Matt Stutzman: The Armless Archer

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Matt Stutzman on Archery (As told to Tracy Breen)

Matt Stutzman is an avid bowhunter and world-record-holding champion archery. And he was born without arms. How does a guy without arms even start shooting a bow? Watch the video and read on.

“My parents (who adopted me) never put limitations on me; they treated me like they treated everybody else.

When I was young, I told my dad I was going to play in the NBA. Most parents would have said, ‘Son, you have no arms!’ Mine went out and bought me a basketball hoop. Before long, I was playing basketball.”

“I picked up a bow because my father is a bowhunter. No one could teach me how to shoot, so I taught myself.

I was 16 when I got my first bow. After some experimentation, I figured out how to shoot it. I hold my bow with my right leg. In my mind, I’m holding it with my right arm, just like my dad. Even though I have no arms, the mind can accomplish a lot. I shoot my bow with a special strap that holds it at full draw. I use my jaw to pull the trigger on the release that is connected to the strap. I haven’t ever had arms, so I don’t know what they feel like, but when I am shooting, my arm is my right leg and my jaw acts as a trigger finger because I don’t have fingers. I shoot sitting down and keep myself balanced with my left foot as I shoot. Eventually, I started competing in archery tournaments.”

“In 2012, I competed in the Paralympics and won the silver medal.

Archery has taken me all over the world. Since the Olympic games, I have competed four times and have won four gold medals.”

“I could have competed in a different division in the Paralympics that is much easier than the AR Open Division I currently compete in, and I likely would have won the gold.

But I wanted to compete at the highest level possible because I enjoy the challenge and feel like I can compete in this division and win gold. I want to be the best archer in the world. I have only been competing for a few years and I am young, so I feel like I have plenty of time to improve and become one of the best archers in the world. With or without arms.”

“Life is good right now.

My number one goal is to always be able to provide for my family, and right now, archery and speaking give me the ability to do that. I hope that is always the case.”

(Editor's Note: Stutzman is now sponsored by long-time Realtree partner Hoyt Archery.)