These shooters were of medal calibre

Robin Short
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Harnum and Taylor deliver bronze for Newfoundland and Labrador’s first podium finish at these Games

Jason Harnum (left) and Ben Taylor show off the bronze medals they won Monday in the men’s air rifle team competition at the 2011 Canada Winter Games. It’s the first medal performance of these Games for Newfoundland and Labrador. — Photo by Robin Short/The Telegram

Sackville, N.S. — The 1977 Newfoundland and Labrador shooting team, taking aim at home in the St. John’s Canada Summer Games, finished just out of the medals with a fourth-place showing.

One of the shooters on the squad that year was David Taylor.

Fast forward 34 years later and Taylor’s 18-year-old son, Ben, has one-upped the old man.

Ben Taylor of St. John’s and Mount Pearl’s Jason Harnum won Newfoundland’s first medal of the 2011 edition of the Canada Games, a bronze on the target shooting range Monday.

Things are a little different now than they were back in ’77. The elder Taylor and his teammates fired 22s from three different positions. Ben Taylor and Harnum placed third in men’s air rifle team competition (individual competition starts Wednesday).

Taylor and Harnum were only two points from first place Ontario with 1,128. Ontario and Saskatchewan actually tied with a new Games record 1,130 points, but Ontario was granted the gold based on what they call a countback in shooting.

“We put a lot of work into this one, a lot of practice,” said Harnum, 18, a marine engineering student at the Marine Institute.

We didn’t know what the outcome would be. We just put our all into it and this is the outcome. It’s pretty exciting.”

To prepare for the Games, the shooters attended a Grand Prix event in Toronto the past number of years, fired at the Memorial University shooting range four nights per week and trained in the gym two or three times a week. On top of that, they were also getting help from a mental trainer.

“This requires a lot more physical work than people think,” said Taylor, who is also 18 and hopes to study earth sciences at Memorial. “People build muscle to get quicker and faster, but we have to build muscle to try and slow ourselves down and be as steady as possible.

“As for the mental training, each evening we’d visualize what we had to do. If a major competition was coming up, we’d visualize the entire thing.

“A lot of stuff we did was based on the techniques (Memorial University’s) Bas Kavanagh did for Brad Gushue’s curling team.”

Entering the individual competition, both find themselves in good shape. Taylor is third overall, while Harnum sits in the sixth spot.

“I feel really good about today’s performance,” said Taylor, “but there’s always room for improvement. There are a few things I did today that I could do better.

“I can’t say where I’m going to finish because it comes down to so many factors, especially in shooting which is such a precision sport. You can have one bad moment and that can be it.

“But we’ve trained hard, and we trust all the preparation we’ve done.”

The medal is another highlight in an eventful couple of days for Taylor, who was Newfoundland and Labrador’s flag bearer in Saturday’s opening ceremonies.

“It’s been an absolute incredible experience,” he said of the Canada Winter Games. “There aren’t enough words to describe how phenomenal this experience has been.

“The opening ceremonies pretty much left me speechless the whole night. I did not know what to expect, and to walk out there with the flag (at the Halifax Metro Centre), I was blown away by the amount of people out there going crazy to see a bunch of athletes like us.”

Organizations: Canada Games, Marine Institute, Halifax Metro Centre

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Ontario Mount Pearl Saskatchewan Toronto

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