- Associated Press - Sunday, April 13, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - National archery champion Joe Wiseman draws his bow back with practiced deftness, his eyes focused on a target 60 feet away, about the length of a bowling alley.

His head tips up just a bit, then down, and then steadies. His body quiets. Then, in the time it takes to snap a finger, the arrow leaves the bow and finds its mark.

Bullseye.

Which isn’t too shabby, for a guy who shoots with his teeth.


It’s not because he wants to, but rather the only choice he has, given the debilitating accident that nearly killed him when he was 19, some 11 years ago, according to The Grand Rapids Press (http://bit.ly/1dKfaU6 ).

Wiseman was driving an ATV in the Baldwin area when he hit a ditch that intersected the trail. He plowed head-first into a utility pole at a speed of 70-plus miles per hour. His helmet was split in three places, his shoes found nearly 100 feet from impact.

He smiles wryly to remember: “I always had to be the biggest, the fastest, the baddest .”

Another man probably would have died. But at least one doctor conjectured that because Joe worked as a tender - that’s the grunt who lugs mortar and block for masons, and it makes you big - he somehow pulled through.

With 13 broken vertebrae.

When he awoke 10 days later in intensive care, he discovered that his numerous other injuries included damage to his right side that left his dominant arm paralyzed. Most of the time, it hangs loosely at his side, though he can summon it upward a bit by bending at the elbow. The fingers, though, are virtually useless.

A couple years back, however, he regained a thirst for it and went searching for ways to adapt, scouring the Internet for others similarly afflicted. He found enough to convince himself that he might re-visit his pastime by substituting his teeth for tendons.

Wiseman is no stranger to challenge and adversity. He was a highly decorated football player at Comstock Park High School, from which he graduated in 2001. He also lettered in basketball and baseball.

After high school, he found work at JK Masonry Inc. not far from his home then, lugging concrete blocks and mixing mud while attending Grand Rapids Community College.

The accident put his life on hold, but he managed not only to graduate from GRCC, and eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in construction management from Ferris State University. He now works as a manager for JK Masonry.

In re-learning how to shoot a bow, he soon discovered he could hit a target with regularity.

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