Friday, September 19, 2014

My 'Where Did The Summer Go?' update

It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten an update on here… where do I start!?

So much shooting, so much travel, so much work. August went by in a bit of a blur and now September is almost finished.

At the start of August I was still in Scotland for the remainder of the 2014 XX Commonwealth Games. I don’t know how to really describe the experience of attending and competing at the Commonwealth Games. It’s one of the biggest things I’ve ever done so far in my life.

Now… I want more. 

The 2015 Pan Am Games are in Toronto next summer and I’ve already been doing what I can to prepare to make the team to compete there. This will be a huge event for Canada to be able to host, maybe we’ll see the Olympic Summer Games back in Canada one day.

After the Commonwealth Games I only had a few days before competing at the Canadian National Pistol Championships. That went well with me finishing in 2nd after the 10m qualifications and in 1st after the 50m qualifications. My 50m result was enough for me to qualify on the 50m National Development Team. Awesome. I took a few days off after Nationals and flew directly from Edmonton to Las Vegas for a small break.

My day job really got busy in August and Sept so that has been keeping me very busy also.

Last week I was competing in Granada, Spain at the 51st ISSF World Championships which happen every 4 years. This was my first time in Spain and despite it being a very short trip it was good to go and compete there and see how I’d fare against the best in the world. Some of these shooters are incredibly talented, I’m not even sure how much full-time training some of them must do in order to be able to perform at their level. It’s motivated me to ramp up my own training and see what I can do given more training, planning, and coaching. Click for some photos from my Spain trip!

Visiting the Alhambra in Granada, Spain

View from the top of Alhambra looking at Granada, Spain

I’m currently 1/4 of the way into a 4 week training plan to get ready for the Championships of the Americas being held in Guadalajara, Mexico next month. I’ll be there Oct 11-18 and will be competing in the 10m and 50m events. This will be my first time shooting both of the Olympic precision pistol events I train for. Exciting!

Expect some more radio silence as I get through the next 3 weeks preparing for Guadalajara. This is an important event with quota spots for the 2015 Pan Am Games and the 2016 Olympic Summer Games being awarded to the top shooters.

Keep the comments and feedback coming.. I really appreciate it! 


Thanks for all the support!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My 1st Week at the 2014 XX Commonwealth Games

Normally I'd try and get updates out sooner but aside from the occasional tweet, instagram, and FB status update I tried to stay offline and focused on my competition.

This is my first major multi-sport event I've ever attended as an athlete and the experience is amazing. Not sure how to describe it really. You're in a city with an entire village setup for athletes, with venues specially built or retrofitted for all the events and thousands of volunteers, and it's all there for this massive event that you're representing your country for. Awesome.

Getting here was a bit of an adventure... it all started with a ferry ride into Vancouver, a flight to Toronto, a flight to Dublin, a flight to Glasgow, and a car ride to the Glasgow athlete village. Once at the village I went through security (security is everywhere, but more on that in a minute) and walked through the athlete village to the Team Canada office and lounge where I could figure out what I was doing and where I needed to go. I met up with fellow shooters who took me to the massive food area to feed all the athletes and I got something to eat. The selection of food is awesome and you just have whatever you want. By this point I'd been up a long time, I wasn't really able to sleep on the plane due to the aisle seats I was in so I maybe got an hour in on the Toronto to Dublin flight. About an hour before the athlete parade for the opening ceremonies I was starting to feel all the energy and excitement getting ready for the opening ceremonies. Sleep would have to wait... this was way too much fun and important to feel any sort of tiredness.

The opening ceremonies... I've seen them on TV for Commonwealth Games and for the Olympics but being a part of it is something else. When you see all the countries lining up and you're with your own team, not just your own sport team but "Team Canada" for all the sports... awesome. Outside of Celtic Park before we went in and our flag bearer Susan Nattrass had been given our Canadian flag we broke out in O Canada. Then you walk in and they announce you and everyone is cheering. The Queen is there... It's all awesome. So awesome.

