Among the over 500 Indigenous athletes traveling from Manitoba to Nova Scotia for the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) are four 3D archers, including 15-year-old Métis competitor Ethan Hall.
Hailing from Oak Lake, Man., 250 kilometres west of Winnipeg, Hall said he’s excited to represent Manitoba at the Games, slated to run July 15-23.
“I’m feeling confident going into it, a bit nervous. I’m excited to go,” said Hall.
“I’m showing that there’s people here that can shoot.”
Over 5,000 Indigenous athletes ages 13 to 19 are set to compete at NAIG. The games will be held in 21 venues in Kjipuktuk/Halifax, Dartmouth, and Millbrook and Sipekne’katik First Nations.
Team Manitoba has 30 teams competing in 16 different sports. The 3D archery event is one of three billed as traditional Indigenous sports and those sports will have a special opening ceremony, according to NAIG’s website.
In the 3D archery competition, which has female and male 16U and 19U categories, teams will be going out into the bush at their venue to shoot at fake 3D animal targets.
Hall first started archery about five years ago, through school. Since then he’s learned more from other prominent athletes near his home in southwestern Manitoba. But his favourite part, he said, is that he gets to be outdoors.
Hall said archery only gets cancelled if there is thunder and lightning so he and his teammates have to work with whatever may come into play with the weather.
“I have my own 3D targets and I’ll go set them outside and I’ll go shoot at them for hours,” said Hall.
“I just shoot until I feel like I’m good for that day and the next day I’ll repeat the process.”
To focus, Hall said he zeroes in on his target and doesn’t pay attention to any of his surroundings.
“I’m nervous to get out there and shoot the first arrow,” said Hall.
“Once the first arrow is done, then I become more confident. But that first arrow is always the worst one.”
Archery a growing sport
Matthew Trudeau, a a physical education teacher from Winnipeg and the head coach for Team Manitoba’s archery team, said archery is a growing sport in Manitoba, particularly in schools.
“A huge part of it to me is a mental preparation for it,” said Hall.
Each participant gets 20 arrows and however long they need to shoot at three targets per round with two rounds per day, he said.
Trudeau said NAIG will be a chance for the four archers to show off their talents and when the team isn’t competing, they will be cheering on other Manitoba athletes.