Archery is truly one of the world’s oldest and most ancient sports. It is closely linked to the development of civilization and as a cultural advance, comparable to the discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel. While Archery competitions date back to 1200 BC, it first appeared in the Olympic Games of 1900. Archery was the only sport contested in the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, which was the first organized competition for wheelchair athletes and the inspiration for the Paralympic movement. Male and female archers compete in three categories: Recurve Open, Compound Open, and W1. They shooting varying distances based upon their age and classifications.


  • Bow (Recurve, Compound, or Barebow) – may have accessories such as sights and stabilizers
  • Arrows – 1 dozen matching arrows are required for competition
  • Quiver
  • Finger Tab; Mouth Tab; Shoulder or Mechanical Release
  • Arm Guard


Any USA archer can apply to be nationally classified through USA Archery. International classification is applied for through the National Governing Body (USA Archery) but is offered only at international events. A classification does not necessarily make an athlete eligible to compete in a para archery division but may make them eligible to compete in a non-para category with an assistive device. 

There are three physical categories in para archery. Standing (ST) archers shoot either standing or on a stool; W2 archers shoot from a wheelchair. W1 archers shoot from a wheelchair but have impairments in at least three limbs and abdominal impairment. Only a thorough classification examination will determine whether an athlete can compete in any category.

Shooting Categories

Athletes who are classified as ST and W2 are combined into an Open Category. Depending on the bow they shoot the category can be Open Recurve or Open Compound. They are divided into male and female divisions. They shoot regular World Archery rules (including equipment) and the category is offered at the Paralympic Games.

W1 archers have more severe disabilities and the rules are adapted. Recurve and compound bows are combined, but compound bows must follow recurve equipment rules except for the bow itself. At some competitions, males and females are combined, but at the Paralympic Games they are separate.