Classification provides a structure for para competition. Athletes competing in para archery have an impairment that affects their ability to participate in the sport. The classification system groups athletes by impairment to create the most level playing field possible for competition. Classification both determines who is eligible to compete in para archery and creates competition classes.

Athletes that are not eligible to compete but do have an impairment may also be given permission to use an assistive device – and athletes with classification for an assistive device are able to compete in able-bodied events.

The classification of para athletes takes place at both national and international levels.

National classification

Member associations may have national rules regarding the classification of athletes to compete in domestic competitions, often based on international classification rules. They can use a single classifier panel – instead of the two classifiers required internationally – to determine the class of impairment, have additional classes of impairment and decide what, if any, assistive devices be used.

The intention is to encourage more persons with a disability to participate in archery.

National classification rules apply only to the country that created them and the classification applies only to domestic competitions. Athletes with a domestic classification only may no compete in international events. It is recommended that national classification is based on international classification rules (W1, W2 and ST classification classes) with additional national classes or subclasses to help identify potential national team members and lend consistency to the sport.

International classification

Athletes require an international classification to participate in international para archery events. These classification criteria are part of the International Paralympic Committee Code of Classification and its various appendices, adapted specifically for archery.

International classification is carried out by a panel of two international classifiers before a major para archery tournament. World Archery appoints the international classifiers to tournaments for which organisers have requested them. (It is the responsibility of the organising committee to pay the travel and accommodation costs for the international classifiers appointed to the tournament.)

Detailed classification rules and information – a handbook for classifiers – was published in 2017.

International applications

So that a complete classification programme can be run, organisers are requested to provide World Archery with the dates, venue and type of para tournament they wish to run, and request the provision of international classifiers 12 months in advance of competition.

Visually-impaired classification

Visually-impaired athletes are recognised in separate sport classes by World Archery and may participate in some para archery competitions, using the divisions set out in the World Archery rules.

Due to the medical nature of visual impairment assessment, classification of visually-impaired archers is only carried out by international classifiers from the International Blind Sports Association.


Technical officials, trained and accredited to recognise and analyse impairments in para sport, classifiers assign classifications to athletes.

World Archery provides consistent training and a handbook in order to educate classifiers and enable them to provide fair and appropriate assessments according to the World Archery rules.

Classifiers handbook

The latest version of the World Archery classifiers handbook is in effect from 1 October 2017.

Primarily designed for training and use in reference for para archery classifiers, World Archery’s handbook should also be helpful to coaches, support personnel and para athletes. It gives clear explanations of World Archery rules and procedures around para archery, particularly regarding what happens during classification evaluations.

It might also influence coaching methods and provide indication of available assistive devices. Advice on medical terminology in the document should only be sought from qualified persons.