Whitehorse shooter pegs off 25th at nationals

John Simmons is looking at buying a new gun, one slightly more suited to International Practical Shooting Confederation events. "The gun I shoot is actually made for speed steel shooting, not IPSC, so I'm at a little bit of a disadvantage shooting that in the open division.

John Simmons is looking at buying a new gun, one slightly more suited to International Practical Shooting Confederation events.

“The gun I shoot is actually made for speed steel shooting, not IPSC, so I’m at a little bit of a disadvantage shooting that in the open division,” he said. “It’s an open gun, but it’s built a little more specifically for speed steel shooting. Some of these guys are shooting some pretty high tech stuff that’s a little bit better for IPSC.”

RELATED:Watch video of John Simmons competing in Terrace, BC.

However, Simmon’s gun was on aim enough to put the Whitehorse shooter into the top half of his division at the 2011 IPSC Canadian National Championships over the weekend in Kingston, Ontario.

Competing in the open category, Simmons shot his way to 25th out of more than 65 of the country’s best. (Practical shooting is a timed event like speed shooting, but the marksman is required to move about obstacles to reach targets.) Simmons was the only Yukoner at the championships that hosted about 250 shooters.

“After shooting and seeing some of these guys, I thought, ‘I’m going to be way down there.’ I thought I’d be way down on the ladder,” said Simmons. “These guys have been doing this for years and years.

“Coming in 25th, I was actually pretty shocked.”

Breaking into the top-30 was no simple feat. Seven provinces entered “gold teams” of their top four practical shooters, plus there were two professional shooters from the US and Czech Republic.

“And there were a whole bunch of other guys, high ranked guys,” said Simmons. “These are good shooters. You don’t get to the nationals for nothing.

“I’m pretty impressed. When the results were out, and I was in the top 25, there were a lot of people that were surprised.”

Making his results all the more impressive is that the weekend’s nationals was just his sixth IPSC competition. While Simmons has won numerous Yukon championships for speed shooting, he is just in his second season of competing Outside the territory.

“Some of these guys get to shoot this kind of stuff every second weekend in southern Canada. I’m like a few times a year,” said Simmons. “It was a learning experience. I did really well on some stages … and some other stages I really tanked. On one of the stages I really tanked, I pushed beyond my abilities, I thought I could do it a certain way and I didn’t end up doing it. I had a couple misses on targets – that really costs you when you have a miss.”

While Simmons might have been a bit of an unknown in Kingston, Alaskan shooters know him well.

At the last two Alaska Speed Shooting Championships near Fairbanks, Simmons left his American counterparts dreading a head-to-head shoot-off with “the Canadian,” as he was often called.

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

At an IPSC qualifier event in Terrace, BC, in April, Simmons grabbed second place in the open class.

Simmons will be back competing on the range at the IPSCBC Provincials, BC’s championships, over the Labour Day weekend in Vancouver.

“I can tell you one thing, when people find out you’re from the Yukon, they are definitely interested in talking to you,” said Simmons. “They were shocked I’d come all the way from the Yukon to shoot.

“You get a few extra questions when people are talking to you.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com