Sport Week: History of para-archery

Find out more about the sport that paved the way for the Paralympic Games. 28 Apr 2016
Archery - Fact of the week

Archery and javelin were the two sports practised at the 1948 Stoke Mandeville Games which are recognised as the forerunner of the Paralympic Games.

By Emily Bayci | For the IPC

Archery was introduced in 1946 as a form of rehabilitation for war veterans with spinal cord injuries from World War II.

The first archery competition for those with physical impairments was held on the lawn at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948 in Great Britain. During those days, the rounds shot were the St Nicholas Round for novices (48 arrows from 36.6m away, and 36 arrows from 27.4m away) and the Albion Round for established archers (36 arrows from 73.2m, 54.9m and 45.7m away).

Para-archery was one of the eight sports at the Rome 1960 Paralympic Games. Athletes were assessed by doctors and given a class, which they then participated in.

The 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona, Spain, included athletes with impairments beyond spinal cord injuries.

The 1998 FITA (French International de Tir à l'Arc) World Championships piloted the sport specific classification system, which is used today. The sport grew with world and regional Championships as single sport events, and has continued to remain in the Paralympic programme.

The competition has individual and team events in both standing and wheelchair competitions. Athletes shoot from a distance at a target marked with 10 scoring zones.

On 1 January 2009, para-archery started the move from the International Paralympic Committee to FITA, and the process was completed at the FITA Congress that year. This also completed the process from para-archery as a rehabilitation tool in 1946 to a totally sport specific organisation today. World Archery is the sport’s governing body.

At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, 140 athletes competed in nine medal events. The sport has three different sport classes (W1, open and visually impaired, but only W1 and open will be contested at Rio 2016). A total of 54 countries are currently practicing archery.

The sport continues to grow and move closer toward the system used by the other archery disciplines.

Editor’s note: Each sport on the Rio 2016 Paralympic programme will have a dedicated week of featured content published on Every week a new sport will be featured and the series will run until September’s Games, helping the public understand more about the 22 sports being contested in Rio.


Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs).

The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.

Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.