Para Archery

World Archery Federation: Archery is open to athletes with a physical impairment, who may shoot with assistive devices allowed under classification rules, if required. Para archery competition, which includes specific competition categories for athletes with certain classifications, is an integral part of the Paralympic Games.

The first archery competition for those with physical impairments took place at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in 1948 for recovering veterans.

As participants from other nationalities became involved over the years, this event became the precursor to the Paralympic Games. When the first Paralympiad was held at Rome 1960, para archery was part of the programme – and it has remained there ever since.

International para archery was organised by the International Paralympic Committee until 2009 when responsibility as the governing body for rules, regulations and promotion was transferred to World Archery. Still working closely with the IPC, World Archery promotes para archery at the world, continental and national levels, including additional competition categories in tournaments outside of the Paralympic Games to increase participation and the opportunity for medals.

Para Archery


Any archer can apply to be classified at the international level through their national governing body. A classification does not necessarily make an athlete eligible to compete in a para archery division, but may make them eligible to compete with an assistive device.

Para archery competition classifications currently consist of open, W1 and visually impaired categories. Only a thorough classification examination may determine whether an athlete can compete in any category, however there are basic differences between the three.

Para Archery


Athletes may have impairment in the legs and use a wheelchair or have a balance impairment and shoot standing or resting on a stool. Open category athletes may shoot in recurve or compound competitions, under standard rules, and the category is featured at the Paralympic Games.

Para Archery


Athletes may have impairment in the legs and make use of a wheelchair. W1 athletes may shoot either a recurve or compound bow modified from standard rules, do not have separate competitions for the two disciplines, and the category is featured at the Paralympic Games.

Para Archery


Athletes may have impairment in their vision. V1 athletes must wear blindfolds or black-out glasses while competing. V1, V2/3 athletes use tactile sights and are permitted an assistant sitting or standing one metre behind the shooting line to relay information about the position of the arrows in the target, safety and help with scoring.​ The category is currently not featured at the Paralympic Games

Paralympic Archery is governed by the South African National Archery Association (SANAA) in terms of the President exercising his right under Article 12 of the Constitution which allows the formation of Sub-Committees, with specific assignments.

This was the wish of the para-archers when they met in Johannesburg in mid January 2012 to discuss the road forward and to vote on the structures that would grow para-archery.

Para Archery


Archery is a test of accuracy, strength and concentration. The sport is open to athletes with a physical disability (including spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy, amputee) in three functional classes as per the classification rules. It comprises of individual and team events, standing and wheelchair competitions, as well as events for visual impaired. Competitors shoot at a target marked with ten scoring zones, from a set distance.

The governing body is World Archery (WA), in relation with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Para-archery competitions follow the WA Rules (see Book 3, Article 21). Presently 54 countries compete but the number is still growing. Paralympic Archery is governed by the South African National Archery Association (SANAA) in terms of the President exercising his right under Article 12 of the Constitution which allows the formation of Sub-Committees, with specific assignments.

As a Paralympic sport, archery was originally a means of rehabilitation and recreation for people with a physical disability. The first archery competitions for people with a disability were held during the first International Games for the Disabled in Stoke Mandeville, England, in 1948, with the participation of 130 athletes from two countries. In 1960, archery was introduced to the world as a Paralympic sport during the Games in Rome. Since then, archery has always been included in the Paralympic Games competition programme.

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

International Paralympic competition is governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)

Because different forms of disability can influence people differently the archer needs to undergo a set of specific tests, the outcome of which will then decide in which class the archer will compete.

The people who administer these tests are called “Classifiers” and they usually have specific professional qualifications in their general lives. They may be doctors, physiotherapists, etc., who have a detailed understanding of how the human body works.
The tests will check the range of movement and the strength of the muscles in the arms, legs and spine.

Para-archery classification is the classification system for para-archery used to create a level playing field for archers with a different range of disabilities.

Governance in the sport is through the International Archery Federation. Early classification systems for the sport were created during the 1940s and based on medical classification. This has subsequently changed to a functional mobility classification with the exception of blind archery.

Different forms of disability can affect people differently therefore archers need to undergo a set of specific tests, the outcomes of which then decide which class they can compete in.

As of 2012, people with physical disabilities are eligible to compete. Male and female athletes with a physical disability (as defined by the IPC) can compete in the following divisions:

  • Recurve (or classic) bow
  • Compound bow
  • Visually impaired (VI)

Within these divisions are open, standing and wheelchair classes with events for individuals and teams. The distance from the target and number of arrows shot is the same for para-archery athletes as for able-bodied competitors[4] except for the Visually Impaired division.[20] Athletes must have a current disability classification card or their results will not qualify for World Records, titles or any other rankings.

There are two major international events in Paralympic Archery – the Paralympics and the World Championships.

