On the mark: CFB Halifax Archery Club restarts

S3 Kate Briand (left) looks on as S3 Noah Locke gets ready to fire his arrow during a trial shoot night for the newly re-formed CFB Halifax Archery Club.

On the mark: CFB Halifax Archery Club restarts

By Joanie Veitch,

Trident News

After a hiatus of more than eight years, the CFB Halifax Archery Club is back on the shooting range.

Officially starting up again on April 1, the recently re-formed club has been running trial shoots over the last month in the drill hall at S-120, the Consolidated Seamanship Training Facility at Stadacona, with new and returning members from the former club participating.

Judging by the amount of traffic on the club’s Facebook page — Front Line Archers — the resurrection of the club has generated a lot of interest, said CPO2 Ian Smith, one of the main organizers and a member of the club’s executive board.

“We currently have 66 members on Front Line Archers. Many have been keenly following the club’s progression over the past two years,” said CPO2 Smith. “Many of those members have been out for our trial shoots and the feedback has been positive.” 

After seeing a poster advertising the club at Tribute Tower, S3 Kate Briand was keen to try it out.

“I’d tried it at summer camps and it seemed like something I’d like,” she said.

Three other sailors joined S3 Briand at a recent trial shoot night, receiving coaching tips and encouragement from CPO2 Smith and other club members.

“It’s an individual sport but there’s a lot of camaraderie here. Everyone helps everyone else,” said CPO2 Smith. “Archery is easy to learn, but it takes a lot of practice to get good at it.”

From the early 1990s until 2014, when the former drill hall was demolished, the CFB Halifax Archery Club was a popular and competitive club.  Originally formed to give military families an activity they could do together on base, some members of the club went on to compete at an elite level.

“My young fellow had done an archery course at the YMCA and he really liked it. This is back in 1990 or thereabouts and me and another sailor were looking for something to keep our boys out of trouble,” said Rick Crawford, one of the founding members of the original archery club.  

“Once it got going, people really loved it, for a small club just starting out it was incredible… We even sent three or four up to the Canada Games after just a few years.” 

That “young fellow” Crawford referred to is his son, Duncan Crawford, who went on to coach archery at a national level, and is now head coach for Canada’s Paralympic archery team.

Despite the years of resounding success, as some of the key organizing members got posted away from Halifax, the original CFB Halifax Archery Club began to lose some momentum.

Then the club’s home, the old drill shed, was deemed unsafe to use and that became the final nail in the coffin, Crawford said.

The club’s equipment was stored in a shed beside the Naval Museum of Halifax, at Stadacona and that’s where it sat until a few people began tossing around the idea of restarting the club.

“CPO2 Sebastien Rose and Sgt Steve Muirgatroyd (ret’d) had the idea to restart it. Sebastien assembled a group of volunteers to fill specific positions within the club and we all started working to make it happen,” said CPO2 Smith.

An executive board came together last year to organize the club and although COVID-19 pandemic caused delays, plans to restart the club began to gain momentum last fall, said CPO2 Smith, crediting CFB Halifax and Personnel Support Programs for their “outstanding” support along the way.

Over the past few weeks, as many as 15 to 20 new and experienced archers have been on the shooting range on the trial shooting nights. There’s enough interest from new members that the club is considering making Tuesday nights their family and beginner session and adding an additional shoot night on Thursday evening.

After struggling on her first few attempts at hitting the target, a few pointers from CPO2 Smith and some other club members saw S3 Briand begin to get the hang of it.

“It’s definitely harder than it looks, but I love it. This is great,” she said.

Anyone interested in purchasing a club membership can visit the Fleet Gym or call the front desk  at 902-427-3524 between the hours of 0900-1500 (Mon-Fri) starting 1 April 2022.