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Sports & Play

Archery in and around Toronto

Posted by Ab Velasco / July 29, 2012

Archery TorontoTucked away within E.T. Seton Park (located next to the Ontario Science Centre in North York) is one of Canada's only two public archery ranges. There, you will find a community of Olympic-calibre archers, competitors-in-training, and newcomers.

On a July evening, Vanessa Lee releases an arrow from her bow and watches it fly through the air like a missile towards the butt (target) 70 metres away. This is one of 350 arrows she will shoot this day. Currently Canada's #2 ranked female archer, Lee, 23, is training seven hours daily, with a hawk eye focus on competing in the 2016 Olympics.

"I love the feeling of shooting and that instant you shoot an arrow and know it's a perfect 10. Sports psychologists call that the flow and there's no other feeling like that," says Lee.

She took up archery in 2004, after being dazzled by Korean archer Park Sung-Hyun, who won Gold with her team at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. In the eight years since Lee took up archery, she has competed in countries like China, Mexico, and Italy. "I love the people you get to meet. The friends that you make are amazing," she says.

While archery is a bigger sport internationally, it is underground in Toronto. But it has recently received a boost from pop culture, thanks to movies like The Hunger Games, Brave and The Avengers, which all feature kickass archer characters.

One of Canada's star archers, Crispin Duenas, 26, says the pop influence is helping draw a younger demographic to the sport. "My coach has had an influx of young teens, mainly girls, who want to learn archery after seeing Hunger Games and Brave," he says via email from London, England, where he is representing Canada on the Olympics archery team. "This increases our chances of having more and better archers."

While E.T. Seton Park is a regular spot for top-tier archers like Duenas, it is also open to those looking to just shoot for fun.

At the 18-metre targets, Tara Vaughan and three friends begin their weekly evening shooting outing; their homemade target on the butt. To their right, two young boys shoot at their homemade target: a picture of a zombie.

"When you say you're an archer, you just sound so bad ass," says Vaughan, 35, who started shooting at the range two years ago, after taking a class at Casa Loma with respected instructor and archer Shawn Adams.

Vaughan loves the range's diverse community, which includes barebow shooters - people who actually hunt - who bring homemade bows to target shoot during weekend mornings. "They're a real do-it yourself culture; people who are very excited to have made their own bows and arrows," she says.

Wildlife may be spotted too. Range regular Hamilton Nguyen, 21, says that "sometimes, eagles come down here and they'd sit on top of our targets, looking for prey. One year, we had a baby deer that came along." Rest assured: animals are not shot at.

For those looking to get into the sport, archers suggest taking a class first, because they provide the equipment. Once you get a feel for it, you can join a club. The Ontario Association of Archers' website has a great list of clubs.

Popular clubs include the Toronto-based Bullseye Buccaneers, run by Joan McDonald, the head coach of the Canadian Olympic archery team. For those who can travel, the Peel Archery Club (top photo) and the Archers of Caledon are also recommended.

Interestingly enough, Toronto doesn't have good equipment stores, according to archers like Nguyen and Lee. Instead, they suggest The Bow Shop in Kitchener and Archer's Nook in London, Ontario.

"It's best to drive there to try out the equipment," says Nguyen. "Archery is a very personal sport and everything has to be based on how you feel about the bow. There's no point in investing a lot of money on something that doesn't work for you."

Starter bows cost $150 to $200. Other key equipment include: arrows; the arm-guard to protect the bow string from hitting your arm; and the finger tab, which protects your fingers from getting bloodied and blistered.

As Toronto has a four-season climate, indoor clubs are essential for practitioners. One of these clubs is the Hart House Archery Club at the University of Toronto.

"A lot of clubs don't have a dedicated space. Most of the spaces are rented out, like church basements or school gyms. Hart House is one of the few clubs in Toronto that has a dedicated space," says member Lina Sederavicius, 27.

Running from September to April, the Club is primarily a social club. Each year, they have a Halloween fun shoot, where members are encouraged to dress in costume and shoot at "wicked targets", like pumpkins that hang from the ceiling.

Sederavicius, who took up archery at 16, because she loved Disney's Robin Hood as a child, also sees the pop culture boost of archery as a positive thing. "I know (one club) that has hosted events just for Hunger Games fans and they've had a great response."

And if zombies were to ever crossover from pop into reality, would the bow and arrow be Sederavicius' ideal weapon? It depends, she says. "If I were perched up on a roof, then a bow and arrow would be great. But if a zombie were to come up and surprise me from behind, then I am totally screwed."

Photo from the Peel Archery Club on Facebook

Discussion

22 Comments

Jeremy / July 29, 2012 at 03:56 pm
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Quote: "The Club is primarily a social one and runs from September to April. All are welcome; non students pay a fee. Each year, they host a Halloween fun shoot. Members dress up and shoot at "wicked targets", like pumpkins that hang from the ceiling.

Running from September to April, the Club is primarily a social club. Each year, they have a Halloween fun shoot, where members are encouraged to dress in costume and shoot at "wicked targets", like pumpkins that hang from the ceiling."

This seems a little redundant. Also, it seems kind of redundant.
S / July 29, 2012 at 08:53 pm
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Who knew?

