WESTFIELD, Ind. – When the more than 1,100 archers took to the field this week at Grand Park for the USA Archery Outdoor National Championships one archer sits below the field, but is looked up to by all.
“I mean a lot of times you’re like, ‘oh’ man it’s a surprise,’ but with Matt nothing really surprises anybody anymore,” 14-time World Champion Gold Medalist Reo Wilde said.
Matt Stutzman was born in 1982 with no arms, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing anything he’s ever put his mind to.
“For me it’s me living my life,” Stutzman said. “If you were to go in my house besides a picture on the wall there’s nothing that would lead you to believe that a guy without arms lives there. I have no modifications.”
Stutzman picked up archery later in life when he was looking for a career change.
“I was a stay-at-home dad trying to figure out how to make ends meet and I saw this guy on TV shooting a bow and I decided, ‘why can’t I do that?’ and so I sat down, made a game plan. Little did I know it was going to lead to what it is today,” Stutzman said.
Today, Stutzman is a Paralympian and won the silver medal in the 2012 games in London.
This week for the first time he’s competing in the able-body division at Grand Park.
He’s currently in 10th place following the first round of qualifications, but archery isn’t the only thing that Stutzman has been able to do by defying the odds.
In his spare time he enjoys hunting and spending time with his children and he even has his drivers license.
“I actually like working on trucks and cars so I change brakes. I put in engines. I like to build race cars and go super-fast,” Stutzman said.
Since joining the archery circuit, Stutzman has obviously become well known and his competitors have learned to never underestimate him.
“We went out to a dinner at somebody’s house and they had a pool table,” Wilde said. “And (Matt) talked Braden Gellenthien into playing him and he just smoked Braden and he turned to me and said, ‘I liked pool before I like archery,’ and so Matt really got some talents that he just never seems to not surprise people.”
Stutzman said nothing he does ever truly surprises him, but he hopes his story can be an inspiration to others facing challenges in their lives.
“It’s easy for me to use that help people who have issue going on. No matter what that issue is. Motivate them. Push them. Tell them, ‘I never quit. I never give up. Why are you quitting. Why are you giving up?’” Stutzman said. “And if I can use that in that aspect to make their life better than that’s why I’m here. To me that’s more important than archery.”
The finals for the USA Archery National Outdoor Championships are Saturday at Grand Park in Westfield at 7:00 p.m.