Starting our walk into the Commonwealth Games opening ceremonies


The Queen watching Commonwealth Games Federation president
Prince Imran try and open the Queen's baton!

After the opening ceremonies were over it was all about catching the last shuttle bus out to Dundee where we would stay at the satellite village. This was a 2 hour bus ride and I still hadn't really slept. Once we got to our hotel the entire bus goes through a security checkpoint. Then once we get to the athlete village which is basically a hotel that had been taken over for 1 of the 2 athlete villages in Dundee. Literally a security fence is around the entire grounds of the hotel so nobody can get close. Even getting to the hotel you need to go through typical airport procedures (bags get scanned and you walk through a metal detector). I think our village alone has at least 30 police at any time keeping us safe. Our satellite athlete village has a gym, pool, athlete lounge, and lots of food... lots! Snacks, water and juice coolers everywhere plus so much more.

Dundee athlete village sign

After arriving to the Dundee athlete village 36 hrs after leaving Vancouver, my head hit the pillow and I was out for 10 hrs. I woke up at 1pm the next day and probably could have slept longer. ;)

I spent the next couple days figuring out where everything is and wandering around Dundee a bit. My competition day was July 26th so I had a couple days to get my internal clock reset to Scotland time.

The day before I was scheduled to compete I had pre-event training (PET) which is time set for everyone competing to be able to shoot from their assigned position. This all went well and I was feeling really good about shooting the next day. Earlier on the 25th, I got to watch the Women's 10m pistol Finals which set an expectation what the shooting venue would be like for when I was competing. Congrats to my teammate Dorothy Ludwig for getting the bronze in this event! Shooting at Commonwealth Games is way bigger than shooting at any of the ISSF World Cups I've competed at, you have thousands of fans in attendance watching, TV cameras, an announcer who is getting the crowd fired up with the usual "Anybody from Scotland here today!?"type questions. Watching this gave me a good idea of what to expect on my competition day.

Competition day.. I did good but had a couple of mistakes which cost me making it out of the Qualifiers and into Finals. All in all I'm very happy with how I did given the scale of the event and overall just how the competition felt. It was way easier than my competitions in Munich, Maribor, or Beijing in the 7 weeks leading up to these Games. Easier may not be the right word, I felt a lot more 'comfortable' and that makes a huge difference. The way for me to get better at this is to shoot at internationals events. Each event I pick up more experience and learn more about myself and how I can aim for peak performance. My result was 560/600, my 2nd highest international competition score. I'm happy I'm slowly getting my performance average trending higher with each competition.

Rhodney Allen (L), Me in the middle, and Jonathan Patron (R)
Thanks @ShootingApps for the photo!

I'm staying at the Dundee athlete village for a few more days while the other shooting events wrap up and then I'll move to the main Glasgow athlete village.

More updates to this blog will come but also feel free to follow me here, here, here, and here for other updates and photos etc.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Only a few days until the 2014 XX Commonwealth Games

It was great to get home last week from my trip to compete in China for the ISSF World Cup in Beijing. That was my first time there and I really enjoyed getting to see as much of Beijing as I could. I made it to the Badaling and Mutianyu sections of the Great Wall (almost nobody was at Mutianyu when I visited!), the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, and got to see many of the 2008 Summer Olympics legacy venues in the Olympic Green. Photos from my China trip can be found on Facebook, Google+, and Instagram. Follow me to get the latest from Glasgow next week... I'll be doing lots of updates!


I'm flying out on July 22 to Glasgow out of Vancouver with stops in Toronto and Dublin. I'll get in to Glasgow in the afternoon and day of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremonies. Between YVR, YYZ, DUB, and GLA I'll need to get some sleep in because it'll probably be pretty hectic and non-stop once I arrive on the afternoon of the 23rd.

All schedule and results info will be on the Glasgow 2014 website and here is a direct link to the shooting schedule. I'm scheduled to shoot on the 26th and it will be around midnight back in Pacific timezone if you plan to stay up and watch! ;)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

First time in China and my second highest World Cup score to date!

