A few weeks before Christopher Davis became Australia’s first Para-archery World Champion recently, his son-in-law Jarrad sketched and tattooed an illustration onto Davis’s arm.
It’s a picture of Davis shooting an arrow, using a mouth tab to pull the bowstring taut while his right arm holds the compound bow at full length. It’s an image that symbolises joy and passion more than it does success because, at the time it was tattooed, Davis had only competed once for Australia.
Returning from Pilsen in the Czech Republic with the gold medal in the Men’s W1 category was a very pleasant surprise.
“I’m 51 years of age and the first time I ever shot an arrow was four years ago,” Davis said.
“I’d been working in Queensland Health for around 20 years at that point as a social worker. My wife’s an ultra marathon runner and I wanted to do some sort of sport. I wanted to stop playing on computers, doing that sort of indoor stuff and I wanted to get out there. I’ve got a fairly competitive nature, too.”
Davis, who acquired his impairment through a virus when he was a child, wondered what sport he could do with the use of one arm. He thought about pistol shooting, but then saw an American archer compete using just his right leg to stretch the bow and the decision was made.
“When I saw the guy from America, Matt Stutzman, who’s the armless archer – the original – I thought if he can do it, then I can.
“So I got in touch with the local club, Mount Petrie Bowmen at Belmont, and they got me set up on how to shoot with a mouth tab. I started off with a recurve bow for the first 18 months and then got classified as a W1, moved over to the compound and haven’t looked back.”
In the final at Pilsen, Davis defeated Bahattin Hekimoglu from Turkey 131 to 127. It was the best result of a brilliant World Championships for Australia’s Para-archery squad, which included bronze to 2016 Paralympic bronze medallist Jonathon Milne in the Compound Men’s Open, silver to Craig Newbery in the VI category and a solid performance by Ameera Lee who didn’t reach the podium in the Women’s Compound Open, but added another Paris Paralympics quota spot for Australia.
“My main focus was to get a spot for Australia to go to the Paralympics,” Davis said. “That was a big tick for me and then everything else has been icing.”
Davis is now in the box seat to be part of the Australian Para-archery team at the Paralympics next year.
“If I finally get selected in the squad, it will just be phenomenal,” he said. “To be able to represent the country that’s done a lot for me, but also to represent people with a disability, it’s too big to really comprehend, I think. It’s going to be magic.”
By: David Sygall, Paralympics Australia
Posted: 18 September 2023