When 2019 Canada Winter Games competitor Kaitlyn Wiley took up archery as a sport, she was joining the family occupation.
Wiley’s mom, dad, brother, aunt and cousin are all into archery. She says, “My family’s been doing it as long as I can remember …”
The Red Deer member of the Central Alberta Archers Association began shooting arrows when she was 11. “My brother got a bow for his birthday that didn’t quite suit him properly,” Wiley recalls, “so I picked it up, and I fell in love with it.”
She gets into her own head space when she’s focusing on a target. “It’s definitely a zen thing. If it’s a bad day, I go and shoot and forget about it.”
Last year, when the 18-year-old Notre Dame High School graduate participated an international archery competition in Las Vegas, there was a big crowd of spectators. It was like having 2,000 to 4,000 people watching over your shoulder, she admits, with a chuckle.
Before the situation could get too nerve-wracking, Wiley says, “I remember that I’m shooting for me.” The goal is to have fun with it and not turn it into a stressor, she adds.
This mindful approach appears to be working: In the global competition she made the Top 25 in her age category.
Wiley’s five-day-a-week practices are now built around her work as a pharmacy cashier. When she goes back to school in the fall to study to become a counsellor, her schedule will become busier, but she says archery practise will always be a priority.
Wiley competes with a compound bow with a levering system of cables and pulleys to bend the limbs. This type of bow, often used for hunting, is different than the classic Olympic recurve bow.
Wiley says compound bow competitors have been pushing for their sport to be included as an Olympic event. Until then, her goal is to make it to the Junior Worlds.
She’s very excited to be competing this week in the 2019 Canada Winter Games, having previously participated in the 2014 and the 2016 Alberta Winter Games, where she won two gold medals.
Wiley says one of her strategies is to watch everybody else’s shooting style to learn tips that could improve her own shooting.