An adolescent appetite for archery is fuelling the sport’s growth.
“Our juniors program had a record number this year,” said Mike Screen, the Central Alberta Archery Association’s secretary/treasurer.
“We got close to having to turn people away. It’s a sport that’s growing and catching on.”
That growth also drew 570 archers – many of them teens and children — from Alberta, B.C. and Saskatchewan to the 11th annual Mother of All Shoots over the weekend.
“A third of participants last year were new to the shoot and the majority of them new to the sport.”
The appeal to archery is curiosity first then competing against yourself and others.
“Most people want to try to shoot an arrow,” explained Screen, an archer himself for almost a decade.
The sport’s emphasis on safety and low cost also draw participants.
“You can get into it for a couple hundred dollars and you’ve got a bow and some arrows and away you go. Like any sport, the sky can be the limit.”
Kyle Wiun, 17, of Red Deer has been shooting almost his entire life.
“My dad started me shooting when I was three. I really like the competition aspect of it.“
He came up through the junior program, a 12-week fall and winter course for ages 7 through 17, and is one of the nearly 5,000 youth who visit the association’s indoor range upstairs at 5237–54 Ave. annually.
Screen said school and youth programs plus the growing number of adults drove the range to larger quarters two years ago.
“We went from 10 lanes with a maximum of 20 yards to 24 lanes with up to 40 yards,” he said, adding the club’s “come quite a ways since our humble beginnings . . . on a dirt floor in a farm Quonset south of Red Deer.”
Practice is vital to hone skills, said Screen.
“Your form is a huge thing, being able to repeat it time and time again. It incorporates breathing technique as well.”
At 14, Talyn Towers of Red Deer County is a five-year veteran archer who trains twice a week.
“It’s fun,” she said and believes she’s “pretty good,” an assessment her Red Deer teammates quickly confirmed.
She and other competitors were put to the test at the weekend event sponsored by the Central Alberta Archery Association and Bighorn Bowhunters and Archery Association of Airdrie, who pool their resources and volunteers, said Screen.
The three-day meet in Westerner Park’s Agri-Centre challenges archers on two ranges to loose three arrows in just minutes at numerous three-dimensional animal targets over a variety of ranges.
Specialty events involve shooting through a tube, at novelty targets and at a steel Barney the Dinosaur.
More information about the Central Alberta Archery Association is available online at www.centralalbertaarchers.ca.