If her brother, Glenn, had never found an old wooden bow in a ditch, Wanda Allan Parsons would never have found the success she had in the sport of archery. The old Woolco is where they bought the families’ first wooden arrows and she and her brothers practised hitting targets in their back field.
Her brother learned of an archery club called the Seaview Archers and joined the club. The young Wanda yearned to compete as she watched her brothers come back from tournaments with their new fiber glass bows and arrows. When she was 10 years old, she asked if she could shoot and received a new bow with four arrows on her 11th birthday.
“I then started going with my two brothers to club night shooting”, says Wanda. “I was the only kid in the club and I had such great fun with the adults always teasing me.”
Her competitive spirit soon formed and, as she was the only junior, she started to shoot with the bare bow ladies. At the age of 13, she competed against the adults in the Vancouver Island outdoor championships and won. Her first Canadian Championships was in 1969 where she had to compete with the boys as she was the only girl.
“I was told in order to win the trophy I would have to come within 60% of the record,” she says. She did that and more as she set all new records for bare bow girls. She went on to win the next three junior girls titles - the first two at bare bow and then freestyle.
Wanda’s first national team trial was for the 1972 Munich Olympics where she placed fourth; they only took the top three. In 1973, she competed at the trials for the World Championships in France where she placed second and made the team. She was selected to two other World Championships teams, 1975 Switzerland and 1977 Australia, and was selected for two Olympic Games - Montreal in 1976 and Los Angeles in 1984.
“At the Montreal Olympics Opening Ceremony we were all in awe of the crowd and the cheering of the people in the stands,” she continues. “All I can say is the noise was so loud it was unbelievable. The Queen was in the stands somewhere but I didn’t see her until later. I was so busy looking at everything.”
At the 1976 Olympics she met Nadia Comaneci, who scored the perfect 10 in gymnastics, and at the L.A. Olympics she watched Canadian swimmers Victor Davis and Alex Baumann win their gold medals.
Wanda credits her success to her oldest brother, Cliff, who bought her equipment, drove her across the country for tournaments and was actually her very first coach. “My archery career took me across Canada and the United States many times and to many different countries. I also met many great and wonderful people, something I will never forget.”
A list of Al's accomplishments is nothing short of astonishing. Most recently he served as Chair of the Canadian Archery Championships, which were held here in August. Al was President of Archery Canada from 1991 to 2003. Reelected in 2009, he continues as President today. He has been International Archery Representative for Canada to World Archery since 1987. He is a member of the World Archery Committee that lobbies to include archery as a permanent sport in the Commonwealth Games. Since 1998 he has been on the Canadian Olympic Committee Board of Directors representing the sport of archery. Al was the Head Coach of the Canadian Archery Program from 1982 to 1986, and he was the 1984 Olympic Team Coach. In 1997 he was Chairman of the 39th World Championship Organizing Committee, which was the first time these championships were held in Canada.
Al was a Founding Member of the Archery Canada Foundation in 2009 whose mission is to promote the sport in Canada and provide funding for non-government projects. Over the past few decades, he has been Co-Chairman for five Canadian Archery Championships and Technical Delegate for eight Canadian Championships.
Al has been presented with many awards over the years in recognition of his contributions. Some of these are:
- Archery Canada Coach of the Year 1984
- Gold Volunteer award for services to the XIV Commonwealth Games.
- Canada 125 Medal for contribution to archery 1992
- International Archery Federation award in 1997 for outstanding contribution to International Archery
- Inaugural Archery Canada Past President's Award in 2004
- Member of the Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame
- Life member of Archery Canada, the BC Archery Association and the Victoria Bowmen Archery Club
There is another side to the tireless efforts that Al has brought to bear in building the sport of archery. In 1998 he began researching, scanning, inputting, typing and printing the results of Canadian Championships from 1948 to the present. Although still a work in progress, the exhaustive files are now archived in the Federation of Canadian Archers national office, and in 2002 he published the first volume of the History of Canadian Archery Championships. For his work on this project and many others Al is known as Canadian Archery's historian.
Finally, Al has developed an amazing archery museum collection of bows, arrows and books. His archery book collection is arguably the largest in the world and when asked how many bows he has, he won't say because you might tell his wife. He will admit it's over 100!
SPONSORED BY THE VICTORIA BOWMEN ARCHERY CLUB