Statesville resident Robert Griffith has enjoyed archery since his grandfather introduced him to the sport when he was a teenager. 

“I was 13 years old, and I’ve been shooting ever since,” he shared.

On Sunday, he will travel to Sao Paulo, Brazil, for a chance to compete in the Parapan American Championships.

At age 16, Griffith was helping a woman move her car off the road when another vehicle sped by and struck him, pinning him between both cars. He was seriously injured and ultimately lost his leg.

That tragic incident didn’t stop him from participating in the sport he loves.

“It’s a sport I can compete in despite what happened,” he said.

Griffith has been the archery coach at Cornerstone Christian Academy in Statesville for the past 15 years. His wife Renee is the school’s executive director.

Griffith competes every year in USA Archery qualifying events such as the Arizona Cup, the Gator Cup in Florida, and the Buckeye Cup in Ohio.

“Based on how you do, it helps you to qualify for bigger events,” he said. “You just have to pick a few.”

Griffith practices regularly, shooting around 200 arrows a day, five days a week. He’s ramped up his training since March 1 to prepare for the trip to Brazil.

After arriving in Sao Paolo, the American contingent will practice on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, Griffith will attempt to qualify to represent Team USA.

After qualifying, teams will compete for bragging rights as champions of the continent. It’s also an opportunity to obtain international para-athlete classification leading up to the Paralympic Games in Paris. 

Although Griffith will be competing against other world-class archers, he said he’s not nervous.

“I’m really just excited,” he shared. “I just enjoy shooting my bow and enjoy the competition,” he said.

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