for, so you could represent a secondary club, if you wished. They had no interest in interfering in purely local events, allowing clubs to organise local competitions and leagues in any reasonable way they chose (e.g. so that one club could lend a player to another club to allow a local club league match to take place).

However, all tournaments at county level upwards automatically qualified as MB-qualification events and therefore required a higher degree of consistency and control - although that is no longer the case, the Law that was tied in with it still remains.

Law 20 is curiously silent about UK Record Status and FITA Star/Arrowhead events organised by clubs, but the latter was possibly treated as a regional event, because in theory at least the event would have been awarded to the corresponding region, who would effectively delegate it to a competent club or other organiser.

So for largely historical reasons, Law 20.b requires that:

  • at club and inter-club events, you can represent your first claim club or a secondary club;
  • at county, regional or national events, you can only represent your first claim club.

So if you are entering any event organised by the KAA, you must shoot for your first claim club.

In the past some archers have entered county tournaments as a member of a secondary club; this was often because they wanted to be included in a club team, but their first claim club couldn't field enough members to form one. Unfortunately, this is just not permitted by Law 20 as it currently stands.

If you enter a tournament in the name of a secondary club, it will not affect your eligibility for any centrally administered awards or classifications, but if you are successful and receive one of these awards or classifications, your achievement will be listed in ArcheryUK showing you as a member of your first claim club.

Agreement by first claim club

Let us assume that you are entering a tournament where you are permitted to shoot for a secondary club - is there anything else you must do?

The answer is very simple - you must have the agreement of your first claim club, if you want to shoot for another club. If you don't have their permission (you haven't asked, or they said 'No'), then the answer is simple - you have to shoot for your first claim club.

Getting agreement isn't just the requirement of Law 20, it's also good manners (and is seldom a problem in practice). The agreement does not actually have to be in writing, but a written agreement might help just in case a tournament organiser questions your tournament entry and it can help to avoid any possible misunderstanding or argument at a later date.


As we have seen, the basic principles are each quite straightforward, but when you combine them and apply them to practical situations, it can be less so! So let us take a couple of examples to illustrate what is permitted:

  1. Let us suppose that an archer is a member of two clubs, one of which is affiliated to the KAA and the other is affiliated only to BLBS. He/she wants to enter the KAA Longbow Championship.
    • In this case he/she must enter as a member of the KAA club, because the other one cannot be their first claim club - it isn't affiliated to ArcheryGB; even though shooting might use certain BLBS rules (as permitted in section 9 of the ArcheryGB Rules of Shooting), it is an ArcheryGB event and Law 20 still applies.
  2. Now let us suppose that the same archer wants to enter a local club tournament:
    • If the tournament is to the normal ArcheryGB format, then only ArcheryGB members are permitted to take part, so the archer can only enter in the name of their KAA club.
    • If the tournament is a traditional two-way longbow event that is permitted to include BLBS members, then he/she can enter in the name of either club, subject to agreement from the KAA club (which is the first claim club); again, even though shooting might use certain BLBS shooting rules, (as permitted in section 9 of the Archery GB Rules of Shooting), it is an Archery GB event and Law 20 still applies.
  3. Occasionally a club affiliated to Archery GB might wish to organise an event exclusively on behalf of and under the control and regulations of a different organisation. Examples of this are:
    • an NFAS field tournament,
    • a wholly BLBS traditional longbow event (as opposed to an Archery GB event in which BLBS members are permitted to take part).
    In this case the Archery GB Rules of Shooting, insurance and Laws do not apply, so you can enter the tournament in accordance with whatever rules the host organisation has decided.

Which County or Region?

Your Starting Point

As you might expect, you will start out the membership year by being eligible to compete in the championships and teams of the county and region in which your first claim club is located.

Of course, if your club is not affiliated to a county or region (and there are a small number that are not), then you won't be eligible to shoot for any county or region.

You Then Change Club

If you move club within your current county, then the issue is trivial - same county and region as before.

But if you move club part way through a season and your new club is in a different county or region, can you enter your new county's championship or be selected for their team? Same for your new region?

Again the answer is quite straightforward (and note that the following statements about counties are also true of regions, if your region has also changed):

  1. If you have already competed in any championship in your old county (whether or not you won it or medalled), you cannot compete for any championship of your new county in the same membership year (i.e. you can only enter the new county's championship event(s) as a visitor to that county).
  2. If you have already represented your old county in their team, you cannot represent your new county in the same membership year.
  3. If you are disqualified from either one of these, you are automatically disqualified from both.
  4. Both of these exclusions are independent of the discipline, so taking part in your old county's championship in one discipline disqualifies you from taking part in your new county's championship in all disciplines. The same is true for teams.
  5. These exclusions remain true even if you arrange a full transfer to your new club through ArcheryGB Membership Services.

However, you should also bear in mind that if you are not disqualified above, you must still notify the secretaries of the old and new county (and the old and new region, if that has also changed) and Archery GB. Note that you are only required to 'notify'; you do not require anyone's agreement.

Direct Members

Direct Members do not have a first claim club, because they have not paid their Archery GB membership fee through a club.

Archery GB no longer asks applicants for Direct Membership to nominate a club, county or region; he/she is wholly responsible for taking out direct membership of any club, county and region of their choice and can change any or all of these, dependent only on those clubs/organisations accepting their application. In principle he/she can decide not to become a member of any club, county or region.

  1. Law 20 is completely silent on how Direct Members would normally be expected to enter a tournament, so you may enter either as a Direct Member or in the name of any club of which you are a member.
    If you enter a tournament in the name of a club, it will not affect your eligibility for any centrally administered awards or classifications, but if you are listed in the achievements section of ArcheryUK, you will be shown as a Direct Member.
  2. You may only compete in the championships of or represent one county and one region during a membership year, in exactly the same way as for any other member.

GNAS Law 20.b

Note that in the following context, all references to 'the Society' are references to GNAS. Although GNAS operates almost everywhere under the 'ArcheryGB' brand name, its legal identity is still GNAS Ltd. and its M&AA and attached Laws necessarily remain in that name.

Unlike the ArcheryGB Rules of Shooting, the GNAS Laws change only very occasionally; it is difficult to be precise, but this law appears to have existed unchanged for a very considerable number of years.

It states:

  1. No archer may compete for the championship titles of, nor shoot for, more than one Region or County during a subscription year.
  2. A member paying the Society's subscription fee through an Associated Club shall shoot for the Region and County in which the club is located.
  3. An individual member wishing to shoot for a particular County and Region shall notify the Society through the secretaries of the appropriate County and Region.
  4. If, since payment of the Society annual subscription, an archer becomes a member of a new club situated in a different Region or County, he or she may, by notifying the Society and the Regional or County secretaries as appropriate, shoot for the new Region or County, always providing that paragraph (i) above shall apply.
  5. Within the United Kingdom an archer may belong to, and shoot for, more than one club in any one given discipline in any one subscription year; but the club through which the archer's Society annual subscription fee is paid shall be the first claim club. Only with the consent of the first claim club may an archer represent another club at any club or inter-club event. The disciplines are Outdoor Target, Indoor Target, Field, Flight, Clout and Popinjay Archery. At County, Regional or National events, the archer may only represent the first claim club.