Classifications are important to all archers because they are the best indication of where you are in terms of scoring ability, and provide a benchmark for levels of improvement. There are nine classification levels: third class archer, second class archer, first class archer, third class bowman, second class bowman, first class bowman, master bowman, grand master bowman and elite master bowman.
To gain a classification you need to shoot rounds up to a minimum number of arrows for the classification. 12 dozen arrows are needed for the archer tier, 18 dozen arrows for the bowman tier. The highest three classifications, Master Bowman, Grand Master Bowman & Elite Master Bowman, can only be achieved with scores achieved at record status competitions. Once you achieve a classification you cannot go back and claim a lower one.
You can hold different classifications for different bow types, but you can only hold your classification for the calendar year in which you shot your qualifying scores. You must re-qualify each year to maintain it.
You can find out your classification & handicap for a given score using Archers Mate
The handicap system is a way of adjusting scores to a baseline so that archers with different levels of experience can compete on an equal footing. A novice usually starts out with a high handicap, which reduces as they record better scores. To achieve a handicap an archer must shoot at least three rounds. These need to be shot with at least one other archer and the results need to be recorded, witnessed, signed and submitted to the records officer.
The system has two main uses. First, handicaps can help you gauge your progress. Second, they can be used to produce adjusted results in handicap tournaments.