A foot above
Editor's Note: The original story has been edited to clarify that Stutzman is qualifying for the paralympics.
A little over a year ago, I wrote about Matt Stutzman, a young man in his late twenties, born with no arms. Matt never let his handicap slow him down, and could do most things as good or better than a person with arms. Matt does everything with his feet, and I mean everything — eat, drive a car, ride a motorcycle. You won't find a handicap sticker on Matt's car, nor is his car adapted for a person with no arms. He purposely challenges himself to do any and everything a “normal” person can do.
Matt was into archery in a big way, having placed high and winning several national competitions shooting against people without handicaps.
Are you sitting down? If not, you might want to, 'cause here's some really big news. Matt Stutzman has qualified for the Para Unites States Archery Team.
In qualifying for the team, he had the highest score for people shooting that day. Out of thirty people testing, three made the team, and Matt had the highest score. Not bad for a guy with no arms.
Physically and mentally, Matt may have an advantage in archery because of his handicap. He uses his legs and feet, which have more muscle mass than arms and hands. Therefore, he can hold a compound bow steadier, and longer, which is an asset, especially if there's a cross wind. His mental advantage comes from years of unbelievable determination.
Living in rural Fairfield, Matt is only a stone's throw from an outdoor shooting range, which works great with all the practicing he does.
Matt took me to the range, and placed a small balloon on a bale 100 yards from his chair. (100 yards is the length of a football field.) I could barely see the balloon, and had to use binoculars. It was a windy day, and the balloon was flopping, so it took Matt a few shots to adjust for wind drift. He nailed that balloon!
While training, Matt shoots four days on, three days off. He typically shoots 120 arrows at 100 yards, if he's outdoors and the weather is nice. If the weather is not nice, he shoots indoors at Finn and Feather in Iowa City, one of his sponsors.
In January Matt will be going to the trials for the paralympic team. If he qualifies there, and he is confident he will, then it's off to London in 2012 for the Summer Parlympic Games. Matt's goal is a Gold Medal. He is confident he will win The Gold because the target at the Paralympics is larger and closer than what he practices with. Peace of cake for Matt!
Matt is available for motivational speaking and demonstrations. His website: www.inspirationalarcher.com has film clips of, amongst others, Matt shooting his bow and gun, assembling a bow, and Matt changing brake pads on a car — all with his feet. I didn't even know how to change brake pads, and now I do, taught to me by a man with no arms.
Matt's wife, Amber, is behind her husband one-hundred percent, as are his two boys, Cameron, age four, and Carter, age five. The boys try to imitate their father's use of feet. Cute.
By the way, Matt is never sick. He attributes this to, beside his positive mental attitude, the use of his feet to do everything, including eating. He believes his body has built up immunities to most germs.
Good luck at the Paralympics, Matt!
Have a good story? Call Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526 or email him a firstname.lastname@example.org.
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