Veni Vedi Veci - we came, we saw, we conquered...
Well maybe not so much the conquered part but we did go and we did see a lot more than we expected! The summer of 2018 was the first time since the 1970’s Nova Scotia had a team attend the International Shooting Sports Federation, the governing body for the Olympic Shooting Sports, National Pistol Championships at the Lou Anderson Shooting Center in Cooke’s Town Ontario. Michael (Mike) Kelly, Randall Nelson, Joe MacHoll, Henry (Andy) Maxwell, and Robert (Bob) Selig, seasoned and medaled competitors on the Provincial Pistol Shooting circuit were that team. We made the journey from small town Nova Scotia to represent the Province against almost 100 of the best shooters in Canada has to offer and we did way better than any one of us expected!
It all started as a conversation in 2017 at the PPC Provincial Shooting Championships. This annual event, hosted by NSRA, is perhaps the most attended pistol shooting championship event in Atlantic Canada. Here shooters from various pistol disciplines attend, all with aspirations of carrying that colossal trophy, and the Title that comes with it, back to their home club. With such a broad spectrum of shooters the conversations always turns towards the shooting sports but that year there was a lot of discussion as to why, with so many great pistol shooters, Canada, and in particular Nova Scotia, isn’t more directly involved with the well respected Olympic Shooting Sports. And so a few simple conversations, forged during the adrenalin fueled spirit of the PPC Championships turned into an idea. The idea was to start offering specific ISSF matches provincially and having the top provincial finishers attend the national event. Bob Selig (VP of SFNS) took the lead changing over some of the NSRA Matches to fall within the parameters of the ISSF guidelines and also offering new matches and opening them up to other clubs in the province. The Metro Rifle and Pistol Cub followed suit offering ISSF competitions and provided free training for any of its members interested in the competitions. The goal was for all of the ISSF Pistol disciplines to have at least one Provincial Championship per year to encourage the development of the ISSF sports. It proved more successful than anticipated and within a year a team had evolved to compete at the national level; and compete we did!
Nova Scotia Team members competed in all 6 of the ISSF Men’s Pistol disciplines with most team members competing in 4 or 5 out of the 6 events. There were multiple team members in multiple events finishing among the top 10 in Canada with some doing significantly better. Specifically ‘Eagle Eye’ Randall took home the Gold Medals in the veterans divisions of both Standard and Centerfire Pistol! Not to be outdone, Bob smoked through the Rapid Fire Match like he was inspired by Deadshot, taking home the Gold Medal in the veterans division!
The boys were on fire! The ‘Hawkeyed’ Nova Scotia Free Pistol Team (Joe, Andy, and Bob) were also on their ‘A’ game for sure. They fought a hard battle, the day was one of the hottest on record, the competition was fierce, it was neck and neck with 2 other teams until the final shots went down range! The team, showing the concentration of Zen Masters emerged victorious! The Nova Scotia Free Pistol Team are now the number one Free Pistol Team in Canada! We got the Gold!!! And our Standard Pistol Team, Mike, Randall and Andy, they were not to be outdone! With the focus of a bear in a beehive, their concentration never wavered as they went shot for shot with the best teams in the country! Alas, an errant final shot stole the Gold and the team had to settle for taking home the silver medals in the team event. I guess being only ‘second best’ in Canada will have to do... Until Next Year...
In the 10m Air Pistol Team Event, an event requiring both a male and female team member Nova Scotia narrowly missed Bronze ending up in 4th place overall in Canada. This is a new sport and will make its Olympic debut in Toyoko in 2020. Luckily Toronto Police Detective Lori Kronenburg of Toronto had a court case delayed allowing her time to shoot the match. She joined up with the Mike to enter a team into the event. A big thanks goes out to Lori for allowing NS to compete in the event!
With regards to thanks, thoughtful recognition goes out to the multi-provincial volunteers that made it possible for a National competition to materialize. Bernie Harrison and his ever vigilant and impressive team, Ron Morales, Richard Horne, Dennis Pyle, Pat Vamplew, Avianna Chao to name just a few who worked countless hours long before, and after the competition to ensure a World Class Event. These people did an outstanding job and cannot receive higher praise. Without volunteers like them, the organized shooting sports would suffer a certain death in Canada; I hold them in the highest regard.
In summation, the Nova Scotia Pistol Team did very well and had an enjoyable week. We shot well, ate well, and consumed a few beverages with old friends all the while making new friends. The atmosphere was collegial and we learned more specifics on shooting talking to the high performance athletes’ during our week than we have individually over years of shooting. Where else do you get to ask Olympic and National Team shooters sport specific advice on components like stance or trigger control? And get answers from established shooters who have moved past your level of shooting and shoot as well as you would like to shoot! That was an invaluable component of the trip! The high performance athletes were more than willing to help us newbie’s and for that, we are in their debt! Avianna spend hours answering questions I have had for years on specifics in different events. Avianna won a Gold Medal for Canada in the 2007 Pam am Games securing Canada a quota spot in the 2008 Olympic Games which she attended. When someone with her credentials and experience gives advice on improving shooting, listen! There was also a lot of discussion amongst the team on how best to implement new matches and an ISSF circuit in Nova Scotia. I have the feeling the ISSF disciplines will be growing in Nova Scotia in the future and I for one will be glad to see it happen! The more lead down range the better!