Faith Oakley, a one-arm archer, is working to make the Paralympics Games one day and be one of the best archers in the world.
Oakley, 16-year-old junior at Bethlehem High School in Bardstown, Kentucky, uses her teeth to pull the bow back and fire her arrow, the Courier-Journal reported.
Competing against two-armed shooters, Oakley finished ninth at the National Archery in Schools Program World Tournament in Orlando in July, the Courier-Journal said. She told the newspaper she believes she can finish in the top five next year when the event is held in Louisville.
According to the National Archery in Schools website, Oakley ranked fourth among all 10th grade girls in Orlando and 21st out of 1,653 girls competing overall. Oakley is off to a fast start this season, winning four different local tournaments since November, per the website.
"I have always believed I can work hard enough to become the best in the world," Oakley told the Courier-Journal. She said she plans to compete in archery while attending college with the goal of making the U.S. Paralympics archery team in 2024 and 2028.
"What I love about archery is that you don't have to be the tallest or strongest or the fastest runner. You just have to have a strong mind and be willing to put a lot of work into it," Oakley said.
The newspaper said a birth injury known as Erb-Duchenne palsy caused nerves in her right arm to be pulled away from her spine, leaving her without use of that arm. She uses a rectangular nylon mouth tab to pull back the bowstring.
Erb's palsy, a form of obstetric brachial plexus disorder, happens to roughly one or two of every 1,000 babies, according to the Birth Injury Guide website.
"I put the arrow on my string and hold it in my teeth (biting down on a nylon tab), then I take a deep breath," Oakley said. "I inhale and exhale a couple of times, then pull the string back and hold it at my aim point for two seconds and then I let go with my mouth."
Oakley told the Courier-Journal she wants to encourage others by what she does.
"I hope that watching me inspires people to feel comfortable to push their boundaries and do things they didn't think they could do," Oakley said. "I am just like everyone else and I am proving you can do anything with determination."
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