Canada’s best archers are taking aim at Victoria.
The Canadian Archery Championships return in August with more than 200 of Canada’s best shooters setting their sights on the West Shore.
Coming to the Island for the first time in eight years, the event is a golden opportunity for enthusiasts, including James Collett, to take in the sport at its highest level.
“I am looking forward to seeing the level of talent that comes down. It is great that you can relate to them and to see professionals (performing),” said Collett, a member of the Bowmen Archery Club, now based in View Royal. “For me it is trying to attain the unattainable. It is very exciting it is coming.
“It is a brilliant all around sport and undervalued in many ways. I got involved a year ago and I put it off for a long while. The reality is so much more exciting,” he said. “Once you release that arrow and it is caught in the bull’s-eye, there is a split second when everything comes together and everything is complete, and you have achieved everything you have wanted to achieve.”
Victoria Bowmen president Al Wills has lived with the tension of a bow in his hands much of his life and hopes the championships returning to Greater Victoria rejuvenates a sport that has suffered in recent years.
After four years without a home, the Bowmen’s new range in View Royal will host the opening ceremonies of the championship and practice rounds. Archers will compete in the target competition at West Shore Parks and Recreation. Field events will be held near Duncan, hosted by the Cowichan Bowmen.
“To see what Olympic- and national-status archery is all about is neat for everybody to see,” Wills said. “Until you see how accurate and precise and clean it is, it is hard to imagine how fascinating it is to watch that arrow fly down the target.”
The Victoria Bowmen constructed a 90 metre range on unused wedge of public land between Burnside Road, Watkiss Way and the Trans-Canada Highway, and finished earthmoving at the range in November. The club had lost its range in on Department of National Defence land in Colwood in 2009, after 45 years of shooting.
“With the opportunity of having it at the new range (last) year, I think we are going to build a base over the next two years with a place to shoot. With a field of our own and a place to call home, we will grow,” Wills said. “There is hope on the horizon.”
The opening of the new range co-incided with the championships coming to B.C., and Wills said a few long-time members of the Bowmen club have experience organizing national-level shoots.
“This is good for us. We’ve got a small number of members with experience, and lots of new members who haven’t seen a local shoot much less a national.”
The Canadian championship is open to archers any skill level and age, with either compound or recurve bows. Wills calls it competition in its purist form — one person against himself with no judges or referees in the way.
Opening ceremonies take place Aug. 9 at the Victoria Bowmen Archery Club and competition takes place Aug. 10 to 12 at the soccer fields of West Shore Parks and Recreation. Entry is free.
See victoriabowmen.com/2012Canadian to register and for more information.