Initially conceived as a rehabilitation and recreational activity for people with disabilities, 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. There are both individual and team events – the latter with three 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).
As in Olympic competitions, participants have the objective of hitting their arrows as close as possible to the target, positioned 70 metres away, which has a 1.22-metre diameter and 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 archery: the recurve bow, the only type permitted in Olympic and Paralympic competitions, is made of layers, a grip and a string, while compound bows possess a leveraging system capable of achieving greater power with less effort, and are more used in hunting.
As they compete in the same field and with similar equipment to those used by archers without disabilities, participants in Paralympic archery may sometimes reach the same performance levels as in conventional world competitions.