Former Chowan County resident Wendy Gardner set a new national record in women’s compound archery.
Gardner won the national championship in the Open Compound Women category at the USA Archery Target Nationals in Richmond, Virginia, August 19-21.
In the two-day event, Gardner tied the one-day scoring record of 654 and set a new two-day scoring record of 1,291.
Gardner had also hoped to compete in the Tokyo Paralympic Games this summer, but failed in the qualifying events held in the Czech Republic.
In July, Gardner competed in the Buckeye Classic Ohio, then he competed at the Target Nationals in Richmond.
Gardner said the indoor season will start soon and she may take part in a few local events. She does not plan to travel for the competition this fall or winter.
Outdoor competition is expected to resume in the spring of 2022 and she will begin looking at events she could participate in closer to that date.
Gardner, 47, suffered a stroke while giving birth to a child two decades ago and since then has been unable to use an arm and has had limited use of her legs.
Gardner spent most of his childhood in Perquimans County. She then moved to Chowan County, but graduated from Perquimans County High School.
After years of unsuccessful trying to find a form of recreation that suited her physical challenges, Gardner finally found – and fell in love with – archery last year.
Gardner said she was inspired to pursue archery after seeing Matt Stutzman, an armless archer. Her shot convinced her she could do it, she said. Gardner has since risen to the top of the field of archery for people with physical differences.
Gardner said she competes in archery because it’s fun. She said she was actually cheering on the other competitors during her competitions.
Now living in Wilson, Gardner gives a lot of credit to her husband, Gary, who was able to craft the equipment that allows her to use an arm to shoot and release the bow with her teeth.
Gardner and her husband now run a nonprofit called GX4 Adaptive Archery which helps people with physical differences get suitable archery equipment. Information about the group is available on Facebook, Instagram, and GX4adaptivearchery.com.
Gardner said they started the association because without support most people would find adaptive archery prohibitively expensive.
Her husband is able to save people a lot of money by adapting them and making adaptive archery equipment, she said. The equipment cannot be mass produced because it requires a custom fit for each shooter, she said.
Gardner practices archery four hours a day. She describes sport as a great way to have something to look forward to and be part of a team.