Monday, November 10, 2008

Volunteering at Vancouver 2010 Olympics

A couple weeks ago I was invited to the in-person interview and training sessions for volunteering at the 2010 Olympics. The interview, sessions, etc lasted about 5 hours. It was a neat experience listening and talking with other people to hear their stories about why they were there and why they wanted to volunteer.

If I recall correctly, there were about 50,000 applications from people all over the World wanting to volunteer at the Winter Games in 2010. Of those, they will pick around 25,000 people.

Thanks to my initial phone screen a month ago, they determined I'd be a good fit for the technical / media areas of the Games. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to help out at other events leading up to the Games too. I need to get officially picked though I guess. ;)

I'll find out more soon and will continue to write posts about this journey.

On a side note, practice is going well. It's good to be back at the range training again. My next competition will likely be in Calgary or Toronto in early 2009.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

That was longer than expected!

After several months of not being able to practice and going to physiotherapy and trying to get my shoulder rehabilitated I'm finally back.

Tomorrow will be my first day back at practice... I've taken only a single shot since my injury in July. I'll be easing back into it to avoid stressing the shoulder muscles and tendons again. 10 shots tomorrow... and I'll add 10 more every few days while continuing physiotherapy until I'm able to shoot full competition matches again. Still a long way to go, but I'm back in the gym this week able to push around some light weights again, and ramping up the cardio again.

Unfortunately, I'll be skipping the big shooting match held in Richmond, BC in a couple weeks so I won't have another competition to shoot at until February 2009.

Many Thanks go out to friends, family, clients, coworkers, the fine folks at Sport and Spinal for supporting me and helping me get to this point. This has been a long, tedious, and relatively painful experience but ultimately I think it's made me stronger. We'll find out in the new year anyway. ;)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Out for several weeks

For about 4 weeks now I've been dealing with shoulder pain and going to physio to help get my shoulder better. Problems started the week of Nationals and got worse up until 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, I have to cancel going to the Western Canadian Airgun Championships next month and am unable to practice at all for at least another 3 weeks.

I contemplated getting a left handed grip and start shooting left handed but it would be difficult to be competition ready by September.

For now... I take a break and will build up my shoulder strength and get all the tendons and everything working correctly again before competing in November.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

No Zorb! ...but Calgary Zoo today!

Well yesterday I finished Finals and ended up in 7th place, not to bad considering that was my first time making Finals at Nationals since returning to the sport.

Al Harding shooting a 10
me (on the right) shooting a 10 on thursday's 2nd relay.
phillipe tousignant is to my left.

I also found out at the Awards BBQ that our BC Airgun Team consisting of myself, Edmond Lee, and Tyler Johnson got the gold medal beating the Saskatchewan team.

My camera's SD card seems to be corrupted so I'm unable to get any photos off of my camera. The Z-Trip zorb adventure was cancelled as there was a massive thunder storm all day. We drove out to Canada Olympic Park and checked out the Olympic Hall of Fame and Museum and Ice House there to watch the National Development Bobsleigh Team practicing. We also drove past the Zorb area which looked like a long ditch which was almost flat -- apparently they moved it there. It does not look fun, maybe it was the rainy day, but I expected it would be a steeper hill... scratch that... I expected it to be on a hill... any hill!

Today, I went and checked out the Calgary Zoo and was impressed! I sure hope I can get my photos off my camera.

Back to Vancouver tomorrow.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008 Canadian National Finals Tomorrow 8am - Currently Tied For 5th

Today I shot a 560 / 600, one point shy of making the cut to possibly qualify for Canada's National Development Team. The score, combined with yesterday, puts me in a 3-way tie for 5th going into the Finals tomorrow morning. It also makes me the top 10m pistol shooter from BC.

1Prakash NanjappaON1145
2Stan WillsAB1132
3Wayne SalhanyON1131
4Yuri MovshovichON1128
5Sylvain OuellettePQ1119
6Josh Riker-FoxAB1119
7Allan HardingBC1119
8Mikhail OussovitchON1118

Finals will take place at the Calgary Rifle and Pistol Club. Everything is setup and ready to go for the Top 8 shooters. I am currently in a 3-way tie and with the count back I will likely be shooting in Position 8 (photo below) as positions 1 and 10 probably won't be used.

Al Harding makes the Top 8 at the 2008 Canadian Nationals
i'm currently in a 3-way tie for 5th

Gotta rest up tonight to fight for every point tomorrow!

