USA Archery announced that Paralympic Archery is now governed by USA Archery effective Jan. 1. USA Archery is incorporating the governance and management of this program, previously handled through the U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Division, with hopes of unifying archers competing within the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
"We will be able to further integrate the Paralympic Archery program into all USA Archery activities by bringing the Paralympic Archery program under our umbrella," said Denise Parker, USA Archery CEO. "This program has seen some great successes over the last several years and the promotion and development of Paralympic Archery is an important facet for us to further develop and expand across the country."
The United States Paralympic Archery program has reached some significant milestones over the past few years. 2008 U.S. Paralympians Jeff Fabry of Tulare, Calif., and Joe Bailey of Flushing, Mich., who are current national team members, helped put the United States on top by claiming world championship titles in the past decade. Team USA won three medals (1 silver, 2 bronze) at the 2009 World Championships and two bronze medals at the Beijing Games. The Paralympic team claimed one gold and one silver medal at the 2007 World Championships. Moving forward, the goal for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London is four medals.
Randi Smith of Salt Lake City, Utah, who was the 2008 Paralympic Games Head Coach for archery, will remain in the same capacity to provide the existing national team members consistency. Additionally, Smith will lead the Paralympic Archery Camp at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center in January and oversee the coaching activities and development.
"The Para-archers have competed at USA Archery tournaments for years and it's great to now be an official USA Archery group," said Smith. "We will continue on our mission to be invincible and ready to dominate. This is exciting for the athletes and we look forward to receiving additional support and development."
Just like the able-bodied archers, the Paralympic Archery National Team will be the Para-United States Archery Team (Para-USAT). The Para-USAT archers are nominated to the national team by shooting a Minimum Qualifying Score at a Star-FITA event. The MQS established is generally dependent upon the top eight place winners at the previous Paralympic Games and Para-World Championships.
Archers wishing to qualify for the 2010 Para-USAT can locate the qualification standards in the 2010 Paralympic High Performance Plan. Upon shooting a qualifying score the archer must attend the designated Para-USAT events per the athlete agreement.
Depending upon the individual athlete's disability they are classified into one of four classifications that will provide an equal competition platform for both men and women. The competition format at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London will be team rounds for recurve men and women, along with seven individual classes.
The four Paralympic Archery classifications are:
Another division of Paralympic Archery is the Visually Impaired Division currently competed only at the World Championships.
The archers follow the guidelines for ranking and elimination rounds as established by FITA. Ranking rounds of 70 meters are shot during even number years by both men and women of all classes, which includes the Paralympic Games. A FITA Round is shot during the odd number years with all women and AR1 men shooting distances of 70, 60, 50, & 30 meters, which includes the World Championships. The FITA Round of 90, 70, 50, & 30 meters distances is shot by AR2, ARST, and Open Compound Men classes.
The visually impaired archers compete in their own round, which consists of 144 arrows at 30 meters; 36 arrows shot at a 60 cm face; two rounds at a 80 cm and 122 cm faces.
USA Archery's goal for the 2010 Competitive Season is to transition the Paralympic archers into all facets of USA Archery. All previous programming will remain intact for 2010 with greater integration of Paralympic and Olympic archers occurring in 2011. For the first time in 2011, Olympic and Paralympic archers will compete together at the 2011 World Championship in Torino, Italy, with the Paralympic event immediately following able-body archers.
The 2010 High Performance Plans are running concurrently for both categories of athletes. USA Archery will integrate the high performance plans into one document to better manage Olympic and Paralympic Archers, starting in 2011.