Fifteen young athletes took aim at a trip to the Saskatchewan Winter Games Saturday.
© Times-Herald photo by Matthew Gourlie
Keisha Anakaer, left, Talia Park and Kyla English take aim at their targets during the Saskatchewan Winter Games air pistol South district trials Saturday.
The South Sask. Wildlife Association gun range hosted the Saskatchewan Winter Games South district trials in Moose Jaw as at least 10 athletes earned the right to compete in Prince Albert this February.
“For all but two of the competitors, this was their first competition. They did very well,” said Lisa Borgerson who is the South West district coach and is also the provincial team coach for the Sask Handgun team.
The trials featured competitors from the four southern districts who squared off to try to earn a place on their district team. The top two male and female athletes from each district qualified for the Winter Games.
The North district trials were held Sunday. The athletes who failed to make their district team Saturday may be able to fill a vacant spot in another district depending on the results from Saskatoon and how their scores stack up.
In the local South West district, Joel Croissant posted the highest male score of the competition with 504 points. He and Chase Martin (452) qualified for the Games.
South West’s Talia Park had the top female score of 278 points as she and Rylee Martin (169) earned their district spots.
Thayne Winder was third amongst South West males and Keisha Anakaer and Mackinlee Winder are also alternates on the South West team awaiting other results.
Mack Kohl (470) and Nicholas Knoll (308) were the male winners from the South East, while Lauren Kohl (260) and Addrianna Simon (253) were their female representatives.
Colton Brochu (240) and Kate Schmidt (265) from Regina were their district’s only competitors. There were no competitors from Parkland Valley.
The athletes were all between the ages of 11 and 17.
Being able to attend a multi-sport games is a rare opportunity and air pistol’s inclusion in the Games helps promote the sport. Saskatchewan will be sending two male and two female athletes to the Canada Winter Games in Prince George next year and the provincial Games will be a good experience for the athletes who move on to the national stage.
Air pistol is also an event at the Summer Olympics. Despite it’s relatively low profile, there are a lot of opportunities for those who excel in it.
“It doesn’t stop at the Canada Games. There’s also the University Games and it goes on from there. Shooting is a lifelong sport,” said Borgerson.
Competitors shoot one-handed from a standing position 10-metres away from their target. The equipment is provided to the athletes and because of the guns’ long barrels, their pellets only shoot 500 feet-per-second. That allows the competitors to take part without first needing to get a firearms license to participate.
“Because it is such a long barrel, it doesn’t travel as fast and there is some room for error. That’s where we like to start with them and teach technique and then have them move on to bigger guns,” said Borgerson. “It’s a very mental game as well.”
The girls shoot 40 shots in an hour and the boys shoot 60 shots in an 1:15. The athletes take a little over a minute per shot. Each target has a total of 10 in the middle with scoring rings surrounding it decreasing in points. Competitors take two shots taken at each target. The score from each shot is tallied for a total.
The Sask Handgun Association typically holds six competitions a year for competitors that range from the young competitors that took part Saturday to seniors who are in their 60s and 70s.
“We’re a pretty small community,” said Borgerson. “It’s good camaraderie.”