88ºF

Jacksonville archer to compete at paralympics

Archer uses one arm, teeth to hit bulls eye

photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – He may not be the most well-known athlete competing in the London games, but chances are, you'll be cheering for Jerry Shields after seeing what he can do with a bow and arrow.

Shields, a 56-year-old archer competing in the Paralympics, isn't letting his disability get in the way of his Olympic quest for gold.

"Finally, I get to represent my country one more time," Shield said.

But what separates Shields from his archery rivals isn't his accuracy or aim, but his ability to adapt and overcome.

A stroke left the former National Guard helicopter crew chief paralyzed on his right side, so he uses his teeth, and one good arm to hold the bow and pull the 45 pound string, before hitting a target that's almost a football fields-length away.

"He has the will and the perseverance to do these things and he's just one of those special people," friend and coach Jim Jones said.

Jones has been alongside Shields for his six-day-a-week, five-hours-a-day training sessions at the Fort Caroline Archery Club. He said Shields has the heart of a true champion.

"He does it all by himself, he never asks for any help, he never complains," Jones said. "He's just an amazing person and we're just as proud as we can be of him."

Now with his bags packed and high expectations, Shields hopes his story inspires others to believe in themselves and shoot for Olympic gold.

"Never let anyone tell you you can't do something," he said.