N.W.T. archery tournament takes aim at growing the sport in the North

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N.W.T. archery tournament takes aim at growing the sport in the North

The twang of bowstrings and the swish of arrows flying through the air rung out at the Yellowknife ski club this weekend.

It was the second annual N.W.T Archery Championships, where about 20 competitors of varying ages took aim at 3D bison, bear, rabbit, fox and frog targets.

Among the competitors was 19-year-old Arbah Syed, who said what she likes best about the sport is the stress relief.

"It's great to take aim and just hit sometimes," she said.

Makenna Genge, 16, agreed.

"Yeah, you just kind of focus on the shot and just tune everything else out," she said.

Cassandra Adamache, 17, said she likes to be outdoors, noting that archery is a survival skill that helps her be more independent.

"Just try your best and push forward no matter what," she said.

Over the weekend, four different age groups competed in two divisions —compound and traditional/recurve.

Compound bows use a system of pulleys that build up force as the bow is drawn, allowing arrows to fly farther. A recurve, meanwhile, has curved limbs and only one string. It's the required bow for Olympic target archery. 

After each target, competitors tallied their score based on what zone their arrow landed in.

Beth Hudson, events manager for the Aboriginal Sports Circle N.W.T., helped plan the event and said they're hoping to grow the sport across the territory.

"[We're trying to] really create and foster a learning environment for archery and really encourage that long-term development with youth of all ages," she said.

Hudson said they hope to support archery clubs in communities across the territories that can offer year-round programming and competitions.

She first tried archery when she was 10, and encourages others to try the sport.

"It's just really fun. It can be classified under a traditional game, and for a lot of Indigenous athletes it creates that additional layer of interest, confidence and just enjoyment."

Hudson also said the Aboriginal Sports Circle N.W.T. has donated equipment to schools and communities across the territory. Once you have the equipment, she said, archery is a pretty low-cost sport.

"For a grassroots program, it's pretty nice to be able to provide the equipment for communities. And then, if they have athletes that are passionate about it, and coaches who want to volunteer their time, then it's pretty easy to start a club," she said.

Some athletes from the N.W.T. competed at the North American Indigenous Games last year, and Hudson said they're hoping to identify athletes for the next Canada Winter Games.

The 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse will also feature archery as a new sport.