The 5th annual Shoot on the Bow is being held later in the year than usual, but it continues to be a popular event, particularly for players in Alberta.
Today is the third and final day of competition at the Cochrane Lions Event Centre after a relaxing opening blind draw on Friday and women's and men's singles, and mixed doubles on Saturday. Today, the men's singles and women's doubles event are wrapping up the weekend.
Ellison Smith says the ranked event may not be the largest in Alberta, but it's one of the most popular. Between 90 and 130 were expected to be throwing darts, 20 of them from Cochrane.
The rest come anywhere from Fort McMurray to Lethbridge, and a few were expected from British Columbia. There was also a couple on their way home to Texas who circled it as a must-do tournament.
"It's not so much one of the bigger ones, but it's one of the favourites," says Smith. "A lot of people talk about it, and everybody enjoys coming to the shoot. Everybody I talk to says 'I love the Cochrane Shoot.'
He says the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the event, plus the space offered by the Cochrane Lions Events Centre, makes it popular.
"It's not as much pressure, so people are more relaxed and really enjoy the tournament. They team up with people they don't normally team up with just to have some fun."
Because it's a ranked tournament, there is the opportunity to pick up points to climb the Darts Alberta standings. The top four ranked players in Alberta get a bye to the provincials without having to qualify. The top two get a paid trip to the world-ranked Greater Vancouver Open in March.
The Shoot on the Bow had a minimum payout of $500 in both its men's and women's singles events while 90 per cent of the entry fees were guaranteed to be paid out for the men's and women's doubles, and mixed event.
Organized by the Cochrane Mixed Darts League, it was touch and go as to whether the event would go ahead this year. Securing sponsorships has proven to be a challenge. Smith says they appreciate those who stepped forward to help make it possible.
Lee Edwards is a gold sponsor as well as a board sponsor. Other board sponsors were Krista Sorby, Super 8, and the Days Inn & Suites. Half Hitch Brewing was the beer sponsor.
The Cochrane mixed league plays Monday evenings at a variety of local venues.