Road to NALS 2023 Nanaimo BC, Canada

Hello ITB Members! Driving directly north from our home in Cascade, Idaho on Highway 95, we made our first stop in Moyie Springs to visit the site of the Father’s Day bowshoot that happens in the extreme northern part of our state. We met with Tim Bertling, the representative of the Selkirk Bowhunters, and he graciously gave us a tour of the area. We were impressed! We had a good conversation about the logistics of Western States Traditional Rendezvous being held next Memorial Day 2024 at that location. More details about this developing plan will be shared at our upcoming ITB Zoom meeting on Thursday, August 10, at 6:30pmMST. Please check the website for a link to the meeting.

From Moyie Springs we crossed the Canadian/USA Border and drove up through Fairmont Hot Springs, Revelstoke, Kamloops, and Whistler; tent camping with our cat, Lili, in the beautiful parks along the way. The mountains of Canada were breathtaking. We took the ferry from Horseshoe Bay ($120/car each way) over to the town of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, arriving on Thursday afternoon. We were warmly welcomed and set up our tent camp on the front lawn of the Nanaimo Fish and Game Office. The target courses were already set, but we pitched in to help with registration as needed. As folks arrived, tent spaces were somewhat at a premium, but the numerous trailers and motorhomes had plenty of available parking. The brand new, log construction Archery building with an air conditioned indoor archery range was incredible. 

The shoot was underway with a “Shoot for the Clouds” event.  Archers lined the edge of the field, aimed high and let the flu flu arrows fly almost straight up into the air, arcing down onto a large flat target placed in the center of a grassy field about 30 yards away. Five arrows for a “toonie” ($1.50 US). We shot three rounds and I won all my money back on the third round! It was a really fun shoot, especially winning my money back, but it seemed like it could be potentially dangerous, especially if there were kids participating or drinking alcohol was involved!

Shooters gathered with their assigned guides on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning to shoot one course of 30 targets. The following day a second course of 30 targets with the same group of 4-5 shooters were shot. Scoring was 5 points for vitals, 1 point for non-vital foam, 0 for miss. Keeping score was optional and kept among the group members. I shot well and didn’t bring shame on the Idahoans. I was especially pleased that the Canadians put in “ladies stakes” to shorten the longer distances, which I didn’t hesitate to use. Arrows with broadheads were permitted on older targets, but the newer targets only allowed field points. They had some great “homemade” targets and I thought it might be good to do a seminar on making foam targets and repairing old ones. Novelty shoots were done on Saturday afternoon, with a zip line pig, a long distance moose, and a bowbirds flying disc shoot off with flu flu arrows. Dinner of roast beef and steelhead was served Saturday evening, with a dessert of the famous Nanaimo bars, a delicious chocolate creamy confection. My favorite!

The shoot ended with a Sunday afternoon meeting for a raffle, door prizes and a passing “the Hat”. I had carried the old pith helmet safari hat from the pandemic days of our NALS shoot at New Meadows, Idaho and passed it to Rod and Laura Taylor, the organizers behind the Nanaimo event. They passed it to fellow Canadians, Dave and Kathryn Iredale who promised to deliver it to Washington Traditional Bowhunters who are on board to host NALS next year. 

We packed up on Monday morning in the rain and headed for the ferry and our journey home. The adventure continued as we traveled through western Washington, across North Cascades National Park, the cowboy town of Winthrop, Curlew State Park and into Idaho via Pullman. It was a beautiful and memorable trip. 

This was only my second NALS Shoot and there was discussion among the participants about making some changes in the requirements of the shoot to make it more family friendly. That change would allow more people to get exposed to shooting the longbow and how much fun it is to shoot, without the restrictions of bow weight, broadheads, and no kids. It would also help preserve the expensive targets from broadhead damage. I like the idea, but mean no disrespect to the founders of NALS. Perhaps this is something our club can develop an opinion to share with NALS.

There were a total of 87 shooters at NALS 2023, 21 from the USA. I was the only Idahoan. Attending an event like this requires both time and money to make the journey, something that many folks can’t afford these days. I was pleased to be able to attend and to represent Idaho Bowhunters and get to know some of our Canadian Bowhunter Brothers and Sisters. Making it a family vacation made it enjoyable for my non-shooting husband and of course, our 10 month old traveling cat, Lili. 

Best regards, see you soon on zoom!

Janet Houlihan

Published by Idaho Traditional Bowhunters

Idaho Traditional Bowhunters (ITB) was founded in 1988 by John Turner and friends. ITB’s envisioned the need to promote traditional bowhunting, and raise awareness of the growing number of Idaho hunters who choose to hunt with traditional equipment. ITB has helped promote and develop some of the best state bowhunting regulations in the U.S. We hope to begin chasing a traditional only season

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