Matt Stutzman – The Archer with No Arms

Play episode

How could someone shoot an arrow, without any arms? Colin Lowther and Robin Basselin tell Matt Stutzman’s story.

Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I’m Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Follow along on YouTube
Voice 1 

It is an autumn day in Iowa, in the United States. A small crowd of people gather together. They are standing in a huge, flat field. All around, there is green grass and farm land. In the far distance, there is a round target. On the target, there are brightly colored rings or circles.

Voice 2 

One man stands in front of the crowd. He holds a bow – a weapon that shoots arrows. He gently places an arrow on the bow. He pulls the arrow back toward his ear. He carefully aims at the target. He releases the bow. The arrow flies through the air. After 210 meters, the arrow hits the target. The crowd cheers. The archer has set a new world record. He has completed the world’s longest archery shot to hit a target.

Voice 1 

This is an amazing event. But it is even more amazing than you might think. The archer that broke the record is Matt Stutzman. And he has no arms! Today’s Spotlight is on Matt Stutzman, the armless archer.

Voice 2 

Matt Stutzman was born in 1982. When he was born, he did not have arms. He was disabled, but he was healthy in every other way. When Stutzman was 4 months old, his parents decided that they could not care for him.  They wanted someone to adopt him. So, they surrendered their parental rights. They hoped that other parents would care for their son – and make him a part of their family.

Voice 1 

When Stutzman was 10 months old, Leon and Jean Stutzman did just that. They adopted him. The Stutzmans raised Matt on their family farm. They loved and cared for him. They taught him to work hard. And even though he had a disability, they encouraged him to try and do anything he wanted to do. Jean Stutzman wrote about Matt’s story on the website mattstutzman.com. She explained,

Voice 3 

“Our family plan was to give Matt the freedom to try almost anything – if he could complete it on his own. The natural reaction would have been to quickly enter each situation and help him.”

Voice 2 

However, the Stutzmans chose not to help Matt right away. They chose to let him try, fail and try again. If Matt could not find a way to do something, they would help him. But they always let him try alone first.

Voice 1 

This may seem like an unusual way to raise a child with a disability. But Matt Stutzman is thankful for his parents’ teaching. They taught him that if you think something is not possible, then it will not be possible. But if you work hard and believe it is possible, you can achieve great things. Stutzman believes this has helped him succeed at many things in life – including archery. Today, Stutzman lives a completely un-adapted life. He has not changed anything in his home or car to make it easier for him to live without arms. He also does not use prosthetic arms – arms created by doctors and scientists. The way the Stutzmans raised Matt has strongly influenced him. On his website, he explains,

Voice 4

“I was born without arms. But I was blessed to have two amazing and patient parents that raised me. They taught me a long time ago, that impossible is a way of thinking. And they taught me not to think that way. This has served me well.”

Voice 2 

Stutzman was blessed with good parents. But he was also born with very good physical skill. Stutzman quickly learned to do many things with his feet. In fact, he could do many things with his feet better than most people could do these same things with their hands. It was clear at an early age that he had good skill and aim.

Voice 1 

Stutzman told the Telegraph news organization a funny story about this. When he was young, he used to pull fruit off the trees on his family farm. Often, he would use his feet to kick the fruit at his brother. For most people, kicking a small piece of fruit and aiming it well would be difficult. But Stutzman said he could hit his brother in the head every time! Stutzman recognized at this young age that he had great physical ability. And he learned to use his physical ability to do many things. This helped him as he grew up.

Voice 2 

When Stutzman was 16 years old, he bought his first bow and arrow. He wanted to hunt animals with it. After buying the bow, Stutzman needed to learn how to shoot it without arms. But there was no one to teach him how to do this. Stutzman joked about this with the NPR news organization. He said,

Voice 4 

“If you search the internet using Google and write – ‘how to teach a guy without arms to shoot’ – you will not find that. Usually, you can find anything on Google. But you just cannot find that.”

Voice 1 

So Stutzman had to teach himself. He learned to hold the bow with his feet. He also learned to use the side of his mouth to guide the release of the arrow from the bow. It is an unusual method for shooting a bow and arrow. But Stutzman believes that his lack of arms is helpful in archery. He told the MSNBC news organization,

Voice 4 

“I believe how I shoot is an advantage. I use my leg and my leg is the strongest part of my body.”

Voice 2 

Stutzman’s skill, method and desire to compete have made him very successful. On October 30, 2011, Stutzman set the World Record for the longest archery shot to hit a target. And in September of 2012, he won a silver medal award at the London Paralympic Games. Stutzman hopes this is just the beginning of his success. He told the KCCI news organization,

Voice 4 

“I want to be the best in world. Not just the best archer with no arms or with a disability. This is what encourages me to keep training and working.”

Voice 1 

However, winning is not Stutzman’s only reason for competing. He also wants to encourage people. Stutzman told Telegraph news,

Voice 4 

“I hope that I can affect even one person in a positive way. If I can show one person that life is not so bad and that they can achieve anything – that is very important for me.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Robin Basselin. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the Internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Matt Stutzman: The Archer with no Arms.”

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.(Get our app for Android or for Apple devices. Let us know how you like it and write a review!)

Copyright 2016 by SpotlightEnglish.com. All rights reserved. No portion of Spotlight audio, video, and/or scripts shall be used without express written permission.

Question:

What encourages you to do something you think is impossible? Write your answer in the comments below.

Join the discussion

More from this show

Episode 3