I arrived in Beijing a few days ago after a long 11hr flight from Vancouver. I hadn't really gotten a chance to rest much after getting home from the back to back World Cup stages in Germany and Slovenia on June 22nd. That Europe trip was followed by a short work trip to San Francisco almost immediately after getting back. Its been a very busy year and still lots more coming up with the Commonwealth Games in a couple weeks and the quadrennial ISSF World Championships in September and the Championship of the Americas in October.

Arriving in Beijing I had 2 main themes I kept hearing from people who had been here before; the food and the air quality. So far the food has been amazing! The air quality though I noticed the moment I got off the plane and looked out the airport window (my 'window seat' on the plane had no actual window -- seat 19A on a 777). Smoggy and humid and irritating my throat. That was Day 1 and I was missing the fresh Pacific Northwest air and the blue skies!

You don't notice the hazy smog indoors too much in smaller rooms but if you go into large indoor spaces you can see the glowing haze around the lights. The indoor 10m range at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall is big enough where you can see it indoors.

10m indoor range at the Beijing Shooting Range Hall
Legacy venue from the 2008 Olympic Summer Games

I shot my 2nd best ISSF World Cup score to date, my best score being shot earlier this year at Fort Benning. I'm happy with the way I shot here in Beijing and definitely continue to learn a lot from other shooters and in my own discovery. You always want to do better but... on the international scene, I'm still very new having gotten half of my international competition experience within the last 4 weeks. I'm learning lots and will continue to adapt and make changes to improve my performance.

I've been able to make it out to do some sightseeing and planning on visiting a couple locations of the Great Wall tomorrow!

Visited Tiananmen Square
At the Temple of Heaven

A little over 2 weeks until the 2014 XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland! Great to hear that Canadian shooting legend Susan Nattrass was named Canada's flag bearer!






Friday, June 20, 2014

Amazing shooters at ISSF Munich and Maribor World Cups

I'm all finished shooting for the Munich and Maribor stages of the 2014 ISSF World Cup Series. I'll be going to Beijing in about 9 days to shoot at the final stage of the series. I would have liked to have finished higher in both locations but there are some clear areas I need to focus on in my training to improve. My timing is still off and I'm taking too long between shots. This longer time leads to over-thinking which, in a sport that is very mental focused, you just can't do.

It's amazing to watch the top 8 finalists across various disciplines shoot in the ISSF World Cup finals. This is where the top 8 people out of the 100 or so trying to qualify start at 0 points and shoot until a champion is determined. I definitely pick up a lot just watching the top people compete in their disciplines.

Women's 50m 3 positions Final

I was able to do a bit of sightseeing in Germany, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia and have posted photos on various websites:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/allanharding
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+AlHarding
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alharding

Feel free to follow me!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Made it to Maribor

Our team made it to Maribor this afternoon and it was a bit stressful and chaotic trying to find our place to stay. We were never able to find it.. at all. Even using exact long lat GPS coordinates we ended up a completely different hotel. We're still not sure if where we were originally booked to stay even exists.

After driving for hours near the vacant ski resorts around Maribor we gave up and went into Maribor to find a new hotel to stay at. Finally, after a long day driving in from Venice, Italy we got ourselves somewhat sorted out -- our hotel locks from the inside AND outside and all the hallway lights turn off after about 5 minutes. Classic.

We made it out to the range earlier for our first stop before Maribor and we found what looks like a range under construction. 10m range is on the 3rd floor and there is no elevator yet -- I feel bad for the rifle shooters who have to carry all their gear up all those stairs. Lots of fresh new paint and carpet smell. The entire place looks like it will be absolutely amazing when it is complete but from what we saw today we were a bit concerned that the range would be ready for people to shoot tomorrow.

Indoor 10m range 'looked' the most complete. This will be a really nice
range when the elevator and balcony are all finished

Outdoor 50m range was missing a few items earlier today

I'm hoping to do better than my shoot in Munich earlier this week. I was unable to get settled in properly and didn't shoot at where I was hoping to be at. Going into the match I had everything lined up the way I had planned going into it -- somewhere before the start of the match though something wasn't right. I've got a list of things I'll be working on and adjusting for my shoot this coming week here in Maribor.