For a para-archery athlete to compete at the Paralympic Games, international classification by an International Classification Panel is required. The International Classification Panel will allocate a class to the athlete and rule which assistive equipment the athlete may use. Their ruling overrides all prior classifications including those of a national basis. Athletes must be classified according to their disability and level of impairment. The classification process normally involves a physical assessment to authenticate the disability and evaluate the degree of limitation. The athlete will be observed in competition action. Results will place the athlete in one of the three classes.

Whilst athletes may be deemed to have a disability or impairment, this does not guarantee classification. Athletes may be deemed ineligible to compete based on any of the following findings: (a) their disability does not affect the physical movements required in archery and (b) their primary impairment is not a physical disability.

Athletes may need to undergo the classification process more than once if their impairment is of a progressive nature.

SANAA is incorporating the governance and management of this program, previously handled through the SA Sport for Physically Disabled, with hopes of unifying archers competing within the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

2014 will see some changes in Para Archery
From 1 April 2014 the new rules on classification will apply to all para archery events under the sanction of World Archery. All archers must have the new classification to participate in these events.
To be eligible to compete as a para archer, an athlete will need to get a minimum of 25 points in the lower limbs or 25 points in the upper limbs but they cannot combine the points to reach 25. As a result, it is necessary for all current para archers to be classified again using the new points level.

Para Archery

Introduction to IPC Classifications

The Paralympic Movement offers sport opportunities for athletes that have a primary impairment that belongs to one of the following 10 ‘eligible’ impairment types:

Impairments in this category have in common that there is reduced force generated by the contraction of a muscle or muscle groups (e.g. muscles of one limb, one side of the body, the lower half of the body). Examples of condtions included in this category are para and quadriplegia, muscular dystrophy, post poliomyelitis, spina bifida.

Range of movement in one or more joint is reduced in systematical way. Note that hypermobility of joints, joint instability (e.g. shoulder dislocation), and acute conditions of reduced range of movement (e.g. arthritis types of impairment) typically will be excluded as ‘eligible impairment’.

There is a total or partial absence of the bones or joints as a consequence of trauma (e.g. traumatic amputation), illness (e.g. bone cancer) or congenital limb deficiency (e.g. dysmelia)

Due to congenital deficiency or trauma, bone shortening occurs in one leg.

Standing height is reduced due to aberrant dimensions of bones of upper and lower limbs or trunk (e.g. achondoplasia)

A condition marked by an abnormal increase in muscle tension and a reduced ability of a muscle to stretch. Hypertonia may result from injury, disease, or conditions that involve damage to the central nervous system. When the injury occurs in children under the age of 2, the term cerebral palsy is often used, but it also can be due to brain injury (e.g. stroke, trauma) or multiple sclerosis.

Ataxia is a neurological sign and symptom that consists of a lack of co-ordination of muscle movements. When the injury occurs in children under the age of 2, the term cerebral palsy is often used, but it also can be due to brain injury (e.g. stroke, trauma) or multiple sclerosis.

Athetosis can vary from mild to severe motor dysfunction. It is generally characterized by unbalanced, involuntary movements of muscle tone and a difficulty maintaining a symmetrical posture. When the injury occurs in children under the age of 2, the term cerebral palsy is often used, but it also can be due to brain injury (e.g. stroke, trauma).

Vision is impacted by either an impairment of the eye structure, optical nerves or optical pathways, or visual cortex of the central brain.

The Paralympic Movement identifies intellectual impairment as “a disability characterized by significant limitation both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before the age of 18” (American Association on Intellectual and Development Disability, 2010). The diagnostics of intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior must be made using internationally recognized and professionally administered measures as recognized by INAS (International Federation for sport for para-athletes with an intellectual disability).

The Paralympic Movement adopted the definitions for the eligible impairment types as described in the World Health Organisation International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (2001, World Health Organisation, Geneva)

Each Paralympic Sport has to clearly define for which impairment groups they provide sports opportunities. This is described in the Classification Rules of each sport. While some sports include athletes of all impairment types (e.g. Athletics, Swimming), other sports are limited to one impairment type (e.g. Goalball, Boccia) or a selection of impairment types (e.g. Equestrian, Cycling)

The presence of an applicable eligible impairment is a prerequisite but not the sole criterion of entry into a particular Paralympic Sport.

Para Archery

IPC Classification

Fair and equal competition

To ensure competition is fair and equal, all Paralympic sports have a system in place which ensures that winning is determined by skill, fitness, power, endurance, tactical ability and mental focus, the same factors that account for success in sport for able bodied athletes.

