Monday, December 3, 2007

Confirmed registration for 2008 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix in February

I received confirmation that I am registered for the 2008 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix being held in Toronto, Canada next February. This is the largest airgun competition in North America and usually attracts teams from Japan, China, Europe, and the USA.


Lots of changes happening in my life these days. Good changes. Positive changes. I've been getting my work / life balance shuffled around a lot, changing diet, sleeping a lot better. Good stuff.

This past weekend I ran the 5km Santa Shuffle run in Stanley Park. I ran this last year and got a time of 42:00 and this year I beat my time by about 9 minutes and finished it in 33:10. I usually don't run a lot due to the impact on my foot and leg -- I have a metal plate and 7 pins in my left leg thanks to a break a couple of years ago. I'm happy with my new time and will target 30 minutes next year.


I still haven't found much time to update the look of but I think I'll get around to some updates over the holidays. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

562 / 600 - 3rd place finish at Hibernation Match

The competition is now over and I shot the following scores 555/600, 556/600, and a 562/600 today. The combined score was enough to put me in 3rd place in the Master class and the top pistol shooter from British Columbia. Some excellent competition flew out West to attend this match. Stan Wills from Alberta placed 1st, Jesse Olsen who is originally from Burnaby, BC flew in from Saskatchewan and placed 2nd. Jesse recently returned to Canada after attending the Military World Games in India a few weeks ago.

The big story from the pistol side of the competition was with the junior men shooters. Matthew Hendry (Saskatchewan) and Tyler Johnson (British Columbia) who broke records at the Canada Winter Games did very well at this competition. Matthew Hendry was the overall Match Winner beating all of the Master class. I'm looking forward to seeing how he progresses... at 17 he's going to be one to watch. Tyler Johnson shot a new personal best of 568/600 which is a new BC Junior record. Nicely done! That score betters my 566/600 record I set in 1993 and tied again in 1995. The BC Men's Air Pistol Record is 578/600 set by Arno Baron in 2000. I've got more work to do. ;) Earlier this year at the 2007 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix a BC team record I set 12+ yrs ago was also broken by a few points. This is great to see!

I'm definitely pleased with my own progress this far, considering I've only been back at it for 6 months (after 12 yrs away from the sport) and I'm only 4 points off my Junior personal best.

The competition season for me is finished until February 2008 when I travel to Toronto for the Canadian Airgun Grand Prix. I'll be back to training after a short break later this month and will finally get around to making some of the updates I've been working on. I'll also try and get the rest of the match results posted.

A quick shout out to British Columbia Target Sports Association.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

UPDATED: Richmond Airgun Match this weekend

I've been slow to update and keeping busy with life, training, practice, work, etc.

I'm shooting at a local competition in Richmond, BC on November 2-4. The event is being held at Sportstown BC and both relays are completely full and a wait list has been started.

UPDATE: I got my numbers wrong... there are 30 positions available and 58 competitors registered for the competition.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Finished 3rd at the Western Canadian Air Gun Championships

I went into the Finals in a tie with Edmond Lee at a score of 1114 / 1200. I shot a 95.8 in the Finals which gave me a total score of 1209.8 which left me short 0.7 points behind Edmond who finished at 1210.5.

The best part of this weekend was seeing my average go up. Shooting more 10s, fewer 8s and an overall tighter grouping. I shot many 9s which just missed the 10 ring.

Stan Wills shot way ahead of us with a combined score of 1241.1. I remember shooting in the early 90s and seeing Stan shoot some amazing scores. I still have yet to beat him... I will do it in 2008. :)

Later that afternoon I went to the Calgary Firearms Centre with Dorothy Ludwig and Lynda Hare to meet up with Jason Caswell to try skeet shooting. Jason is one of Canada's best skeet shooters and went to the 1996 and 2000 Olympics games.

Al Harding and Jason Caswell
Skeet Shooting with Jason Caswell

Jason gave us a quick overview of what Skeet Shooting is all about. It was definitely a great experience being able to shoot a shotgun and get tips and advice from one of the best in the sport!

A great weekend in Calgary, beautiful weather, experienced so much and had an incredible time. I can't wait to come back next year. My next competition is on November 2-4, 2007 called the Hibernation Match being held in Richmond, BC in the same building I train in.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Arrived in Calgary for the Western Canadian Air Gun Championships

I arrived in Calgary Friday morning and ventured into downtown to see what Calgary is all about. I haven't been here in many many many years, actually I don't think I've spent much time here other than at the airport.

Visiting downtown Calgary
Medal ceremonies for the 1988 Winter Olympics were here

I started out by checking out the Calgary Tower and the various parks and buildings left over as legacies from the 1988 Winter Olympics held here. The Tower is pretty cool, then again I'm a huge fan of buildings and man made structures. I particularly liked the glass floor of the observation floor. Freaky!

