It wasn’t the Pan Am Games or the Olympics, but in a world-class multi-sport competition in Fairfax, West Virginia last week, Canada finished on the podium in the final medal count.
Coming in second out of approximately 70 countries at the 2015 World Police and Fire Games was Canada, finishing with 429 medals and six of those were won by two of Prince Rupert’s own fire rescue heroes.
Retired fire fighter Fred Hutchings and current deputy fire chief Jeff Beckwith took home three medals each in archery and were among the only Canadian archers to land on the podium.
“There were maybe 12 archers from Canada. Most of them were from Quebec, a couple from the Vancouver area and getting six medals to start with out of the northwest was pretty good,” said Hutchings last week.
“We did really well [in] representing Rupert. I think we did more than our fair share … but Canadians as a whole did very well. It seemed like we always had at least [someone] on the podium,” added Beckwith.
Hutchings, a veteran of a few national and international competitions in archery, competing at the BC Seniors Games in the past and the World Police and Fire Games in 2009 when it was held in Burnaby, competed in the men’s 50-plus field, target and 3D round events and won a gold medal and two silvers.
Beckwith, competing in the 18-plus category, grabbed silver in the 40-60 metre target event, bronze in the field and another bronze in the 3D event (shooting at foam animal targets). Beckwith’s third-place finish in 3D was the only non-American top-five finish in that category.
“We were shooting [with] longbows, so we had no sights [on the bow] … We had to shoot wood arrows, which is a real challenge, so we took our own equipment, which by the way, when it went through customs proved to be interesting,” Hutchings said.
“It was all in the woods [or open field] in extreme terrain – uphills, downhills, gulleys. There were very few flat shots, like you might see around here. It was a very hilly countryside.”
While the landscape and sheer distance of the targets proved to be a challenge, it was more the climate that got to the two North Coast participants.
“[It was] extremely hot and muggy, sticky and humid. Your clothing is just sticking to you,” said Hutchings.
“It was crazy. When we got rain, it would get the ground wet, but when you’re walking through the woods, doing two of the events and then the heat came out, it started to evaporate all the rain. But it was held in this canopy and it just became a sauna box and you started dripping like crazy,” said Beckwith.
On their off-time between the eight days they spent in West Virginia from June 28 to July 5, the two visited the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and enjoyed the sights that went along with it.
“They had the space shuttle and planes right from the history of flight to World War One to World War Two to the [US B-29] Enola Gay [aircraft] that dropped the atomic bomb in Hiroshima [in 1945],” said Beckwith.
Fittingly, though Hutchings’ first-choice for a bow had broken in a previous Terrace shoot, his backup longbow that he used to compete in the Games with, was given to him as a retirement gift from the Prince Rupert Fire Department, along with arrows and a quiver.
“Seniors’ Games is coming up later in August, I’m hoping to have [my other one] to go shoot with,” said the archer.
“I will definitely go again because it’s such a great experience” said Beckwith after the tourney ended.