GLOOSCAP — She’s already thinking about her target the night before a shoot. The next day it’s the same, complete focus.
As she approaches the field, she’s getting into her mindset.
She grabs an arrow from her quiver, puts it by her side, begins to draw.
Everything else goes away. The other competitors, the crowds, the ground, the sky. It’s just the target.
“Every little thing gets blocked out, it’s just me and that one spot,” Jasmine Collins says.
Collins, who is also the comprehensive community planning co-ordinator at Glooscap, has only been shooting with a traditional bow for a few years, but it’s already paid dividends in more ways than one.
“I’ve been watching my father shoot in our backyard for the past 25 years, and I’ve always taken an interest, but I’ve also always been a very avid soccer player,” Collins said. “I got severely injured in soccer and wasn’t able to play anymore.”
Second chance at sport
Collins broke her left ankle during a soccer game and the injury went undiagnosed for two years. Doctors eventually found the break, and she went into surgery, but it wasn’t successful.
It was a huge blow to Collins, ending her lifelong career in a sport that, she says, “was everything” to her.
“It wasn’t even a terrible play or anything, it was just the way we landed together and it broke,” she said, noting that she started playing at the age of four.
“After that, I stopped playing soccer and wasn’t doing anything for those two years. My doctor suggested that I don’t play again, so I kept searching, like, ‘what do I want to do?’”
Then, Glooscap MPAL co-ordinator Jordan Smith began an archery workshop and Collins decided to give it a try. It wasn’t too hard on her ankle and she was curious enough to give it a go.
“I completely fell in love with it,” she said.
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She used a traditional, beginner bow for the first six months before buying her own.
She still uses a traditional bow — no pulleys, no sights, it’s completely instinctual shooting.
She excelled at the sport at an incredible pace, so much so that she quickly began coaching younger archers at Glooscap.
“It was really just the circumstances, my broken ankle, that lead me to this,” she said. “I’ve always connected what my dad was doing with his bow to hunting, and I have no interest in hunting, so I never saw it as an option.”
At the Mi’kmaq Summer Games, Collins had been shooting for less than six weeks, but she decided to go and see how she could do along with one of her athletes, Emma Atwell, who was also new to the sport.
Atwell ended up with a gold in her division and Collins received a silver in Over 30 women’s traditional hunting.
“That was pretty unbelievable, knowing I was competing against archers who had been shooting since they were kids, and I just picked one up six weeks ago,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how to react until I stood at the podium, and I knew as soon as I did that I wanted to keep on going.”
Collins said that moment reignited the passion she previously had for soccer, and she directed that energy in a new direction.
“It feels good to actually be able to excel at something,” she said. “Soccer drove my heart, so it was really nice to kind of find that again.”
She joined the Glooscap Archery Club in Three Mile Plains to push her skills further every week.
She would also participate in various competitions across the Valley, obtaining another silver at the 2017 Mi’kmaq Summer Games.
Scouted for coaching
“I was offered the opportunity to join Team Nova Scotia, heading to Toronto in 2017 for the North American Indigenous Games to coach,” she said. “I helped them on the traditional side of archery and that just solidified me wanting to stay with this.”
Collins said she wasn’t expecting to find herself in a coaching role so quickly after taking up the sport.
“Soccer drove my heart, so it was really nice to kind of find that again.” — Archer Jasmine Collins
“There’s not many female traditional archers in my age range,” she said. “It was cool to get that call from the provincial team to come coach.”
The team did very well, taking home several medals.
“To be that new into a field and be able to push athletes to their best was pretty amazing to be a part of,” she said.
She’s continuing to coach and compete as much as possible, and has an event coming up in April.
“Archery is a really unique sport, because regardless of how much you improve your skill level, it depends on your mindset when you go out onto the course,” she said. “As a coach that’s really interesting, too, because you can only get your athletes to a certain skillset and then they have to do their own work in their mind.”
It’s not just about skill, skill, skill — it’s also about helping them grow as a person and improving their mental fortitude.
“Personally, I do struggle quite a bit with my own competitive side,” she said. “I’ve built that through soccer, through all of the other sports that I’ve played, so I’m trying to switch that mindset myself.”
Her father was her soccer coach, and now he continues to participate in sport with her through archery.
“It’s really nice to have that connection again,” she said.