Monday, May 21, 2018
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Matt Markey

Sailors' archery lesson hits mark


Instructor Mike Matthews, of Toledo, left, and RCN Lt. Vincent Martel. Martel is on the HMCS Ville de Quebec, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. About two dozen sailors from the Royal Canadian Navy were hosted by the Tomahawk Archers at their 43 acre site in Temperance, Michigan.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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TEMPERANCE — The Treaty of Ghent is holding strong.

Sunday morning there were armed members of the Canadian military on the ground here, just north of the Ohio line, but there was no threat of reigniting the hostilities that boiled over during the War of 1812, and then officially ended when that pact was signed in Belgium.

The sailors, officers and cadets from the Royal Canadian Navy were the guests of the Tomahawk Archers club on Erie Road, as part of an impromptu and informal addition to the Navy Week festivities.

They carried recurve and compound bows and shot at targets placed throughout the 43-acre property. They spoke the same language — an enjoyment of archery — and camaraderie ruled the day.

"We look for things to do in each community we visit," said Patrick J. Britten, a chief petty officer and weapons engineering manager in the Royal Canadian Navy. "And if I can, I like to find an opportunity to do a little archery, since it is something I am very interested in."

Britten hooked up with the Tomahawk group on the Internet. "I contacted the guys at the club, and just like that, they said come on down."

Mike Hogan, an officer in the Tomahawk Archers, said the group first heard from Britten about midweek, but once a call went out to the membership for volunteers to help host the Canadian sailors, the event came together quickly.

"We wanted to spruce things up a little, and we needed our members to bring in their equipment so we could be sure these navy guys all had a good time," Hogan said. "We're kind of old school around here, so everybody just came together and made it happen."

About two dozen of the sailors and cadets on board the HMCS Ville de Quebec responded to Britten's email invitation to visit the club. Britten, who is relatively new to the sport himself, said it was enjoyable to have a great facility and the expertise of the Tomahawk Archers available, since some of the folks in his group were getting their first experience using a bow.

"We don't have anything this nice back home," said Britten, who belongs to an archery club in Nova Scotia. He also used the occasion of his visit to the Toledo area to purchase a new Diamond compound bow at Cabela's in Dundee.

Lt. Vincent Martel said the crew of the Ville de Quebec, a 440-foot long frigate which has Halifax as its home port, has tried to get off the ship at each stop on the summer tour of the Great Lakes to enjoy some recreation, and do civic volunteer work. While in Toledo, some of the cadets and sailors spent a day at Cedar Point, and they also served breakfast and helped with cleaning and laundry chores at Cherry Street Mission.

The Ville de Quebec is making a 10-week tour of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, visiting 14 Canadian and U.S. ports. The ship has previously made stops in Thunder Bay, Ont., Montreal, and Milwaukee, where the sailors toured a brewery.

"This is a celebration of the 200 years of peace between our two countries, and we have been very we'll received in every port we have visited," said Martel, who lives in Victoria, B.C., and is temporarily assigned to the Ville de Quebec.

Brian Oickle, a native of Nova Scotia and a 21-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy, said the visit to the archery club is consistent with the broader theme of the group's tour.

"Something like this allows us to meet the citizens of the Toledo area and essentially bring the navy to the people," he said. "We also do a lot of the traditional things, like going to baseball games and football games, but this kind of event is different. It wasn't part of the original plan, but we're always looking for new opportunities."

Hogan said he was pleased to see the young navy cadets lined up for a basic lesson in archery offered by one of the club's top shooters. "A lot of our members started out shooting here as kids, so it's good to get that younger generation exposed to the sport," Hogan said.

"We've been here since 1954, but we've definitely seen a resurgence in the interest in archery lately. I think the movies have had something to do with that, but for a lot of people, once they try it the sport kind of sells itself. It's just a great outdoors activity, and I'm glad we were able to get these sailors set up so they could come out and share in the fun."

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: or 419-724-6068.

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