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Archery is one of those sports that take a special nudge to get involved in. When I became interested in the idea of a bow and an arrow, it was merely a stick and another stick. The leap between a shot from twenty yards away at a point the size of a toonie compared to the goals to hit a tree anywhere was a great one.
When I started to gain interest, I designed and built my own bows out of willow trees, usually lasting a week until they broke leaving my spirits broken too. I remember my parents telling me when I begged them to buy me a real piece of equipment; “If you don’t learn how to shoot a bow properly, you can’t buy a real bow”. And that is how my ‘quest’ for a place to go for my learning experience began.
Originally, I discovered York County Bowmen on-line, and noticed that there was a summer camp that looked like it involved a lot of fun! The summer camp was a great way to get started, as it involved interesting forest skills, survival, orienteering, and best of all archery!
Oh the joy of competition, not only doing something you love, but also being the winning group was the first perk of my new camp discovery. My group of four holds a record standing today in our checker board game that youth groups play, where we shot all thirty arrows into a single black square! This was a 120 point bonus, putting our group ahead for first place overall, although it was a mere 5 yards, but I still stand proud.
I find a big part of archery is the independent competition, not against other people, but against yourself. In Archery, you aren’t directly facing your opponent like you would be in hockey or basketball, but competing in your mind trying to out best your last shot. That determination is what I think makes a great archer, the ones who complain that the poor shot was due to the fact that the ‘arrows fletching is off’ I tend to snicker at. I have a running joke with participants at youth group, where anyone who shoots a compound could never be good as a “stick and another stick”. Although I know this isn’t the case, I do respect people for the tradition of a simplistic activity.
After attending the summer camp, I enjoyed it so much that I just had to move up the ranks into a different setting. I started attending the CANBOW programs every Monday night, which is a great way to meet new people, learn great tips and techniques and practice like no tomorrow! As my skills produced a more fruitful score, I moved up into where the ‘big scorecards’ shoot, the advanced group.
This is where fun is taken to a whole new level of competition, and actual competitions became a good idea, so I entered a provincial tournament. The link that York County Bowmen provides to something had never heard of was astonishing, as I never knew these tournaments went on. After just 7 tournaments, I ended up coming out with 3 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 1 gold medal for Canada all in the traditional archery class like how I started off.
Without my original summer camp fun, or the option of CANBOW I would have never gotten the opportunity to achieve such a proud title. The day I received my medal I felt like an Olympian as I’m sure every archer does. Currently, I am a coach at YCB at the Monday night CAN-BOW program, loving the fact I get to introduce young shooters the fun just as I was by the kind volunteers that taught me the technique and patience of the sport. Two people I have to kindly thank for all their efforts that go unnoticed would be Doug Bell and especially Harry Godau for all their hard efforts in making the summer camp possible for me and so many other students and also so many other fun activities that bring our community together. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be a coach, or a medalist for Canada, and I wouldn’t be writing about what kind people they are and how my introduction to archery was positive thanks to them.
All that crying about how my fingers hurt was worth it, because now I get a chance to repay the favor and help them every chance I get. Although as people get older I’ve realized, life doesn’t slow down it only speeds up, but I hope to get the chance to volunteer for such a great activity in the future and keep bringing aspiring archers together. I certainly hope everyone who likes archery to give YCB a fighting chance, because once you try it, and learn how to shoot, you will truly love it. Whether it be the summer camp, or straight to CAN-BOW, archery really is a sport anyone can do with the right patience and effort put in. So I urge anyone to try it, after all there might be that little bit of Robin Hood or Hunger Games deep down in you crying out after all.