Does size really matter in archery? No, size doesn't matter because you can have no arms, not be able to walk, be small or big and you can find a way to shoot archery.
Do you know who Matt Stutzman is? If not well he is a professional archer and he shoots in the Paralympics too and shoots perfect almost every time. Well you might be asking yourself why is Jace talking about this guy named Matt. Matt has no arms and he still shoots better than almost everyone in the world, even the ones with arms. Matt holds the bow with one foot, loads it with his other foot and has a special release that goes around his stubs that goes off when he opens his mouth. Even though Matt has no arms he can still do most things and he actually is a race car driver too. Matt was born with no arms and the world was not going to change for him. His adoptive parents didn't change anything in the house for him, because the world wasn't going to change for him so he had to learn and overcome challenges.
I met Matt at NFAA Indoor Nationals in 2018. My dad contacted Matt in advance so I could meet him and interview him, it was super cool to watch Matt shoot. I saw Matt shoot in videos but it is so much cooler and different watching in person. Matt is the reason why I started shooting competitively, I said if he can shoot perfect with no arms then what is my excuse.
So now for short people (like me) we have a couple of disadvantages. One of them is shooting up hill, this is hard for me. One time when I was shooting my group had to stack up two shooting stools so that I could stand on them so I could see the target over the edge and take my shot. There are a couple advantages to being short, such as shooting downhill. This is easier for us because we are closer to the ground, we don’t have as big as an angle like tall people would.
Another disadvantage of being small is finding a target bow in your size. I have a very short draw length and no manufactures had a target bow that went down to my draw length. Some people would joke and say I shot darts because my arrows were so short. When I went to USA Archery JOAD Outdoor Target Nationals in 2018 I was the only one on the line competing with a kids hunting bow, everyone else was using adult target bows. A couple parents took adult target bows and messed with the limbs and strings to make the draw length shorter for their kids, but even that wouldn’t work for me. In February 2020 I got the PSE Perform X SD and I love this bow, it feels so good shooting it. When I started shooting this bow I was shooting much better and it felt really good because it was a target bow that fit me. How small am I? When I go to the doctors for my yearly checkup I’m not even on the growth chart for height and weight.
For a tall archer like Steve Anderson it might be hard for him to shoot down hill because he has to basically point straight down to be aiming at the target. But with uphill shots it is easier for him because he is so tall that he can see over the hill. When he shoots he might not even have to shoot at an angle at all. But normal shots could also be hard for him because there could be branches in the way that he would hit that others wouldn’t.
In an interview I did with Steve last year I asked him if he has to get a special bow made for him because his draw length is so long. He said he doesn’t, but he does shoot the biggest bow that Hoyt makes. I think Steve is the only person I know that doesn’t have to cut down his arrows when he builds them because of his long draw length. When I first met Steve I asked him for a photo, for us to be in the same photo he had to pick me up or the person taking the photo would had to of stood far away. It was really funny because I think I was half his size at that time.
Andre Shelby is a team USA archer who shoots from a wheel chair. While he was in the U.S. Navy he got in a motorcycle crash, he got paralyzed from the chest down. He said getting into sports really helped him after his accident. Andre said someone told him to try archery and if he liked it keep doing it. But if he didn’t then for him to find another sport, but he had to find something to keep him motivated and active. He tried archery and liked it a lot. He put in the work to be good at it, and in 2016 he was at the top step of the Paralympic podium at RIO. I met Andre in 2018 at a ice cream social at the USA Archery JOAD Outdoor Target Nationals. Me and my dad had a good time talking to him, my dad especially because he was in the military too. So they had a lot to share and talk about, my dad really doesn't like talking to people he doesn't know but when he found out Andre was a Veteran it was easier for them to talk.
So no matter what size you are or limitations you may have, you can find a way to shoot archery and be good at it if you put in the work needed.
Originally published in the July 2021 edition of The Young Archers of BowJunky Media