KUSA - Matt Stutzman, one of the most famous paralympians in the world, was our guest on 9NEWS 8 a.m. to demonstrate his ability as a short-armed archer.
Sutzman is featured in the movie "My Way To Olympia" which looks at what pushes paralympians to their physical and mental limits. The athlete is in Denver for a benefit at Laradon Hall, a top school for physically and mentally challenged children.
Stutzman was born without arms. Overwhelmed with the idea of raising this special child, his birth parents put him up for adoption when he was four months old. The Leon Stutzman family of Kalona, Iowa brought Stutzman home for adoption.
At an early age, he was fitted with his first ever-prosthetic arms. He learned to work his new arms in two days (the doctor said it would take a week). The slick wooden floors of the old farmhouse were great for scooting around on until he learned how to walk.
The family strategy was to allow Matt the freedom to try almost anything if he could accomplish it under his own steam. Stutzman learned to handle life without special accommodations. He loved the outdoors and eventually became interested in archery so he could go bow hunting with his father.
The rest is history. Sutzman won the silver medal in archery at the 2012 Paralympics in London. "I actually don't use my teeth at all." Instead, he uses his mouth only to guide the release onto the string.
Like many of his wheelchair-using rivals, Stutzman shoots from a seated position. He uses his left foot to put the arrow in place, then he pushes the compound bow away with his right foot and pulls the arrow back with a release aid that's strapped to his body.
Here's how he describes the process, after picking up an arrow with his left foot and putting it on the bow's string:
"After I get the arrow onto the string, I kind of cross my legs, almost 'gentleman-style,' as you can say it," Stutzman said. "And what that allow me to do is, it brings the string close enough that I can actually kind of bend down, and hook my release aid, which is on my right shoulder, onto the string."
"The release is set really light, it's almost like the pressure it takes you to click on a mouse," he said. Still, that doesn't mean it's an easy process. "When I push that away from my chest, that's 60 pounds," he says. "That's a lot of weight."
Besides his Paralympic prowess, Stutzman is also the Guinness World Record-holder for the longest accurate shot, a mark of 230 yards that he set in 2011.
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