Although the blockbuster, Hunger Games, spiked some interest in archery at the local club, it wasn’t the movie that inspired nine-year-old Lamara Christie to join up. Watching Walt Disney princess and aspiring archer Merida in Brave got her thinking about trying the sport herself.
“And she saw Legolas in Lord of the Rings,” says her mother, Debbie Christie. “She thought Legolas was cool.”
Lamara, along with her parents, Debbie and Gerald, joined the club.
“I was always kind of interested but never tried it,” says Debbie. “When Lamara said she wanted to give it a shot, I thought it was something we could do together as a family.”
Vern Stevens, president of the Salmon Arm Archery Club, says the popularity of the sport has increased over the years but its uniqueness, rather than pop culture, has been a driving factor.
“There were people who came down because of Hunger Games (but) I think they were looking for something other than the typical sports.”
He points out that anyone of any age or physical fitness level can learn archery quickly. Members range in age from four to 70.
“The beauty of archery is how an individual can see rapid improvements in their shooting abilities; you don’t have to spend years at it. It’s relaxing and you only compete against yourself. It’s as competitive or non-competitive as you want it to be. You don’t have to worry about someone checking you into the boards,” he adds laughing.
The club meets on Monday evenings. In the summer they use Salmon Arm Fish & Game Club range and in the winter they use the indoor arena. Targets, scattered throughout the arena, range from seven to 50 yards from the shooting line. Some are foam squares on the ground, and others are foam animals.
“I like hitting the targets and how it’s a really good exercise for your arms,” says Lamara. “It’s a lot of fun – there’s two deer, one turkey, a warthog, a coyote and a bear. I normally shoot at the close things and then I try for something farther.”
Heather Thurston is also new to the club. She is learning so she can use a bow when she goes hunting with her husband. He is already a good hunter with a bow, but she uses a rifle.
Meanwhile, she is enjoying it simply as a sport. The people are friendly and it doesn’t involve a big investment.
“You have to purchase a bow and a release – you don’t need much else. It’s quite a good sport for that. I like getting out and doing this.”
As Byril Kurtz shoots one arrow after another, he hits the farthest target with ease. He joined almost a year ago. He enjoys the camaraderie and meeting people, but he says it was his family who inspired him to join.
“My son and grandson in Prince George are really involved and one time I went with them to the indoor range.”
When he came back from his visit, Kurtz decided to join the local club: “My impetus to join was so that I can shoot with my son and grandson.”
Now he enjoys going to Prince George and around the local area to compete. There are archery clubs throughout the Okanagan so there is no shortage of competitions. He laughs as he says he hasn’t done too well yet but “it’s all about going out and having fun and meeting people.”
Everyone is welcome to try it out, says Stevens. It’s a sport the whole family can join.
“It’s very family-oriented. Anyone can take part – it’s a lot of fun.”