A few years of hard work and practise lead Condor’s Breanna Westin to the Alberta Indigenous Games where she competed in archery.
After shooting four arrows in a completely unfamiliar course, Westin walked away from the games with a gold medal in archery in her category.
The competition was different for Westin, who said she wasn’t used to an obstacle-like course.
“We were shooting around trees and often on hills. It was different from an open field,” explained Westin.
Adding to the terrain, the targets being shot at were different from those she practises with.
Living on a farm just outside of Condor, Westin often shot at hay bails and round targets. She said she averages her shots from 20-25 metres away.
During the competition, Westin shot at 3D replicas of animals.
“It was to replicate hunting in the bush,” said her mother Nicole Westin. “There was all sorts of creature to aim at; moose, deer even a bear.”
Nicole explained this was the way Indigenous people hunted, and the competition brought the heritage of the people into the foreground while also being a challenge.
Westin’s grandfather, who was present during the events, said it was a challenge for all those in competing as they had to shoot up, down and around trees to hit their targets.
For Westin this was completely new for her, and said she had a hard time in some instances.
“I shoot left-handed, so there were times when I was shooting around trees I had to figure out my footing and switch it up,” explained Westin.
She was also very nervous to compete, Westin says.
Many of her competitors were older and had more years experience in this type of shooting.
“A lot of the others were so prepared and had done it before,” Westin said. “A lot of them had sights on their bow to help them shoot. I was one of the few that didn’t.”
Westin does not currently own her own bow, and actually had to compete using a Genesis Bow she borrowed from a friend.
“We are so grateful to Bre’s girlfriend. Without the use of the bow, she wouldn’t have been able to compete,” said Nicole.
Westin shot 40 arrows over the course of the competition, which was divided into two sets, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.
Her best shot in the first set scored for a total of 128 points out of a possible 200.
In the second set, her best score was 135 points out of 200.
These scores are only slightly behind the best scores from the senior class which range in the 140-145 zone, according to Nicole.
“For 13, Bre is able to keep up, and in some cases out shoot, some of the older competitors,” said Nicole.
Westin did not know about the Games until her aunt sent the information about it along to her.
According to Westin and her mother the games were most different during the opening ceremonies. They said that is where a lot of the culture and history came out.
“It was sort of like a pow wow, so it was very different but get for Bre to see and be a part of,” said Nicole.
Westin began her archery practise roughly four years ago when she first discovered the archery club at Condor School.
She has practised and worked with the club under the coaching of Dean Townsend once a week for an hour and a half.
Westin and her family give Townsend a lot of credit for getting her started in the sport as well as helping and coaching her along the way.
“We would give me tips and pointers on my stance and stuff if I was a little bit off,” Westin said.
There has been a donation made to help Westin pay for somethings, which her family is very grateful for. The donation was made by Mrs. Rae.
“We’ve been approached about a possible sponsorship and with the help provided by Condor, it is really amazing. We are looking at getting Bre her own bow,” said Nicole.
During the competition, Westin was also approached about trying out for both the winter games and the North American Indigenous Games.
To prepare for the try outs, Westin says she will work hard and is looking at joining a club in Red Deer to keep her focused and in great condition.
It’s a lot of hard work and dedication, but her family is confident Westin is up to the challenge.
Westin and her family hope other like herself will take her story and learn from it.
There are a lot of opportunities out there for young people if they just try.
“A lot of kids, a lot of Indigenous kids don’t know about opportunities like the Games, but they are out there if you are good enough and willing to try,” said Nicole.
Westin will be attending David Thompson High School nest year and plans to join an archery club in Red Deer to keep up with her practise.