Thought it was an exclusive sport for only Olympian athletes. Sounds like a lot of fun too. Bye bye darts!
Ron Jackson / July 30, 2012 at 01:55 pm
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nice indoor range in Mississauga, 7k square feet. Shoot up to 18M. Lessons, parties etc. Ontario Centre for Classical sport (OCCS)
wanda / November 12, 2012 at 10:22 am
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DOes anyone know of lessons for kids near clarington or Oshawa
Outdoorsman / January 22, 2013 at 04:48 pm
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Hey would you like to discuss this and other great archery tips and strategies?
Check out www.archerandangler.com

The internets #1 social community for archers!
Donna Rousell replying to a comment from wanda / January 25, 2013 at 05:43 am
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I found a list of clubs online at
http://www.outdoorsolution.ca/downloads/clubs/Club_list.pdf

On the Durham Archers website (FAQ's), they mention two local places that offer lessons.

Quote: "Do you provide training sessions to teach people archery? Where can I get archery lessons in the Durham region, for children and adults?

Unfortunately we don't provide any kind of lessons.

Here are the closest businesses that give lessons:
Woods North Archer, Alex Taylor, Oshawa, 905-433-0760, fax 905-433-8027
Saugeen Shafts Archery Club, Bill Embury, Peterborough, 705-749-1533, Fax 705-749-2557"
Dawn Monroe / March 24, 2013 at 12:26 pm
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It is great to read about what is happening with clubs in Toronto area. Now that I live in Northern Ontario I am attempting to get archery on the agenda of Northern Ontario schools so kids in the North can have opportunities like the kids in Toronto.
Nicholas Wind / April 4, 2013 at 10:00 am
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My 15 year old Son tells me he wants to learn about archery so
we are just starting our search for information.
We live in Scarborough near the Town Center.
So I'm looking for the closet club we'll visit and get more info from there.
Any help would be great.
Than you.
DCook / May 12, 2013 at 12:18 am
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My son is ten years old, and is currently taking beginner lessons with TORONTO PARKS & RECS The only downfalls are the class fills up quickly and are at the Beaches Community Centre.
Vernon / May 18, 2013 at 07:41 am
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Hello there,

My son and I just took up archery in Markham. Surprisingly, Markham was offering this sport as part of a community program. We had a first lesson yesterday and I am hooked as I googled places where we can do archery. Is the one at Science Cente an exclusive indoor facility? Do we have to bring our own targets?
chantal lambert / June 1, 2013 at 10:18 am
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My son is turning 8 and is so keen to learn. We are in the junction in Toronto... does anyone know of a place that will take him?

Radio replying to a comment from Vernon / June 6, 2013 at 10:59 am
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@Vernon

I also live in Markham and I been shooting archery since 2009 but because I am a University student at Waterloo However when I come home seldom shoot in Markham as there is no range and I need to travel. The closest open range is up north in Peel and you need to be invited to join the club and they test your skills. The archery range behind the Ontario Science Center is not indoor its part of the outdoor park and has no supervision. I would love to meet with both of you and we can shoot together. I shoot specifically compound but I have a recurve if your interested email me at tsan6280@wlu.ca
Coach de vie Montréal / July 1, 2013 at 01:21 am
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Yeah ..... nice place for beginners who want to choose the Archery field.
Vicki / August 19, 2013 at 11:45 am
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We have 2 large pieces of white styrofoam from a hot cover lid Approx.41 x 82". Can any Archery club use them for targets vs sending to garbage. Live in Toronto near 401.
Leigh replying to a comment from Vicki / August 29, 2013 at 09:06 am
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Vicki,
I believe Toronto can now recycle styrofoam. I know they accept styrofoam cups, anyway!
Leigh / August 29, 2013 at 09:09 am
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Anyone know about laws regarding practicing in parks/woodland areas in Toronto? My nine year old has bow but I can't take him to official practice areas - i've found a deserted spot nearby but don't know the legalities
vicki replying to a comment from Leigh / August 29, 2013 at 09:28 am
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Thanks Leigh - had heard some camps & activity centres like these larger denser pieces for target practise so thought I would first
put it out there for reusing before recycling.
Leigh replying to a comment from Vicki / August 29, 2013 at 09:52 am
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jimmie Simpson recreation centre on Queen st East have free archery lessons. Perhps you could offer it to them direct?
Vicki / August 29, 2013 at 10:18 am
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That was a great idea - unfortunately they can't pick it up.
yogi wang / November 8, 2013 at 09:54 am
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I see information about bullseye Buccaneers Richmond Hill, where is an archery club? Open? can i go there to archery? Thank you!
Sandi / December 14, 2013 at 12:11 pm
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How do I contact the club mentioned to be located in E T Seton Park?
Does anyone have an email address or telephone number ?
moleski / January 6, 2014 at 12:30 pm
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I took the single day introduction to archery course at Casa Loma with Shawn Adams in the fall of 2013. Great instructor, great introduction. The problem was, where to go next. Shawn has a lengthy waiting list for his classes.

Shawn referred to me the Ontario Centre for Classical Sports on Laird in Missisauga, owned by Ron Jackson. Fantastic huge space, beautifully set up for archery. You can take lessons, join a class, or just go rent equipment and shoot, yourself or with a group of friends.

Ron is incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and will help you buy equipment when you are ready. He sells it in his very well equipped proshop at OCCS, at excellent prices. Ron makes custom bow strings and arrows on the premises.

I can't stress enough the nice atmosphere at OCCS. Lovely clean and spacious change rooms and washrooms. Very spacious shooting ranges. Diverse group of archers. No attitude at all from staff or patrons. All the archers, even those at the elite level, are incredibly nice and helpful, which was especially appreciated when I was a stumbling newby.

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