Calgary Tower
Looking up at Calgary Tower

Glass floor at the Calgary Tower
Stepping on the glass floor of Calgary Tower

Later on Friday I met up with my friend Lynda Hare who I was staying with and we got to the range and went through equipment check and had about 6 minutes to practice. It felt good. The range is well lit and the target carriers are electronic.

On Saturday I was on the last relay so I would be shooting at 11:00 am and then again at 5:00 pm. The first match went well with a score of 560 / 600. I can definitely tell the training and practice is starting to get me back to my old scoring range.

In between matches my friends Lynda and Dorothy and I ventured out to the Canada Olympic Park. This was something I really wanted to see while here as I always missed getting to see it on my other visits to these parts.

Canada Olympic Park - September 2007
The Canada Olympic Park is buzzing with activity year round

We didn't have long but I got to see and experience what I wanted to see. I definitely want to come back in the Winter time. It's neat seeing the park so active in the Summer.

Al Harding rocks the bobsleigh at COP
Good thing this wasn't actually on ice... I'd probably hurt myself. ;)

The Ice House at Canada Olympic Park
The Ice House at Canada Olympic Park

The indoor training facility called the Ice House is a pretty cool facility. Literally. ;) Apparently it is the only indoor training facility in the world for sliding athletes. We got to see bobsleigh athletes training on the indoor track.

Back to the shooting range, the second match started out well but my endurance for shooting so much in one day is not up to where it needs to be. My first 3 strings were 94, 95, 93 and it got harder and harder to lift the gun for the last 30 shots. I'm going to be working on this over the next few weeks as I have a local competition coming up in November where 3 matches are shot over 2 days.

I'm currently tied in 2nd with another BC shooter and will be shooting in the Finals tomorrow morning. I haven't shot in Finals since Nationals in 1995 when I shot in the 8th position. I was still a Junior at the time but shot high enough to shoot with the Men that year.

Finals are shot to the decimal point so shooting a perfect 10 is worth 10.9 points. BC shooter Edmond Lee and I are currently tied with 1114 points each.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Flying to Calgary Friday

I wasn't able to attend the match this past weekend. I've been getting out to practice when I can and the recent changes I've made seem to be working out well.

Who would have thought moving and super busy work schedules could be so time consuming! ;)

I fly out Friday morning and will be home late Sunday night. I'm going to try and find some time during the weekend to post up event photos and scores. Stay tuned to

Friday, September 7, 2007

Vancouver's BC Top Gun match this weekend

It's been a chaotic last few weeks with a hectic work schedule and with moving. I've moved to downtown Vancouver to be closer to work, clients, etc. I'm still trying to get things sorted out in order and on top of that the BC Top Gun match is this weekend.

This weekend will be an early indicator of how recent modifications I've made to my grip, trigger, and stance are all working. I probably should have only made a few minor changes and seen how the changes worked but I've been super excited since getting back from Nationals and putting some new ideas into practice. :)

Next weekend I'm flying to Calgary, Alberta for the 2007 Western Canada Air Gun Championships. Once I get back from Calgary I'll shift into training mode again and I have a few goals I'm going to work towards. One of my top priorities will be giving this website a bit of a design change. ;)

I'm only competing on Sunday morning and need to finish moving and organizing a bunch of my boxes so I will send an update again after the match is over and the results are in.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Registered for two competitions in September

I've submitted my registration forms for two matches in September. I'm excited that I have the opportunity to attend two matches only a week apart. In Europe I could probably compete every weekend if I wanted to, but here in Vancouver there are only a few matches every year.

The first match I'll be attending on Sept 7-9 is the 2007 BC Top Gun Match. It is a 5 gun event, but until I get my firearms license paperwork finalized I can only shoot Olympic Air Pistol. This is okay though as it is my favorite event. :) I will definitely be writing about the experience of navigating through Canada's firearm laws as I go through the process.

The second event is the Western Canadian Air Gun Championships, this event will have two matches with the combined score used to determine the winner.

I'll be making some modifications to my training over the next 3-4 weeks. I'll be adjusting my stance a bit and working on my grip and trigger control. For my stance I'll be shifting my feet around so that I'm raising my shooting arm more in front of me instead of out towards my side. In the image below my shooting arm goes out directly to my right.

Al Harding Pistol Shooting Stance Changes
The new stance brings the left leg forward and rotates the right leg

As you can see from the shoe prints it isn't a major change, but the slightest change in foot position can actually make a big difference in a precision sport.

