North American Indigenous Games

Mi'kmaw archer shooting for gold at the Indigenous Games

A desire to hunt is leading a Mi'kmaw archer from Eskasoni, Nova Scotia to a possible gold medal at the North American Indigenous Games.

By Thursday, Ryan Francis of Eskasoni, N.S., scored highest in 3D archery competition

Ryan Francis, 19, was destined for gold after scoring highest in the archery competition at the North American Indigenous Games on Thursday. (CBC)

A desire to hunt is leading a Mi'kmaw archer from Eskasoni, N.S., to a possible gold medal at the North American Indigenous Games.

Ryan Francis, 19, seemed destined for gold in the under-19 3D archery category on Thursday, after scoring the highest in competition taking place at the Hamilton Hunting and Angling Association in Alberton, Ont.

But Ryan, who is a man of few words, said his skill with a compound bow was first honed by hunting — something he still does when he's not competing.

"I wanted to hunt with it, really," he said. "Then I just started shooting."

Sask. archers chasing medals

The 3D archery competition sees archers use two types of bows. Some use compound bows, which feature cables and pulleys to bend the limbs and have sights to help aim, while others use instinctive bows, which have no sights and must be bent manually. 

The archers walk in groups while shooting at a series of three-dimensional animal decoys on a course.The archers at NAIG are scored on their accuracy over a period of three days.

Among those scoring high in archery are the members of Team Saskatchewan, led by coach and manager Melvin Taypotat.

"All of my athletes are chasing a medal," he said. "So I think they're doing very, very well."

One Saskatchewan athlete, Twanie Kotyk, 19, was in the lead on Thursday in the under-19 women's category, using a compound bow to hit target after target with deadly accuracy. 

Twanie Kotyk takes aim at a three-dimensional target during archery competition at the North American Indigenous Games. (CBC)
Taypotat said his squad of eight archers was also excited to be competing against and meeting other athletes from across the continent at the games, and getting to know each other better as well.

"The team is bonding, like a family," he said.

Heavy rain and lightning on Thursday slowed and sometimes halted the competition, but the medals are expected to be handed out in the evening in a ceremony at McMaster University.

About the Author

Tim Fontaine is a Winnipeg-based writer who has worked for APTN National News and CBC Indigenous. You can follow him on Twitter: @anishinaboy.

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