The 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., will be big enough for the NWT but it will be even bigger for one team.
For the first time ever, the territory will be sending an archery team to the big show and that squad was selected following the trials in Yellowknife on Sept. 14 and 15. From the trials, four athletes were picked and they are Fergus Rutherford-Simon and Tayla Minute of Fort Smith along with Bailey Johnston and Katie Genge of Yellowknife.
Cynthia White of Fort Smith is one of the coaches who helped pick the final squad and said everything worked out as well as it could have.
“It all went great,” she said. “We had some real novice shooters who were using some new equipment they hadn’t shot before but they were adaptable, tried new things and they all did really well.”
As it turned out, the Fort Smith duo qualified with recurve bows while the Yellowknife duo did so with compound bows.
White said that’s because recurve is what Rutherford-Simon and Minute are comfortable with.
“They enjoy using recurve bows,” she said. “There are similarities with a compound bow, such as sights, but it’s also what we have at our disposal.”
Archery at the Canada Winter Games will be done using what’s known as the Vegas Shoot method, where three targets, each with three rings, are placed at a distance with each archer getting two minutes per end to shoot their three arrows. Scores range from six points for the outer ring to 10 points for the bullseye, meaning a perfect score for a round would be 300.
“It’s the international competition standard of archery,” said White. “You only get to count one arrow per ring so you have to make each arrow count.”
With the team now selected, the goal is to try and get them some competition outside of the territory and White said there are some options open to the team.
“We have a couple of open weekends where we may be able to get out,” she said. “We’re looking at some tournaments in the Edmonton area and there’s a chance we could go to Whitehorse and train there and have a friendly competition with the Yukon team. It’s all in the early planning stages right now.”
When it comes time to hit the line in Red Deer, White said she knows the nerves will be there but it’s all about making sure each shot is better than the last.
“A medal would be out of this world but the goal is to simply do better each time,” she said. “The outcome is secondary because we’re growing. The best thing about archery is that you’re competing against yourself and you can’t influence the other shooters – there’s no offence of defence. That’s what makes archery such a great sport if you come from a small community. You don’t have to worry about anything else except what you do.”