'An Arm To Shoot My Bow'

Lost limb can't keep soldier away from beloved archery

'An Arm To Shoot My Bow'
Lance Thornton, who lost most of his right arm in Iraq, is competing in the World Para Championships. (Courtesy teamusa.org)

Lance Thornton has always been an archery enthusiast, starting when he was a young boy, deer hunting near his home in Ozark, Ark.

The sport means more to him now, and he never wants that to change.

"As long as I am able to pull a bow, I want to be shooting, hunting, something," said Thornton, 28, who now lives in Stotts City, Mo.

Thornton, who lost most of his right arm in Iraq in 2007, will compete in his first international para-archery competition at the World Para Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, this week.


"I would say archery has been a big help to me ... in everything," said Thornton, a retired Army sergeant. "My wife says it's the best thing for me. I know it has helped me tremendously.


"I'm a competitive person and (archery) has helped me stay competitive. I mean, no matter how hard I try, I can't throw left-handed. I've tried playing basketball, and I'm terrible at it. But I'm able to competitive in archery to the point I think I'm better now than before."

Thornton works as Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo., and is thankful to have it as his sponsor. (Courtesy teamusa.org)

Thornton works at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo., and is thankful to have it as his sponsor. (Courtesy teamusa.org)

On July 6, 2007, while on deployment in Iraq with the Arkansas National Guard's Charlie Battery 142nd Field Artillery unit, a vehicle carrying Thornton and members of his crew was struck by an improvised explosive device. While his driver, Lucas Wilkins of Ozark, Ark., and his gunner, Buddy Robinson of Oark, Ark., suffered shrapnel wounds, Thornton's right hand and forearm had to be amputated.

While recovering, Thornton was certain what kind of prosthetic he wanted.


"An arm to shoot my bow," he told teamusa.org during the Warrior Games at Colorado Springs, Colo., in May. "After I got released from the hospital, I started shooting my bow on my convalescent leave.

"You look at it one or two ways. You can roll over and die and let it take over you, or you can just drive on. I look at it as these are the cards I was dealt, and I’m just going to play these hands."

Thornton started bow hunting when he turned 7, using his birthday money to purchase his first bow.


"Primarily I hunted deer and turkey," said Thornton, who now works as a facilities technician at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo. “Right now, I'm focusing on elk. I haven't got one yet, but I'm working at it."

Thornton also picked up sponsorship from Bass Pro Shops to help cover the costs of his trip to the World Championships.

"I was pretty blown away when they stepped up to help me out," he said. "For any outdoors junkie, it's a pretty big deal to have Bass Pro Shops as your sponsor."

Whether it's because he has more drive now or because he practices more now, Thornton said he is a better and more consistent shooter now than before he lost his arm.

He uses the hook on his prosthetic to draw the bow and his mouth to release the trigger.

"Since I lost my arm, I pay more attention to my aim," he said. "Then I twist or push my jaw to click the trigger."

Team USA Archery is currently enjoying an upswing on all levels. The Americans claimed the men's team silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012. Last month, the men's recurve team claimed the United States' first world championship since 1983 in Turkey. Several weeks ago, the junior men's compound team smashed the world record by 29 points at the World Archery Youth Championships in China.

For the Para-Championships in Bangkok, after a heated competition at the U.S. Team Trials at Chula Vista, Calif., in August, the American team will consist of Thornton, 2012 Paralympian Dugie Denton of Joilet, Montana, and California's Jeff Sena.

"I think we've got a team that can compete really well over there," Thornton said. "We're going over there with plans to win it."

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing. Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths. Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton - September 16, 2015

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever seen. Whitetail

The Story Behind Brewster's World-Record Buck

Lynn Burkhead - October 17, 2019

How a humble Virginia hunter bagged the biggest non-typical whitetail a bowhunter has ever...

Predator hunters living in more open areas are in a unique position to enjoy coyote hunting at its Stories

Guns & Loads for Long-Range Coyote Hunting

Stephen D. Carpenteri - December 13, 2015

Predator hunters living in more open areas are in a unique position to enjoy coyote hunting at...

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working? Conservation & Politics

Revisiting the Light Goose Conservation Order

M.D. Johnson - March 30, 2020

It's been two decades since spring snow goose season was federally mandated. Is it working?

Where and how some of the state's best archery bucks were killed last season. Whitetail

Oklahoma's Big Archery Bucks of 2018

Kelly Bostian

Where and how some of the state's best archery bucks were killed last season.

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now