No one challenges the word “impossible” like 29-year-old Matt Stutzman. The Paralympic archer from Iowa, USA, is respected the world over, not just for his undeniable skill with the arrow but for the unbelievable way he shoots it – without the help of arms.
Stutzman was born without arms but refused from a young age to rely on prostheses to live his life. Instead, the boy with a gift for problem-solving made it his mission to figure out how to go about day-to-day tasks with what he had. Today he eats, drives, brushes his teeth and changes his sons nappies with his feet.
He is also set to compete and achieve in the Paralympic archery competition in London.
Though he tried his hand at bow hunting briefly as a teen, archery only became a serious interest for Matt two years ago. A friend got him to join a whitetail bow hunt in 2010 and, while on this hunt, he realised he could draw a bow and shoot a bow without too much effort, considering his physical disability. He killed a doe that first season and, immediately, he was sold.
Stutzman – know to his fans as “The Armless Archer” – recently set a world record for the longest accurate shot by hitting a target 230 yards away. The standard distance is 76.5 yards. His focus at the moment is achieving Gold at the Paralympics but, should he grace the Paralympic podium, competing in the Olympics will be his next goal.
With the Olympic rules as they stand currently, Stutzman is not allowed to compete. The main reasons include the fact that he uses a compound bow instead of the recurve bows – the standard bow of Paralympians – and sitting on a chair makes his style of shooting completely unconventional.
For now, though, it’s all about his performance in London – and, if his track record is anything to go by, fans will not be disappointed.
The first Paralympic Archery event takes place on 30 August.