Once the competition is over a bunch of are going over to the Canada Olympic Park to Zorb next to the 1998 Olympic Ski Jump.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Competition Day #4 - My shooting glasses take a tumble

Well my first day of shooting at the event got off to a slow start. The range didn't have a scale to measure how much CO2 gas was left in my air gun, so I was cautious with how many sighter shots I used before starting my first competition shot. During the equipment check on the line my shooting glasses were accidentally pushed off the table and hit the cement floor. I was afraid to look, especially when I felt something hit my leg! With the kind of impact it made, you expect to see shrapnel and debris everywhere. Luckily, everything was fine. The plastic case made a loud noise when it dove into the cement and there was no lens in the frames to get injured. No lens in my glasses?? Yes. I took it out on Sunday and have been using them without a lens since. They still have the adjustable iris in place (not shown in the photo below).

Kids... Don't try this at home.
what not to do!

After about a dozen sighter shots I began and it took some time to get into a flow. The competition consists of 60 shots; 1 shot at 1 target. Of the 1h 45m to shoot I used all but 3 minutes. Normally, I would be finished earlier but getting off to a slow start with double checking that my glasses were aligned and functioning properly. Despite a few equipment hiccups and making a last minute change this week to opt out of using a lens in my shooting glasses (the lens helps keep the gun sights clear and in focus) I'm happy with my score of 559 / 600. I know I can do better than this and will continue to fine-tune my self, equipment, and approach to shoot better.

I have yet to see where I currently stand against other shooters from across Canada. I'll look tomorrow after I shoot again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arrived in Calgary!

I landed in Calgary this afternoon to find Vancouver-like weather with a mix of rain and sun. Mostly grey skies and rain, not like the great day yesterday back home in Vancouver:

_THIS_ is sooooo not Calgary
the view yesterday, aboard a ferry cruising back to Vancouver

After getting settled in, I went out to the two ranges hosting the 2008 Canadian National Pistol Championships and got signed in and my equipment checked. I put some practice time in at the range to get my gun sighted in and get an overall feel for the range. I competed at the Calgary Rifle and Pistol Club last September for the Western Canadian Airgun Championships so I was familiar with how everything was setup.

The Dark Knight movie opens this week... must see!

Focus Al :)

My first relay of the competition begins tomorrow morning at 10am.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

2008 Canadian National Pistol Championships start tomorrow!

The 2008 Canadian National Pistol Championships start on Sunday July 13th in Calgary, Alberta. I fly out of Vancouver on Tuesday morning and will arrive with time to register and get in some practice time before my first relay of the event starts on Wednesday.

June was a really busy month and it seems like it's been almost non-stop between life, work, and trying to find enough time to practice. I'm looking forward to this week off to unplug a bit.

I'm going to be posting progress from the competition daily (well... maybe almost daily) and will put up photos of some of the non-competition adventures I'll embark on... like tumbling down a hill side in a giant plastic bubble! ;)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Travel details sorted for 2008 Canadian Nationals in Calgary

There are 6 weeks left until the 2008 Canadian National Pistol Championships in Calgary. I just got my flight and accommodations sorted out and am very much looking forward to this trip. I found a seat sale at West Jet which made a big difference from some of the deals Expedia found for me online.

I quickly put together a Google Map of the two shooting ranges that will be used for the event as well a couple of attractions I might check out. Last September when I was in Calgary I was thinking of checking out the Zoo so I'm probably going to do that and I'm also going to spend more time at Canada Olympic Park (COP).

I only spent a few hours last time at COP but I'm going to spend at least a day there this Summer and plan to try Zorbing! Rolling down a hill inside a giant plastic ball... Sold!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Delivered a rushed performance at 2008 BC ISSF Championships

The great thing about going out of town for a competition is I tend to leave 'stuff' behind once that airplane takes off or I've driven out of town. 'Stuff' like work schedules, meetings, errands etc. With the competition being a local one yesterday and my schedule the way it was I didn't leave 'stuff' behind, it was another hectic business day and not a competition day.

I got to the competition in the late afternoon and there was enough time to shoot before the BBQ. Without really thinking about it for too long it seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately this wasn't a good idea and broke a lot of my regular competition habits.

It's a good idea to get a practice session the day before (if possible) to get a feel for the range. Knowing the conditions of the range helps with preparations.

Unfortunately for me, I rushed there, I rushed in, I rushed to start my match, and I rushed through all my shots (549/600) -- what I should have done is practiced that day and gone early to shoot the next morning. I would have known that the 10M range was outdoor, that the lighting changes, how the target system worked, and what the temperature was like. I think the last time I shot at that range was in the mid 90s.

