NORDIC HERITAGE SPORT CLUB (NHSC) in Presque Isle, ME
In preparation for the 2016 World Cup, shooting range volunteers are busy getting the range in compliance with International Biathlon Union (IBU) standards. In September, IBU officials completed an inspection of the range. As part of the inspection several projects needed to be completed, the largest of which was to build a permanent wall behind the targets. The wall is to make sure that coaches have a clear view of the targets and no imperfections appear in their scopes. The wall, which is painted white, appears solid but has trap doors on each point that are opened when the athletes are training on paper targets and closed when the athletes are using metal targets. The wall is currently about one half completed.
Tim Vernon, Chief of Range for the 2016 event, was asked how the progress was coming along and commented that “our hope is to get [the wall] completed and painted prior to the cold temperatures setting in.”
Vernon also noted that another extensive project was “construct[ing] sixty paper target boards that are used to hang paper targets on the range so that the athlete can site his or her rifle in.”
The target boards are plywood and made to hang next to each metal target. 10 holes have been cut in the plywood with the idea that the paper target is placed such that the bullseye fits over the holes. The result is that the target board lasts significantly longer because now when an athlete shoots on the paper target the bullet goes through the hole in the plywood and out the back instead of making repetitive holes in the target board. Vernon says that right now, “the target [boards] are all painted and we have roughly twenty [boards] left to punch holes in”. In addition to the target board construction, the metal targets are also being improved to satisfy IBU requirements This process involves sanding and repainting all 30 metal targets. Currently all the targets are sanded and repainting will take place soon.
A third project that was initiated was changing the range colors. Vernon said they learned this past week that the range colors are changing from yellow and black to gold and blue. As a result, all of the range ramp numbers and soldiers(lane markers) must be changed to match the new colors.
Vernon was asked what he was most looking forward to about the event and said, “I am excited about the camaraderie that I have with the people who work on the range. Many of them have been volunteering for a number of events and I really enjoy seeing them all and working with them. I also enjoy seeing the spectators and the looks on their faces when the event is underway. There is no greater joy than that for me.”
Volunteering is something that Vernon has done for quite a few past events and he says “the most rewarding aspect of volunteering is the fact that you help and give back to your community and the Nordic Heritage Center. Volunteering is the closest you will ever get to the athletes in a competitive setting. To see them ski into the range, remove their gun and fire at a little target downrange after having skied at top speed is remarkable.”
Vernon also noted how unique it is to be able to help talented athletes from across the globe. “Many of them are unable to speak English, but we find ways to communicate. I recall being on the range during the last Jr. Worlds. At the end of the event, one of the Russian coaches who could speak English remarked to me that he and the other Russian coaches could not believe how welcome they felt. They could not believe that when one of their athletes won a medal, Americans would clap and yell and offer congratulations. They have always been told that Americans don’t like them. To show them otherwise is just heartwarming.”
Vernon summed up his volunteer experience by saying that “I get excited every time we have one of these events and [I] am proud to be a part of it. I know that we will all once again make Maine and America proud of us as we host the rest of the world.”
Visit: www.BiathlonMaine.com for more event details.