Shooting Sports (Archery, Air Rifle, Trapshooting)


Tetraplegic archers in a wheelchair. All W1 archers are allowed to use a compound or a recurve bow, release aids, or any combination of the above. The equipment will be standard WA equipment rules with the exception of the addition of the release and compound bow


Use a wheelchair for mobility but have good hand and arm function. W2 archers shoot recurve bows from wheelchairs, following FITA rules


Archers with a physical disability who shoot from a standing position and who are not classified as either W1 or W2. A stool or some sort of support may be used to provide stability, as long as the archers’ feet are firmly planted on the ground. Standing archers shoot recurve bows, following FITA rules

Open compound

Archers who fit into one of the above categories but choose to shoot a compound bow following FITA rules. Open compound archers are allowed to use peep sight in the string, magnifying sight, mechanical release, and a maximum draw weight of 60 pounds

Table 25.2
Classification system for World Archery Federation [3]

ARW1 (also referred to as W1)

An archer with significant impairments, such as tetraplegia or comparable disability, affecting both upper extremity and lower extremities. Most ARW1 archers shoot compound bows, with draw weight limited at 45 pounds for men and 35 pounds for women

ARW2 (also referred to as W2)

An archer with impairment leading to significant limitation to their ability to use their lower extremities and trunk necessitates them to compete in the wheelchair. W2 archers shoot recurve bows following FITA rules

ARST (also referred to as ST)

An archer who is standing or shooting from a stool or a normal chair. An archer may be classified in ARST who require support due to poor balance caused by impairments such as limb deficiency, or impairments that affect their arms and trunk. ARST archers shoot recurve bows, following FITA rules


Archers who classify into one of the above categories but choose to shoot a compound bow following FITA rules. FITA rules allow peep sight in the string, magnifying sight, mechanical release, and maximum draw weight of 60 pounds

Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports, USA

There are three basic classes for men and women (Table 25.1) [2]. They include seated and standing competitors, as well as provision for equipment usage with either a recurve or compound bow.

US Paralympic Archery

The impairments and disability groups allowed under the US Paralympic classifications include amputation, spinal cord injury, wheelchair user, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, and stroke. At present, the disability groups for visual impairment and intellectual impairment are not sanctioned. The classification for athletes competing in the US Paralympic archery competition is classified under the US Paralympic national classification strategy [3]. The classifications are:

World Archery Federation

Unlike the Paralympics, the World Archery Federation (WA) sanctions the visually impaired class. An athlete is classified as visually impaired if he or she has any damage to any part of the vision system, which includes structures within the eye as well as the neurological visual pathways [4]. There are three classes: VI1, VI2, and VI3. These classes must be determined by classifiers certified in determining visual impairment. The main difference in competition between the VI classes is that VI1 athletes are required to wear blindfolds when shooting, while the VI2 and VI3 athletes are not required to wear blindfolds. The remaining classifications are similar to the US Paralympics (Table 25.2) [3].


The basic tenant of all archery competition is the ability for each archer to shoot arrows accurately at a target. The targets used in archery competitions are standardized among the governing bodies; the targets are marked with ten concentric rings; the value increases progressively moving from the larger, outer rings to the central, smaller rings. The center is worth ten points, with the outermost ring worth one point. The formats of the competitions differ significantly between each governing body and they will be discussed individually.

Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports, USA

Archery competition sanctioned by the Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports, USA (WAS, USA), follows the FITA rules. A FITA round is 4 distances with 36 arrows shot at 90, 70, 50, and 30 m for men and 70, 60, 50, and 30 m for both women and W1 shooters. 122 cm targets are used for the two longest distances, and 80 cm targets are used in the two shorter distances. FITA rounds will be shot over a period of two consecutive days at National Wheelchair Games.

