Archery at the Paralympic Games

Para archery has been integral to the Paralympic movement since the beginning when the sport was used as a rehabilitation tool for injured veterans at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Para archery was the first sport in which wheelchair athletes had organised competition and was one of the original Paralympic sports at Rome 1960. It has been present on the programme of every Summer Paralympic Games since.

Separate individual competitions are held for men and women, as well as mixed team events.

Mixed team events made their Paralympic debut at Rio 2016, replacing three-athlete team competitions included at prior Games. Mixed teams are made up of one man and one woman from the same nation, shooting in the same division.

Classification classes

Archers are classified according to the extent of their disability, with separate individual events for each of classes.

After the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the classification classes were changed. (The alteration came into effect on 1 April 2014.)

Until the London Games included, the following competition classes were used:

  • W1 - Wheelchair and cerebral palsy athletes with impairment in all four limbs
  • W2 - Wheelchair users with full arm function
  • W3 - Standing athletes in amputee, les autres and cerebral palsy categories. Some athletes in the standing group would sit on a high stool for support but would still have their feet touching the ground.

Since Rio 2016 Paralympics, the following classes are used:

Compound open – Like recurve open athletes, compound open athletes have impairment in either the top or bottom halves of their body, as a rule. They compete from a wheelchair, stool or standing using a standard compound bow, which conforms to World Archery rules.

Recurve open – As a rule, recurve open athletes have impairment in either the top or bottom halves of their body. They compete from a wheelchair, stool or standing using a standard recurve bow, which conforms to World Archery rules.

W1 – Athletes have impairment in both the top and bottom of their bodies, compete while seated in a wheelchair, and may shoot with either recurve or compound bows – with slightly modified rules.

W1 athletes using recurve bows may also use mechanical release aids, while all bows are limited to 45lb in peak draw weight and may not have peep sights, magnifying scopes or levelling bubbles.

How it works

Recurve open athletes compete to the same rules as recurve athletes at the Olympic Games. They shoot at 122cm targets set 70 metres away, with 10 scoring zones. Competition starts with a 72-arrow ranking round, used to seed athletes, and is followed by knock-out elimination matches resolved using the set system.

Athletes shoot sets of three arrows – and the highest-scoring athlete in the set receives two set points. The first athlete to six set points wins the match. (Mixed teams shoot sets of four arrows, two per athlete, and the first mixed team to five set points wins the match.)

Compound open and W1 athletes shoot at 80cm targets set 50 metres away, with 10 scoring zones (the outer four are removed for compound open competitors). Competition starts with a 72-arrow ranking round, used to rank athletes, and is followed by knock-out elimination matches resolved using cumulative score.

Athletes shoot 15 arrows, in five ends of three arrows, and the highest-scoring athlete wins the match. (Mixed team shoot 16 arrows, in four ends of four arrows, two per athlete per end.)

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