All About Adaptive Archery

Archery has been adapted so that individuals of all abilities, ages and genders can participate. Adaptive archery is much like traditional archery in that the athlete uses a bow to aim and propel an arrow to hit a target. This adaptive sport is especially inclusive because athletes with various physical or cognitive impairments can easily compete alongside athletes of other abilities, as opposed to team sports like sled hockey and power soccer.

Getting Started with Adaptive Archery

Adaptive archery doesn’t require special coaches or classes but may require equipment with modifications. However, you don’t have to commit to purchasing all of the equipment you need before trying the sport out.  Instead, call an archery range near you and see if they offer rentals.  That way, you can try out different types of equipment and see what you feel most comfortable with before making an investment.  If you live near a Move United chapter and take lessons, required equipment is included in the lesson fee.

Adaptive Archery Equipment

There are two types of bows to choose from: recurve and compound. Both options feature different advantages and both can be modified for use by adaptive athletes.

A recurve bow is comprised of a single bow body and a string that connects to the ends of the body. This is a very simple and effective design, making it a great option to start. This bow is also known as a traditional bow.

Compound bows consist of a smaller body that’s constructed from aluminum or carbon fiber. The ends of the body feature pulleys and strings are run through them.

Two common modifications to bows are mouth tabs and harness releases. A mouth tab allows athletes who have use in one arm to pull back the bowstring with their mouth. This modification can easily be made at home.

A harness release is a custom-made shoulder harness that’s attached to a mechanical release aid. Since the harness needs to be fitted to the archer, you can’t find them available in retail stores. You or someone you know will have to make the harness yourself.

Adaptive Archery Competitions and Events

If you find that you like adaptive archery and want to compete, you can try to go for competitions like the U.S. Paralympic or World Championship teams. Although you can compete against able-bodied archers, if you decided to go for a para-specific competition, you are placed into a classification or sports class to ensure fairness in competition. For more information on para archery classification, visit

Learn more about other adaptive sports that you can play. You can also find more articles about adaptive sports on our main website.


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