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Monday, October 8, 2012

Meet Armless Archer and Olympian Matt Stutzman

On Sept. 15 and 16, the Nebraska hills of Ponca State Park was the site of the annual Missouri River Outdoor Expo.

Mission of the annual expo:

• Preserve the future and heritage of natural resources and outdoor recreation.

• Provide families with hands-on opportunities to learn about outdoor skills, ethics, safety, respect and stewardship.

• Celebrate outdoor traditions.

• Provide opportunities to showcase outdoor products, art, tourism and organizations.

For Brian & I it was a working vacation. We volunteered along with our Greater Omaha SCUBA Club to clean up a lake and staff a both. The club's goal, to introduce our outdoor sport to future SCUBA divers at the expo.

The weekend consisted of some firsts. Besides diving in the coldest water – we got to witness the most amazing feat -- World-Record Archer and Olympian Matt Stutzman. Stutzman is not like most archers, he was born without arms.

The Kansas native was born in 1974 without arms. He still gets along like most. “I drive with my feet. Nothing in our house is modified,” he said. “I can adapt, just adapt myself to make it work."

Today, Stutzman lives in Fairfield, Iowa, with his wife and three sons. He has changed all of his boy's diapers with his teeth. With this tidbit of info, he brought humor to his demonstration and poked fun at himself.

He said:

• "I can’t vacuum."

• "Have no fingerprints."

• "I don't wear gloves in the winter. I can be outside two hours longer than everybody else."

Stutzman commented on his prosthetic arms, which he has only wore a couple times. He said: "I brought the most expensive show and tell in my school’s history." He wore his fake arms to class. Someone also once asked his oldest son: “What happened to your dad’s arms?” He responded, “They’re hanging in the garage."

He told all the bright-eyed kids in attendance, he did odd jobs around the farm to pay for his very first bow. Next, he had to figure out how to shoot it with his feet, which everyone in attendance got to witness.

He told the crowd, “I don’t recommend doing this with your feet – I am a trained professional."

Olympian Archer Matt Stutzman at 2012 Missouri River Expo.
The target at the expo was 70 meters, same as the London 2012 Paralympic Games where Stutzman won a silver medal in archery. He shot from a seated position and used his left foot to put the arrow in place. He pushed the bow away with his right foot and pulled the arrow back with a release aid that's strapped to his body. His first attempt was shot with a regular bow and after that a compound bow -- all while using his mouth only to guide the release onto the string.

He is also a Guinness World Record-holder. In 2011, he earned the longest accurate shot with a mark of 230 yards.

A role model to all the kids in attendance, his message to everyone: Don’t give up no matter what's ahead keep going forward.

- population-we™ blog post by Becky Bohan Brown
© 2012 population-we, LLC
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