My busy work schedule is starting to pick up so I'm hoping to get out to train enough before I leave for Calgary.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

14th place finish and 3rd place in a team event

I finished the match in 14th place. Good, considering there were close to 50 male competitors and I was shooting with most of the top 10 back in the early 90's. These guys have been shooting awhile... several of these guys are on the National Team.

One of the BC Team's we entered was for the Air Pistol event. Our team placed 3rd so we got the bronze medal for that. My teammates were Edmond Lee and Mark Johnson.

I'll be shooting two matches in September, one is in Vancouver and the other is in Calgary. I'm hoping that a few more matches will help me get back to my 94% range. Getting all of my firearm paperwork will also be helpful as I'd like to be shooting 50m Free Pistol again.

Long travel day tomorrow. 2 hr drive and two flights... :) It will be good to get back to Vancouver.

2007 Canadian National Junior Air Pistol Finals

The Air Pistol Junior Finals just wrapped up with both Junior Male and Female shooting Finals at the same time. It was cool to see all 16 competitors shooting. The girls dominated the Finals.

2007 Canadian Junior Air Pistol Finals
10m Air Pistol Junior Male and Female Finals

Junior Male 10m Air:

1Matthew HendrySK554, 56194.51209.5
2Philippe TousignantQC543, 55491.81188.8
3Stuart KrantzSK539, 54793.41179.4
4Ryan WardON531, 54394.41168.4
5Jordan SamoilaSK548, 52284.11154.1
6Matthew KaoON528, 53292.71152.7
7Timothy HildebrandAB525, 53192.41148.4
8Tuo SuBC523, 53784.21144.2

Junior Female 10m Air:

1Danielle MarcotteYK356, 36897.1821.1
2Alix FindlayON365, 35694.0815.0
3Catherine ThwaitesBC365, 35790.1812.1
4Amy StewartAB360, 35887.5805.5
5Christine KingSK362, 33892.8792.8
6Shvawn ChristensenON351, 34691.9788.9
7Bailey TeitgeAB341, 34189.9771.9
8Ashley ParkerON334, 33284.0750.0

Awards banquet is tonight and then tomorrow I drive south to Saskatoon before flying home to Vancouver tomorrow.

2007 Canadian National Air Pistol Finals

Results for the 2007 Canadian Nationals Air Pistol Finals are in.

Men 10m Air:

2007 Canadian Men Air Pistol Finals
10m Air Pistol Men's Final

1Yuri MovshovichON56497.9661.9
2Steve MalyNS56694.7660.7
3Scott IllingworthAB56298.7658.7
4Jesse OlsenSK56098.2658.2
5Stan WillsAB56294.9656.9
6JP HuotPQ56294.1656.1
7Oscar DiPillaPQ55993.3652.3
8James SandallAB56091.1651.1
9Glenn OhlmanMB51891.8609.8

Women 10m Air:

2007 Canadian Women Air Pistol Finals
10m Air Pistol Women's Final

1Dorothy LudwigBC38293.7475.7
2Kim EaglesBC37797.5474.5
3Charlene JohnsonBC37697.0473.0
4Avianna ChaoON37295.7467.7
5Ena WardON37194.3465.3
6Lynda HareAB36396.7459.7
7Jana StiebSK36790.8457.8
8Filiz CakmakON36393.8456.8
9Karen Van NestON36194.2455.2

Junior Finals will be online shortly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

BC shooters at 2007 Canadian Nationals

I came out to Saskatchewan on my own but several people from British Columbia traveled out here to represent BC at the 2007 Canadian National Pistol Championships.

Kim Eagles
Alison Fox
Curtis Hampton
Allan Harding
Charlene Johnson
Mark Johnson
Edmond Lee
Irene Li
Dorothy Ludwig
Tuo Su
F. Michael Taylor
Christopher Thwaites
Catherine Thwaites

I'll post up results for BC competitors after all of the events have wrapped up. Results are also posted up on the 2007 Nationals website.

Air Pistol Finals are tomorrow morning. The Top 8 will shoot in the Finals, but with quite a few Master level shooters left to compete today I think they'll push me into around 10th - 12th place.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Updated photos and shot by shot view of my score

I've got my memory card working again so I've updated some photos on "Arrived at Nationals" and "551 / 600".

This is what my shots looked like from my match yesterday. The scoring is all done by a computer. The targets are scanned in by a reader and then accurately scored.

Al Harding shoots a 551
This is a print out of all of my shots. Click to view larger version

The software generates reports like this one that shows where every shot hit the target. It also breaks down how many 10's, 9's, 8's etc you shot. I shot 22 10's.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

551 / 600... a good score for my first Nationals in 12 yrs

I finished shooting and finished with a score of 551/600. For my 2nd competition since picking up my gun in May I'm quite pleased. The last time I was at Nationals was in 1995.

