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T-Birds score a bullseye at home tourney

R.F. Staples Thunderbirds Open welcome 171 archers from across region Feb. 17

WESTLOCK — R.F. Staples School's (RFS) archery club hit the target and demonstrated their skill and technique during the third-annual Thunderbirds Open.  

The one-day event held Feb. 17 at the school welcomed 171 archers from across the region, including 38 junior and senior high students from RFS.  

“They’re battling against themselves. It’s an individual sport — you’re together on a team but it’s individual as well,” said archery coach Mike Edwards. “The kids are loving it. It’s something for the kids to do that gets them out of the house after school.” 

The club has been at the school for eight years noted Edwards, pointing out the season runs from December to mid-April, with tournaments throughout, including theirs.  

“It’s teaching a discipline. It’s teaching to be able to shoot a weapon in a school — it’s bound by strict safety guidelines so they have to follow the guidelines for the national archery in schools program,” he said. “It’s a worldwide program and there’s strict rules that they have to follow while they’re on the line, when they’re shooting and it’s driven by safety. Safety’s No. 1.”  

Edwards said he welcomes “kids that don’t necessarily fit into a traditional high school sports team” and any student that wants to learn and be part of a team.

“If they want to be on the team, they’re on. They just have to commit to the practices,” he said, noting they take place every Tuesday and Thursday after school and students must attend at least one practice a week. “From there we go to tournaments around the area.”

The local event also helped prepare students for the provincial tournament, which welcomes thousands of junior and senior high school aged archers from across the province. This year, it’s being held March 16-18 at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

“The provincial tournament is open to everybody, so you don’t have to qualify for provincials,” said Edwards. “The (open tournament) is fun, it’s competitive but it’s getting the kids primed and ready for the provincial tournament coming up in a month.”

Edwards noted one of the keys in the sport of archery is understanding the steps involved for shooting, as there are no sight aids and no release aides. “It’s bare finger, bare bow, bare sight. They have to shoot by feel.”   

In the eight years the archery program has been at RFS, Edwards said he has seen interest in the sport grow.  

“They get to shoot bows and arrows in the school. That’s something special, to be able to say they can do and be a part of,” said Edwards. “I love it for the simple fact that I’m catching those kids that aren’t a part of those traditional clubs and it gives them (a chance) to be part of a team and feel part of a team.” 

RFS Results

Junior High

Ali Preston - 5th

Kayla Hamilton - 8th

High School


Sara Barabas - 3rd 

Marina Quist - 4th

Makinna Despins - 7th

Heleena Neuman  - 9th

Katie Midgett – 10th


Bentley Glenn - 7th

Kristine Jean,