Archery Quarterfinals Pit U.S. Teammates Against Each Other
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 2, 2012 A quarterfinals archery match here today thrilled the 2012 Paralympic Games crowd, as two U.S. teammates squared off in a tight contest that came down to the last arrow.
Matthew Stutzman, left, embraces U.S. teammate Army veteran Dugie Denton after the two faced off during the Men's Individual Open Compound Quarterfinals match in the 2012 Paralympic Games at the Royal Artillery Barracks in London, Sept. 2, 2012. Stutzman defeated Denton on his final arrow. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Shooting at the Royal Artillery Barracks, retired Army veteran Dugie Denton faced teammate Matthew Stutzman – known as “The Armless Archer” -- during the Men's Individual Open Compound Quarterfinals match.
“They're just the same as anybody else out there,” Denton said. “We bring a team, but we're individual shooters. So it's still on the individual.”
Following the grueling match in which nearly every arrow hit the yellow portion of the target for a 9- or 10-point score, a Paralympic commentator offered that it may have been the best match the Paralympics and Olympics had seen this year.
At one point, Denton hit three straight bull’s eyes, scoring a perfect 30 for the set, but he didn’t win his match.
“It was good shooting,” Denton said. “[Stutzman] didn't make a mistake, and I did. That's all that matters. Everybody makes a mistake – we're only human.
“It's unfortunate to shoot against your own teammate, because you know one of you is going home,” he continued. “I'd like to see both of us meet up [at the] end so we can shoot for the gold and silver.” The match between the two archers was close that the three-arrow-per-round, five-set match wasn't decided until the 30th arrow was fired. The very last arrow, as a dramatic announcer pointed out, decided the match's outcome.
“I gave it away,” said a disappointed, but upbeat Denton. “When I went to tip down, I just relaxed, and when you relax that hinge fires. And that's just how it is.” The archer said there weren't any technical issues as he worked through the match, but the hinge, ultimately, cost him advancement to the semifinal round.
“It was just the balance issue with tipping backwards,” he explained. “Nothing fancy – simple. It happens occasionally.”
Despite losing to his teammate, Denton said he looks forward to competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games.
The retired soldier noted he deals with effects from a traumatic brain injury, has reduced balance from a past ruptured eardrum, and had a plate put in his ankle after being shot during his military service. But he credited his ability to perform well and his disciplined demeanor to his previous military service.
“I feel a lot calmer than I think most of these guys do,” he said. “The mental training you go through in basic training and being deployed from overseas, … I think it helps a guy out a lot.”
Denton made no excuses for his loss as he spoke to reporters after the match, and he lauded the competition.
“The competition was spectacular,” he said. “It makes a guy feel good, except for that last arrow. [It's] just how she goes, and that one went high.
“I was hoping not so high,” he added with a chuckle.
Denton compared the moment of his hinge mishap to his other favorite pastime – fishing. “[It's] like catching the big fish – they always break off at the boat.”
The Paralympian, who lives in Montana, said he will enjoy the rest of his time in Great Britain with his wife and mother.
Stutzman stopped by and expressed his admiration for Denton. He said their competitive matches are the norm.
“This guy is insanely awesome,” Stutzman said. “We go back and forth all of the time, and most of the time, he comes out on top. It's always tough. [He's a] great guy.”