Knowing the conditions and environment helps with packing the right tools and equipment (ie: a jacket if it's cold) and preparing mentally. I think this actually applies to almost anything in life.

This competition has reinforced that for me and I intend to make sure I get a practice session in the day before at Nationals in Calgary next month.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Registered for 2008 Canadian National Championships

This week I received confirmation of my registration for the 2008 Canadian National Pistol Championships. Registration can be done online at

registration for 2008 nationals
is available at

There was also a change this week regarding the venue and the available practice times. If you're planning to attend it would be a good idea to get registered early:



    1910 – 39 AVE. N.E. – CALGARY, T2E 7Y9


Less than 2 weeks until the 2008 BC Handgun Championships -- I'm currently scheduled to shoot 10M and 50M pistol events.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Registered for the 2008 BC ISSF Pistol Championships

I'll be attending the 2008 BC ISSF Pistol Championships at the end of May. I'm waiting to see if my PAL (Possession and Acquisition Licence) gets sent to me in time so I can compete in the 50M Pistol and Standard Pistol events, both events are shot using .22 calibre pistols. Over the next few weeks I'll be making updates about my training for this competition as well as for Nationals in July.

Registration forms for the 2008 BC ISSF Pistol Championships are online now at the BC Target Sports Association website. The event will be held in North Vancouver at Pacific Shooters.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Completed - Canadian Restricted Firearms Safety Course

What a busy week! I picked up my new Canadian Passport last Tuesday and just completed my Non-Restricted and Restricted Firearms Safety Courses this week.

Getting my passport I thought might be a long process, but it was in my hands in less than 2 weeks and I waited no more than 20 minutes at the passport office. I remember hearing stories from 2007 of people waiting for hours and then waiting for weeks. There doesn't seem to be much of a wait if you complete all the paperwork online before you go to the office to drop it off... in fact I think I was even given a different ticket number because everything was filled in electronically and printed from online.

Non-Restricted and Restricted Firearms Course Material
non-restricted and restricted course books,
plus exam results and PAL paperwork

A special thanks to Albert Wood who is a certified instructor / examiner of firearm safety in British Columbia. His courses are enjoyable and filled with lots of great stories to keep the class engaged. You're also able to get your hands on disabled firearms to see how they work, everything from rifles, shotguns, to 9mm handguns. I'll post up dates for the next round of courses he'll be putting on. If you're interested in taking the course and are near Vancouver please let me know and I can forward your information.

Now that I have completed and passed the safety courses I must submit all my paperwork in to the police to get my PAL (Possession and Acquisition Licence). I'm hoping that all of this can happen before May 30 as that is when the BC Handgun Championships are and I'd like to shoot Olympic 50M Pistol there in preparation for Nationals. All this paperwork to compete in an IOC supported sport! :)

Apart from working a lot and getting all this paperwork in order I've been down to training only 1 night a week, I'll be ramping that up in May and June as the 2008 Canadian Nationals are July 12 - 20 and take place in Calgary, Alberta.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Tracking progress to achieve high performance

In a recent post I mentioned about my progress since last year and I thought it would be a good exercise to show it visually. In the last 10 months since returning to the sport I've managed to get myself back to where I was as a junior in the mid 90s when I was a National Junior champion to shooting the best I ever have.

In the chart below are various shooting events I've attended since my first competition back in May 2007. Each competition had 1 to 3 matches which I took the average of all scores shot during a particular competition. In total I have shot 12 matches at 6 different competitions in the last 10 months.

Al Harding's current performance tracking
There are 3 notable lines on the chart:

593 - The World Record
578 - The BC Provincial Record
563 - The Olympic Minimum Qualification Score (MQS details)

I've also added a trendline so I could see how I was doing over time. The last marker around the 570 mark is located around the time the Canadian Nationals in Calgary are. That's my goal.

I've got a long way to go before competing Internationally, but I'm happy with my progress and intend to keep doing my best to get better. Even though I've been shooting higher than the Olympic MQS lately it doesn't mean much (yet). It's 'good'... but great comes after 580. ;) My last score of 568 would only have put me tied for 51st at the European Championships held a few weeks ago. Need more practice! :)

I also want to say a massive Thank You to all the new subscribers and readers of my blog. Thanks!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Day 2 - 2008 BC Airgun Championships Results - new personal best!

A great day of shooting today with a lot of high scores. I shot a new personal best of 568/600. Tyler Johnson and Edmond Lee both shot 569/600 and Dorothy Ludwig shot a new personal best also at 387/400 which is probably the highest score shot at the match when calculated by percentage. Nice!

