Last year’s logger sport event at Bowfest gave Bowen Islanders a taste of competitive axe throwing, pole climbing and cross-cut sawing. Last Saturday’s competitions at the new official venue for the sport, Veteran’s Park, drew approximately 500 visitors who enjoyed several new events, and even got to try their hand at a few.
“The relay event was really awesome,” says Gary Anderson, the driving force behind the creation of Bowen Island Logging Sports and Veterans Park. “Competitors started off with chainsaws, then went to the choker set, and then to the pole climb, axe throw and then wood splitting.”
Anderson participated throughout the day, and won the axe throwing with a score of 14.
“The highest score you can get is a 15, so that’s pretty impressive,” says Ben Lefler. Lefler runs a company that provides entertainment at logger sports events, and he acted as the commentator for the competitions throughout the day on Saturday. “He could win a pro competition with that score. In fact, the Nanaimo competition took place on Saturday as well, and the winner there had 13 points so if Gary had been in that professional venue, he would’ve won.”
Lefler, who attends at least six major competitions per year, says he was impressed by the raw talent on display at the Bowen Island event.
“There were a number of people there who are definitely equipped to compete on the pro circuit, especially if they had a bit of coaching to refine their skills,” says Lefler. “Eric, the guy who won the pole climb, he was like a freight train going up a tree. And the women in the competition were totally fearless, the crowd loved it.”
Lefler says that logger sports seem to be attracting more women than men.
“I coach a team at UBC, and there are lots of women who want to join,” he says. “But it can actually be tough to get the guys out.”
Kelly Miller agrees with Lefler’s theory that logger sports are both addictive and empowering.
“Last year at Bowfest I threw my first axe,” says Miller, who one the women’s axe-throwing competition. “Then my friend Matt Dean set up a target on his property and we just kept throwing, and criticizing each other, until we got good.”
She says that every friend she has convinced to throw an axe, has wanted to throw it again, and when they hit a target they get hooked.
Miller says that while she has yet to attempt the pole climb, she might consider stepping up to the challenge for next year.
As for the future of Bowen Island Logger Sports, Gary Anderson says they are hoping for an even bigger event, possibly spanning two days, next year.