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 six classification levels: the lowest is third class, then second class, first class, Bowman, Master Bowman, and Grand Master Bowman at the highest classification level.
To gain a classification you need to shoot three scores that meet that classification level. The highest two classifications, Master Bowman and Grand 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.
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.