Ron Sullivan was first exposed to archery when he thought it would make a good sport for his young daughter to try.
Three years later, she’s moved on – but he’s moved up, getting into the game himself and proudly earning a gold medal last weekend at the 2017 Canadian 3D Indoor Championship in Lac La Biche.
“I thought it looked fun so I thought I’d try it,” recalled Sullivan. “I really enjoy it.”
Dozens of archers from across the country competed in the three-day event, which put athletes on three different courses filled with 27 life-size three-dimensional foam animals. Archers needed to judge their range from 15 to 50 metres in order to manage the varying targets.
When the weekend was all said and done, Sullivan scored a 692 of a possible 880 to win a gold medal.
“You go down the line and shoot them all … It’s a lot of fun,” Sullivan said, adding the animals ranged from moose to buffalo, rabbits, deer and more. “The ones with the spots on them are the hardest.”
The win in Lac La Biche is the second gold medal for Sullivan in as many weekends, after pulling in a 1,065 out of a possible score of 1,200 at the Alberta Target Indoor Provincials on April 8 and 9.
He said he’s been “shooting almost constantly for the last few months” at his farm outside Cochrane to prepare for the competitions.
“It takes a lot of practise,” he said. “The pull and the release, you have to have consistency.”
Sullivan represents the Elk Ridge Archery Club and competes in the para archery category, since losing the use of his lower body after a motorcycle accident 16 years ago.
The owner of Cochrane Computers helps keep his torso strong and steady while shooting by tightening himself to his chair with belts.
Since he’s only one of a couple of para archers in the province, he said he’s working with Archery Alberta to hopefully expand the sport in his division.
“It’s a good sport, good people,” he said.
Cochrane teenager Warren Collins also competed in the same two shoots – coming out of provincials with a bronze and placing sixth at 3D nationals.
While Collins has been cleaning up since he picked up the sport a little more than a year ago, the 3D competition was his first major since moving up into a higher level of cadet.
“I’m enjoying it a lot,” said the Cochrane High School student. “I’m shooting against guys who have been shooting for three or more years. It’s … more competition for me, which will make me a better archer in the future.”
Now that indoor season is finished, Collins’ calendar is filling up for the summer with the North American Indigenous Games, the Alberta Classic and at least two more shoots scheduled so far.
Sullivan will also make a showing at the Summer Classic event at Sherwood Park in July. It’s another challenge for the archer, who will face a 50-metre shot for the first time.
“I’ve never done that before,” he said. “You have to change your arrow for wind resistance.”
Collins said he will work on adjusting his game in practice – “shooting a longer arrow with a heavier tip and a longer back” – to account for conditions like wind, rain and terrain.
“I’ve got an outdoor range up to 100 yards,” he said.
“It’s down the driveway,” joked his mom Jayena, “so you don’t want to be driving in when he’s shooting.”