Matt Stutzman signed autographs for one of Topps’ upcoming products recently. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, it’s OK but watching him do it will make you want to know more about him.
An archer who competes for the United States as one of the most accurate archers in the world, Stutzman is an athletic hero in every sense of the word. A Paralympic medalist in 2012, he’ll compete for the United States again at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
You can find his cards—including those autographed versions—in Topps’ upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Hopefuls set, which makes its return each Olympic year.
Notably, his dexterity with his feet allows for more than just archery skill. The short video from his signing session is worth your next 30 seconds.
You’ll note that Stutzman’s autographs look better than most of today’s young athletes who use their hands.
You definitely won’t hear him complaining about having to plow through a sheet of stickers.
Stutzman was born on December 10, 1982, with a rare, inexplicable condition. His birth parents put him up for adoption and he was taken in by Jean and Leon Stutzman. Fitted with prosthetics at a year old, he adjusted quickly and learned to walk and feed himself at 18 months. This apparently set a trend for Stutzman, who would grow up to become a record-setting archer and medal winner in the Paralympics.
The Iowa resident says his adoptive parents taught him that “impossible is a state of mind…and not one that I should embrace.”
Stutzman took up archery, operating his bow with only his feet and shoulders. From a seated position, Stutzman positions the arrow with his left foot, then pushes the bow away from himself with his right foot while pulling the arrow back with a special release aid.
He then crosses his legs, bringing the string close enough to his right shoulder that he can hook the release aid to his string. When he’s ready to fire, he simply moves his jaw backwards. Contrary to popular belief, Stutzman does not use his teeth, but merely moves his mouth to get the release onto he string. According to Stutzman, this is because he “likes his teeth too much” to use them that way.
This complex method helped him land a spot on the 2012 Paralympic Archery Team, where he won a silver medal in the Men’s Individual Compound competition. He also made medal-winning appearances in both the World Archery Para Championships and the Parapan American Games.
Stutzman is the official Guinness World Record holder for the longest accurate shot with a compound bow at 310 yards. He accomplished this on December 9, one day before his 33rd birthday. The previous record was 230 yards, a mark he set in 2012 prior to his entry in the London Paralympics.
While he’s still an archer, Stutzman also works as a motivational speaker. Calling himself “The Armless Archer”, he finds the work fulfilling.
“It’s amazing when people come up to me afterwards and talk about how my story hit home for them and they’re going to try harder in school, in their business, or in what they’re doing,” he says. “It makes me feel great, because I’m helping them with whatever they’re trying to accomplish.”