More to come!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Arrived in Munich for 2014 ISSF World Cup!

I flew out of Vancouver on June 3rd and flew to Toronto to catch up with teammates Connor Deneka and Ben Taylor who I would be travelling with the next 3 weeks. It was great to see them at our next gate and unfortunately our teammate Audrey-Anne Dery got delayed flying out of Quebec City and couldn't make our Toronto-to-Munich flight so we caught up with her the morning of June 5th.

Once arriving in Munich we got our luggage and gun cases and headed through customs and then caught up with our ISSF host who directed us to our shuttle bus. One of the best parts of attending these ISSF World Cup events is seeing all the various teams from countries from all over the place who have flown in to compete here. There are close to 1300 athletes from 96 nations competing here!

First stop after arriving in Munich is to the range to drop off our rifles and pistols at the armoury for storage during our time in Munich. It was at this point that we hit the second hiccup on our trip... after leaving our backpacks in the shuttle bus, thinking we would be quick to go in and pick up our accreditation and drop off our guns, the bus left without us to the host hotels. Noooo! Thanks to the helpful staff at the ISSF they were able to track down our things and bring them to our hotel the next day.


Competitor #1238!

After catching up with Audrey-Anne we headed to Marienplatz, the city's main central square since 1158! It's amazing to see the old and new buildings around this part of the city. The Glockenspiel at Marianplatz is cool to see.. I'm always amazed by things with lots of moving parts and I imagine the maintenance must be constant.

After taking in some sights it was back to business and one of the first things on my schedule was going through the open training time. During open training each country has reserved lanes for them to practice, and me being the only one from Canada representing 10m, I had the lane to myself. 20 shots in and I was very happy with my results. Awesome.

Next was getting the best H&N Finale Match pellets to use. This involves putting the airgun in a vice and shooting at targets with various tins of pellets from their manufacturing line. It turned out that Lot #40181 gave the best results so I picked up 20 tins (10,000 pellets) which will be enough to cover me for the rest of the competitions I'll be at this year. Back in Vancouver when I'm training, I'm less concerned about the best batch to use and just focus on training so I use the same brand but they're not tested. When shooting for a competition score at the international level, I want the best grouping I can get though so I keep these tested ones reserved for competitions.


Results from my H&N pellet testing plus some extras that H&N included.
Thanks H&N Sport!

I go through pre-event training on Tuesday and then shoot for score on Wednesday. You can see realtime scoring of all events on the ISSF Munich World Cup site and follow me on twitter at @alharding for more updates!

Monday, May 26, 2014

1 week until Munich stage of 2014 ISSF World Cup Series

One more week until I travel to Europe for the Munich and Maribor stages of the 2014 ISSF World Cup Series! I'll be flying to Toronto June 3rd and catching up with teammates Audrey-Anne Dery, Ben Taylor, and Connor Deneka, before flying to Munich. This will be my second time shooting at the Olympia-Schie├čanlage range - one of the best ranges I've been to!

On June 12th we'll make the drive to Maribor, Slovenia for the World Cup stage there and then returning home about a week later. Busy busy!

Training has been going great lately with the new SIUS electronic scoring system I now have setup. It makes it great being able to shoot with the same electronic scoring system used at the World Cup and other international events.

New SIUS electronic scoring on the left replaces my
paper hand crank target system

I want to give special thanks to BC Target Sports for some funding earlier this year. That money went directly to helping purchase my flight for this Munich & Maribor trip. Thank you! Also would like to send a thank you out to Roy and Jeff at SIUS and Harvey at AGP! Thanks guys!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My best finish at a World Cup event!

I shot my best World Cup score to date at the USA stop of the 2014 ISSF World Cup series. My 565 is above the Olympic MQS but low compared to the rest of the field here. In order to place in the top 8 to make Finals you needed to shoot a 582 or higher -- to give some Canada perspective you need to tie the Canadian National 10m record to make the cut.

