This blog post is inspired by a touching video on YouTube that I found via Twitter a few days ago. It shows a 27 years old man shooting a Bear Compound Bow at an indoor archery range. To this point, there is nothing special with that, except the fact that this guy has no arms!
Archery is a very open sport when it comes to disabled persons. As far as I know, it is the only Olympic Sport where disabled persons can (successfully) compete with “normal” athletes. This is valid for physically disabled persons as well as for mentally disabled ones. A good example for such a disabled athlete is the German Mario Oehme, who won the Paralympic Games 1996 and 2004. He has been in a wheelchair after a mining accident in the 1980s and is in the German Paralympic National Team since 1993. But he is one of the archers that is actually able to compete against non-disabled archers and defeat them on a very high level. He proved that on several German Championships in the past.
Even though those positive examples can be role models for others, it should not distract us from the fact that disabled archers have often a lot of problems to struggle with. Archers in wheelchairs are quite common nowadays, but some archers have to deal with more difficult handicaps like blindness or absent extremities either from birth defects or accidents. There are some good examples of how these people deal with their handicap and doing archery anyway. These pictures are taken at the World Archery Para Championships 2009 in Nymburk (CZE):
Finally, the video of the armless archer. In my opinion, it is an extreme example of what is possible if there is a will. I have never seen somebody doing archery with a comparable handicap and moreover, this guy here is doing quite good.
Edit: Yesterday, at January 12th, Andrew Leibs published a good article called “Archery for the Blind”. If you are interested in such things and if you want to learn more about the possibilities for disabled persons to do archery, this might be a good start for you: