The thwack of an arrow hitting its target fills the hall of the building on the southern corner of Prince Rupert Blvd. and Portage Rd. Owned by the Pentecostal Church next door, the space is home to the Prince Rupert Archery Club, and it’s where you can find Cory Hoff every Tuesday and Thursday evening.
“I challenge people to pick an organized sport in Prince Rupert that the whole family can do, from age five to 95,” Hoff says of what he sees as archery’s biggest draw. “Five seems to be the age where your kids are strong enough to pull a bow, and if you can still pull a bow at 95 you can still come down and shoot.”
Hoff was introduced to archery relatively early in life through a high school program, but it wasn’t the first sport he took up seriously. Hoff grew up in Prince George but, as he explains, it wasn’t exactly city living.
“We grew up rural, we weren’t in town so we weren’t really exposed to a lot of the things that you can get into there,” Hoff explained, with his family living a little ways outside of the city centre. “Instead of growing up with parties and alcohol we grew up with motorcycles and forts and snowmobiles.”
It wasn’t any of these outdoor sports where Hoff would find his rhythm though. Nor was it one of the more popular sports traditionally in the area.
“My main sport consistently growing up was bowling,” Hoff says.
Just like his mom and dad, Hoff’s first athletic home was on the lanes. He was good too, winning several local competitions and even going to the Youth Bowl Canada National Championships in Calgary in 1988, placing fourth.
Hoff moved to Prince Rupert when he was 21, on April 1. “You could say I’m Prince Rupert’s April Fools Joke,” Hoff chuckles. The city had a bowling alley at the time, which Hoff enjoyed playing at. Unfortunately though, it eventually shut down. Even more unfortunately the building later burned down, in the same block where Hoff now shoots his bow and arrow. Bowling has not returned to Prince Rupert since then.
Does he miss it though? Hoff says not really. “Every summer we go down to Nanaimo to visit my parents, and my daughter takes me to the bowling alley, and I just don’t enjoy it anymore,” Hoff said. “The reason I don’t enjoy it anymore is because I was so competitive. I was bowling at a very high level, and now to just go and do it, now it just frustrates me that I can’t do it how I used to be able to.”
|Cory Hoff lets fly during Tuesday night archery practice. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
Hoff says escaping the cold weather was one of the driving factors that led him to Prince Prince Rupert. For anyone who asks if he gets tired of the rain, Hoff explains that he “doesn’t have to shovel it.” Upon his arrival he had been working in building supplies, and hoped to transition into the fishing industry, so he took up a job with Kaien Sports. It was quickly back to the building supplies world though, and now Hoff has been working at the Prince Rupert Airport for the past eight years, taking the ferry to Digby Island every work day.
“It’s my scenic harbour tour,” Hoff says of the approximately 20 minutes of travel each way he takes to get to work. “There are people who live in Vancouver who commute for two hours. If I want to have a nap I have a nap, if I want to walk the deck and see what’s out there I can do that. I’ve seen humpback whales, killer whales, porpoises, and all manner of ships going by.”
Back at the archery range, Hoff has developed a good deal of precision in his shot, hitting targets at distance. He is also excited to teach newcomers the sport, hooking them up with the right equipment and pointers when they first walk through the door.
It’s a sport that Hoff feels is just waiting to explode in popularity. He received his first bow upon graduation from high school, shooting in Prince George. Upon arriving in Prince Rupert though Hoff fell off track with the sport — even selling his bow — partly because he did not realize there was a club in town. That all changed by chance when his son was invited to a birthday party at the range.
“We came down and that’s how I discovered the club. He really enjoyed it and wanted to get into shooting, so I ended up buying my bow back from the person that I sold it to,” Hoff said.
|Hoff first tried archery in high school, but then ended up away from the sport for awhile. After discovering the archery community in Prince Rupert, he has now been back on the range for several years. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
Hoff’s daughter picked up the sport soon after, and shooting has now become a family affair. Now vice-president of the Eagle Eyes Archery Club, Hoff and his fellow club members have implemented a number of special activities at the range, including an annual target shoot at the Kasiks Wilderness Resort. Hoff is excited to see how far the club can grow, and encourages anyone to come down on a shooting night and give the sport a try.
Archery isn’t the only sport Hoff plays in town though, picking up hockey in a serious way when he was 39. “Call it my midlife crisis,” Hoff joked. “I played a bit of pond hockey in Prince George but I never played any organized hockey. I’ve always had the itch to try, but it was always expensive to get the gear and try and find a league.”
Hoff got some player equipment for his 39th birthday, but soon found playing out was not for him. He pivoted to the crease, and managed to score a cheap set of pads and equipment. He has been in net ever since, playing in the Old Chums League as well as stepping in for any league in town that finds themselves in need of an emergency goaltender.
Hoff says he is quite comfortable living in Prince Rupert, and has no plans to leave anytime soon. He occasionally plays other sports, including squash, racquetball and basketball, but for now his sporting target is the archery range.
Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
Send Alex email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter