LAC LA BICHE — Archers from around the province arrived to state-of-the-art Herb Erickson Outdoor Archery Range over August Long Weekend to compete in three separate tournaments.
The Lakeland Archers Club hosted the provincial event that included target, field and 3D archery. It was the first time any Alberta club has hosted all three provincial events simultaneously.
Originally, the Lakeland Archers President Rene Schaub and members were preparing to host the field and target tournaments, but after another club backed out of holding 3D event, due to a lack of volunteer support, the Lac La Biche club stepped in to scoop up the event.
“It was an action-packed weekend. It was hard to keep in front of it, but it turned out really, really well,” said Schaub.
The event drew in approximately 100 competitors of all ages, and provided out of town guests free camping on the tournament grounds. The number was nearly half the amount of archers a pre-pandemic tournament would normally expect to draw.
Whether the lower turnout was due to pre-arranged long weekend plans or ongoing concerns with the pandemic, excitement was nonetheless expressed by all of the participants who did enter.
“The people that came were really happy that they were able to do two of the three events in one place,” Schaub said. On the first day of the event, archers had to decide between taking part in the target or 3D competition and on the second day anyone who was interested could compete in the field event.
According to Schaub, the biggest challenge was preparing the 3D course, which requires the target animals to be set up only the day before, as the ethafoam material attracts bears nearby.
“It's very common to have bears in that wooded area. Of course, the more traffic you have they move out, but if there's no traffic, they come in. They start by knocking down the animals and then they come back and they eat them. So that can be very expensive,” he laughs, adding that everything had turned out fine.
What excited most of the Lakeland organizers was the ability to show off the new outdoor archery range and facility, which was built to host the 2019 Worlds 3D competition. Due to the pandemic, Schaub says, the facility has not had the opportunity to impress archers from outside the community.
Although this may soon change, as the club will find out in September if Lac La Biche will win the bid to host the 2024 Worlds Field tournament, which they have planned to line up with the Summer Days Festival.
The Lakeland Archery Club is also looking forward to pitching Lac La Biche and the Herb Erickson facility as the perfect venue for the next national competition to be hosted in Alberta in 2025.
To many archers' dismay, the national archery competitions were postponed in both 2020 and 2021. The next province to host the national event is Prince Edward Island, which is expected to go ahead next summer.
The ability to host and organize these world class events has only been possible with the development of the new archery range that came with extensive help and support from Lac La Biche County, says Schaub.
“We had outgrown where we were in the old curling rink. Years ago, we started downstairs in the basement and then we moved upstairs in the (Jubilee) Hall and then we went to the curling rink. We were outgrowing all our places and needed a place to call home.”
The Lakeland club has roughly 100 members.
Quoting a popular 80s sports movie, Schaub said “If you build it, they will come.”
Although sporting events have been limited by the pandemic, the indoor and outdoor facility has been used by the County for training and by other community members.