I'm happy with this score because it matches my 552/600 I shot in May at Provincials so I'm definitely establishing a solid baseline. Having practiced and trained a couple nights a week for the last couple of months has helped a lot. I know I still need a lot of work to improve on basic fundamentals as that seems to be a key area that will get me more 10's. Working on grip and trigger control will be essential for me to push my scores higher.

One of the key learning's for me at this competition is about all of the rule changes that have occurred since 1995. I had to modify my shooting glasses and reduce my left eye blinder down to 30mm. Also, the range officers here wanted to make sure wrists are always visible and my long sleeves kept sliding down. Time to buy a current rule book! :)

Al Harding shoots a 551
Old left eye blinder and the new smaller left eye blinder

I will be working on getting my gun license so I can shoot other events at these competitions. I'd like to shoot Free Pistol, which is also an Olympic event but it is shot at 50m. I think I'd be more relaxed if I shot a different event before shooting Air Pistol. Air Pistol is my favorite and strongest but having a different event to shoot a day before shooting my Air match will help me get into the right mindset.

I shot on the first Air Pistol relay and most people will be shooting over the next 2 days. I'll post up results as they're made available.

I have some photos I've taken but for some reason my laptop isn't reading my SD card from my camera. I'm here for a few days so hopefully I can get that sorted out.

Time to go explore what this city has to offer... :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Arrived at Nationals...

This will be a quick update. I've arrived in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and I'm all registered and checked-in for Nationals.

Plane ride to Saskatoon
Plane ride to Saskatoon, Canada

There was one issue with my shooting glasses not meeting current rules so I needed to change one of the pieces. Not having shot at Nationals since the mid-90s I should have expected some rules would have changed. ;)

Lucky for me Scott from Illingworth Imports was there to help me out. Thanks Scott!

I had a chance to practice a bit in the indoor range and I'm looking forward to shooting tomorrow.

Al Harding checks out the indoor range
Taking aim during practice time

I shoot on the first relay tomorrow at noon. Dinner time. :)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Pistol shooting conditioning for peak performance

Going into the final week before I compete at Nationals... it's all about getting all of the training to date to be timed right for a peak performance.

The last few weeks I've been at the gym quite a bit and doing a lot of fast walking between 3.2 - 3.8 mph at a 15.0 incline on the treadmill. This helps for cardiovascular training as well as increasing core strength in leg muscles which will ultimately give you better balance in your shooting stance. I also do a lot of weight training rotating muscle groups to allow for at least 72 hr recovery periods. Every muscle group during a recovery period ends up affecting my shooting performance during practice sessions. This is a result of the muscle building process, extra water in the muscles during this time and overall recovery fatigue. I break up muscle groups into the following categories: chest, back, arms, shoulders, abs, legs.

Al Harding Heart Rate Monitoring
Heart rate data captured of 20 minutes of cardio,
40 minutes of weights, and another 20 minutes of cardio

If I've had an active week at the gym (like this week) and I go to the shooting range, my shot grouping has a larger spread. It is when I'm fully rested and recovered that I'll get the small tight groups on a practice target. There is a lot more to shooting better than just being well rested though. Training and conditioning for a shooting competition requires a lot of mental conditioning as well as physical. Much like other sports, shooting is probably 95% mental.

In order to get all of the training aligned I need to take into account recovery periods, diet, sleep, travel time, and of course mental preparedness. I'll touch on the mental aspects in another post as there is a lot that you can't calculate as easily as something like physical recovery patterns. Any kind of physical training will result in the body needing to recover. If I work out with weights I will have delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for about 72 hrs, knowing that, I won't be doing any major physical activity for at least 4 days before the match. Sleep is another one you can calculate to some degree -- though I've read no exact research or science into this, I'm going by my own experience with my own body - I know how much rest and sleep I need. I know this because I've done it daily for a few decades. ;)

As serious as all this talk of training sounds I still consider myself an "unlikely athlete". Competitive pistol shooting may not appear to be a very physical sport -- especially since one of the primary goals is really to minimize movement as much as possible to have the most accurate shot. I'd place it in a similar group to golf and archery. Ultimately all of these sports require physical and mental conditioning in order to create repeatable physical routine.

I say "unlikely athlete" because at first glance I don't think anyone would expect to call me that.

I do know that if I want to make my performance better I will need to make my mind and body better.

When I get back from Nationals I am going to find some time to add to this website so it's not quite so generic. I'll be training for an event in September. During that next month I'd like to provide a more detailed view into my training activities so it is easy to browse and monitor progress.