There is also junior division level of competition in WAS, USA. Archers in the junior divisions compete with each other based on gender, class, type of equipment, and age. The W1, W2, and standing classifications used in adults are also used in junior athletes. The type of equipment is determined by the bow and depends on whether the athlete utilizes either a recurve or compound bow. Lastly, the young athletes are categorized based on their age: yeoman (7 through 9), bowmen (9 through 12), cub (12 through 14), cadet (14 through 17), junior (17 through 21), and young adult (21 through 22). The distance of the target increases progressively from the yeoman to young adult category.


There are eight competitions for individual competitors: men’s individual compound open, men’s individual compound W1, men’s individual recurve, men’s individual recurve W1/W2, men’s individual recurve standing, women’s individual compound open, women’s individual recurve W1/W2, and women’s individual recurve standing. Each archer shoots 72 arrows from a distance of 70 m at a target of 122 cm. The highest possible score is 720.

In the individual events, all 64 competitors enter the competition at the first round, the round of 64. The draw is seeded according to the result of the ranking round, so the highest seed shoots against the lowest seed in the first round. Each match is the best-of-five sets, with each archer shooting three arrows per set. The winner of each set received two points; each archer received one point if the set is a tie. If at the end of five sets the score was tied at 5–5, a single arrow shoot-off is used to determine the winner.

In addition to the individual events, there are also two team events: men’s team recurve and women’s team recurve. Typically, 12 teams would compete in the team events. The top four seeded teams from the ranking round received a bye to the quarterfinal, while the 5th–12th seeded teams competed for the remaining four places in the quarterfinals. Each match consists of 24 arrows from each team (eight from each team member), and the team with the highest score progresses to the next round. In the event of scores being tied, a three-arrow shoot-off is used as tie breaker.


Archery is a sport defined by its fundamental equipment: the bow and arrows. The components of a bow include a handle (grip), riser (or the handle) with two flexible limbs each ending in a tip with a string nock, and connected by a bowstring in between. Compound bow, which is a type of bow that uses a system of pulleys or cams to maximize mechanical energy in the draw, is also permitted to use in competition, as long as the peak draw weight does not exceed 60 pounds and the pressure of the adjustable arrow rest is not placed further back than 6 cm from the throat of the handle.

The arrow used in competition is anything that consists of a shaft with a tip (point), nocks, and fletching. Cresting is also allowed. The maximum diameter of the shaft is 9.3 mm not including the arrow wrap.

Other permitted items include the arrow rest, draw check indicator, bow sight, stabilizer, and torque compensator provided that they are not electrical components. Visual aids such as telescope, field glass, prescription spectacles, and sunglasses are permitted. Various protective equipment are permitted under the World Archery Federation rules, including arm guard, chest protector, bow sling, belt or ground quiver, finger stalls, gloves, and shooting tabs/tape.

Adaptive Equipment

Only minimal adaptive equipment may be necessary to enable participation in adaptive archery by an athlete with a disability. For individuals with lower extremity impairment, it may only require a stand or a stool to sit on for support. Wheelchairs may only require minimal modification such as removing the armrest on the bow arm; additional equipment such as shooting rest can be mounted on the wheelchair to improve bow stability. A tripod can serve the same function if no suitable device can be attached to the wheelchair.

For individuals with upper extremity impairment, more creative adaptive equipment may be required. There are a variety of compensatory strategies and devices for those with weakness in the arrow arm. A release aid, or a mechanical release, is a device used to help fire the arrow by reducing the torque required to hold the bowstring. Mechanical release is allowed in both adaptive and nonadaptive competitions. A mouth tab can allow shooter with only one upper extremity to draw the arrow with the mouth while using the intact arm as the bow arm. An electronic cocking device is another option for those with significant arrow arm impairment. Certain competitions also allow archers to have another person assist with nocking (may want to define this term for the reader) the arrow onto the bow. For individuals with bow arm impairment, it may only require simple modification such as a universal cuff or bandaging the bow to the hand to achieve a secure grip.

