Stutzman “source of inspiration” for para archers and non-archers alike

Matt Stutzman shoots at the Dubai 2022 World Archery Para Championships.

People’s reactions vary when they see him shooting – but often it’s a mixture of shock and awe.

Matt Stutzman was born with no arms, but that’s not stopped him from becoming an incredible archer. 

The 40-year-old is a reigning World Archery Para Champion, took second at the Paralympic Games back in 2012 – and has often taken to the range to compete against able-bodied peers.

It was a long wait to secure that coveted world crown.

And it was especially meaningful as his opponent in that final, Aleksandr Gombozhapov, also had no arms and was inspired to take up the sport after watching a video of Stutzman on YouTube. And Gombozhapov isn’t the only international archer to speak highly of the Armless Archer.

“He was one of my first inspirations in archery,” says Chile’s Mariana Zuniga.

“So many disabled archers look up to him as a source of inspiration,” adds Phoebe Paterson Pine, the compound women’s Paralympic Champion from Tokyo 2020.

“From the success that he’s had across his career, he absolutely deserves the attention and reaction from people,” she adds. “He’s an incredible archer.”

“I remember one moment in particular,” recalls Vincenza Petrilli, who won three gold medals at the event in Dubai at which Stutzman collected his world crown. “At the end of the first part of the round, he had problems with the release. He fixed it by himself and immediately returned to the line.”

Matt’s custom release aid straps around his shoulders so he can activate it with his jaw.

It’s not straightforward – but Stutzman’s feet are used to working with far more complex mechanisms.

“It shows how few barriers are in his mind,” says Petrilli.

Stutzman called competing at the world championships against other archers without arms – Gombozhapov and Piotr van Montagu – for the first time a result “better than winning”. Of course, that was before he won in Dubai. He is, nevertheless, someone who has fundamentally changed the sport for the better.

“He gave me advice at the world championships in ’s-Hertogenbosch,” says Zuniga. “Enjoy every moment and listen to my coach!”

There’s one more title Stutzman is missing: Paralympic Champion. Having taken the winter indoor season off from competition to rest his body, the 40-year-old is primed to begin his campaign towards Paris 2024 later this summer.

And with each and every arrow towards that goal, he’ll continue to inspire.