If you have any specific questions you want me to answer please don't hesitate to send me a comment on

Monday, July 30, 2007

11 days to go... Nationals website updated

11 days remain until I leave for Saskatchewan. I would have liked to have made a few more posts before I left but time is short and well I'm sure you all would rather I was practicing anyway. ;)

What do the next 11 days have in store for me?

  • Continuing to practice at the Richmond Rod & Gun club Wednesday and Friday nights.
  • Continue cardio and physical training Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights.
  • Tighten up my food and beverage consumption. I always shoot better when I've been eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and keeping breads, sugars, and meat down to a minimum. Fish is always good too so I'm going to get some sushi a couple times before I leave. :)
  • Cut caffeine out. I'm going to research this some more as I've read caffeine stays in your system for up to 72 hrs. I also don't want a situation where cutting caffeine out completely creates a negative response. I do love my Diet Rockstar sugar free energy drinks. ;)
  • Confirm all travel details (again).
Some other news:

The Canadian National Pistol Championships website has been updated with lots of new information. They have also announced that the shooting range will have wireless Internet access so I will definitely be posting updates from there.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Equipment: Shooting Glasses by Knobloch

A few days ago I received the Knobloch Lens Testing kit from Illingworth Imports. here is a photo of the kit along side a pair of Knobloch glasses and my own pair of Knobloch shooting glasses.

Knobloch Lens Testing Kit
The lens kit comes with the test lens holder, 12 test lenses for testing spherical correction, and many accessories such as a centering device, an adjustable iris etc.

Below is what my pair looks like with a left eye side blinder and an adjustable iris.

Al Harding's Shooting Glasses
The left eye blinder lets me keep both eyes open while shooting, the white color helps to control the amount of light going into both eyes. The adjustable iris is just a nice add on, letting me close the amount of area I look through down to the size of a pinhole or as large as 15mm. This lets me control the amount of light I want going into my eye and the amount of sharpness around the gun sights.

Finally, this is what they look like on me. I actually don't see much when I'm shooting. I look at the front and rear sights and don't really focus on the target itself (the target is actually blurry when I shoot at it).

Al Harding's Shooting Glasses
Less than a month until the Canadian National Pistol Championships!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Travel details for Nationals are all set

I have all of my travel details for Nationals in order. I will be flying out of Vancouver on August 10th and arriving in Saskatoon in the morning. Then a short 2 hr drive to Prince Albert.

I compete the following day on Saturday at 12:00 pm on the first Air Pistol relay of the competition. The current match relays and positions is now posted on the Canadian Nationals website. I will then have a couple of days rest before the Finals and National Team Trials match. It has been awhile since I competed at a Nationals event so I'm not sure yet what the rules or qualification are for the National Team Trial. I believe Finals will be the top 8 shooters in any of the Olympic events (Rapid Fire Pistol, Free Pistol, and Air Pistol).

I check out Wednesday morning and will fly out of Saskatoon in the late afternoon and arrive home to Vancouver in the evening.

One month remains before I leave. I've got a very basic training plan I'm following. I avoided making it unnecessarily complicated and just sticking to basics. Spending time conditioning and strengthening core muscles, cardio, and of course actual practice time at the shooting range.

I'm waiting for the Knobloch Lens Testing kit from Illingworth Imports, as soon as I have it I'll post up info about my shooting glasses. I suspect I'll need a new lens cut for my 12 yr old shooting glasses. Too much time in front of a computer! ;)

Monday, July 2, 2007

The importance of a Competition Journal

One of the great things about having taken such a long break away from competition air pistol shooting is that I forgot a lot of things. Specifically, bad habits. A huge portion of this sport, like any sport for that matter, is the mental aspect of it. I used to spend a lot of time training my mind.

When I was regularly competing before, I would get myself into a lot of trouble with a poorly executed mental performance. The problem with this is that I would finish the competition and leave it at that and not do anything to correct a poor performance. This was made worse if I actually shot a decent score and did nothing afterwards.

Shooting a decent score is like going to a match and staying within your comfort zone and being content with that. Boring. If you want to shoot super scores you need to do more than piggyback on a 'decent performance' to get you there.

The goal of a training / competition journal should be to reinforce positives and modify negatives.

When I went to my first competition this past May I made sure that I kept a journal of everything so that I would have notes to work from later. This became especially important to me when I knew it would probably be the only competition I'd be able to attend before going to Nationals in August. Looking back at my notes now, I know I will always do it for every single competition I attend from now on.

Allan Harding's Competition Journal
What do I keep track of in my Competition Journal?
  • Event name, location, results

  • Overall thoughts: Were there any themes to how I felt I did?

  • Time leading up to match: Travel details... any problems with accommodations? car rental? What went right? Did I forgot to pack anything? Should I have brought anything differently? What did I eat? How did I sleep? Etc.

