History of World Archery Championships

Image courtesy Emil Heilborn: competitors and officials attending 1931 World Archery Championships.


World Archery Championships refers to the main outdoor target archery international championships.

The championships have been held since 1931. Michael Sawicki became the first World Archery Champion in Lwow, then part of Poland, where FITA (as the federation was initially called) was formed.

In 1933, the men’s and women’s competition were split and in 1937 the team tournament, which had been held since the event’s inauguration, was made official.

In 1995, a compound competition was introduced to mirror the recurve events.

The World Archery Championships were organised every year until 1939, then suspended throughout the period of the Second World War, and restarted annually in 1946. Since 1955, the championships have been held every two years.


World championships for para archers have been held since 1998, under the direction of the International Paralympic Committee until 2009. World Archery Para Championships have been held in odd years ever since, under the direction of World Archery.

On 1 April 2014, the classification categories were changed, leaving just three: recurve open, compound open and W1. Individual, mixed team and team events have since been held for each.

Visually impaired competitions have been developed since 2015.


The first international field archery tournament was held in 1959 in Stockholm, Sweden, immediately after the World Archery Championships. The second such event, which became the first official World Archery Field Championships, was held a decade later in Valley Forge, USA in 1969.

Compound was added to the event in 1990 (five years prior to the addition of compound to the outdoor championships), and team and junior medals were first contested in 1986.

The second World Archery Field Championships were staged in 1970 and the event has been held in each even year since then.


The first World Archery Indoor Championships were held in 1991 in Oulu, Finland, with both recurve and compound competitions (four years prior to the addition of compound to the outdoor championships). Team events were added in 1995 in Birmingham, UK. Junior competitions were added in 2001 in Florence, Italy.

World Archery Indoor Championships were held in odd years from 1991 to 2009 and in even years since 2012.


The first World Archery Youth Championships took place in Sandefjord, Norway in 1991, with recurve events for both junior men and junior women. The second edition was held in Moliets, France in 1993. The third edition was held in Roncegno, Italy in 1994 and saw the addition of compound competitions and the Olympic head-to-head format.

Since 2002, junior and cadet medals have been awarded. In 2009, ahead of the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, the age limits of these categories were adjusted to under 21 for juniors and under 17 for cadets.


World Archery 3D Championships have been held in odd years since 2003, with barebow, compound and longbow categories for both men and women, individual and team. The instinctive category was added in 2007.

The first World Archery 3D Championships held outside of Europe was in Lac La Biche, Canada in 2019.


World archery championships have also been held for university athletes, ski archery and masters archery. University world championships were stopped when the sport was made a permanent fixture at the Universiade after 2016.