by David Sherwin

The history of how the Alberta Traditional Bowhunters Association was formed has not been formally recorded. It was Justin Black (Grimshaw) who inquired as to where the history was recorded that prompted my research into our beginnings along with Calvin Briggs stating the ATBA’s history needed recording. The following is a compilation of information received from the founding members: John Schneider, Jeff Lander, Jack Kempf, Yves Blouin, Duane Hicks, Gun Lemke and Gary McCartney.

As background information, the Northern Bowhunters (NB), located primarily around Edmonton, started out as a club for traditional bowhunters. Then in the early 1970‘s with the introduction of the Jennings and Allen compound bows, the NB became a club of both compounders and trads. The founding members (except for John Schneider and Gary McCartney) were part of that club.

Shortly after the turn of the century, the compound element of the club dropped out, leaving only the traditional bowhunters, and with overall interest waning. By 2003 the club was in existence in name only: it had funds in the bank but was inactive. This created a vacuum for the traditional community with no club/organization. It is important to understand that at this point in the genesis of the ATBA there was simultaneous and coinciding thinking going on regarding a need for a traditional-only organization.

jack kempf
Jack Kempf
Jack’s experience was as a member in the British Columbia traditional group, and he really liked the traditional hunts that they set up. His thought then was, why doesn't the Alberta trad community organize to put on traditional hunts in the same way. Jack reports that he shared this concept with a few others and found support for the idea. Secondly, there was an Alberta Bowhunters Association banquet where Gary McCartney (our 3rd President) reported discussion around the formation of a traditional-only club.
jack kempf
Gary McCartney
Coinciding with the others, on one occasion Jeff Lander was stump-shooting on John Schneider’s property. Also based on Jeff’s experience with traditional clubs in BC, they talked about the need of doing something here in Alberta for the traditional bowhunting community. At that point Jeff had 3 young daughters, so John, having fewer children, took the lead and got the ball rolling. John started a traditional DART league at Trophy Book Archery in Spruce Grove. He and Jeff were surprised at how many guys came out. Further discussion arose from that event. John’s thinking was, “I had the idea to start an organization of Alberta traditional bowhunters in an attempt to give traditional archers a way to connect more easily with each other through forming a provincial bond, and create events that would foster camaraderie amongst traditional bowhunters. I also wanted to have a forum in which to share traditional bowhunter and archery knowledge. There were many other archers who were making their own equipment. To be able to see, in person, their creations was invaluable.
jack kempf
Jeff Lander
“Additionally, in the back of my mind, I had always hoped that the association would blossom into a province-wide group that could engage politically in obtaining special seasons for traditional-only hunters. This was at a time when there was fear that our bowhunting seasons were being opened to cross-bow hunting and muzzle-loaders.”
jack kempf
John Schneider
With this vision on April 5, 2003 John invited Yves Blouin, Duane Hicks, Jack Kempf, Gun Lemke and Gary McCartney for an evening of discussion around the concept of a traditional bowhunting organization to Jack’s basement. Why Jack’s? Because of what Jack represented to the traditional community. John had come to know Jack as the latter had built a bow for him. This group of six were unanimous in their discussions to start a traditional-only bowhunting fraternity for Albertans.
One of the first steps was to appoint a governing board for the organization. The officers decided on were John Schneider, President; Jack Kempf as Vice President; Duane Hicks as Treasurer and Membership Chairman and Gun Lemke was to handle the game awards.
jack kempf
Duane Hicks
That same evening they came up with a name. What to call this new group of trads”? The name had to represent what they were (traditional bowhunters) and where they were from (Alberta). On the table two names were considered: one , the Traditional Bowhunters of Alberta and two, the Alberta Traditional Bowhunters Association. The word Association was seen as appropriate as this would increase the possibility of grants from the government which would respond more favorably, vs the word club in a name). And as “ATBA” was felt to have a better ring to it, it was chosen. That evening was born the Alberta Traditional Bowhunters Association.
Gunter (Gun) Lemke
Gunter (Gun) Lemke
Now having a name, they wanted a logo. It was Duane Hicks who suggested using the Ben Pearson Deadhead broadhead (a favorite of his) as a logo. Jack had one to show them. They all liked it and decided to go with it as it was sharp to look at and had contrast due to the cut out sections in it. Importantly as well, its origin came into play: Ben Pearson and all he had done for traditional bowhunting. Gun took on the assignment of the design. He took it home and his wife, Yvonne, with her artistic talent, came up with our logo as we see it today.
Next, it was decided that the new association needed a constitution. So a few days later, they (Gary, John, Yves and Gun) went to John’s house and on his deck at his farm home by Graminia School developed the constitution. Now having a declaration of “independence”, the Alberta Traditional Bowhunters Association was an official organization. Discussions also included the extent to which the new association would be independent. The outcome was that complete independence was viewed as resulting in isolation and the better path was seen as affiliation, and that with the Alberta Bowhunters Association (ABA) - a province-wide organization of compound and traditional bowhunters who were politically inclined.
Gunter (Gun) Lemke
Pete Ward
Gunter (Gun) Lemke
Calvin Briggs
At a shoot on Duane Hicks’ property near Tofield, the need for developing a website was suggested by John, and as such be limited to a host base template. Pete Ward of Bon Accord who was there stepped up to the task, offering to help get one going: this he did. Following Pete, Calvin Briggs (then of Fort Saskatchewan) has taken the website to a level that is a real credible asset.
Later, under the leadership of president, David Sherwin, the ATBA was incorporated with Alberta Registries as a Society on March 31, 2006.

During the ATBA’s inaugural year, John Schneider made a self bow and called it “Only Yew”. He donated it as a prize at the new organization’s first outdoor shoot in the spring of 2004 held at Duane Hicks’ 80 acres near Tofield. This bow was won by Ken Bowden. Ken had the bow for a year and his long draw length made him worried to shoot it, so he he donated it as a door prize for the first official Heritage Classic Jamboree in 2005 near Red Deer. Yves Blouin won the bow. After a few shots he realized that his bad shoulder would prevent him from shooting that heavy bow for hunting. It was 65# @ 25”. So the bow was shot few times over four years, but was really destined to be a wall hanger. Yves almost donated it few times in that 4-year span, but he finally came up with a bright idea as to what to do with the bow: at the 2009 ATBA Annual General Meeting Yves presented the idea of using a special bow to be used as the official gavel for the ATBA.


Yves Blouin

Yves had four main reasons why he liked  this bow for that purpose:

  1. It was crafted by the founder the year John formed the ATBA
  2. It was the first donated bow for the first outdoor shoot held
  3. It was a door prize at the first Heritage Classic Jamboree
  4. It’s name, “Only Yew” could be viewed as “Only You”, the President of the ATBA can use this big stick. 

Yves attached a few conditions to this official gavel:

  • The bow should be present at all official ATBA gatherings, such as AGM, Jamboree, etc.
  • The bow can be used as per the president’s discretion only.  However, if broken, it should be repaired to carry on for official display only. 
  • The bow can’t be sold, donated or exchanged.  In the unfortunate event that the ATBA be discontinued / abolished, it must be returned to the donor, Yves Blouin.