  • During competition: How many sighter targets did I take? What was I wearing? Any problems with my equipment? Any possible improvements to equipment? Range lighting? Other range notables? Competition pace? Mental routine? Physical routine?

  • After competition: Immediate thoughts after competition? Who shot next to me? Scoring accuracy by officials and scorers?

  • Other thoughts?
I kept track of a LOT of details. The photo above shows some of the details of what I wrote down after Provincials. I find it useful to separate a training journal from a competition journal.

My biggest takeaways from that competition were equipment related and in reinforcing the positive benefits of a training AND competition journal.

At Provincials I had 3 key areas all related to equipment that I wanted to improve:
  • Sight blackener. When I competed before I used to always take a carbide lighter to my gun sights to make them super black.

  • C02 - The precious gas which powers my pellets 10 meters to the target. I had one empty cylinder and another which was nearly empty after having been shipped via air from Cibles Targets. The range was out of C02 and most of the other competitors were either using Compressed Air or a different brand of gun. Knowing that after any shot you might be out of air isn't healthy for your mental program.

  • Shooting glasses. The lens in my shooting glasses is 10 yrs old... it was OK but I knew for Nationals I would be better off if I went and got my eyes tested and possibly even got a new lens cut for my glasses. At the very least I would be able to rule out my eyes as any kind of an excuse. ;)
All of these points are actual notes in my competition journal. With 6 weeks to go I've ordered sight blackener from my friend Scott at Illingworth Imports as well as a Knobloch Lens Testing Kit. Knobloch is the make of shooting glasses I compete with, I'll be covering those in my next blog posting.

As always... any feedback and comments are hugely appreciated. If you like this blog please tell a friend, let me know, or let's exchange links. Cheers.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Back from a mini vacation

I returned home last Monday after taking a few days off to go to Las Vegas. It was a pretty random trip to say the least. That's what birthday celebrations are all about though right? ;)

Las Vegas
Las Vegas is going through another huge construction boom again. This is the new $7.4B City Center project by the MGM Mirage.... Basically, a city-within-a-city.

This upcoming week I'll be working a LOT and then next week I am back on my regular '7 week' training ramp up leading up to Nationals.

During those 7 weeks I'm going to cover a variety of topics:

  • Equipment overview (I'll cover all the major equipment I use during training and competitions)

  • Weekly check-in's during the final 7 weeks running up to Nationals

  • Training activities

  • Physical and mental training and conditioning

I'm also going to try and post up more photos... maybe some videos If I can find enough time. :)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Registered for Nationals

I just got my confirmation and I'm now registered to compete at the 2007 Canadian National Pistol Championships!

I have about 10 weeks to train and get ready for Nationals. I wish there were a few more BC area matches where I could compete in my discipline, but there aren't any.

I've decided to try out for the National Team as well. I figure I need to go into the event aiming high... plus it's only an extra $25 to declare for National Team Trials. :)

This will be my first time going to Saskatchewan!

More details soon...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Back from the Island and online again

I checked out of the hotel Sunday morning and headed back out to the shooting range to see the overall results. I finished in 2nd place with a 552/600.

How does scoring work? You have 1 hour and 45 minutes to take 60 shots. The highest point value for each shot is a 10, so 60 shots = 600 maximum score. The ISSF website lists the World Record at 593/600 by Sergei Pyzhianov and the Olympic Record at 591 shot by Mikhail Nestruev.

The number of competitors attending Provincials was definitely lower than what I've seen in the past when I was competing before. It would be nice to see more people out at these events.

Yesterday was fun, some friends of mine were staying at a cabin near Prospect Lake. It's a beautiful area around there. Canoeing. BBQ. Fishing. Nice way to finish up the weekend.

Nationals are in August so there are over 10 weeks of training time before then. I'm going to review my notes from this past weekend and get a training plan developed which I'll write more about later.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

552 / 600... my result for my 1st competition back

It was good to be in competition mode again... all the little things I'd run through in my head started coming back to me. It really is almost entirely mental.

The air pistol range at the NSRG is indoors but has some vinyl walls which allow for a certain amount of sunlight and shadows to be cast inside. The changes and lighting as the sun moves behind clouds don't factor too much on the one side of the air range I shot at.

Al Harding's Steyr LP10
I was shooting in position #5 (That isn't me :))

552/600... I'm pretty happy with this score. 92%. For not having practiced more than 3 times in the last 4 years and shooting with a gun that had just been serviced last week and hasn't yet been tuned for me... it's a good score.

I need to get back into the 560s+ for Nationals in August.

This Provincial event is a 5 gun match where shooters compete in Centre Fire, Standard Pistol, Rapid Fire, Free Pistol, and Air Pistol. The last 3 are Olympic events. I only came to shoot Air Pistol as you need special licenses etc to carry and compete with the other guns. I will need to get my permits etc so I can compete in other events... I'd like to compete in Free Pistol again.

