Calgary Archery Centre will hang up its bows in November

·3 min read
Lorna and Alan Southwood run the Calgary Archery Centre, which is set to close in November.  (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)
Lorna and Alan Southwood run the Calgary Archery Centre, which is set to close in November. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)

It's the end of an era for the Calgary Archery Centre.

After more than 25 years in operation, the centre is set to close at the end of November.

The business's lease has come up and the landlord has chosen not to renew it, said owner Alan Southwood.

"We kind of looked at it [as] maybe it is time to retire," said Southwood, 59, who owns the business with his wife, Lorna.

Still, Southwood said it's a bittersweet moment.

"We've seen young people come in here, grow up, get married — and they're having their own kids and bringing their own kids in to shoot," he said.

"We've been here a long time. There isn't another facility like this."

Paula Duhatschek/CBC
Paula Duhatschek/CBC

Among those former "kids" is 37-year-old Lindsay Struthers, who started shooting at the centre when she was in Grade 3. Struthers describes the archery centre as her home away from home: the place she met most of her lifelong friends and her now-husband.

Today, Struthers coaches with the Calgary Archers Junior Program, which will have to shut down lessons once it's out of a practice space.

"You can't do archery at home," said Struthers, who is now on the hunt for a new practice space. "You have to have a specific facility, so these kids that are training for Alberta games and Canada games and nationals and the Olympics — they're just out of luck."

Struthers said it's a particular loss because of the sport's inclusivity. Archery is a sport that anyone can do, she said. A kid doesn't have to be strong at team sports to succeed.

"It was always great to see the kids that maybe didn't fit into anywhere else had a home with us," she said.

Southwood agrees. He has seen archers from two years old to 94 years old — and everything in between.

"Doesn't matter how big, how small you are, we can fit a bow to you and get you shooting, no problem," he said.

'Really going to miss this place'

Paula Duhatschek/CBC
Paula Duhatschek/CBC

This week, a Facebook post about the business's closure quickly racked up dozens of likes and comments from people sharing their memories of the space.

Nineteen-year-old Jerika Espinosa, who started shooting in Grade 11, stopped by in-person Thursday to see the centre again before operations started shutting down.

"I'm really going to miss the place and the people and the welcoming environment, and just being able to practise and hone my sport," she said.

The business is starting to sell off its items and will close its doors in November.

Southwood said he is looking forward to having a rest but still plans to keep a hand in the sport.

"I have a small group of kids that I coach. I have been informed by them that I'm not getting out of coaching them even once we've shut this place down," he said.