I started out strong on my first 30 shots but I also burned through a lot of my time to do that. Shots 31-48 I felt the pressure of time ticking away and I let my performance slip a bit. Thanks to the SIUS electronic scoring you can see all all of my shots from the entire match here and complete results can be found on the ISSF website.

Two months for me to improve on my pacing and mental strategy to get ready for the World Cups in Munich, Germany and Maribor, Slovenia in June.

Also got to meet 1976 Olympic gold medalist Lanny Bassham today! Awesome!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tied my PR at the 2014 CAGP!

I'm back from Toronto where I was competing at the 2014 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix and pretty happy with how I've started 2014.

Normally I'd fly into this event on Thursday to give myself a full day before competing but with a busy work schedule and everything I cut my trip down by a day. I literally got off the plane and went straight to the venue and got in some pre-event training.

I had a tough time getting to sleep at a decent time thanks to the 3 hr time zone change. I think all in all I got maybe 4 hrs of sleep before shooting at 8am (5am to what I'm used to). My first of two matches went really well with my 60 shot series going 94, 94, 94, 95, 97, and ending with a 97 for a personal record tie of 571/600 -- which was the highest 10m men's score shot over the weekend! I shot a 571 in 2011 when I was here at the same event.

Team BC took 1st place and I took the Gold in the Master class

After shooting my 571 I spent the rest of the day in a High Performance Rifle and Pistol Clinic which was really useful and packed with lots of information. The main takeaways for me were from Dr. Kristine Dalton and her team from the The University of Waterloo School of Optometry and Vision Science. Vision in shooting sports are crucial and she covered topics such as ocular dominance, tear film quality, and vernier acuity. Awesome. Other great sessions were Dr. Demetry Assimakopoulos and Dr. Ceara Higgins on injury prevention and athletic performance (with Olympian Avianna Chao), Olympian Sharon Bowes on training at your best, Lou Pino talking about mindfulness training and the InteraXon Muse, and Steve Hunt, on developing consistency in performance.

My second day score was 558 which put me in first place after the two qualification matches. I ran into issues during the Finals which I should have prepared better for. Lesson here is to make sure you're current on rule amendments and find out from the officials if they're going to be following them. Important!

Our BC Team, consisting of Thomas Logan, John Berta, and me took 1st place!

Next up in the month of March is the BC Championships, City of Calgary Championships, and then the first stop on the 2014 ISSF World Cup tour in Fort Benning!



Monday, January 20, 2014

Looking forward to 2014

It's been awhile since I've posted an update here and I figured with 2014 off to a great start, I better get some news on here. If all goes to plan I'll have a busy year of travelling to various shooting competitions all over the place. Awesome!

First up... some events in Canada:

Then as a member of the National Development Team representing Canada on the 2014 ISSF World Cup Tour. The first stop will be held on March 26-April 3 at Fort Benning, USA - more information can be found on the ISSF website calendar.


The ranges they have at Fort Benning for ISSF competitions are excellent, definitely some of the best I've been to in North America. I've competed there twice in the past already (2011 USA Fall Selection & 2013 USA Nationals) so that will be an advantage going into that competition.

After that ISSF World Cup, I've got limited travel planned until June when I'm hoping to get to the back to back World Cup events happening in Munich and Maribor. Not many details are up online for those two events yet though.

Next post will have details on the three 'local' shooting clubs I train at!

For more frequent (and often tech or sports related) updates follow me on Twitter at @alharding.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Complete results from 2013 CNPC

All of the results from the 2013 Canadian National Pistol Championships can be found on pistolcanada.ca. Here are the direct links to the 10m and 50m events I competed in. I just noticed that my BC teammate Edmond Lee and I had the most 'x' ring shots in both 10m and 50m events than anyone else!

All in all it was a great competition to be at and good for me to experience the new Finals format. Looking forward to doing some traveling with the Canadian Team in 2014!!

Taking a short break and will be back at it later this month.