Pick a goal, set a goal, go after that goal, whatever it may be. - What's Your Excuse?
By: Jace Walters
The first time I saw Matt was the morning of the second day of Indoor Nationals. My dad told me to walk down to where we got our targets from. I honestly did not know why, I thought he just wanted me to walk around and take a break from shooting. But then I saw Matt and I was like that is why he wanted me to walk down here with my Hoyt hat. I told my dad that he looks a lot taller in his videos than he does in real life. I said hi to Matt and went to introduce myself but he knew exactly who I was. I asked him to sign my Hoyt hat, which was really cool and weird because I set my hat on the floor and my dad handed the marker to his foot and he signed it with his foot. When he was done signing it he handed it back to my dad with his foot. I've seen him do lots of things with his feet in videos, but it was even more crazier to watch him do that in real life in front of me. Then I asked Matt for a picture and he said sure let's take a picture and we did. After I got my photo I went to where he was practicing and sat and watched him practice. He told me he would come down and watch me practice, but I didn't think he would since he said his sight was a little off and he had to get ready for his game like I did in a couple hours. After a couple more rounds of his practice he walked down with me to where my practice was and he watched me practice. I was shooting very very good in front of Matt, I thought if I could shoot very very good in front of Matt who I idolize that I could shoot next to and in front of anybody. Now Matt just wasn't standing there watching me shoot, he sat down next to me and shot with me. Now there were a lot of kids in a big group around us taking photos and videos of us shooting, because apparently they haven't seen someone with no arms shooting before. At first we were shooting targets next to each other, but then after a few rounds he actually put one of his arrows in my target. He told me that if I could Robin Hood or break his nock that I would be able to keep his arrow. Then me and my Friend from Rising Phoenix Archery took the deal and started shooting at his arrow, me and him tried and came close but couldn't break it. Then he took his arrow and said good bye to us and we let him go shoot his tournament. I took a couple more shots and then went to my tournament area too. The next morning my dad went to the store to print off a photo of me and Matt so I could get it signed. I told Matt I shot a personal best 280 18x yesterday and he told me he shot a 300 60x, I wasn't to surprised because he always shoots that good. He was really really happy that I shot that good because my dad had told him the day before how I had imploded at Lancaster. He said he would stop helping me with practice since I had gotten so good, he said he doesn't want me beating him. I told him he can keep helping me since I still have another year of shooting on the 10 yard line, and even when I shoot the 20 yard line that he can still be the best and I would be the second best. In between Matt's practice rounds that morning, he let me interview him. I felt kind of embarrassed asking him a couple questions because I already knew the answers to some of them but I did incase other people didn't know that much about him like I did. I told Matt that I got a Hoyt because after going around and shooting all the bows that fit me, that I liked the Hoyt Klash the most. I was happy that the bow I liked the most was a Hoyt because that is the brand bow that you shoot. I made it red, white and blue for two reasons. The first reason is in all your videos I love watching you shoot your American flag bow the most. The second reason is that my favorite colors are red and blue, but I added the white just because of your bow. After the interview I said thank you and said I would talk to him after we both shot our second competitions. When Matt was done shooting he texted my dad and told him where he was. I was excited to see Matt so I could tell him that I shot another new personal best, it was a 284 16x, I had never shot this good even in practice and this was my biggest competition ever. Matt told me he shot a perfect game, I wasn't too surprised again and I was very happy for him. Then Matt gave me an arrow that he said was bent, I believe that was the arrow he let us shoot at the day before. I am glad that he found out that we had bent his arrow during his practice and not his tournament, I would of felt very stupid if he shot that arrow in a tournament and missed the X because it would of been all my fault. He said he shot the arrow and it went to the left of the X, and he reshot the arrow and it went left again. That's how he knew it was bent. After he gave me the arrow I was very excited that he gave me the arrow since I now have a Matt Stutzman that I bent. Everybody was hungry and we said see you later and see you at another competition. Matt goes by a motto 'What's your excuse". To me that means that since he doesn't have any arms and most of the time he beats people with arms, that the people with arms are not practicing hard enough to win. Now that I know there is a guy with no arms that could out shoot everybody in the world, it makes me want to practice more and train with my family everyday so all of us could get better. Since we now have a 20 yard target in our backyard, the only excuse any of us have for not practicing to get better is that they are lazy and didn't want to practice which is no excuse because being lazy is not an excuse. It was very exciting to actually finally meet him. He was signed up for Lancaster but couldn't make it, but I didn't know and we went there hoping to meet him. It made me feel sad that he wasn't there. When my dad told me that he wasn't signed up for this shoot I told him he would be here because he signed up for Lancaster and wasn't there, I thought that made sense. This was my great and crazy experience with Matt Stutzman / The Armless Archer.
