Whitehorse marksman on target at nationals

John Simmons was characteristically stoic when discussing his finish at the IPSC Canadian Nationals this week.

John Simmons was characteristically stoic when discussing his finish at the IPSC Canadian Nationals this week.

The Whitehorse handgun shooter placed 17th in the open division at the International Practical Shooting Confederation championships, a four-day competition that wrapped up August 4 in Dalhousie, New Brunswick.

“It’s pretty good,” said Simmons, unenthusiastically. “I always want to do better. I’m my own worst critic.”

It’s Simmons’ best finish at the IPSC competition in which speed, power and accuracy are measured as competitors move through an obstacle course. He placed 22nd last year and 25th in 2011.

If there is a trace of disappointment in his tone, there is a reason. Simmons might have finished as high as 12th if not for a quick and costly mistake. He took four penalties for crossing over a fault line while kneeling to fire through a low target. He fired four shots and was penalized for each.

“I took some heavy penalties on one stage and that really hurt my number,” said Simmons. “I would have been a fair bit up from that … That was painful mistake.”

Thanks to his performance at last year’s nationals, Simmons was invited to join B.C.‘s Gold Team in Dalhousie for the first time. Strategizing with some of the province’s top shooters was a definite advantage, he said.

“With that calibre of people around you, you get the advantage of getting to discuss stuff – how to do a stage, how to save time, how to look at things a little differently,” said Simmons. “It’s nothing but a benefit.”

The six-time Yukon steel-shooting champion placed fourth in the open handgun division and fifth overall at the Alaska Speed Shooting Championships near Fairbanks in June.

He placed first one day and second the next at an IPSC double-qualifier at the end of April in Terrace, B.C. He then came third and sixth at a bigger double-qualifier in the middle of May in Pitt Meadows, B.C.

Simmons also competed in his first United States Practical Shooting Association competition – the FAST and the Furious – in Fairbanks in early July. Despite some differences from IPSC, such as larger magazine capacities and different timing procedures, he still snagged third in the open division.

Up next Simmons will take aim at the IPSC B.C. Provincial Championships in Pitt Meadows next month. He placed 13th at last year’s provincials.

“I’m getting better, I’m definitely learning,” said Simmons. “It seems slow to me, but I keep moving up. At least I’m not stalled out or stopping.”

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