Champion Archer Matt Stutzman

Matt Stutzman calls himself the Inspirational Archer (which he certainly is) on his web site , but he’s better known as the Armless Archer. What an achievement. He also has a sense of humor, with the site subtitle, A Foot Above the Competition.

Born without arms, Stutzman inserts the arrow using his left foot, lifts and steadies his bow with his bare right foot, and uses his teeth, shoulder and jaw to pull back and release the arrow. He only took up the sport two or three years ago.

At the 2012 Paralympics, Stutzman won silver for the United States, placing behind Finland’s Jere Forsberg, 6-4, in the final contest of the Men’s Individual Compound – Open event on Sept. 3. It turns out Matt was aiming for the Gold, so he was probably disappointed with this result.

According to USA Today, Stutzman’s competitors were all wheelchair users but had use of their arms.

“My goal was to inspire somebody, even if it was just one person, with my positive attitude,” Stutzman told the Herald-Sun after winning his silver medal.

The excitement around Stutzman’s performance was palpable in the archery final. Whereas his opponent, Forsberg, shot his arrows in silence, the Telegraph likened the sound of camera shutters going off around Stutzman to “exploding birdshot.”

If you jump immediately to 0:41 in the video below, you can see how Matt inserts arrows into the bow with his feet and uses an off-the-shelf wrist device (although he has it on his shoulder) to draw (pull back) the arrow, and then his jaw movement releases the arrow for flight. All his equipment is standard and not adapted to his unique situation. What a talent.

If you go right to 2:00 in the video below, you can see how Matt uses his foot and toes EXACTLY like able-bodied people use their hands and fingers. Amazing.

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