With two silvers in hand, you could say Kevin Evans is warming up for the Paralympics.
The Jaffray archer just returned from Canadian Nationals in Peterborough, Ont, where he was the runner up in both in the field and target divisions.
Not bad for a guy who competed in the Master’s able-bodied category, too.
“It’s just nicer to do that sometimes,” said Evans, “because they’re only four, five para’s when there’s a large field of Masters, so I like to have a little more competition.”
Evans, who lost his left arm in a workplace drilling accident 16 years ago, shoots using a shoulder brace and a trigger mechanism he activates using his chin — a device he invented himself after the incident.
Evans is home briefly where he is prepping for a trip to the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro — his third such sojourn since representing Canada in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
Dwight Vanderveen, a 15-year-old teenager from Baynes Lake, was also with Evans at Nationals, capturing a bronze in field archery.
“He did good for his first Nationals,” said Evans.
Evans has had a busy season on the competition circuit, starting with trips to Dubai in January, Phoneix, USA, in April and Costa Rica for the Para-Pan Games in May.
Again in Costa Rica, Evans shot in a number of different categories, including Senior Man Able-Bodied and Masters Man Able Bodied as well as in the Para divisions.
He nabbed fourth place in the Master’s able-bodied category, and scored silvers in the individual para division and the men’s team division. The Canadians also scored a bronze in the mixed team category.
“I’ve had an okay season, hit the podium a few times, but I never take that type of stuff for granted,” Evans said.
“Just need to have that performance in Rio now, but that’s a little bit of a different game. A few more lights, a little bit more distraction.”
Going up against the toughest competition in the world isn’t a new experience for Evans; the two-time world champion in 2007 and 2009 has competed in numerous events including capturing a gold medal at the 2011 Parapan American Games, along with two Paralympic appearances.
Suffice to say, he’s learned a few lessons from 2008 and 2012.
“Each time you gain more experience,” Evans said. “You know what to expect and whatnot, so I think that’s a big part so that you don’t get blinded by the lights.
“Beijing was a whole different show because it was the first one and you’re amped up when you go. I’m definitely excited to go, but the main focus is the performance and try to do the best you can when you’re there.”
Evans says that in some competitions, the matches can go down either all at once, or one at a time, which can unnerving, when all the eyes are on the individual athlete.
Archery matches consist of ends of three to six arrows, with a total of 72 arrows being shot over a 70-metre distance at a target. Archers must make their shots in a set amount of time, before scores are tallied at the conclusion of each end.
“As time progresses, you learn more and more and get accustomed to what happens at these events,” he said. “It’s always still an adrenaline rush when you’re there, you definitely have some game time jitters when everything starts, but you hope that through some of the years and your experience, that you’re able to conquer some of those demons too.”
The Paralympics will begin at the conclusion of the Olympics, running from Sept. 7-18th. Other locals joining Evans in representing Team Canada in the Paralympics include Tristen Chernove, who is competing on the cycling team, and Shacarra Orr, who is on the national sit-volleyball team.