Arms outstretched and arrows loaded, two archers are the picture of concentration.
Logan Willford and Matthew Lange stand like statues, their breathing muted while they stare down colourful bows at punctured targets at the Victoria Bowmen outdoor archery range in View Royal. From the sidelines, even watching appears stressful and challenging, but Lange says stepping up to the line is always enjoyable.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking sometimes, but once you start shooting you block everyone else out. You just focus on yourself and have a lot of fun,” he says. “I have a ton of fun.”
An archer since he was nine, the life-long Saanich resident trains at the West Shore facility with his Olympic recurve bow, one of several bows paid for by delivering the Saanich News, the Gazette’s sister paper, in his local neighbourhood. Now 15, he targets hundreds of arrows per training session in preparation for the Penticton 2016 B.C. Winter Games.
“This is my first time. I am kind of nervous, but excited for it; I’ve never done something this big before,” he said of competing in the multi-sport event, set for Feb. 25 to 28.
“It feels really good that I’m representing the Island. I don’t even know how to explain it – it’s very patriotic, I’m very proud.”
Lange will join six other archers from the Island at the Games, including West Shore residents Claire Halliwell and Logan Willford; Daniel Gustafsson from Victoria, Duncan’s Cole Lane and Connor Howe; and Aiden Hare from Parksville.
Willford, a Langford resident going to Victoria High School, said she didn’t even think she would qualify for the Games against the many other strong archers vying for one of seven positions on the Island squad. She vividly remembers the moment she found out she made it.
“My coach got a phone call and looked very serious, which was very weird for him … He came over looking serious and gave me a hug,” Willford said. “And he and I both started jumping up and down, we were just so excited. I honestly could not believe it, I did not expect to get in.”
Starting her archery after watching the movie The Hunger Games, she hit a bullseye in only her second shot. Now in the junior Olympic program along with Lange, the 15 year old said she’s training hard, mimicking competition conditions in tight quarters, shooting only six inches away from archers on either side of her as she prepares to step up to the line in her first B.C. Winter Games.
“Generally in sports I’m not good. I’m not good at running, throwing and catching,” she said. “But I just find this really fun … Everyone wants to shoot because they enjoy shooting, but ultimately I want to get to the Canada Games.”