All Nations Archery based in Peepeekesis Cree Nation about 110 kilometres northeast of Regina is a relatively new club, having begun about six years ago with a handful of archers in the school gymnasium.
But members are bringing home medals, most recently from 3D indoor provincial championships in North Battleford, Sask., last month, and the club has grown to 30 members. 3D archery differs from regular archery in that there’s an object to aim at, instead of a bull’s-eye target.
Kaydynce Taypotat, 16, broke a provincial record last month for the female cadet traditional category at the tournament in North Battleford. Just another to add to her growing collection. She was one of 10 members who took home medals.
In total the club brought home four gold, four silver and two bronze medals.
Taypotat has been a club member for three years, and she often practises at home on top of the club’s twice a week practices.
“It was really fun, I really enjoy going out, I’m really grateful,” she said.
She said she is proud of her medals, but also likes the community aspect of the sport, and meeting new people.
Wyatt McLeod, 15, also broke a provincial record, in the male cadet traditional category, at last month’s tournament, his second one in three years. He said it feels good to receive a medal, and that it’s fun to shoot and be a part of the club. Like Taypotat, he’s been a club member for three years, and also hunts with his family when he is not at archery practice.
A member of the Saskatchewan Archery Association, the club now uses the curling facility in nearby Abernethy, about three kilometres south from Peepeekisis, to practise indoor 3D shooting. The club has an outdoor range on the First Nation for outdoor practice and competitions.
This season, club president Matt Bird said they have five new non-Indigenous members.
“A lot of people thought we were a closed club, being on the reserve and that kind of stuff, but that wasn’t our goal. We welcome everybody in,” he said.
It’s an all-ages club, with the youngest member only 10 years old, and keeping the kids active is one of the club’s main goals.
“We do it ’cause the kids love it,” said Bird.
“Our kids want to go out there. It keeps them off the games, out of the house and off the couch.”
The club began when Bird and a few other community members started offering archery classes in the school gym. He said the school helped them with equipment, then when they received enough community interest, the First Nation pitched in to buy more equipment, like 3D targets.
Mel Taypotat, vice-president of All Nations Archery and Kaydynce’s father, said archery is a chance for youth to discover an interest and stick with it.
“Every person has some unique skill inside of them,” he said.
The group is looking forward to hosting outdoor 3D provincials this summer, and to more competitions away from home.
“We try to travel as much as we can with our club, all summer long,” said Bird.
The club gets support from the First Nation and does a lot of fundraising to pay for the travel, Bird said, expressing concern about the rise in gas prices.
Bird said training to compete at the North American Indigenous Games next summer in Halifax is another goal for club members. Some have earned medals there previously.