Vision Impaired Archery

Archery for the vision impaired began in Europe in the early 1970s and has grown steadily. The International Blind Sports Association (IBSA) recently recognised it as an official sport for the vision impaired and athletes may soon be able to compete in vision impaired archery at the Paralympics.

All sanctioned international competitions are conducted under the same rules established by World Archery for regular tournaments except for adaptive devices for aiming and safety rules.

Vision impaired archers compete in four classes ranging from B1 (entirely blind) to VI Open (including people with impaired field of vision). The following steps describe the procedure to compete in blind archery under IBSA rules for B1 class competition.


Adaptive aids

Normally these include foot locators, which can be made from wood.


A basic camera or music telescopic tripod (so that it can be carried around) can be simply adapted to hold the tactile sighting device.

Tactile device

A tactile device attaches to the tripod and acts as a reference point, using the sense of touch on the back of the hand or arm below the elbow.

The device can be a simple device or a standard bow sight fitted with a rod with a spring loaded end or a soft rubber button attached that provides a springy feeling on the back of the hand. The sprung nature is to prevent any bruising on the back of the bow hand.


How the sighting device works

Working together during practice, the archer and spotter adjust the tactile aiming device so that when the archer is aiming at the center of the target, the tactile sight end touches a point on the back of the bow hand or arm below the elbow.

Once the starting signal is given, the spotter must step back to the spotter line one meter behind the archer. The rounds consist of three 36-arrow rounds plus one head-to-head round of 12 arrows shot at a target 30 m away.

The spotter may report to the archer where the arrow has hit the target after each shot. Except for safety warnings, no other assistance may be given and no conversation is allowed until the end (6 arrows or 3 arrows for Matchplay) round is complete.

Following each shot, the archer may adjust the tactile aiming device based on the spotter’s report by changing the position of the tactile sight end on the hand or contact point. However, other than stating the result of the shot, the spotter cannot assist in these adjustments.

At the end of each shooting end the spotter may make necessary adjustments to the tactile sight. During these “shooting ends,” the spotter is allowed to assist the archer until the signal is given for the next round to begin.

Vision Impaired Rounds

30/1440                                36 arrows at 30m 60cn face

                                             36 arrows at 30m 80cm face

                                             36 arrows at 30m 80cm face

                                             36 arrows at 30m 122cm face

30/720                                  72 arrows at 30m 80cm face

VI Matchplay                        30m 80cm face

VI Indoor                             60 arrows at 18m 60cm face

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