Clout is a form of archery in which archers shoot arrows at a flag (known as "the Clout") from a relatively long distance and score points depending on how close each arrow lands to the flag. Scoring zones are defined by maximum radii from the flag pole. Each arrow scores points depending on which scoring zone it enters the ground in. An arrow embedded in the flag pole is counted as being in the highest scoring zone. If an arrow is lying on the ground, it is considered to be in the scoring zone in which its point lies. A designated person collects the arrows in each zone, sorts them into sets, and lays them on the ground. Each archer in turn points to his or her arrows and calls out the scores in descending order. A single clout round consists of three dozen arrows, shot in ends of 6 arrows. Tournaments typically consist of a double clout round, in which a total of six dozen arrows is shot.
Shooting may be "one way" or "two way":
- One way shooting: a single shooting line and a single set of flags are set up at opposite ends of the range. The archers shoot from the shooting line towards the flags, walk to the flags without their bows to score and collect their arrows, then walk back to the shooting line to continue shooting in the same direction.
- Two-way shooting: two shooting lines and two sets of flags are set up. One shooting line and one set of flags is placed at one end of the range; the other shooting line and other set of flags is placed at the other end. The archers shoot from one shooting line towards one set of flags, walk to the flags with their bows to score and collect their arrows, then turn around and shoot towards the other set of flags.
There are four variations of clout:
- The GNAS clout: The GNAS (Grand National Archery Society) version of clout is used in the United Kingdom. Flags are set at specified distances for combinations of age and gender. The archer's bow type does not affect the distance the archer shoots. Each flag consists of a 12" square piece of coloured fabric on a short softwood pole, the flag to be as close to the ground as is practical. A minimum overshoot is required behind each set of flags. Most GNAS clout shoots are one-way. Each arrow scores points depending on which scoring zone it lands in. Scoring zones are defined by maximum radii from the flag pole.
- The BLBS clout: The British Long-Bow Society has its own form of clout shooting. The Society restricts the archers to the use of English longbows and wooden arrows. Ladies shoot 120 yards (110 m), gentlemen 180 yards (160 m). BLBS clouts are generally two-way. The target is 30in diameter, white, resting on a frame at 45 degrees to the ground with a 4in central black spot. Concentric rings are marked at 30in, 4 feet, 7 feet, 10 feet (3.0 m) and 13 feet (4.0 m) from the centre. At the Woodmen of Arden's traditional shoots, the 'marker' at the target end steps from behind his screen, lies on his back and waves his top hat in the air to signify that a clout has been scored.
- The WA clout: The WA (World Archery) version of clout is used worldwide. Flags are set at specified distances for combinations of gender and bow type. The WA rules do not define any separate distances for juniors or for longbows, though tournament organisers will often introduce such additional distances. Each flag consists of a piece of coloured fabric not exceeding 80 cm high and 30 cm wide on a softwood pole, the flag to be no more than 50 cm from the ground. Shooting may only be "one way".
- The Australian clout: The Archery Australia version of clout is used in Australia. Several possible shooting distances are defined. The archer selects the distance he or she wants to shoot, though for record purposes only certain combinations of age class, gender, bow division and distance are recognised. The same clout target may be used for archers shooting at different distances. A shooting line is set up for each distance and the shooting is staggered so that each distance is shot with safety in mind. All archers shoot at the same time. Shooting is only in one direction (generally to the south). Each arrow scores points depending on which scoring zone it lands in. Scoring zones are defined by maximum radii from the flag pole. There are ten zones in Australian clout. Zones may be marked on the ground, but these are not used for scoring. Only the scoring zones marked on the rope or chain are used for scoring.