An armless archer was a big draw to the Missouri River Outdoor Expo. Matt Stutzman has overcome physical barriers to compete in the Paralympics.
In Ponca, Nebraska, he shared his story and his talents, too. His is a tale of determination.
Matt Stutzman was born without arms, but to him that's normal.
"I still look at my feet as my feet," said Stutzman. "It's just that I use my feet to eat, brush my teeth, drive, everything I do in an every day normal life."
"He's incredibly coordinated. I just think of if I had to use my feet to do every day activities, it just wouldn't be possible," said Elizabeth Schumann of Arlington, Neb.
About three years ago, he wanted to use a bow and arrow, but was told he couldn't have a normal bow. That made him want to try even more.
"I had no idea how I was going to use it, but I was going to figure it out," said Stutzman.
During a friendly backyard competition, Stutzman and a friend and kept pushing their target farther and farther back. When he got home, he found out their ending distance would set a new world record. So, he contacted Ponca about breaking the record at its expo.
"I know the hard work that I spent to get there, you know at the beginning I was shooting eight hours a day and that consumed my entire life for the last year to two years," said Stutzman.
"Seen him last year make that, what, 230 yard shot. That was just unreal, and it was windy that day," said Allen Wulf of Clarkson, Neb.
"Making it official meant a lot because that really says something about how I felt really proud that day because I was able to accomplish what I set out to do that day," said Stutzman.
Even with all his practice, he never anticipated the pressure of London.
"If you just think about all of the people that are watching, you have to block those people out because otherwise you're going to mess up," said Stutzman.
He came within one point of getting gold in London. Now, he's sharing his story with families across the country, hoping to inspire them to work hard...like he has.
"Just what a great enthusiasm, and attitude he has, and he's quite personable and really funny and just sets a good example that anybody can accomplish what they put their mind to," said Schumann.
For Stutzman, that silver medal is just the beginning. He says he wants to go back to the Olympics in 2016 to get the gold.
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