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Lhtako youth in Quesnel fire away at archery

Quesnel River Archers offer a try-it opportunity for bow and arrow

Archery gear isn’t sold in general stores like soccer balls or hockey sticks. It’s not something kids at school can run outside and play at lunchtime. It’s not easy for a young beginner to get their turn at a safe, carefully overseen shooting facility.

The Quesnel River Archers are the headquarters for archery in Quesnel, and one of the premier clubs in the province. Their members are well aware that they have an underground sport, in many ways, especially literally, in their basement shooting facility downtown. That’s why one of the club leaders, Stu Murray, approached the Lhtako Dene Nation about coming down to try the sport out.

They had a youth connection program perfectly suited to the idea.

“It’s something we don’t hear a lot about, so it’s something new to try. And some of the youth discovered a hidden talent,” said Cherish Michell, one of the youthcare workers who accompanied the youth to the Quesnel River Archers headquarters. She shot some arrows herself and got to enjoy it right alongside them.

There were two sessions the Lhtako program took part in, with about 15 kids the first day and about 20 the second. Many of them went to both. The kids ranged in age from eight years old to teenagers, and the program is not just for Lhtako kids, so there was a diversity of backgrounds among those who came to try their hand.

“They would be at home on their electronics,” said youthcare worker Tiffany Charlieboy, guessing at what most of these kids would be doing otherwise. “They were asking us non-stop when they can come back again.”

One of the kids who instantly took to the fundamentals of archery was nine-year-old Izzy Murray (no relation to the club leader). She kept the archery instructors on their toes telling clever jokes she’d learned, but when it came time to take aim and fire, she was all serious business.

“I never did archery,” said Izzy, who pointed out that was short for Isabella. “I wanted to try shooting a bow and arrow. It was fun. I tried different bows. I got it right away. It’s a little bit hard, to pull it back, but then it gets easy, and it feels cool. I think about having my arm straight, make sure nobody’s right in front of you, then shoot when you’re good to go. I don’t really think about anything when I aim.”

Murray spotted Izzy’s talent and she wasn’t the only one.

“I’m with the BC Winter Games, also,” he said, and knew there were spots in reserve for Indigenous youth of the correct age to compete. “We actually picked one out, here, who we think can have one of those positions. He was a pretty novice shooter, but he was hitting the target, and with some coaching, he could represent us at the Games.”

There was a Quesnel archer, Brooklyn Novak, who won medals at the most recent edition of the Games, held in Vernon. She was also a medalist at the provincial indoor archery championships held in Quesnel last week.

For a full report on those results, keep in contact with Quesnel Cariboo Observer coverage.

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