Column: Finally winning my medal in archery

Great Outdoors by James Murray

This past weekend I had the privilege of being the outdoor range master at the 2019 National Archery in Schools Program (NASP) Provincial Archery Competition held in Kelowna.

Young archers from all over the province were there to compete and qualify for the National Championships. The event was organized and hosted by the BC Wildlife Federation, which serves as the regional headquarters for NASP in British Columbia. I must say it was, to say the least, a very impressive event.

Originally developed in 1922, NASP began as an archery program for schools in the United States. It is now in five countries and three continents and is offered to schools, camps, community groups and other organizations. NASP provides international style target archery training to youths from Grade 4 through to Grade 12. The program covers archery safety, technique, concentration skills, self-improvement and the proper use of equipment. All participants use the same model of bow as well as the same make, model and length of arrow. No sights or accessories allowed. In other words, all participants start off on equal footing and compete on a level playing field. The program is designed to give participants a good introduction to archery that they can use as a base should they want to go forward to a more advanced level of participation.

Some readers may recall when archery was a popular sports activity in B.C. schools several generations ago, including right here in Salmon Arm. It would seem that archery is now experiencing a comeback with the younger generations.

Modern archery shoots and/or competitions feature three primary disciplines: target, field and 3-D. Target archery consists of shooting at bull’s-eye style, multicoloured targets at prescribed distances either indoors or out. Target archers can compete at local, regional, national and international levels. Field archery takes place outdoors also using bullseye style targets. Participants hike along a defined course and shoot targets at uphill and downhill angles. At 3-D archery events and tournaments competitors walk a wooded or open course and shoot at three-dimensional lifelike animal targets at different distances.

Whether your plan is to shoot just for fun or aspire to ascend the podium, archery can be both fun and challenging. Archery also provides a great upper-body workout, not to mention a cardiovascular workout, especially at 3-D shoots where participants have to walk from target to target along a course.

An easy way to get a better understanding and feel of each type of discipline is to drop by an event organized by an archery group or store that has an indoor shooting range. Most avid archers and/or sales staff are quite willing to answer questions. Once you’ve researched which types of archery you’d like to try, contact an appropriate archery club/organization to help you get started. By joining a club, you can participate in local, regional and nationwide programs at both youth and adult levels that can be either purely recreational or competitive. Clubs quite often offer weekly shoots where new potential members can drop by and try out a hands on archery experience. Clubs also offer coaching and mentorship, as well as access to league and tournament shoots and competitions.

Read more: Archery zeroes in on fun

Read more: Archery for youths popular

Read more: Archery champ breaks barriers

If you are thinking about taking up archery, check out each of the the three archery disciplines as well as the different types of bows and equipment. What bow you choose depends on what feels good to you as an archer and appeals to you as a discipline.

I am not really an avid archer, nor even much of a shot, but I have never-the-less always been drawn to archery (no pun intended). And, while I’ve never won a medal or actually competed in an organized competition, some years back I began to take part in the archery program at a summer camp for kids. I subsequently decided to become a certified basic level archery instructor. Flash forward a few years and I find myself taking part in the NASP Provincial Archery Competition as a range master. I guess you could say I’ve finally found my place in the sport of archery.

This much I do know, after watching all those young people competing and having fun last weekend and getting to take part in such a worthwhile event, well, I feel pretty good – sort of like I finally won a medal.


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