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