After nocking his arrow with single-minded deliberation, Oliver Landry raised his bow, sighted down-range to the distant target, and drew back until his fingertips rested against his right cheek.
Taking a steadying pause, Landry released the bowstring and watched intently as the arrow struck the floor and skittered in the general direction of the target stands.
Then, without comment or outward reaction, the five-year-old reached for another arrow.
Landry was one of about 75 visitors, including families and several other young children, who took advantage of a free open house held by the Arrowsmith Archers’ Club Saturday in Nanoose Bay.
Many of those visitors, like Landry, were trying the sport for the first time, under the guidance of veteran coaches and other club members during Canada’s National Day of Sport promotion.
“We want to give people an introduction to archery; there are a lot of people who would like to find out what it’s like,” said Rhonda McLellan, the club’s archery coordinator.
Apparently, the approach is working.
“Eight years ago, when I came to the club, there were six archers,” she said. “Now there are close to 80 members. We’ve had a great turnout of archers from other clubs who have come to the area, and there’s just been a lot of word of mouth.”
The Arrowsmith Archers is a volunteer-driven, non-profit club that operates under the umbrella of the Parksville Qualicum Fish & Game Association. Through a rental agreement with the Nanoose Bay Pentecostal Camp, the club utilizes part of the camp’s large, hangar-like building to hold shooting sessions from October to June each year.
In the summer, club members have access to a pair of outdoor ranges.The club caters to a wide range of participants, from recreational shooters to bow hunters to competitive marksmen. Last season, five Arrowsmith Archers placed among the top three at the national championships, and McLellan said the club hopes to qualify a group for the upcoming 2016 B.C. Winter Games.
“We’ve got a lot of skilled archers here.”
Members must be nine years or older, though younger archers — like Landry — were invited to take part in the open house with pint-sized bows and miniature arrows. Some of the younger visitors were helped by parents, others by coaches and other club members who volunteered their time for the day.
Snacks and drinks were provided during the afternoon, and a local Epicure distributor set up a table with $5 of every $20 sale donated to the club as a fundraiser. In addition, giant outdoors retailer Cabella’s contributed a bow toward a door prize that included arrows and safety gear provided by Arrowsmith Archers.
Saturday’s open house is just part of the outreach and recruitment for the archers.
“We like to bring in school groups, cubs and scouts,” said McLellan. “We’ve got some very good coaches.”
Annual membership fees are $125 for one person, with additional family members just $50 each. Income goes toward rental of the indoor range and heating costs, with any remaining funds going toward equipment like that provided for the use of open house attendees.
More info on Arrowsmith Archers can be found at www.pqfg.org or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six-year-old Cohen Kaat of Nanaimo stretches to remove a high shot during the Arrowsmith Archer’s Club’s open house in Nanoose Bay Saturday. — Image credit: J.R. Rardon/PQB NEWS