Although only a year into his archery career, 14-year-old Warren Collins seems to have found his niche.
In his breakout 2016 year in the cub category, Collins won a gold medal at the Alberta Winter Games where he went undefeated in the elimination rounds and earned a combined total of four provincial gold medals in both indoor and outdoor championship events.
“For me I view archery as an art,” said the Metis youngster from Cochrane Alberta. “You are never finished painting. You can always learn more, and are always adding on. You can never know too much about archery.”
At six-foot-two-inches, Collins was playing football and lacrosse up until 2015 when a severe concussion during practice on the gridiron prompted him to consider another path.
With a father and grandfather who are avid hunters, Collins was introduced to bow hunting as a pre-teen which is why he says archery felt like a natural transition.
“It really all began when I wanted to try bow hunting on my 12th birthday,” said Collins who will turn 15 in June. “My mom and I went [to the store] to get a nice little bow to start off with. I started training in Calgary and kicked it off from there.”
Born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) the west coast teen is accustomed to overcoming obstacles. He was adopted at 10-days-old, into what he calls a very loving and supportive family who have helped him to work through a learning disability as well as challenges with his speech and legs.
Collins has maintained a positive attitude and a great sense of humor about his physical challenges, and credits archery in part with helping him to build confidence, while being a useful outlet to deal with pent up emotions.
“If I get frustrated or angry, I just go shoot for an hour or two,” said Collins. “After that I’ll come back in cool as a cat.”
A real student of the sport, Collins is an avid follower of popular archery YouTuber John Dudley, and says he has been somewhat of a virtual “mentor” which has been a major factor in his quick acceleration in the sport.
“That’s pretty much how I learned everything,” said Collins. “From watching his videos day-after-day, minute-after-minute. I’ve been one of his biggest fans ever since I discovered him.”
With parents who have done much to keep him connected to his Metis roots, Collins who has dreams to compete at the Olympic Games says he has seen firsthand, through his non-Indigenous family, how beautiful it is when cultures unite. He hopes that through his success as an archer he can be an inspiration to other youth to help to bring about healing and reconciliation.
“It would mean the world to me to achieve my dream to become a professional archer and the first people I would thank is my family,” said Collins. “Nobody is perfect in this world but we all bleed the same red blood. We can all get along together.”