Q: You said no one wanted to hire you, is archery your job now?A: Yes and public/motivational speaking.
Q: How cold are your feet when you hunt in the winter? How do you keep them warm when you have to stay ready to shoot all the time?A: My feet don’t get cold and wear socks and boots and don’t take them out until I need to shoot.
Q: You said you had a mechanical issue shooting the RIO Olympics that kept you from winning, what broke and what happened?A: I had a broken knock which comprised my arrow flight.
Q: Why did you want to go to the Olympics? A: I wanted to be able to represent the country that has afforded me the opportunity to become what I set out to become without any limits or boundaries. I also wanted to seize the chance to prove to myself and everyone else that you can do anything you set your mind to with hard work and dedication.
Q: Do you want to go back to the Olympics? A: I would love to go back. My goal over the next few years is to make it through trials and be invited back to the games in 2020.
Q: Do you take your kids to tournaments with you and let them shoot too?A: No Q: Does your family do things with their feet to see how hard it is for you to do them?A: Yes....all in good fun. My son Alex in particular.
Q: What is your next big shooting goals? Mine is to shoot the NFAA Las Vegas shoot in Feb 2019. The reason this shoot would mean a lot to me is because my brother went there for ANAC dirt bike racing. I wanted to go back to South Pointe to race like he did, but now archery has taken over my life and hopefully I will go back there to shoot since I won't be for racing anymore.A: I want to win Vegas Shootout. That is my next big goal I am working on.
Q: How high did you have to aim above the target for your 310 yard world record shot?A: I aimed at an air conditioning unit on the top of a building that was 10 stories tall...so pretty high...about 30 degree angle.
Q: Did you have to change your poundage for the 310 yard shoot? What poundage did you pull for the 310 yard shoot?A: My poundage had to be FITA regulation – 60 lbs.
Q: What weight do you pull with your bow?A: 60 lbs.
Q: Why did you decide on the bow that you shoot? A: Because it takes me longer to load a shoot threw riser and this bow doesn't have one, it has proved to be the most efficient in allowing me to make my shots in the time limits I am given.
Q: What pushes you to still shoot archery? A: I broke into archery as a way to provide for and feed my family but my motivation has quickly become to be the best archer in the world.
Q: I like shooting 3D more than paper, which do you prefer? A: I prefer 3D for two reasons.. the first being that it simulates hunting, which is something I am really passionate about. Secondly, I feel like 3D is a little more challenging and allows me to practice in a way that differs from paper.
Q: How often do you change your bows? A: I am a firm believer in "Don't fix what ain't broke". I have found a bow that works well with me and allows me to perform at my best. So, aside from just replacing various pieces that may become old or broken, I don't tend to change my bow up very much.
Q: What do you do before a tournament to relax and get in the zone? A: I really try not to get into my head too much and psych myself out. My best advice for keeping calm before a tournament is to just try your best and understand that, whatever the outcome, you still tried your hardest and will leave with a better understanding of your areas that need improvement. A win is something to celebrate but nobody has ever reached the top without a few setbacks.