Fort McKay archer Tayden Shott aims for gold, moose after victory at NAIG 2023

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Tayden Shott learned archery as a child and as he got older, he became interested in bow hunting. It turns out Shott is a good shot, and the 15-year-old archer can prove it with his latest gold medal from the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in Nova Scotia.

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Shott competed in the 16U Male compound category for 3D Archery, defeating 21 other athletes from across Canada, New Mexico and Colorado. It is the largest competition that Shott has attended. The Fort McKay First Nation and Fort McKay Group of Companies sponsored him.

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“It feels pretty good. I was trying to make my family and the Fort McKay First Nation proud,” Shott said in an interview. “I was relaxed. I relax a different kind of way, I have fun to relax. A lot of people like blocking noise when they shoot but I prefer people making noises when I shoot. I don’t know, I’m just different.”

About 5,000 athletes from more than 750 Indigenous nations who competed in 16 sports at NAIG earlier this month. Team Alberta finished fourth on the medal table with 26 gold medals, 27 silver medals and 28 bronze medals.

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Shott has participated in competitions for more than two years. Shott took home silver at the Alberta 3D Target Provincials and won gold at the 2022 Alberta Indigenous Games. He finished fourth at the 2023 Arctic Winter Games in Fort McMurray.

He is going to another competition in Spruce Grove later this summer. At home, he hunts with his friend and coach, Daniel Newton. The largest animal he’s hunted with a bow is a grouse. His goal is to hunt a moose.

“Lots of Indigenous people used archery for hunting and to survive back in the day, but now I just like to do it for fun and to hunt,” he said.

There are limited archery facilities in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo and few competitions come to the region. The 2023 Arctic Winter Games proved the sport can be hosted here after hosting competitions at Shell Place. There is also a small archery range at the Fort McMurray Fish and Game Association.

Lolita Ladouceur, Shott’s mother and the First Nation’s manager of community development, said the First Nation is working on developing an archery program in the community.

Shott says anyone interested in archery should consider the sport and there are plenty of resources online.

“Also, just have fun,” he said.

Local athlete Kayla Giroux, 15, also won gold at NAIG. Giroux was part of Team Alberta’s 16U female basketball team that went undefeated during the event.

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