More than 120 archers let arrows fly last weekend at the 23rd annual Traditional Bowhunters of BC Rendezvous, held at the Kettle Wildlife Association in Rock Creek.
The three-day event featured two twenty-target courses and other sharp-shooting challenges. Rubber moose, sheep, deer—even a giant mosquito and dragon—hid in the hills north of the Rock Creek fair grounds, beconing the zipping arrows of the participating archers. No scopes, pulleys or super-flexible carbon bows were allowed, only a curved piece of wood, a string and an arrow.
“It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of composite bows,” said TBBC president Rod Taylor about the difference between traditional bowhunting and other, more technologically advanced styles of archery.
Taylor, who became hooked on the traditional archery style in the mid-90s, said that the sport leans more on an individual’s intuition than on tech.
“When we’re aiming, we don’t think,” added veteran archer, Ray Bauliane. “It’s just like throwing a baseball.”
Others at the event have taken tradition a step further, carving out their own bows from staves of maple, yew and even old fence boards.
Kent Smith, from Castlegar, still uses the same yew wood bow he made 16 years ago. Though he’s carved others and taught friends his technique, “there are quite a few more that have ended up in the fire place,” he said.
But as much as pride was on the line for the elite archers competing for marksmanship trophies, (the reigning champions had won the previous three tournaments), for many, the weekend was about connecting with tradition, family and friends.
“Let’s get the moose!” shouted Nelson resident Baily Smith as her family began their day of what she compared to “all-terrain golf.”
Their aim, about 20 metres away, was a rubber dummy of a fully grown bull moose. The target was convincing enough to have duped a cougar — its rear end appeared to have been punctured by the claws of some big, hungry cat.
Smith, with her sister Blaire and parents Annette and Wes, took up a longbow in 2014 and has shot sporadically since. Rust didn’t show on her first shot though, as her arrow thudded into the moose’s lower belly, inches below the prime target area.
When she first took up the sport, Blaire said, “it was the first time I understood the respect that hunters have for the sport.”
The Kootenay family had good teachers too, with a former Alberta champion and nearly 40-year longbow veteran in friend Darcey Lutz to guide their form.
“There’s just nothing quite like watching an arrow fly,” Lutz said of the sport.
Traditional-style archers will return to the Kettle Wildlife Association soon for the North American Longbow Sarafi, which runs July 6 to 7.