John Simmons shot up the standings as he shot up the targets over the weekend.
The Whitehorse handgun shooter placed fifth overall out of 66 shooters in the open division at the 2014 IPSC Canada Nationals at Pitt Meadows, B.C. in Metro Vancouver.
“I was pretty calm and collected for a change,” said Simmons. “I made one mistake, instead of multiple mistakes, which I’ve done in the past.
“Calming down, focusing more, focusing faster. Instead of shooting really fast, I slowed it down a little bit and made sure I got my good hits.”
In addition to producing his highest finish at the nationals, Simmons was the top master shooter, with four grandmasters ahead of him. His previous best finish was 17th last year.
“From 17th last year to fifth the next year, at a nationals, is pretty good. I’m pretty impressed with that,” said Simmons. “This year (I shot at) 95.39 per cent, so I was beaten by four per cent, which is very little between first and fifth. It was tight at the top.”
Simmons won three of the 16 stages, each with 100 per cent shooting accuracy, and placed third in two others at the International Practical Shooting Confederation competition, in which speed, power and accuracy are measured as competitors move through an obstacle course.
“I had one really bad (stage),” said Simmons. “For some reason I just couldn’t hit one last piece of steel. I emptied my gun at it and that cost me time, and because of that time, it just killed me on that stage. It was bad.”
Simmons’ fifth place finish is a great confidence booster for a pair of major competitions coming up.
Early this year Simmons received an invite to represent Canada at the IPSC World Shoot.
Simmons is one of only 60 Canadians selected for the triennial IPSC world championships to compete against shooters from about 80 countries.
The championship will be the first held in North America, scheduled to take place at the Universal Shooting Academy in Polk Country, Florida, this October.
“The worlds is going to be huge. I’ve never been to a worlds,” said Simmons. “Apparently it’s so big, they had to get more property to make a giant parking lot and will be shuttling shooters to the range from the parking lot.”
Up next he will take aim at another top spot at the IPSC B.C. Provincial Championships over the September long-weekend in Kelowna.
Simmons shot his way to a seventh place finish in the open division at the 2013 IPSC B.C. Provincial Championships last September, up from 13th the year before.
“I know they are going to be hard,” said Simmons. “The head guy for IPFC Kelowna at that club is Nick King, he’s the Canadian national champion. When he thinks up stages, he makes sure they are well thought out and he makes them hard. He’s not into the easy stuff.”
“If I do well at the (B.C.) provincials, I pretty much guarantee myself a spot on the Gold Team for next year’s nationals,” he added, referring to the squad of top Canadian shooters. “I’d like to make the Gold Team again.”
Needless to say, Simmons has been having a good year.
He placed first and second at a double-qualifier for the IPSC B.C. in Terrace, B.C., at the end of April.
He produced two first-place finishes at an IPSC B.C. double-qualifier in October, which, having taken place following the B.C. championship, is considered part of the 2014 season.
The six-time Yukon steel-shooting champion placed 22nd in 2012 and 25th in 2011 at the IPSC nationals.
“I need to practise more,” he added with a laugh. “I learned a couple things. I was slotted with some really top shooters: the open division national champion, the former open division national champion, a national steel shooting champion, then me and another master.
“Three of the guys on the squad beat me – it was a top squad, for sure, to be on. I saw a couple things, learned a couple things, they pointed out a couple things. So I do have things to practise now.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com