Archery is open to athletes with a physical impairment, who may shoot with assistive devices allowed under classification rules, if required. Para archery competition, which includes specific competition categories for athletes with certain classifications, is an integral part of the Paralympic Games.
The first archery competition for those with physical impairments took place at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948 for recovering veterans.
As participants from other nationalities became involved over the years, this event became the precursor to the Paralympic Games. When the first Paralympiad was held at Rome 1960, para archery was part of the programme – and it has remained there ever since.
International para archery was organised by the International Paralympic Committee until 2009 when responsibility as the governing body for rules, regulations and promotion was transferred to World Archery. Still working closely with the IPC, World Archery promotes para archery at the world, continental and national levels, including additional competition categories in tournaments outside of the Paralympic Games to increase participation and the opportunity for medals.
Any archer can apply to be classified at the international level through their national governing body. A classification does not necessarily make an athlete eligible to compete in a para archery division, but may make them eligible to compete with an assistive device.
Para archery competition classifications currently consist of open, W1 and visually impaired categories. Only a thorough classification examination may determine whether an athlete can compete in any category, however there are basic differences between the three.
Athletes may have impairment in the legs and use a wheelchair or have a balance impairment and shoot standing or resting on a stool. Open category athletes may shoot in recurve or compound competitions, under standard rules, and the category is featured at the Paralympic Games.
Athletes may have impairment in the legs and make use of a wheelchair. W1 athletes may shoot either a recurve or compound bow modified from standard rules, do not have separate competitions for the two disciplines, and the category is featured at the Paralympic Games.
Visually impaired V1, V2/3
Athletes may have impairment in their vision. V1 athletes must wear blindfolds or black-out glasses while competing. V1, V2/3 athletes use tactile sights and are permitted an assistant sitting or standing one metre behind the shooting line to relay information about the position of the arrows in the target, safety and help with scoring. The category is currently not featured at the Paralympic Games.