ATBA History

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. In the early 1970‘s, with the introduction of the Jennings and Allen compound bows, the NB became a club of both compound and traditional archers. The founding members (except for John Schneider and Gary McCartney) were part of that club.

By 2003, the compound element of the club had dropped out, leaving only traditional archers. With overall interest waning, the Northern Bowhunters club was in existence only in name, as it had funds in the bank but was overall inactive. This created a vacuum for the traditional community with no club or organization to be apart of. At this point, there was a simultaneous realization of the need for a traditional only organization within Alberta.

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.      
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.
Jeff Lander

jack kempf

“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.”


John Schneider
jack kempf
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.
Duane Hicks
jack kempf 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.
Pete Ward & Calvin Briggs

Gunter (Gun) Lemke
Pete Ward

Gunter (Gun) LemkeCalvin 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 David Sherwin as President, the ATBA was incorporated with Alberta Registries as a Society on March 31, 2006.
Yves Blouin

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 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.  

  Objectives of the Alberta Traditional Bowhunters Association:

  • To be advocates for bowhunting with all forms of traditional archery equipment that include primitive-bows, longbows, self bows, flat bows and recurve bows which are hand-held and drawn and released by muscle power.
  • To be a political voice to promote, enhance and preserve traditional bow hunting
  • To promote and preserve the historic, archeological and cultural importance of the traditional bow and arrow.
  • Endeavor to pass  on, our knowledge of the art, history and science of traditional archery to our youth and others.
  • To unite traditional archers for the promotion and enhancement of traditional archery activities, wherever that may be.
  • Provide venues for our members to enjoy camaraderie, fraternity, and archery events, including bow hunting.
  • To promote conservation through actions. 
  • Support, liaise, and or affiliate with organizations that are working to preserve and enhance conservation, hunter education, bow hunting and hunting.
  • Recognize that this organization is only as strong as the volunteer commitment and to honor our volunteers.
  • To live by our Creed

Our Creed

As members, we have selected traditional bowhunting as a significant hunting interest.
As a bowhunter, we will only cast an arrow at an animal when the probability for a clean harvest is high.
As members of the ATBA, we shall follow the rules of fair chase as documented by the Pope and Young club.
As a member, we will act as ambassadors to all fellow hunters we meet in the field.
As a member, we will treat everyone we meet in the field with respect, dignity, and fairness.
As a member, we will respect the wildlife that we hunt; in life and in death.
As a member, we will respect all landowners and render all landowners blameless in case of misadventure while on their land.