This process is called classification and its purpose is to minimise the impact of impairments on the activity (sport discipline). Having the impairment thus is not sufficient. The impact on the sport must be proved, and each in Paralympic sport, the criteria of grouping athletes by the degree of activity limitation resulting from the impairment are named ‘Sport Classes’. Through classification, it is determined which athletes are eligible to compete in a sport and how athletes are grouped together for competition. This, to a certain extent, is similar to grouping athletes by age, gender or weight.

Classification is sport-specific because an impairment affects the ability to perform in different sports to a different extent. As a consequence, an athlete may meet the criteria in one sport, but may not meet the criteria in another sport.

Para Archery

Athlete evaluation

When an athlete first starts competing he/she undergoes a process to verify the above criteria are met. This process is conducted by a classification panel, a group of individuals authorised and certified by a Sport Federation to determine the sport class of an athlete.

The process (typically) includes:

  • the verification of the presence of an eligible impairment for that sport
  • physical and technical assessment to exam the degree of activity limitation
  • the allocation of a sport class
  • the observation in competition

When undergoing athlete evaluation, an athlete is only classified for one sport.

If an athlete is not eligible to compete in a sport, this does not question the presence of a genuine impairment. It means:

  • that the athlete does not have a primary impairment that makes him/her eligible to compete in that particular sport, or
  • that the severity of the impairment does not significantly impact on the activities required in that particular sport.

Due to the progressive nature of some impairment and their impact on certain activities, athletes are sometimes classified a number of times throughout their career.

When the medical condition of an athlete changes, he/she needs to inform the sport as well and ask for re-assessment.

To compete at international level, an athlete must be classified by an International Classification Panel and their decision overrules any previous classification decision taken by a national classification panel.

As a result of the sport-specific classification systems, each sport has its own classifiers. For example, an IPC Ice Sledge Hockey classifier is only certified to classify athletes for this sport, and not for other sports.

Para Archery

History of Para Archery in South Africa

Sunday the 15th of January 2012 turned out to be a Golden day for Para-Archery in South Africa. It was the day that Para-Archers and Representatives thereof under the guidance of experienced hands in the Archery world elected a SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL ARCHERY ASSOCIATION (SANAA) PARA-ARCHERY COMMITEE under the auspices of Archery South Africa, solely in service and dedicated to the promotion and development of Para Archery in South Africa. For the first time in history Para Archers in South Africa will have their own Committee and a voice.

A special thanks to Selwyn Moskovitz (Vice President ASA), Marietjie Kleingeld (President ASA) Aurelle Medalie, and Barbara Manning for all the work they have done to give us this opportunity to promote Para Archery in South Africa. We plan to make you proud!

We elected and opted to become an independent sub-committee of the National Federation for the time being. This will enable us to tap into their experience and guidance which will enable us logistically, to tackle projects and issues at hand from day one. We are positive that the SANAA Council will consider our proposal favourably.

This opens the road to National-, Protea Colours and the Paralympics for both Recurve and Compound Para Archers.

Every member of this Committee is dedicated and committed to the task at hand. The medical and social benefits of belonging to an Archery Family can not be stressed enough. Immediately we want to hear from Disabled archers all over South Africa. We would like to start a national database of all Disabled archers competitive and social as well as children and adults. Even those of you who would like to give it a try. It would be helpful if we can get in contact with Clubs that have disabled members and those who are open to the idea as we plan to build and expand our Para-Family from Mesina to Muizenberg, Upington to PE , and beyond!!

Some important goals were immediately identified and we want to promote archery in Disabled schools and start training programs. We have a dedicated School that is prepared to give us a chance to start the Feather Program with their students. They have already produced our leading young Para Archer Anton Pierre Swart. We have identified coaches who are prepared to share their experience and coaching skills with us and even an Occupational Therapist who wants to get involved in the classification of Para Archers. We have a medical expert, himself a Para Archer and he is very excited about getting Rehab Centres for spinal cord injuries to incorporate Archery as part of the rehabilitation process again. As it was beneficial to him in many ways. So much more to say, but the list of needs to address is endless! Any donations in the form of time, expertise, equipment and funding will be appreciated. We want to get as many bows and buds out there as soon as possible!

Para Archers can be paraplegic or quadriplegic but also amputees and sight impaired to name just a few disabilities. We want to get a support group up and running for questions and answers. We will have bows available for “test runs” if you would like to try it out! We have 11 Committee Members, we would like you to contact any of us for information, assistance and support! Three of the Members are Para Archers themselves and three have family members who are Para Archers. The other five are highly experienced in their fields!

We are a spirited dedicated and passionate bunch! We will grab this opportunity both hands and make the best of our chance to put Para Archery on the map.

Loads of exciting things still lined up for this year! But please take note that a Committee can only be as strong as the amount of support that it has. We invite you to become part of this exciting process and help our voice to become stronger and stronger!

“Every day, in every way, I am getting better and better”