The BC Winter Games in February were a first for Liam Whitworth in a lot of ways.
The Games in Fort St. John marked the first competition off of Vancouver Island for the 15-year-old archer from Duncan, his first time in match play, and his first shoot-off for a medal.
“It was all experience that I really need,” Whitworth recalled a few weeks after the Games.
Match play sees two archers square off in each round, shooting three arrows per end. The winner of the end gets two points, a tie is worth one point each, and the first to six points wins. If the archers are tied at 5-5, they each get 40 seconds to shoot one arrow, and the closest to the centre of the target wins.
That’s exactly what happened to Whitworth in the third-place match of the boys match play recurve competition. Even though he had never been in that situation before, he shook off the pressure and prevailed to claim the bronze medal.
That thrilling shoot-off resulted in one of Whitworth’s two medals at the BC Winter Games. He also picked up a silver in the boys two-day aggregate recurve competition. In that event, archers shoot 60 arrows a day over two days, with the combined scores determining the winner.
To qualify for the Winter Games, Whitworth had to go through one event in Victoria where he shot 60 arrows, with his final scores sent to the governing body for selection. The Island team ended up consisting of two male recurve shooters, one female recurve shooter, and two barebow shooters, with no one in the compound events.
Whitworth got his start in archery around the age of 10 or 11 when he got his first bow and shot on his uncle’s property in Port Hardy. He got his first barebow a little later, and started going to the Cowichan Bowmen archery club with his dad, Darryl, when he was 12. Darryl is still involved in the sport, although not to the same degree as his son.
“He does shoot, but a little bit less than me,” Liam said.
Recurve is the same style of archery featured in the Olympics, and Whitworth admits he would like to compete at that level one day.
“It’s a dream of mine to go to the Olympics,” he said. “That would be one of the best experiences you can have.”
As much as archery is an individual sport, Whitworth acknowledges that a lot of people helped him get to the BC Winter Games, including his parents, coaches, and the Cowichan Bowmen club. He urges folks to give the sport a shot.
“Archery is an amazing sport,” he said. “I encourage lots of people to get into it.”