The competition at the Westerner Agricentre this weekend will be intense and as sharp as an arrow.
Roughly 600 archers from across Western Canada and the United States will participate in the Mother of All Shoots XII, hosted by the Central Alberta Archers Association.
“It’s our 12th year and it seems to be growing every year,” said Pat Wiun, co-founder — with her late husband, John — of the event and owner of Red Deer Archery. “I start planning for the shoot in October and once the meet is over I take a couple of months off and start doing some pre-planning for the next fall.”
The Central Alberta Archers Association boasts 300 members — including about 100 youth archers — and nearly all will compete this weekend. Warm-up rounds are scheduled for 6 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the actual competition getting underway Saturday morning and concluding Sunday afternoon.
Most, if not all, of the local archers who won medals at the recent Alberta Winter Games are entered in the weekend event, including gold-medal recipients Talyn Towers, Ryan Adams and Bailey Starratt. Amy Peters won a silver at the Winter Games and Tracy Evans, Clayton Adams and Blake Anderson were bronze medalists.
“Some of these kids will be trying out for the Canada Winter Games, which is next year in Prince George,” said Wiun. “The Alberta Winter Games meet was a prelude to the qualification process for the Canada Winter Games, so some of the kids are already well on their way.”
As Wiun noted, archery is a sport for all ages.
“I have people as young as five competing . . . up to seniors, which is 60-plus (years),” she said.
Wiun has noticed that youth archers tend to remain involved with the sport for a lengthy period. And if they leave, they eventually return to the bow and arrow.
“Usually I find that kids who start when they are fairly young will stay in it for quite a few years, maybe get away from it in high school and then come back to it as adults,” she said.
While she’s the driving force behind the annual meet, Wiun has plenty of help.
“We probably have one of the largest volunteer groups around. Red Deer and Central Alberta is just that way,” said Wiun. “We’ve never really had any issues with people coming together and giving us a hand with it.”
The serious shooting starts Saturday morning, but there is also a ‘novelty’ shoot slated for the evening.
“It doesn’t always have to be serious. It’s nice that the competitors can let their hair down and have some fun,” Wiun explained.
“Overall, the Agricentre is going to be a very busy place. With 600 archers and their family members, plus a trade show going on, it will be pretty packed in there.”