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Marksman Simmons achieves master status

With four B.C. qualifiers under his ammo-laden belt this season, Whitehorse pistol shooter John Simmons has reached master status.

With four B.C. qualifiers under his ammo-laden belt this season, Whitehorse pistol shooter John Simmons has reached master status.

Shooting in his third and fourth International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) B.C. qualifiers of the season, Simmons took fifth and then second a little over a week ago in Pitt Meadows, B.C.

His successes at the qualifiers moved the handgun shooter from the A division into the masters division of IPSC, which measures speed, power and accuracy as competitors move through an obstacle course.

“I was a little shocked,” said Simmons. “I started out in B division this year and four qualifiers later I’m a master.”

The six-time Yukon steel-shooting champion opened the season with second-place finishes in two other B.C. qualifiers in Terrace at the start of May. Those results moved him into the A division.

“This year I must be doing something right,” said Simmons. “I don’t know if I’m shooting better, understanding how to shoot the stages better, or where I’m cutting time ... Starting this year, it was pretty much instant. It’s a huge jump.

“I don’t think my shooting, (in terms of) accuracy, is a lot different. I think I’m just picking up speed on how fast I can do it.”

His third second-place finish is more impressive than the two from Terrace, part of IPSC B.C.‘s northern division.

Competition was a lot tougher in Pitt Meadows, part of IPSC’s southern division.

“I wanted to shoot in the southern division because there’s a huge amount of shooters there, and the southern division is where the majority of the top shooters in B.C. are,” said Simmons. “So I decided to go into the southern division to see how I fared there.”

There is only one division higher than the master division: the grandmaster division. It’s an exclusive club.

“There’s maybe a dozen grandmasters in Canada,” said Simmons. “It’s really hard to do.”

Up next for Simmons is the Alaska Speed Shooting Championship at the end of June, a competition in which he’s picked up the nickname, The Canadian.

At the Alaska championships last year, Simmons took first place in the open division and a second in the shoot-off division, the reverse of his results the previous year.

This year should be a little more difficult.

“There’s going to be a pro shooter (Mike Seeklander) there this year,” said Simmons. “He’s going to be teaching a course afterward, so he came up early to shoot in the championship.”

Following Alaska, Simmons will set his sights on the IPSC Canadian National Championships and then the IPSC B.C. Provincial Championships.

A strong performance at the nationals, in which he finished 25th in the open category last year, could lead to a trip to the IPSC World Championships.

“I absolutely have to do well,” said Simmons. “I’m trying to secure a slot to go to the worlds and there are only 60 slots available in Canada. They are going to pick the top guys to fill those slots and I want in.”

The next world championship, which is a triennial event, will take place 2014 in Florida and will be the first to be held in North America.

Contact Tom Patrick at