SURPRISE, Ariz. - Archer Eric Bennett of Surprise is the current Para World Archery Champion, a two-time Paralympian and four-time national champion.

He lost his right arm in a car accident when he was 15 years old.

Now, amazingly, he shoots his bow with only one arm, and he's been on the US national team since 2007.


Bennett is a Shadow Ridge High School physics and engineering teacher, archery coach and soon-to-be three-time Paralympic archer.

“It does feel amazing,” he said. “I’m really excited.”

12 News caught up with Bennett at the Ben Avery shooting facility to watch him prep for Rio.

“Some people probably think that when you go to your third one, it’s not as big of a deal," Bennett said, "but for me, this has been really awesome, especially winning a world championship last year,” said Bennett.

He earned his trip to Rio last summer.

Bennett started shooting archery as a bow hunter with his dad when he was 7 years old.

“I got my first bow -- my first real bow -- when I was about 13, 14,” he said.

But at the age of 15, Bennett faced a life-changing event. His life flashed before his eyes on a road trip with his dad.

“We were hit by a drunk driver and the vehicle we were in rolled,” said Bennett. “As the truck rolled, it rolled on my arm and crushed it and then it had to be removed ... I lost my arm above the elbow.”

He was the only one injured. He didn’t think he would ever shoot again. But nearly 10 years later, that all changed.

Bennett found success in Paralympic archery after losing his right arm in a car crash at the age of 15.
Bennett found success in Paralympic archery after losing his right arm in a car crash at the age of 15.

“My dad was tired of me not going with the family on archer events,” he said. “He called me at college and said 'I’ve got a great idea: I’m going to have you shoot a bow with your feet.'”

At first, Bennett said he laughed at his dad, but then he gave it a shot.

That got him started again.

Then one day, the owner of Corner Archery, an archery pro shop in Glendale, suggested something.

“What’s called a mouth tab,” he said.

It’s a small piece of rope that’s attached to the bow string.

“I bite down on the rope and pull the bow back,” said Bennett. “I have a device on there called a clicker that tells me when I’ve reached full draw. When it clicks, I let go and hopefully it goes in the middle.”

Bennett started shooting locally, and he started winning.

Then he worked his way up the ranks and started shooting nationally. In 2007, he started shooting internationally at the world championships in Korea.

“I’ve been to three or four world championships and now three Paralympics and a lot of other international trips,” he said.

You might be wondering "How are his teeth holding up with all of this?"

His jaw gets sore every once in a while, but he’s OK with a little wear and tear.

“My dentist is OK with it,” said Bennett. “He said as long as I’m taking care of them, they should last. And I do -- I brush regularly!”

Looking ahead to competing in Rio, his goal is clear.

“I want to win the gold medal,” he said. “There’s no question.”

Bennett heads to Rio Aug. 29 with the archery team. The Rio Paralympic Games will be held Sept. 7-18.