It’s hard to be a Yukon archer.
You have to buy your bows and arrows at Wal-Mart or Canadian Tire, and the athlete pool is so shallow that the team is often very inexperienced.
The significance of this fact was brought home to the Yukon girl’s Canada Winter Games archery team this week.
Gwen Cardinal, making it to the woman’s compound bow archery finals, shot against Manitoba’s Doris Jones, who was seeded first after the qualifying rounds.
Cardinal shot 80 points out of 120. Jones shot 117.
“I was like 40 points away, less than that; I could have done better,” said Cardinal.
Nevertheless, coach Les Johns is proud because Cardinal was shooting with a $400 bow. Many of the other girls at the competition were outfitted with $5,000 bows.
“I’d challenge all these guys here if they’d strip off their sights and all their stabilizers and that, to try and shoot bare bow down there and see what happens,” said Johns.
“Gwen had sights. but not to the calibre that these girls here were shooting.
“It makes it a lot different competition if the girls out there with that fancy equipment would shoot the same bow she’s shooting — see what the score is then.”
Yukon archers are also limited by the cost of travelling to competitions in southern provinces, said Johns.
They also don’t have the ability to try the bows and equipment before they purchase them, as they would if they were in a specialized archery store in southern Canada.
“Most archery stores you go to, you can take a bow and you can try it out and if you like it then you can buy it,” said Johns. “But here you can’t; you have to just take what you can get and try to compete with that.”
Two Team Yukon girls using recurve bows made it to the finals. (In the case of a recurve bow, the two tips point toward the target.)
Kristin Van Bibber scored 39 points against Ontario’s Meahgan Peters, who shot a 109.
“I’m excited and nervous both at the same time because I’m facing the second-best person,” Van Bibber said in an interview before her match.
“It’s very nerve-wracking.”
Van Bibber is new to the sport. She’s been shooting for only eight months before the Games. Still, she was thrilled to enter the finals competition.
“It’s very exciting, it’s amazing because we only had five girls to pick from for the recurve and they get like millions,” she said.
“Each province has, like, so many.
“We’re doing really, really well for people who have only been shooting for a few months.
Claire Rudge was particularly pleased with her results in the recurve finals as she shot within 13 points of her opponent.
Rudge shot a 95 out of 120 against Felishea Quattrociocche, who shot 108.
“The competition was deadly; oh, she was good,” said Rudge.
Rudge has been competing for three years and owns a good bow.
Her goal is to compete in the next Canada Winter Games.