On Target: My Journey to the Canada and BC Games

Eliana Stein draws her bow during competition.

My name is Eliana Stein, I am a female compound archer, and I competed in the Canada and BC Winter Games. Some typical questions I get asked often are, how did you get into archery, and have you ever shot an apple off of someone’s head before?

While that last question has a very simple answer, no, (boring to some, I know, but rather be safe than a stormtrooper.), the first question is valid, archery has always been a part of my life and family.

Some of my favourite memories as a kid were going to the outdoor range and shooting at 3D targets of turkeys or wolves with my little brother while our parents shot at 2D targets nearby.

Years went by and my father bought me and my brother our own compound bows to share his love for the sport with us. We would occasionally go downstairs to our makeshift range and shoot a few arrows with him but nothing too serious in the way of training.

In 2020 (yes the dreaded 2020), my dad heard about the BC Winter Games coming to Vernon, and he asked me if I wanted to train for the qualifiers. I was hesitant, but as I thought about it, I knew that even if I didn’t qualify, what I would really be doing is spending time with my dad. So I agreed and started to train seriously. At first, I’ll admit, it was a bit of a chore; setting time out each day to aim at a target 60 times was hard work. But as I got set up with good gear and my dad trained me in the ways of the force, I mean in the ways of archery, I settled into a rhythm.

But it wasn’t until I went to my first warm-up competition that my love for archery and competition expanded. The first competition I went to was the Alberta Youth Championship. There were around 60 archers there. I wasn’t competing against all of them, but still, the crowd was intimidating. We had two days of shooting, the first day, we shot 60 arrows and counted up the cumulative score out of 600 points. This helped place us in our seats for the next day in matchplay rounds.

Matchplay is a quicker-paced style of competition that you will often see in archery, where you are only competing with the person next to you over 15 arrows instead of 60.

I won silver in that competition, and my hunger for victory grew. I continued to compete in competitions around BC until, at the 2022 BC Provincials, I won gold! This gave me all the more confidence as I moved toward my original goal – the BC Winter Games.

Unfortunately, the archery world was not immune to Covid, and only a month before those of us who qualified were meant to go and compete, our games were cancelled.

Without the semi-distant goal of the BC games to work towards, I didn’t know where my archery could take me. I was good, but I had no idea where my limit reached. In a spiral and lacking motivation, I stopped training, and I got sucked into the void of sitting on the couch instead of practicing downstairs. I thought that was it for my sports journey. (Death Star-type explosion of my career.)

But my Dad didn’t let me back out that easily; instead, he contacted Canadian gold medal Olympic archer Crispin Duenas, who sent a video to the Okanagan archers who had qualified for the BC Games. He told us not to give up on training, even when we don’t have a goal in mind.

Later my Dad found out about the Canada Winter Games and told me to start training for that. To be completely honest, I didn’t know how big the Canada Winter Games were until after I qualified for them. For the games, I travelled across the country to PEI and competed against the best female compound archers in Canada. I lost to the gold medal winner by a millimetre, and then fought for the bronze medal. It was a big win for me and something I will never forget.

But it didn’t end there. The driving motivation that started my archery journey – the BC Winter Games – was rescheduled, and I was finally able to compete in my hometown of Vernon. I won double gold while scoring the highest overall scores for both female and male archers.

I have had my ups and downs and have learned I have to fight for every shot I take. This lesson goes beyond archery. It’s about focus and determination. It means to set your eyes on a goal and to move toward it with intention. I can not understate how valuable my home education has been in my archery journey, not only has it given me the freedom and time to practice and train but given me the flexibility in my schedule to attend these provincial and national events.

My faith has also grown throughout this journey. I originally started to compete to build deeper connections with my family, but along the way, these competitions became less of something for me, and more of something I found that God could work through me. Every time I pick up my bow and every time I shoot an arrow, I do what I do to glorify God. His relationship with me has been so amazing; he has done so much in my life. I want to share that with everyone I meet on or off the archery line. I’m more of an introvert so I know this courage isn’t coming from me alone.

Throughout my archery journey, I can see that it has: shaped me, molded me, and helped me recognize I am designed for great things. I have learned to trust in God, and trust that my hard work over the years will not be wasted. And just like archery, you have to keep training your trust in God even when you don’t yet see the goal He has in mind for you.

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