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B.C. Winter Games archers take aim in Vernon

Coleman Willner and Sierra Dean of Victoria pull their arrows from their targets as they practise archery in the Vernon Secondary School gym Thursday in preparation for the B.C. Winter Games. - Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star
Coleman Willner and Sierra Dean of Victoria pull their arrows from their targets as they practise archery in the Vernon Secondary School gym Thursday in preparation for the B.C. Winter Games.
— image credit: Lisa VanderVelde/Morning Star

There’s an old adage in archery: ‘I shot an arrow into the air, where it landed I know not where.’

While that’s generally the case for most first-time archers, Ron Ostermeier still remembers exactly where his first shot landed.

“Right there,” he said, pointing next to his right foot.

Ostermeier was only nine at the time and was ‘testing out’ his big brother’s bow and arrow when he wasn’t around.

Despite the near foot-piercing experience, he wasn’t deterred from archery.

Close to 35 years later and Ostermeier is a master learning facilitator for Canada and teaches B.C.’s judges and coaches how to, well, judge and coach the sport.

The Oliver resident is in Vernon this weekend judging the province’s top young archers in the B.C. Winter Games.

Close to 50 competitors are taking aim in the Vernon Secondary gymnasium.

Friday and Saturday:

  • Girls 60 arrow round 9 a.m. - noon
  • Boys 60 arrow round 2 - 5 p.m.

Sunday:

  • Semi-finals 8:30 - 9 a.m.
  • Bronze medal matches 9 - 9:30 a.m.
  • Gold medal match, barebow 9:30 - 10 a.m.
  • Gold medal match, recurve 10 - 10:30 a.m.
  • Gold medal match, compound 10:30 - 11 a.m.
  • Medal presentations 11 a.m.

Aiming for “at least a bronze,” is Ostermeier’s granddaughter Heather Kilberg.

Also competing is his niece, Ceridwyn Olafsson.

So for both girls, 14, archery is in their blood.

“My grandpa and my oma and my mom does it, and she’s done it since she was little too,” said Kilberg, a Grade 9 student from Coquitlam’s Pine Tree Secondary.

Kilberg picked up her first bow and arrow six years ago and has loved it ever since.

“I think it’s a cool sport,” she said while practising at VSS Thursday.

It’s not your typical sport, being that there’s no team approach to scoring. Even though there are teams shooting together, each shot is up to each individual archer.

But that’s what makes archery so unique, and so attractive to those involved.

“Not everybody likes to play team sports,” said Ostermeier, adding that it’s the only bullet you can re-use.

Dating back to the days of Robin Hood and even further back for hunting, it is also one of the oldest sports still around.

There are three different types of bows used in the competition. Arrows are shot from 18 metres to a target representing rings of various points (a bull’s-eye is 10 points).

But it’s not just about shooting a giant dart into a red circle.

“It demands a lot of mental focus,” said Ostermeier.

Being at the Games and feeling the pressure start to mount, Kilberg can attest.

“The hardest part is keeping focused, blocking out everything around you,” said Kilberg.

And going up against B.C’s best archers makes it even more difficult.

“I’ve got some tough competition.”

 

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