Young archers in Williams Lake have an opportunity to learn from some of the country’s best.
Now in its third week of the season, the Williams Lake Sportsmen’s Association’s Junior Olympic Archery Program (JOAP) has opportunities for all ability levels.
Instructed by Al Campsall — a member of Team Canada and multi-time national compound bow champion — and longtime recurve bow specialist Ed Oliver, students meet at the WLSA clubhouse once a week.
JOAP classes are broken down into two sessions every Thursday evening — one from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and another from 6:30 until 8 p.m. Participants can choose which class they wish to attend.
And as Campsall can attest to, learning archery can lead to a lifelong passion for the sport.
“Archery is a lifelong sport,” Campsall said. “You can be a competitor, or you can be someone who enjoys shooting for your own enjoyment. You don’t have to compete.”
One of the key elements Campsall said the JOAP focuses on is archery safety.
“We teach archery skills, how to do it safely, how to shoot a bow for accuracy and how to shoot a bow for enjoyment,” he said.
“We’ve got kids who are Canadian champions, we’ve got kids who are Canadian record holders and also provincial champions.”
Campsall and Oliver have been running the program for the past five years after resurrecting it following several years of inactivity.
“Before it was being ran by parents, but I guess it died out,” Campsall said.
“Ed called me up one day and asked if I was aware JOAP wasn’t functioning, so we decided to get it going again.”
Last year 55 archers took part in the JOAP. Campsall expects to reach similar numbers this season.
The JOAP, ran through the B.C. Archery Association by the WLSA, goes for six months from now until the end of March.
The cost, meanwhile, is relatively inexpensive, Campsall said.
“We have archery gear for the kids to start with,” he said. “You don’t have to show up and spend a bunch of money.
“I’d say it’s one of the cheapest sports in town.”
Anyone interested in signing up for the JOAP can simply show up at the WLSA clubhouse on Bond Lake Road during either of the two sessions Thursdays.