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Parrsboro archer heading for Canada Winter Games

Ashley Hamel, 19, of Parrsboro has been selected to participate for Nova Scotia in the archery competitions during the upcoming Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.
Ashley Hamel, 19, of Parrsboro has been selected to participate for Nova Scotia in the archery competitions during the upcoming Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta. - Harry Sullivan

‘Love at first shot’

PARRSBORO, N.S. - A Parrsboro teenager has been selected to participate in the archery competitions at the 2019 Canada Winter Games next month in Red Deer, Alberta.

But Ashley Hamel, 19, is looking for some financial assistance to purchase the up-to-date equipment required to compete with the nation’s best archers.

“My equipment for where I am locally is good but if I want to go play with the wolves, I can’t be a sheep,” Hamel said. “It’s not the bow that makes the archer, it’s the archer that makes the bow. But if I want to be up to their level, if I want to run with the wolves, I need to have the updated equipment.”

A fully outfitted compound bow of the caliber required for top-level competition costs about $4,000, Hamel’s coach Randy Elliott said.

Hamel, who is studying to be a teacher at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.S., recently received a new bow donated by JMZ Archery in Memramcook.

But she also requires an updated sight, which could run up to $1,000, a back stabilizer (for helping to balance the bow) and other items.

Even the string that came with her new bow will have to be replaced before heading off to the Games.

“Right now, she is shooting about 130 to 140 arrows a day,” Elliott said. “It’s cracking the whip. She has to put effort in every single day. With the effort comes wear and tear. It’s like working a piece of machinery, right?”

Hamel has started a GoFundMe page ( https://www.gofundme.com/canada-games-funding) with a goal of raising $3,000, while other fundraisers are also being initiated in her home community.

She became interested in archery seven years ago when Elliott came to her school to make a presentation at a health fair about introducing archery as part of a mentorship program.

Hamel said she immediately knew she wanted to get involved.

“I’m naturally athletic, I think, anyways, and archery was just something different, out-of-the-box, and it was just something I fell in love with,” she said. “Love at first sight, I guess. Or, love at first shot.”

And she hasn’t looked back since.

“Over the seven years I've been involved in archery, I have achieved many accomplishments,” Hamel says on her GoFundMe page.

In addition to representing Nova Scotia during a national competition in Truro last summer, Hamel has won numerous provincial and first-place club titles. She has also pioneered a youth archery mentorship program to shape and build new and upcoming archers and for six years served as the inaugural president of the Fundy Shore Archers youth archery program in her hometown.

Working with younger youth and helping them grow in the sport is one of her biggest motivators, Hamel said.

“The thing I love the most, honestly, I started coaching a couple of years ago,” she said. “And the thing that I fell in love with the most was taking what I learned from Randy and giving it back to the kids. That’s actually why I want to compete in the Canada Games, to show the kids in a small town that, just because you’re from a small town, doesn’t mean that’s it. So, you can go all the way to Red Deer and be in the Canada Games.”

Elliott, who has been involved in archery for about 40 years and has coached for 35 years, said he immediately saw qualities in Hamel that he wanted to help foster.

“Her enthusiasm. She is very driven, she is naturally competitive … ,” he said. “And with archery, it was unbelievable, she is naturally gifted and a talented shooter. She is a little pig-headed,” he chuckled. “But she’s a good shooter.”

Being able to compete in the Canada Winter Games this year, is a source of “great pride” in being able to represent her “very small, yet supportive” community, Hamel said. And she is hoping her participation will help put Parrsboro on the map in the archery world.
“I would greatly appreciate donations of any kind to help me on my national archery journey, and I would like to thank those in advance for supporting me,” she said.

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