Common Injuries in Adaptive Archery

The literature on injuries associated with adaptive archery is scant, but extrapolation from nonadaptive archery suggests that it is a generally safe sport [5]. The data from 2012 London Summer Olympics Game showed that archery was one of the safest sports [6]. The most common pain suffered by archers is shoulder pain caused by rotator cuff tendinitis or tendinopathies [7], followed by injuries to the hand, forearm, elbow [8], fingers [9], and thumb [10]. Minor injuries in archery are generally associated with skin abrasion on the wrist from being struck by the bowstring after release of the arrow or abrasion on the fingers due to improper release technique. These can be prevented with proper protective equipment such as wrist guards, gloves, or release aids.

Shoulder injuries are frequently the sequelae of overuse, or improper techniques such as jerky draw, or poor equipment adaptation such as using bows with too high of pull weight. Rotator cuff pathology may lead to pain inhibition of the shoulder girdle muscles and lead to secondary shoulder impingement syndrome. Minor shoulder pain can be treated with over-the-counter oral analgesics and relative rest. Physical therapy should focus on rotator cuff rehabilitation and scapular reeducation. Improvement in proper archery techniques to optimize the biomechanics will improve both pain and shooting accuracy.

An uncommon injury associated with damaged equipment is the shattering of an arrow shaft during release, which can lead to severe penetrating injury to the archer [11]. A damaged arrow shaft can be undetectable visually but may fracture or shatter, as it no longer has the mechanical integrity to withstand the compressive force at the moment of release. Archers are always advised to test their arrows prior to shooting by flexing them.


Introduction to the Sport and the Characteristics

Parashooting was first introduced to international competition in Toronto during the 1976 Paralympic Games. Paralympic shooting initially started as a disability-orientated classification system and moved toward the functional classification system currently in use. As a result, the number of classes has been reduced from five classes with separate events at the Seoul 1988 Paralympic Games to three classes with integrated events since the Atlanta 1996 Paralympics. At the London 2012 Games, 140 athletes took part in 12 medal events [12].

Sports Governance

The primary governing body for sport shooting is the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), which uses modified rules of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), the main organization for Olympic shooting. These modified rules were developed to account for difference between shooting for able-bodied and shooting for persons with impairment.


The sport of shooting is a challenge of accuracy, precision, and control that comprises the use of pistols or rifles to fire shots at a stationary target. Advantages in the sport come from techniques to increase stability such as breathing and heart rate timing. The sport requires a high level of focus and concentration to deliver numerous shots on target.

Competition is set up such that the competitors fire a series of shots toward a target’s bull’s-eye. The target consists of ten concentric rings with a score of 1–10, with the value increasing progressively toward the center. In final rounds and in some qualification rounds, each ring is further delineated into smaller concentric rings associated with a decimal scoring system with a top score of 10.9. Athletes compete in events from distances of 10 m, 25 m, and 50 m in men’s, women’s, and mixed competitions. There are 12 total Paralympic events: 6 mixed, 3 women only, and 3 men only. Shooting competitions are divided into rifle and pistol competitions. The rules depend on the gun used (air or .22 caliber), distance, target, shooting position, number of shots, and time limit. Competitors accumulate points for the value of their shots. The top eight scorers in qualifying rounds advance to the final round where scores are reset and the top two competitors are awarded with gold and silver medals.

IPC shooting has three levels of competition. Level 3 includes the Paralympic Games and the World and Regional Championships and is the highest level of competition. World Cup events are considered Level 2. Level 1 events are those competitions approved by the IPC and the National Paralympic Committee (NPC). The Level 3 events occur on a 4-year cycle with Regional Championships on years 1 and 3, World Championships on year 2, and the Paralympic Games on year 4.

Disability Groups/Classification System

Paralympic shooting is open to athletes who have a physical impairment leading to reduced function in the lower and/or upper limb(s). IPC shooting employs a functional classification system where athletes compete in sport classes based on their functional ability, rather than impairment type as was done in the past.

Feb 25, 2018 | Posted by in SPORT MEDICINE | Comments Off on Shooting Sports (Archery, Air Rifle, Trapshooting)
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