Initially conceived as a rehabilitation and recreational activity for people with a disability, Paralympic archery has a long history. The first competitions took place at the Games of Stoke Mandeville, England, in 1948, and the sport featured in the programme of the first edition of the Paralympic Games, in 1960 in Rome.
Paralympic archery may be played by people with amputations, paralysis or paresis (paraplegics and quadriplegics), cerebral palsy, dysfunctional and progressive diseases, such as muscular atrophy and sclerosis, with disorders of the joints, spinal problems and multiple disabilities. In the Paralympic Games, there are men's and women's individual events and mixed team events, with two participants on each team.
The rules of Paralympic archery, governed by the World Archery Federation (WA), are the same as for the Olympic sport. In 2007, the WA took over Paralympic archery, which until then had been overseen by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
In the Paralympic Games, there are targets with a diameter of 1.22m that are positioned 70m from the archer, as well as targets with a diameter of 80cm that are positioned 50m from the archer. As in Olympic competitions, participants have the objective of shooting their arrows as close as possible to the centre of the target, which is formed of 10 concentric circles. The outermost circle is worth one point, and the central one is worth 10. The closer to the central circle the arrow lands, the more points scored.
Two types of bows are used in Paralympic archery: the recurve bow, used for distances of 70m, is made of limbs, a grip and a string; while compound bows, used in the 50m events, possess a system of pulleys and cables capable of achieving greater power with less effort.
As they compete in the same field and with similar equipment to those used by archers without a disability, participants in Paralympic archery may sometimes reach the same performance levels as in conventional world competitions.