World Archery celebrates 90th birthday on last day of Paralympics

Delegates and athletes at the 1931 World Archery Championships.

World Archery celebrates its 90th birthday on the last day of the archery competitions at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Founded as FITA, the French acronym for Fédération Internationale de Tir à l'Arc, the inaugural congress took place in the then-Polish city of Lwow on 4 September 1931.

Nine decades later, we’ve taken a look back to dig out a few little known facts from that pivotal moment in the sport’s international history.

Absent founder

It’s considered that there were seven founding countries of the federation: France, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, Poland, USA, Hungary… and Great Britain.

But Britain wasn’t actually in attendance. General MacQuoid sent a telegram, instead.

Italy was supposed to be there – but the delegate turned up late, so the country is not considered a founding member, even though it joined about an hour later.

The goals

The federation’s objectives, upon its founding, were:

  • To get back on the Olympic programme.
  • To organise international events.
  • To regulate international event prices.
  • To standardise international event rules.
  • To ratify world champions and world records.

Aside from the first of these, all four remain today – although events are now one of World Archery’s three objective pillars, the others being promotion and helping nations to develop the sport.

Archery, of course, returned to the Olympic programme in 1972, some 41 years after World Archery was created.


The first-ever membership fee was set at 250 Fr per year, which was quite high for the time.

It’s about 500 CHF in modern money – which is actually more than many countries pay at the moment.

Official languages

As of 2021, the only official language of World Archery is English. There was previously two, the second being French, but this was removed with the rebranding of the federation in 2009.

But the first-ever congress was conducted, officially, in French and Polish.

Much of the initiative to found World Archery seems to have come from within Poland, the country that hosted the World Archery Championships that year – and whose archer, Michal Sawicki, was crowned the first-ever world champion.

There’s now a plaque and statue in Lviv, which is now part of Ukraine, marking the house where World Archery was born.

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