Isaac Bedford was awarded gold standing for his shot at the World Archery Youth Archery Championships by Canada in August 2021.
This is one of two World Archery Target Awards given by the national organization in Bedford. The second was a purple for his shoot in Mission in September 2021.
These are the two highest levels an archer can reach within the national organization.
But Bedford is aiming much higher.
Bedford finished 17th overall in the men’s cadet category in Wrocław, Poland, which he said was “far from where I wanted to be.”
It was his first outdoor competition, which includes not only the added challenge of wind and weather, but also an increase in distance from 18m to 50m.
Additionally, his bow was delayed when his luggage was lost in transit and he had to use someone else’s bow for the first day of filming.
Bedford likened a competitor’s bow to being almost as individual as goggles and said adjusting to someone else’s was difficult. Returning to his own when he arrived, four days after landing, was again difficult.
But his own frustration with his results was not shared by former coach Al Campsall, who was there when the young archer made his Williams Lake Sportsman’s Association debut.
“The kid lights them up,” said Campsall, who helped Bedford get his start in the local sports association’s Junior Olympian Program (JOP). “He is by far the best archer I have ever trained.”
“To see him blow next to me and be a significantly better archer than me, and he’s only 17, is humbling, but it’s a good humbling thing,” Campsall added. .
Campsall doesn’t take credit for Bedford’s high level of achievement.
While Campsall trained some of the most successful archers in the JOP program for some of the above par performing young athletes.
Since then, Bedford has won the BC Winter Games, led the Canadian Mixed Team to a top-10 finish with a near-perfect round, and is now shooting internationally.
“I’m pretty excited for him and proud of him,” Campsall said, acknowledging the hard work Bedford has put in to get where he is.
For his part, Bedford said he practices four to five hours most days and that work means “a lot of wasted family time.”
Bedford says this practice is key to maintaining the level of shooting he has achieved since taking up archery at age 12, something he did to be able to hunt on his own, where the minors are not able to do so with a firearm.
During the pandemic, Campsall retired from coaching, and Bedford has since stepped up to coach the new archers.
Bedford himself says coaching has taught him as much as just practice.
“If you really want to understand something, learn it well enough to teach it,” advises Bedford.
During the pandemic, group shooting was put on hold and the Williams Lake Sportsman’s Association JOP program went from having 40-50 young archers to only having about 10 on their group night.
But the group hopes to increase those numbers again for Thursday night shooting for archers aged 8 to 21.
The program is indoors and out and the Williams Lake Sportsman’s Association can provide all the equipment needed for new archers to get their start.
For himself, Bedford now hopes to compete in some competitions in the United States to win some of the biggest prizes available south of the border, which would go a long way to fund his ambitions.
The next tournament shoot Bedford will head to is the Canadian Regionals in Quesnel, and the next World Youth Archery Championships will be in Limerick, Ireland in the summer of 2023.