By Melissa Novacaska
Eric Peters will take his bow to his first Pan American Games later this month.
The 22-year-old Ottawa-native, who currently resides in Waterloo, said he was “surprised” when he was selected for the Games but that he’s “not terribly” nervous of competing on the international stage.
His ultimate hope is that Team Canada can secure an Olympic bid while at the Games, but Peters said his time in Peru will be special to him as well.
“This is more of a sort of a major games experience thing for me, than it is a major event in my season,” Peters said.
While at the Games, Peters will be competing and shooting in the men’s individual recurve category and will be part of the men’s team recurve category. When Peters spoke to the Ottawa Sportspage in July, it was still up in the air about whether or not he would compete in the mixed team recurve category as well.
With the Pan Am Games being the last major event on Peters’ season’s schedule, he has a few goals he’d like to achieve while there, including being in the top eight in the men’s individual recurve category and seeing the men’s recurve team win gold.
Peters took up archery around the age of 11, and while he played other sports, he said nothing quite “stuck” for him quite like archery.
“I was really into sort of medieval age video games and I saw archery and thought that it was kind of cool,” Peters said. “I kind of wanted to do it myself so my parents bought a bow, got me some lessons and it kind of stuck from there.”
Peters has trained previously at clubs including Ottawa’s RA Centre and at others in Winchester, Ont. and Gatineau, Que., but now spends time training at clubs in Waterloo and Toronto.
“I just enjoy shooting things, it’s sort of relaxing, it’s a lot of fun,” Peters said.
Peters also acknowledged that he gets a lot of frustration out while shooting, and that it’s a rewarding activity.
“It’s made me more driven probably in excess and driven me to be perfect, or at least attempt to, whether or not that’s a good thing is up for debate. It’s debatably made me more patient, it’s a very slow sport so lots of patience and progress is a slow coming,” he said.
Peters mentioned he enjoys being able to travel across the world while being able to do what he loves: archery.
“It’s kind of just really special to me,” Peters said.
Pointing out that while there’s a significant culture around hunting in Canada and even more so in rural parts of the country, Peters said that interest in target archery is still minimal.
“Target archery is a small sport,” Peters said. “It’s a communal thing [and] there’s not a lot of very aggressive competition, it’s just comfortable.”
Peters has achieved high levels of success throughout his life in the sport; he won a bronze medal in the international mixed team division at the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics, placed 8th during his first senior international competition at the 2019 Pan American World Ranking event, which helped the men’s recurve team win gold, and this year competed in his first world championships – though he still has more he’d like to accomplish, including competing at the Olympics.
“Beyond that I would like to make archery my job permanently if that was possible,” Peters said.