World Field Target Competition Isfjorden, Norway
World Field Target Competition
August 16th – 19th 2012
There are few words that would fully describe the absolutely incredible experience we had while attending the World Field Target Competition in Isfjorden, Norway, August 16th to 19th 2012. With little hope of keeping this one brief, I want to back up with a few comments based on observations that I made after attending the Canadian FT Nationals held in Port Colborne, Ontario this past July. First of all, I was absolutely blown away by the warm reception that I received in Port Colborne. Initially, I was a bundle of nerves attending an event with a group of complete strangers (not to mention seasoned and very accomplished shooters). My “jitters” were very short-lived however as I have never met a more welcoming and fun group of people. Secondly, I was amazed at the help and advice that I received during the competition. I left Port Colborne with a great deal more knowledge than I showed up with and this came from individuals who I was in direct competition with! Finally, I realized that I was honored to be in the company of a very diverse group of people from all walks of life, young and old(ish) with one common interest; the sport of Field Target. At the time, I thought this was all sort of an “Ontario thing”. I returned to Alberta with some great memories and plans to attend future events if for nothing else, to re-connect with some of the great people I had met.
You might be asking yourself, “What has this got to do with the Worlds in Norway?” Well, my family and I showed up in Isfjorden, Norway with very similar feelings to that which I had previously experienced in Port Colborne. We were very nervous to be attending a World FT Competition with a group of complete strangers and we wondered if our attendance would be viewed with some degree of disdain as we were “newbie’s” competing against some of the best shooters in the world. We could not have been further from the truth. Similar to my experience in Port Colborne, we were immediately made to feel welcome, only this time we were greeted enthusiastically by teams and individuals from all over the world! It was an incredible feeling. Once again, there was a great deal of sharing of knowledge and very helpful tips for improving our skills. One of my favorite moments was a solid lesson I received (from a new friend from Portugal) on the art of a slow and steady trigger pull. When I concentrated on his instructions I actually made some pretty nice shots! With no less than 24 countries being represented at this event, you cannot imagine how much fun it was to shoot with Thomas from Slovakia or share a meal with Team South Africa! What I now realize is that Field Target is somehow unique in the fact that even on a global scale we all share a common interest and enthusiasm for this sport that transcends our competitive nature and makes us first and foremost, friends. Is it any wonder that we are all hooked?
In the last few years, Canada has been represented at the World’s by one sole competitor, my brother George Harde. Since most countries try to send a team of eight shooters, George has stood out at past events as the “lone Canadian” and over the years has gained a degree of notoriety and popularity that was immediately evident. This year, Canada had a team of four “Springer’s” which included George, two of my children; Nicole (15) and Brian (17) and me. Also travelling with us was my daughter Laura (19) who came as our cheerleader and number one fan. We met up with George in Andalsnes, Norway several days before the competition began and could not have been met with a warmer reception. Honestly, the Norwegians are the most gracious and welcoming hosts! Our time leading up to the competition was fully occupied with meeting individuals from all over the world and for George it was a chance to reunite with old friends. This all took place in the spectacular setting of a Norwegian Fjord and we were surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen.
Day One of the competition came as a surprise as the course was like nothing I had ever experienced or imagined. Although considered fairly easy by most of the competitors I was impressed by the extreme angles we were shooting at as well as the fact that the majority of shots were set up beyond 45 yards and with smaller kill zones than I had seen previously. Added to this was the challenge of shooting on uneven ground with tree roots popping up in the most inconvenient places and for me the horror of red ants on the occasional lane! I think it was pretty challenging for at least three of the members of Team Canada but seriously, so much fun! At the end of the day we all grumbled about our scores knowing that we should have made more of our shots while enjoying a cold beer back at the hotel. I should mention that my family had the advantage over all other shooters at this event since we had very few expectations regarding our performance and a great deal of determination to enjoy the experience regardless of our results. As more and more shooters returned from the range, I realized that universally, every shooter falls short of their own expectations and wonders why they missed some of their shots. At the end of the day we all looked forward to another chance at the course although we were promised that it would be much more challenging!
As it turns out, the course on day two was indeed a great deal more difficult with more challenging placement of the targets, while the elements also played some havoc with our results. We shot across and into ravines with wind gusts that were quite difficult to predict since the wind might blow in one direction from our positions but did some weird shifting in the middle of the ravine and often changed direction on the other side. The targets were placed at more difficult angles and with an increased number of long distance shots. Each of our scores dropped from the previous day however this proved to be true for most of the competitors and was a reflection of the increasingly difficult course. We were “forced” once again to sit down with a cold beer back at the hotel surrounded by our new friends and had a good old “rehashing” of the day and shots made/lost.
As promised, day three was by far the most difficult course and again we struggled against the elements. Most aggravating was shooting into the sun and at times it was extremely difficult to even acquire the target! With the combination of nerves and a ticking clock I completely forgot to power down my scope and missed a number of shots simply because I timed out looking for my target. George had what we all considered a rather brilliant day of shooting. He knew his scores had fallen after a disappointing finish on day two and entered the final day with a great deal of determination. As usual, we had more fun than we deserved and went back to the hotel at the end of the day with a whole new appreciation for the level of difficulty of Field Target.
We were all comparing scores in the afternoon and became confident that George had placed somewhere in the top 10. This was reason to celebrate however we practiced restraint as we waited somewhat anxiously to see whether or not there would be a shoot out for positions. That evening we attended the closing banquet and witnessed a spread of food that cannot be compared to anything you might imagine. Suffice it to say that we had a great deal of difficulty standing by the end of the meal and we all properly and thoroughly enjoyed the culinary experience. At the end of the day, George placed a solid 6th place in the spring piston division and was pretty happy with his results given the stiff competition. To our shock and amazement Team Canada earned third place spring piston and as we received our trophies we were greeted with a great deal of cheers and applause. This was an unexpected and quite thrilling moment for all of us. Again we were surprised by my third place position for woman’s spring piston division and I actually got to climb onto a podium! Finally, and again coming as a complete surprise, George was honored with third place veteran so he found himself up on the podium and receiving another trophy. Thoroughly fed and “trophied up”, it was the perfect ending to a marvelous week!
I cannot close without a few additional comments and observations. What stands out most in my mind is the fact that there is really only one FT club in Norway. This core group of six individuals (and an additional 3 “out of towners”) managed to pull off the organization and hosting of the WFTF World’s singlehandedly. These individuals worked almost around the clock during the competition, were themselves competing, and yet still managed to smile at the end of the day. There is no way to fully comprehend how stressful this may have been but I salute their efforts and the fact that they were willing to take on an event of this magnitude. The Norwegians will always hold a very special place in the hearts of Team Canada 2012! I have tried to keep this report focused on Field Target and in doing so have left out so much of the “flavor” of the Norway experience. Imagine shooting on what I am convinced is the most beautiful and interesting FT course in the world, surrounded by gentle mountains and unbelievably crisp, clean air. In the background you hear the odd peal of laughter (guilty) and what I suspect may have been the occasional swear word spoken in perhaps 24 different languages! Once again standing on Canadian soil, we are all feeling incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity. Huge thanks to Team Norway!
Final thanks goes to our Team Canada Sponsor; THE GUN ROOM at Shooter’s Choice, Expressway Ford Lincoln and Hanna Chiropractic Clinic. We truly appreciate your generosity which made this experience possible. On behalf of Team Canada 2012, thank you so much for interest, encouragement and support!