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:

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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.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Finished 2nd after qualifiers

I finished the two qualification events in 2nd place behind Sylvain Ouellette (last year's National 10m Champion). My scores for the 2 days were 560 and 563, the latter being the highest score shot in the Men's 10m event that day. Sylvain shot a 565 on the first day. Solid!

Unfortunately after Finals I dropped down to 7th. This was my first time shooting the new Finals format which is definitely a lot more challenging than before. The format before took the top 8 shooters after the qualification relays and then added 10 more shots to their qualification total for an aggregate score. This usually resulted in few changes in the leader board. The new format however zero's out the top 8 finalists and they start over shooting 3 shots, then another 3, then 2 more with the person in last being eliminated, then 2 more shots and then another elimination. This goes on until there is only 1 person standing. Fun to watch as a spectator!

I'm definitely taking away some learnings from this event and will definitely add some "Finals" training into my schedule. It's one thing being able to go for the endurance of a full 60 shot match but it's a different beast to shoot the Finals with elimination threats after each of the 2 shot series.

The 50m event which I've been spending a bit more time is on Wed-Thu with open practice tomorrow evening. More updates to come!

Friday, August 2, 2013

At the airport on my way to Calgary

Just waiting at Vancouver Airport about to fly out to Calgary. I'll be posting updates regularly this coming week from the Canadian National Pistol Championships.

whoa.. boarding time.. more updates soon!