Here’s a quick summary of Paralympic Archery - courtesy of American Disabled Archers:
Paralympic archery follows World Archery rules with a couple of minor modifications. World Archery rules are the same rules that govern the Olympics. They are available at http://www.archery.org. International Paralympic competition is governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) - online at http://www.paralympic.org.
In the United States, the National Governing Body (NGB) of Paralympic Archery is now USA Archery, which is also the NGB for the Olympics.
There are two major international events in Paralympic Archery – the Paralympics and the World Championships.
The World Championships are held every odd numbered year. In 2009, they were in the Czech Republic. They were in Torino, Italy in 2011. They will be in Bangkok in 2013. The round usually shot is a FITA (see below) followed by an Olympic round (sometimes called an elimination round). A team event is also held.
The Summer Paralympics are held every four years, after the Summer Olympics. The round shot is a 70 meter round followed by an Olympic round. A team event is held for some classes. The 2008 Games were in Beijing; the 2012 Games will be in London.
A FITA round is 4 distances. 36 arrows are shot at each distance. The two longest distances use a 122 cm target (about 48”); the two shorter distances use an 80 cm target (about 36”). Distances are 90, 70, 50, and 30 meters for men; 70, 60, 50, and 30 meters for women and W1 shooters (see classes).
All 70 meter rounds, Olympic rounds, and team rounds are held at 70 meters.
There are four classes in Paralympic Archery with divisions for men and women. Sometimes two divisions may be combined. The divisions are based on physical classifications. Athletes have to be officially classified before they shoot internationally. The classification is done by physical therapists and other professionals. This is a very basic description; more information is available at http://www.paralympic.org/release/Summer_Sports/Archery/About_the_sport/Rules/index.html
W1 Archers – Have some sort of disability that effects both their upper and lower body. They use a wheelchair for mobility, and have some sort of function loss in their hands and/or arms. Most W1 archers shoot compound bows, but they cannot have peep sights or magnifying sights. There is a maximum weight of 45 pounds for men; 35 pounds for women.
W2 Archers – Use a wheelchair for mobility but have good hand and arm function. W2 archers shoot recurve bows from wheelchairs, following FITA rules.
Standing Archers – Archers with a physical disability who shoot from a standing position. Many of the archers use a stool or some sort of support, but their feet are on the ground. They shoot recurve bows, following FITA rules.
Open Compound – Archers who classify into one of the above categories, but choose to shoot a compound bow following FITA rules. FITA rules allow a peep sight in the string, a magnifying sight, a mechanical release, and a maximum weight of 60 pounds.
All of the above classes also have a restriction on arrow size of 9.3 mm, but this is seldom relevant when shooting outdoor FITA rounds.
If you’ve never shot a bow before, keep the above information in mind, but don’t worry about it. Find someone who can help you shoot and do whatever you can to get shooting. You may start out with a 10 pound bow at 10 yards. That’s okay – that’s how lots of people get started. Try to find someone who knows about archery. You know about you and what you can do. Working together, you can find a way to make it work. If you have questions, contact the coaches listed above and they should be able to answer them.
After you’ve figured out how to shoot, you can think about local competitions. You might not start out in World Archery competitions, but shooting with other people is important. Eventually you can start shooting in World Archery tournaments – if you decide that’s what you want to do.
For complete information, including information on Team USA Paralympic and World Archery Para Championships Team Members, visit http://www.americandisabledarchers.com.