Al Harding collects his medal
1st in master class and new personal best

Edmond Lee was the overall Match Winner for men with a total of 1716/1800 (569,578,569). Tyler Johnson was the top male Junior with a total of 1698/1800 (560,569,569). I was 1st in the Master class with a total of 1694/1800 (564,562,568).

The results for both rifle and pistol can be found here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Day 1 - 2008 BC Airgun Championships

Just a quick update...

The BC Airgun Championships consist of 3 matches, 2 shot on Saturday and 1 on Sunday. This morning I shot my highest since returning to the sport last May.. a 564/600 followed by a 562/600 this afternoon. If you've been following my blog and my progress since last year you'll notice my scores are slowly moving up.

I believe I'm currently in 3rd -- Two shooters who I really respect; Edmond Lee and Tyler Johnson both shot personal bests today. Impressive. Edmond shot a 578 which ties the BC record set in 2000 by Arno Baron and Tyler Johnson, still a junior shooter, shot a 569 which is a new BC Junior record. Tyler unofficially beat my BC Junior record (566/600 set in 1993) last November.

The aggregate score (out of a possible 1200 so far) for the 3 of us from today:

Edmond Lee - 1147 (569 + 578)
Tyler Johnson - 1129 (560 + 569)
Al Harding - 1126 (564 + 562)

More to come tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2008 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix Results

Well I'm sitting at the airport about to fly back to Vancouver. I was going to drive to Niagara Falls but it's snowing and visibility is limited so I came out to the airport early.

I stayed in downtown Toronto last night and checked out some of what the city has to offer. What a great city! I walked around downtown with a friend of mine. At night the CN Tower lights up in an array of colours.

CN Tower at night
1815 ft of LED light awesomeness

The results for the 2008 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix can be found here.

The BC Airgun Championships are this coming weekend in Richmond, BC. The competition will consist of 3 matches with the winner determined by aggregate score.

Next stop Vancouver...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Canadian Airgun Grand Prix - Day 3

Day 3 of the 2008 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix...

This second match was a bit of a struggle after the 1st 10 shots. I probably should have waited to try my new Sauer shoes because it seemed like I could not get into a good groove at all. I probably went through about 35 sighting shots and used up a lot of time but once I started I shot a 96 for my 1st string of 10 shots. I ended up with a 555 for my 2nd match. The combined score put me in 11th in a field of approximately 75 male pistol shooters including athletes from Trinidad & Tobago, India, and the USA.

After the match, I ventured out with local friends to get a small tour of Toronto. I went and checked out the CN Tower and got to see where all the big sports facilities were - Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre.

CN Tower
the world's tallest freestanding structure on land from 1975
until the Burj Dubai surpassed it in 2007

Toronto from 1465 ft Skypod level
toronto from 1465 ft skypod level

Rogers Centre - formerly known as SkyDome
when the roof is open you could watch baseball games

I'm venturing down to the Award Ceremonies in a few minutes and will probably update again tomorrow with complete results.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Canadian Airgun Grand Prix - Day 2

Day 2 of the 2008 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix...

My first round of shooting is complete and I finished the day with a 558 / 600. A decent score but under where I'd like to be (isn't that always the case? :)). I went in to today having slept great the night before and ate a good well rounded breakfast with lots of fruit.

I only shot 5 sighter shots which is less than what I usually do but everything felt 'on' so I started my first competition target right away. Part way through the match the clock mounted on the wall I was using to keep track of my time actually fell off the wall and broke on the ground. I had 20 shots left and knew I had lots of time so despite not being able to easily see a clock I didn't let time bother me. Take a deep breath. Take the shot. 10. Repeat.

After the competition was over I took a look at all the toys Cibles Canada Targets and other vendors had for sale. I purchased a pair of Sauer pistol shooting shoes. These are probably some of the flattest shoes I've ever seen.

Al Harding shocked at the awesome flatness of his new Sauers
shocked at the awesome flatness of sauer

I took them to the equipment check to make sure It was okay to swap shoes and use these rather than my regular sneakers I usually wear. Checked and ready. I'll be trying them out during tomorrow's match.

I'm currently hovering around 10th place. The top 8 men and women will do a Finals match tomorrow afternoon with another 10 shots scored to the decimal point. There are several countries here; mostly Canadian and American teams but also shooters from Trinidad & Tobago, and India. Roger Daniel (Trinidad and Tobago) is currently in 1st place having shot a 576 / 600.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Canadian Airgun Grand Prix - Day 1

Day 1 of the 2008 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix...

