Stutzman missed indoor season due to focus on long-term health

Matt Stutzman at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Matt Stutzman is on an arrow count.

Until 2020, he was a regular at indoor tournaments, including the world-famous Vegas Shoot, which was held this past weekend. (Back in 2018, he finished 20th in the indoor portion of the event.)

But, particularly this season, the Armless Archer has had other priorities.

“Usually, I shoot all the indoor stuff. This season, I skipped indoors to focus on the outdoors,” he says.

In 2022, Stutzman was crowned World Archery Para Champion for the first time in his long and successful career, which has already seen him appear in three Paralympic Games and win a silver medal at London 2012.

The 40-year-old, who’s also an avid racer and leads a pretty active life, has been taking physiotherapy seriously this winter.

“My right hip was causing me a few problems from overshooting, so I felt like I needed a couple of months to let that heal. I had some physical therapy, and it's getting back to normal. I would say it’s 90% now,” he explains.

Stutzman draws his bow by pushing into the riser with his right leg, while a release aid is wrapped around his shoulders and back.

Matt will miss shooting indoors.

“I love the indoor season. I’m not gonna lie. I usually did really well indoors,” he says. “I was able to shoot 300 in Vegas.” 

No mean feat – but par for the course for someone who has never been discouraged from competing against able-bodied peers.

“I feel the indoor season helps my outdoor season because it teaches me consistency. That’s basically the game,” says Matt.

But the Armless Archer will be hoping that, instead of whatever value another indoor season might have held, the rest will hold him in better stead in 2022. This year, as the international para calendar finally returns to normal after the pandemic, he’ll defend his world title at the World Archery Para Championships in July in Pilsen.

That tournament will also act as the primary qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

“I'll miss [indoors] this year, but I don’t feel like it’s going to affect my outdoor season because I’m recovering,” he says. “I’m using this time to let my body heal.”