There are a few shooters left to shoot their Air match today so I won't know how I did overall until tomorrow.

Heading back for the BBQ... tomorrow I think I'll go see what's happening in Victoria. There are Titanic artifacts on display at the Museum which would be pretty cool to see.

Feel free to leave any comments on here! :)

Good morning Sidney!

I arrived in Sidney, BC last night coming over on the ferry from Tsawassen, BC. I think that was the first time I've made that particular ferry ride, it is pretty neat going in and out of the Gulf Islands.

Once on the Schwartz Bay side I figured I would just hop in a cab waiting there and get a ride in to Sidney. Hmm... Apparently 15 other people had similar thoughts and there was a single cab there. Everyone was trying to figure out what to do after learning the next cab would be 30 minutes, and eventually everyone ran over to a bus that was about to leave. Another couple and myself stayed behind and a cab arrived within 5 minutes. :) We shared it and I was in Sidney a few minutes later... I wonder if that bus had even left the terminal yet. ;)

I fell sleep around 10 just before Horatio and his team of CSI's would have solved the crime on CSI Miami... I'm certain they got their guy.

Zzzzzzz. *sleep*

It's the morning of the competition (technically, the event began yesterday) and I'll get to the shooting range in about an hour. I'll take some photos and blog in a bit later.

I just opened my camera and realized I left my 2GB SD memory card in my computer after taking the photos when my gun arrived back from Quebec. Awesome :). It's stuff like that you can't let bother you on competition day. In fact, as soon as my camera display flashed "NO MEMORY CARD" I let out a good laugh as my mind raced in reverse to realize it was left in one of the slots on my computer at home. Anyhow, I have a 32 MB card with me, it just means I'll have to dump the photos to my laptop frequently.

Anyhow... the sun is trying to drive solar nails through the clouds here and looks like it may turn out to be a partially sunny day here.

More shortly... stay tuned.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Air Pistol has arrived and is ready!

Yesterday I received my air pistol back from Cibles Canada Targets, plus a new sleeve of competition high speed pellets and 10m targets. This couldn't have been timed any better!

Al Harding's Steyr LP10
I took it out to the Richmond Rod & Gun Club to see how it would performed and I was pleased with the holes it was punching in the targets.

I'll be packing tomorrow morning and getting ready to leave for Victoria and will probably post daily while I'm away. It will be great to be there during the Victoria Day long weekend... hopefully the weather holds nicely.

Monday, May 14, 2007

FedEx, 9,738 km, and Spring #51...

Last Friday, with 1 week before Provincials, I made the decision to FedEx my air pistol 4,869 km across the country to Cibles Canada Targets in Gatineau (Hull), Quebec.


Yes... I wasn't happy with how the air pistol was firing and chose to get it checked out. Good thing I did as there was a problem with a few parts. Spring #51 and a few others.

I can't wait to try it out, hopefully it arrives before I leave for Provincials. If not, I'll be bringing my 14 yr old Walther air pistol out of retirement. This is the gun I won the gold medal with at the Western Canada Games in 1995. I also shot the BC Junior record at the same event. The record still holds today at 566/600. I dusted it off this past weekend and tried it out and was pretty happy with it.

Confidence that your equipment will function precisely and consistently is important in this sport. Ironically though, the final day of shooting at the Western Canada Games one of my gun's CO2 cylinders failed... I always have an extra with me though. The match had already started so I had to act quickly as a match has a fixed time limit to complete all 60 shots. That's the kind of thing you need to react to, deal with, and regain focus as quick as possible.

Competing next weekend for the first time in a few years should be pretty cool.

I made sure my hotel room had WiFi so I'll probably be making updates quite frequently over the next short while.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Zipcar'ing around to the Richmond Rod & Gun Club

I sold my car last December and have been doing a lot more walking and transit riding lately. I don't mind riding on transit if I've got a good book or some music to listen to... I kind of like the fact that I get away from a computer screen. :) Not having a car can be a bit of a challenge when you want to move anything that can't fit inside of a backpack... like groceries or getting around anywhere that is off transit hours or outside of the main transit arteries.

I recently found out that the Richmond Rod & Gun Club has an indoor air gun range at Sportstown BC in Richmond. Getting out there by bus is not easy without having it take hours.

Conveniently, at the same time, I also found out about a cool new service in Vancouver called Zipcar. What is it? Well, basically like their marketing tagline says, "wheels when you want them". I just book a time when I want a vehicle and select one of the 100 or so they have around the city and I pay about $9/hr and it comes with a gas card in the visor you can use for free. The coolest part about the Zipcars is walking up to them and pulling out your Zipcar card and putting it near the windshield to unlock the car. It's awesome. Anyhow, if you're interested in checking it out let me know and I can give you a driving credit free from them. As cool as this service is it is somewhat expensive if I'm paying for it while I'm practicing inside.

