The sport of archery is gaining in popularity in Airdrie
The Cuthbertsons have a foam Bambi in their Airdrie backyard occupying a spot in a flowerbed. At least they did this past winter.
When the summer comes though, it’s taken out and plunked down in a farmer’s field somewhere between Crossfield and Carstairs with some other foam critters. A target is attached to its side and members of the Bighorn Bow Hunters and Archers Club shoot at it.
The club has been in existence for many decades. Leslie Cuthbertson and husband Rick, both in their 60s, are among the 120 or so members and have been for about 15 years.
“I believe I’m the oldest in the club,” says Rick, age 69. “There’s nobody over 70 at this point.”
Members of the non-profit club gather each summer at an outdoor range for 3D shoots – with foam creatures such as the aforementioned Bambi serving as the targets. Members come from all over the region, with Leslie serving as membership co-ordinator and Rick and Larry Harrison, also of Airdrie, among the directors. The president is Brent Chapman of Didsbury and other directors are from Airdrie, Didsbury and Calgary.
While most members also take part in target shooting, the Bighorn club only holds 3D shoots. “We just happen to shoot 3D because most of the people in our club are hunters and they want to go out there and practise hunting,” says Leslie. “You put them at different distances the same as if you were going to hunt. You have to try and figure out how far the animal is away that you want to shoot.”
Hunting is what brought Rick to the sport. At a time he was contemplating trying archery as a form of hunting, a motorcycle crash made the switch necessary after he discovered that shooting a gun had become unpleasant.
“I crashed my motorcycle and hurt my shoulder and I couldn’t get it to heal, so I started shooting [with a bow] and it hasn’t hurt since,” he says. “If I stop shooting it hurts.
“As far as hunting goes, though, I think I sat in my tree stand for the last time last year because of my knees,” he adds.
While the majority of those in the club are males in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the sport of archery is likely heading for a growth spurt in the Airdrie area involving all ages and genders. Club member Dane Bruce opened up an indoor shooting facility, OC Archery, in Airdrie in November 2015 and it’s given enthusiasts a place to go to stay sharp in the winter while also offering others an opportunity to see if the sport’s a good fit for them before they become heavily invested in equipment.
Once summer hits, the Bighorn club takes to the field for its opening fun shoot in May. On Father’s Day weekend archers then head to another farmer’s field near Gleniffer Lake for their big weekend.
“That’s a fairly big shoot over two days,” Leslie says. “We rent private land and set up a course and everybody takes their trailers out there and sets up for the weekend. Everyone has a good time.”
Another competition on the club’s regular field follows in August and they finish the year off with a Christmas event at OC Archery.
Various youth age classifications range from the under-nine peewees through to age 21, at which point shooters join the adult division, where they remain until they reach 50 and become senior competitors. At age 60, where the Cuthbertsons now compete, archers are considered ‘masters.’
“We’ve seen a lot more younger kids lately than we’ve seen in a while and a lot more families,” says Leslie. “Normally it’s the dads who get interested first, followed by the moms, then the kids. They turn it into a family thing.”
For more information on the club, visit bighornbowhuntersandarchers.com