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Ready…aim…provincials in Quesnel

Quesnel hosts indoor archery championships
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Archer see, archer do. One of Quesnel’s brightest bow and arrow up-and-comers, Kayden D’Entremont, is only 15 but is already coaching younger aspirants like Brendan Douglas. (Frank Peebles photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Quesnel might be the bullseye for the sport of archery, in B.C.

The national archery scene is led by this province, and this province’s archery scene is led by this city. A number of BC Archery Association board members are from Quesnel, some of the province’s highest ranking coaches are from Quesnel, and there’s a growing garden of medal colours that routinely come home around the necks of Quesnel athletes.

That’s one of the main reasons Quesnel was chosen two years in row - a rarity in any sport - to host the provincials. This weekend, instead of the sound of granite rocks rumbling down ice, the Quesnel Curling Centre will be home to the hisssssss-thwaaaak of the B.C. Provincial Indoor Championships, organized by the Quesnel River Archers (QRA), the busy and active local bow and arrow club.

“We did it last year there, too, with 82 shooters and we’re up to 105 this year already,” said Stu Murray, QRA president.

One of the reasons for so much success for one club is building a culture of inclusion, said one of the primary QRA coaches Lora-Lee Murray, president of the provincial association. She is also a dominant shooter in the purest of the sport’s categories, the bare recurve bow (no mechanical draw aids, sights or balancing attachments).

One of the coaches she is mentoring up to her certification level is Adam D’Entremont, who also competes and his primary rival is his son Kayden who just shot a personal best 298 last week, heading into the provincial championships. The top mark you can get is 300. Kayden fired 10 arrows, hit the bullseye eight times, and hit the nine-spot twice.

What made the accomplishment so special was Kayden is still recovering from a dirtbike incident that smashed several bones in his head and body, required a stay in BC Children’s Hospital, and kept him from making the BC Winter Games team that just competed in Vernon. But he went from compound fractures to compound bows in only seven months, his recovery noticeable from week to week.

“We were not sure how this would look but he was a trooper,” said Lora-Lee. “Thank you for teaching me to be a coach. You are one incredible kid and you make me proud everyday.”

Coaches learning from students, students learning from other students, experts mingling with beginners, coaches sharing knowledge while competing for their own personal bests…it’s the recipe for success at QRA. The evidence is there at the shooting line when Kayden is set to fire, and the next athlete down the line, Brendan Douglas, is chatting with him for pointers and emulating his every move, all on purpose.

“Brendan watches Kayden like he wants to be Kayden, but when Kayden was that age, one of the kids I coached, Spencer Gaumache, was the one Kayden wanted to be,” said Lora-Lee.

“Without being a formal coach, he is one, even for the older shooters, sometimes. His knowledge is amazing,” said Adam. “And the great thing for the kids is, they’re doing this together, so someone like Lily (Fraser, 14, who just won gold at the Canadian Indoor 3D Archery Championships in Calgary) might be motivated to try something from him more than from me. They inspire each other.”

Kayden’s mother Nicole is also a notable markswoman, and his 10-year-old sister Mielle is climbing the personal best charts quickly as well. It’s the kind of sport that can easily, uniquely switch to family recreation in the twang of a string.

“I started in Grade 5 with one of my friends. My mom asked if we wanted to try, and I thought sure, I’ll give it a whirl, and from there I just kinda got addicted,” said Kayden, who shows no physical signs of ever being in such a horrific incident. He said he still feels the occasional movement that reminds him he was recently injured, but otherwise he is dialling in to beat dad’s scores, and every other competitor regardless of gender or age, when the province comes to shoot here Apr. 7-9. But rather than hoarding all the archery spirit to himself, he shares it with anyone who’s interested.

“We need more people in the sport. We have a decent amount, but Canada has a small amount compared to other countries,” Kayden said.

The club has all the bows, arrows and shooting opportunities a beginner could want, so you don’t have to invest in your own equipment if you’re just giving it a try. You can reach out to the group on their Facebook page, but everyone in the club recommends dropping down to watch the provincial competition and get all the sensations yourself, from the very best, many of whom live right here in Quesnel.

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