A Crossfield archer is excited to sling some arrows at the 2020 Alberta Winter Games, Feb. 14 to 17 in Airdrie.
Twelve-year-old Sage Wilkins will be the town’s sole representative at the Games, which will feature nearly 2,000 elite winter-sports athletes from across the province. The Meadowbrook Middle School student became a member of the Zone 2 (Big Country) archery team when she successfully tried out for the squad in November 2019.
“I’m really excited, but it’s also little bit nerve-wracking,” said Wilkins, who has competed in archery for a little more than two years.
The sport involves using a compound or recurve bow to shoot arrows at a circular target from 18 metres away. The target is divided into 10 evenly-spaced concentric rings, with score values from one to 10 points.
Archers shoot 10 ends of three arrows, and each end must be completed within two minutes.
This year will mark Wilkins’ first time competing at the Alberta Winter Games, which features athletes aged 11 to 17. She’s slated to participate in the female compound competition in the "cub" age group, for marksmen aged 12 to 14.
“In preparing for this event, I’ve been competing quite regularly,” she said. “Outside of that, it’s pretty off and on.”
Originally from Airdrie, Wilkins was introduced to the sport as a member of the Airdrie Helping Hands 4-H Multi Club. She said the club leader asked if she wanted to observe an archery session, and after firing her first arrow, Wilkins hasn’t looked back.
“It’s just fun and I like the excitement of it,” she said. “I try to practice every day, shooting in my basement.”
When she’s not firing arrows, Wilkins and her mother drive to southeast Calgary multiple times a week so she can train at the Calgary Archery Centre.
Wilkins’ coach is Brendan Dwan, who competed at the 2016 Alberta Winter Games in Medicine Hat and coached the Zone 2 team at the 2018 Games in Wood Buffalo. The 20-year-old University of Saskatchewan student, whose family lives in West Bragg Creek, said the sport of archery is very inclusive.
“It’s very accommodating, and a great way to make friends and find a community,” he said. “We’re not all bow-hunters or Robin Hoods. Some of us have never hunted in our lives, and for others, [bow hunting] is a family ritual.”
The archery competition will be held Feb. 15 to 17 at St. Martin de Porres High School. Visit bit.ly/2v649fa, to download the archery schedule.