The Richmond Rod & Gun Club has leased space at Sportstown BC. I checked it out last week and got to see some familiar faces... Dale, Edmond, and of course Paul! Awesome to see these guys.

The RR&GC alternate nights with an archery club. More information about the indoor range and practice times can be found on their website:

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Practice range photos and archery resource on 'Mental Skills'

I got back to the city tonight after heading back to my hometown of Gibsons, BC to do some practicing there with the makeshift practice area my Dad and I built.
Al Harding's Practice Range

My practice area consists of a small table with a hand crank target carrier mounted to it. The pulley system lets me hand crank the target back and forth down the hall 10m (32.8') into the other room. A couple of lights focused on the target in the other room help light the area. The target carrier was purchased about 5 years ago from Cibles Canada Targets.

After seeing some archery on TV earlier today I decided to search and look around to see what was around BC. I found the BC Archery Association website and found a great Power Point presentation titled "The Importance of Plans and Practising Mental Skills" by Anne Muscat, a Certified Canadian Mental Trainer. Although the Power Point is intended for an Archery audience it applies to many sports, especially other precision sports like pistol shooting.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

2007 BC Provincials Details

I just finished booking a place to stay in Victoria near the Airport. It's a couple kilometers from the shooting range so that's not too bad. It will be nice to be around Sidney, BC and explore the area.

Here is a link to a map of where the shooting range is located.

More event details are available on the BCTSA website:

The PDF registration form is available for download here:

Photos and other preparation details will be posted over the next few weeks.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Less than four weeks to prepare for Provincials

It has literally been years since I've attended a shooting competition. Normally, I'd be training for a specific amount of time before an event in order to have peak performance at that particular event.

For this upcoming shooting match, it is the only one coming up that doesn't require travelling out of the Province so I'm going to it primarily for fun and to see my fellow shooters from around BC. I'm telling myself it is for fun because I want to ensure I'm setting realistic expectations for this first match... and well, I'm due for a vacation so that's what this is.

That said... I still want to do the best I can given the situation, so here is a short list of tasks I need to complete before going to Victoria next month:
  • Victoria travel and accommodations planning and booking
  • Air Pistol maintenance, cleaning
  • Check grip and make any changes to adjust for any changes in my hand's strength and shape over the last 4 years
  • Clean my shooting glasses (and possibly get a new lens made to account for any changes in my vision)
  • Weigh my pistol's trigger and make adjustments to ensure I'm within the rules and regulations
  • Check my air pistol's shooting velocity
  • Continue physical / cardio training
  • Continue strength training
  • Get out to the practice range in Richmond a few times
  • Practice where and when I can
  • Dry firing
  • Final equipment preparation

Al Harding's Steyr LP10
There are a few place to practice around Vancouver, New Westminster, and Richmond so I'll discuss them as I find out more information. I've also created a practice area back at my parent's house in Gibsons, BC. I'll post up some photos of this... basically I practice by shooting down a hall, past a pool table, and into my Dad's workshop. Like I said... practice 'where and when I can'.

This coming week I will get my accommodations and travel arrangements sorted out and go through some of the basic maintenance of my equipment. I'll post up photos along the way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Welcome to my new blog

Hi! Welcome to my new blog. My name is Al and I've started this blog to talk about competitive pistol shooting. I competed for many years in my youth and was a National Junior Champion. I also hold the BC Junior Record of 566/600 for air pistol shooting which I scored at the 1995 Western Canada Games. The Minimum Qualification Score (MQS) for the Olympics is 563/600.
I left competitive pistol shooting, unintentionally, for several years as I spent time trying to move to Vancouver and find some work. These were some difficult years to say the least. I'll write about this stuff later... for now let's fast forward to 2002.

In 2002 and 2003, I made a brief attempt to get back into the sport, but by this point career commitments were quite high. Let's fast forward again... I'm skipping a lot, but it's best saved for a non 'Welcome' type post.

Fast forward some more and here we are in 2007. Life has been adventure and challenge filled, it has also been filled with a lot of tough times. I have been emailing and chatting with friends from the BC Handgun Association (which is now amalgamated with rifle as BC Target Sports Association) and decided, that with everything going on in my life, now was the time to come back to this sport.

I have no idea how well I will do after not being very active in the sport for over a decade. I'm going to use this blog to post photos, talk about my return, training, upcoming shooting matches, and anything else that is relevant.

You're more than welcome to check in and tag along on this journey.