The nice thing about this event is it takes place right in the hotel. They take over the conference rooms and have a good setup for registration, equipment check, scoring room etc.

I checked in and got my registration package and had my equipment pass the gun check and went over to the main area to do some practicing.

Air rifle shooter practices
air rifle shooter practicing

During practice time I like to get a feel for the range; how the lighting is in the room, how the targets look, how the target carriers operate, where the washrooms are. Details.

Practice went well with about 30 shots taken. I don't really have a set number of shots I take during practice, it is more a case of knowing when things just feel right. The gun is sighted in and shots are going where you expect them to. No need to over do it.

My first match is tomorrow morning at 10:15 am EST and I'll post up results after.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New season, new look... a shiny new

A few weeks ago I was working in Photoshop to come up with a better presentation for my shooting blog. I had a bit of extra time tonight before going to practice and wanted to get something new up before I left. Let me know what you think:

new look for

Now I have this new look just in time for the Canadian Airgun Grand Prix which I will be updating daily from.

I fly out tomorrow morning and have practice and registration on Friday and then shoot the 1st of two matches on Saturday morning.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Volunteer Opportunities - Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Living in Vancouver and knowing the Olympics are coming to the city in a couple years is pretty cool. On February 12th, the Volunteer Opportunities website is going live so you can sign up for some 25,000 jobs.

...from the Vancouver Province:

    "We have a shift of people making sure that the flame doesn't go out," said Donna Wilson, 2010's boss of human resources. "We fondly know of them as 'flamewatchers.' "

I'm going to submit an application maybe I'll get to be a flame watcher! :)

The process for becoming a volunteer sounds lengthy with phone screens and a 5 hour security screening and training session. You will be able to apply at

I leave for Toronto next week and will be blogging daily once there.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

2008 B.C. Airgun Championships - February 29 - March 2

The Joe Elkin Memorial - 2008 BC Airgun Championships are being held once again in Richmond, BC on February 29 - March 2nd. The BC Target Sports Association website has been updated with PDF downloads of the Regulations and Registration forms.

That will be an extremely busy week for me as I'll be in Toronto from February 21 - 26 and then will only have a couple days before the BC Airgun Championships.

Less than 4 weeks to go until the Canadian Airgun Grand Prix. Exciting! :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Ban handguns says Toronto mayor"... uuuhhh yeah okay.

From : National Post

"Mayor David Miller called for a total ban on handgun ownership after the fatal shooting this weekend of a passer-by outside a club on one of the busiest stretches of Yonge Street."

I haven't blogged about the negative perception handguns have by some people. It's truly unfortunate how tragic some violent crimes are. It's also unfortunate that more often than not a gun is used during the crime. If all guns were banned some other weapon would be used. It won't prevent crime, it would just reduce crime with handguns, something else would take it's place. Tasers? I welcome any comments about where you stand on this issue.

I worry about what all the negative news means for my sport. I primarily compete with air pistols but would like to be competing in the 50m pistol events this coming year. Both are Olympic events. Hopefully getting all of my paperwork in order won't be difficult.

Now for the good news...

My hotel and flight are all booked and confirmed. I'll be in Toronto February 21 - 26, 2008. I'm looking forward to this match, being an Olympic year I suspect a lot of national teams from other countries will be attending. The event has room for 300 competitors so it is definitely going to be interesting to see how I do.

If you're going to the Canadian Airgun Grand Prix next month (especially anyone from British Columbia) let me know (email me: al [ @ ], I want to make sure we get our teams registered and to see if we can get a BC Team dinner or something going one night.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2008 is MY year... everyone's actually!

Happy New Year!

Well I was going to spend some time over the Holidays to clean up my blog a bit but instead I got sidetracked building a little Facebook application which I just finished the first version of tonight. It's called 2008 is MY year and lets you enter goals for 2008 and track your progress to achieving them. The nice thing is starts to show you where you're investing your time which can lead to some clarity in your personal work / life balance.

I found myself keeping notes on Post-Its, note books, sometimes in text files on my PC or laptop but I needed something a bit more concrete to help me accomplish them. Now I've got them right in Facebook (and soon outside of Facebook). If you have a Facebook account do me a favour and try it out and offer up any feedback you can. Thanks!

As for shooting... vacation is over. I'm back in training mode and getting ready for my 1st big match of the year -- The 2008 Canadian Airgun Grand Prix next month in Toronto.

Wishing everyone all the best this year! This is YOUR year! Go!