Seth Johnson represents Canada in Pan-Am youth archery

Former motocross racer ditches the dirt bike for the compound bow he will use next week during his first international shoot

After breaking his collarbone for the third time when he crashed his dirt bike, Seth Johnson began to wonder how long he was willing to sacrifice his body to become a motocross racer.

Looking ahead to his career as a homebuilder, Jonhson retired from motocross racing for good two years ago and took up competitive archery.

It’s a family tradition that dates back to when Seth’s great-grandfather Bernard Johnson slung arrows at the Prince George Silvertip Archery Club in the 1960s. It became a multi-generational endeavor, passed down to Seth’s father Kurt, and later to his grandfather Glen.

As Canada’s top U-18 male compound shooter, 15-year-old Seth heads to El Salvador on Saturday for the Youth and Masters Pan Am Championships, May 6-12. He is one of four Canadians competing in the U-18 category in what will be his first international competition.

“I’m excited, that’s for sure, it should be good,” Seth said. “I don’t expect too much, but at the same time I expect a lot. I hope to bring a medal back to Canada. I’ve been practicing a lot lately and I’m shooting pretty well.”

In February, at the Silvertip indoor track at the former Austin Road Elementary School, Seth joined the 300 club and scored a perfect 300 points in a short shoot. From 60 feet, he shot all 30 arrows into the 10-point ring, a target as big as hell.

He shot a 702 out of a possible 720 during a flat field event at the Silvertip outdoor track along Highway 16, just east of town. Hitting the 10 ring is like shooting an apple from 50 yards away. Each archer shoots 36 arrows on a competition day, six for each end.

Archery is a hugely popular sport in El Salvador and the capital San Salvador, where the Pan Am event takes place, has an Olympic training centre, the venue of the competition.

Training starts on Monday and the match starts on Tuesday. After the individual events, the best men and best women in each category compete for team medals.

Seth topped a list of 48 archers in his category at the Pan American Youth Selection Trials a month ago in Toronto. Canada is sending 27 youth shooters to El Salvador, three masters shooters and two coaches.

Seth saw his own potential soon after he started and that made parking his dirt bike a relatively easy choice. He works 30 hours a week as an apprentice carpenter for Bullseye Construction and two years ago switched to homeschooling to allow more flexibility in work and archery practice.

The North Central Interior has a number of other excellent young archers to boost him in local and regional meets and he is looking forward to the challenge of taking on the likes of Quesnel’s Kayden D’entremont and Prince George’s archers Mason Pollard and Jacob Nelson.

Seth knows that the world’s best compete in the Olympics and can even make a career in the sport if equipment companies sponsor them as professionals, a growing trend. He wants to see if he has what it takes to make archery his full-time hobby. It is not unusual for winners of some major events to win $10,000 or $20,000 over the course of a weekend

“I hope I can keep taking bigger pictures and eventually people will notice me and eventually go pro.”

Kurt Johnson was a competitive archer with the Silvertip club from the time he was 11 until he hit 19 and moved to Mackenzie to work in a machine shop that he eventually purchased. He sold his business in 2017 and moved his family back to Prince George.

Seth and his younger brother Levi both loved hockey and Seth was bitten by the motocross bug when he saw his friends at Prince George Secondary School racing their dirt bikes. For the next three years, motocross was his passion, but he got tired of getting hurt.

The Johnsons live on a property east of town on Lake Tabor and one day Kurt picked up his bow, set up a target in the backyard and invited Seth to give it a try.

“I could tell right away that he was a natural, I barely had to tell him anything and he picked it up, I think it’s in the genes,” Kurt said.

“He’s got a pretty good head on his shoulders, he’s pretty calm, nothing bothers him. It’s hard to say whether he’s showing emotion or not.”

The ability to suppress all distractions is key in an archery competition and his mental toughness will certainly be tested on the range next week, where he will compete against archers two years older than him. To prepare for each shot, he thinks back to the advice his father gave him.

“Just think about what you should do and don’t let the idea of ​​a big shooting get in the way of your shooting,” he said. “I don’t often get nervous and that helps a lot. I might get nervous at the start and after a few arrows it just goes away.”