A Small Suggestion

From almost total obscurity we have seen archery grow as a sport to include many who have physical disabilities. Separate competitive categories have been established all the way up to participation at the world level in the Paralympics.

We have struggled with terminology, however. We tried Handicapped Archery and that didn’t work. We tried Disabled Archery and that still doesn’t work. We now often as not use para-archery as a descriptive label but that suffers from a certain opacity.

I am going to be bold and suggest that we go to . . . Adaptive Archery . . . and stick with it. The “adaptive” label is being used for a great many other sports and it refers to the fact that the equipment and rules need to be adapted for certain classes of competitors.

Adaptive archery, adaptive archery coach, adaptive archers … all of these sound good and come off the tongue well and disparage no one, at least as far as I can see.

And, please, no jokes about how you have been shooting with mentally disabled people for years . . . you are talking about my people there.


Filed under For All Coaches

5 responses to “A Small Suggestion

  1. Adaptive Archery is a wonderful thing! Good name and function. Thanks for bringing this up.


  2. Randi Smith

    Para archery is the name that World Archery and USA Archery use for archers competing in the para archery categories. They have to meet certain requirements and be classified. Adaptive archery refers to all archers using any type of adaptation or adaptive equipment. So, technically, all para archers are also adaptive archers – but adaptive archers are not necessarily para archers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, and, casual talk has led to adaptive archers being called (Lowercase p) para-archers. I have been guilty of this myself.

      So, let’s keep both terms but only use Para-archers and Para-archery for those competing in the Paralympic games. This may be standard practice for all I know, which is why I appreciate your chiming in, Randi, but I don’t think that practice has made it to the hinterlands yet. :o)

      On Thu, Dec 24, 2020 at 5:24 PM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



  3. Coach Rama

    Hello Sir.
    I qualified as a Para-Archery Coach at the end of 2019.
    During our course, the labelling of people was discussed in depth and we also had interactive training sessions with those whose ‘life situation’ was different to ours.
    As a group, we talked to them and listened to their frustrations at the way their difference was perceived and the difficulties that they faced daily.
    The common thread was that they did not want to be labelled as different but that they understood their abilities placed them into a different archery category.
    Regarding ‘adaptive’, we as para-archery coaches, adapt to their needs and create the equipment necessary for them to shoot.
    During one of our sessions, we had to make ‘adaptive equipment’ to allow blind people to shoot. Sounds easy but the challenge was to do so using things that we could find. A pole attached to a chair with a pen on the pole, became a stand with an adjustable contact point, that the archer could place their hand against so as to shoot in the direction of the target.
    As much as they were ‘challenged’ when it came to aiming, we were ‘challenged’ to create something that could be used to be adapted to their needs.
    It’s not really about labels, more so about getting them to shoot.
    Adaptive Archery is a good ‘term’ but then, simply ask that archer what label they are comfortable with.


    • I think that is always a good practice, but there seem to be labels to “personal labels”. When I was a classroom teacher I struggled to learn all of the student’s names (in large classes, e.g. 100+ students, this can be challenging). I have always felt that addressing people by name is a basic level of respect. Now, however, people are also requesting only certain personal pronouns be used in addressing them. If I were still in the classroom, I would be overwhelmed by that.

      On Thu, Dec 24, 2020 at 9:37 PM A Blog for Archery Coaches wrote:



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