Skip to main content

'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

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021: Excalibur Crossbow, BowTech Bows, TightSpot Quiver, Ripcord Rests, Black Gold Sights

New for 2021 are several hunter-defined products, such as the Excalibur TwinStrike Crossbow, BowTech Solution and Solution SS Bows, TightSpot Pivot 2.5 Quiver, Ripcord Cage and Code Red X arrowrests, and Black Gold Pro FX and Pro Hunter HD sights.

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

Hobie MirageDrive 360 Kayak Propulsion: Amazing Control and Power

The Hobie MirageDrive 360 pedal propulsion system is the pinnacle of kayak control with more efficient fin designs, glide technology and allows the boat to be moved in any direction.

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

New for 2021: Mathews V3 27 & 31 Bows

After a fall of testing new 2021 Mathews products on the road as he filmed new episodes for Bowhunter Magazine's television program, editor Curt Wells had an exciting visit with Mark Hayes, Mathews design engineer, as the pair looked at the new V3 27 and V3 31 bows.

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

New for 2021: Elite Archery Bows, Slick Trick Broadheads and CBE Sight

Learn more about two new Elite Archery bows, the Enkore and Remedy, two new broadhead from Slick Trick and a new site from Custom Bow Equipment (CBE).

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Make this venison chorizo recipe and cook it right away or freeze it (cooked or raw) and use it as needed.Venison Chorizo Recipe Wild Game

Venison Chorizo Recipe

Allie Doran - October 30, 2020

Make this venison chorizo recipe and cook it right away or freeze it (cooked or raw) and use...

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties are accompanied by melted Swiss cheese, caramelized onions, and Thousand Island dressing and then pressed in between two toasted and golden brown pieces of rye bread.Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe Wild Game

Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe

Kristy Crabtree - October 27, 2020

This Elk Venison Patty Melt Recipe makes the perfect wild game sandwich. Elk burger patties...

The new bolt gun with a synthetic stock is available in several popular hunting chamberings.Accurate, Affordable, Rugged: CZ-USA 557 Eclipse Bolt-Action SHOT Show

Accurate, Affordable, Rugged: CZ-USA 557 Eclipse Bolt-Action

Game and Fish Staff - December 02, 2020

The new bolt gun with a synthetic stock is available in several popular hunting chamberings.

HyperFlite arrows improve accuracy, penetration.Barnett's Breakthrough Small-Diameter Crossbow Arrow Crossbows

Barnett's Breakthrough Small-Diameter Crossbow Arrow

Game and Fish Staff - December 09, 2020

HyperFlite arrows improve accuracy, penetration.

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

We know we have to follow legal regulations, but how do you apply personal ethics to the hunt?The Gray Area of Hunting in America Stories

The Gray Area of Hunting in America

Andrew McKean - April 27, 2020

We know we have to follow legal regulations, but how do you apply personal ethics to the hunt?

It was a difficult question for a young hunter to ask, and the answer didn't come any easier.Deer Camp Lesson Learned the Hard Way Stories

Deer Camp Lesson Learned the Hard Way

Jeff Johnston - February 04, 2020

It was a difficult question for a young hunter to ask, and the answer didn't come any easier.

16-pointer is deer of a lifetime for brothers who re-connect in Missouri.Stories from the Field: Big Whitetail Punctuates Brothers' Hunting Trip Stories

Stories from the Field: Big Whitetail Punctuates Brothers' Hunting Trip

Bobby Ross - December 01, 2020

16-pointer is deer of a lifetime for brothers who re-connect in Missouri.

No longbeards, but entertainment aplenty with forming Texas tornado!Texas Turkey Hunting With a Spring "Twist"

Texas Turkey Hunting With a Spring "Twist"

Lynn Burkhead - April 27, 2020

No longbeards, but entertainment aplenty with forming Texas tornado!

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Phone Icon

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