As a writer I’m often blessed with days of getting my hands on the latest greatest products. Occasionally that includes fabulous adventures. Last week I partook in both as I attended Swarovski Optik’s Hunting Summit.
The Hunting Summit is an event of which I’ve followed in the past as I’ve used the tried and true ‘Swaro” optics for years. I follow their social media with a fondness and last year became intrigued by the shares from the Hunting Summit — I never imagined that I’d be lucky enough to attend.
This year’s Summit took place in Italy, which is a country I’ve never had the chance to visit. After accepting the invitation I decided I’d better add a day to get acclimated to the time zone and to tour around. Flying into Florence is a breeze as the airport is on the small side, and grabbing a taxi proved to be no challenge at all.
After a nice siesta I decided to take a walk to take in some sights and to find a nice meal. Of course, I did just that. A refreshing lemonade and avocado sandwich hit the spot after a day of traveling across the Atlantic. I nosed around a bit after dinner, finding the square and enjoying some music. Before long I made my way back to my room as I wanted to get to bed at a decent hour and get on the Tuscany time schedule.
Hotel breakfast is always fabulous in Europe, nothing like what we avoid here in the states. I eyed the pastries, tarts, pies, and cutlets but opted for fresh fruit and yogurt with a water and a cup of coffee. — Oh my! That coffee was divine, as was the setting and the view of the tourists who hustled in and out, never stopping to enjoy themselves.
I did a little writing as I sat and observed the hustle in the dining room. Then I began a stroll to the square I’d found the prior day as I had a walking tour to attend. It’s amazing to view the architecture and hear stories about the people, groups, and locations I’d learned about in school. I took over a hundred pictures, but one I shared on my own social media was on a bridge, and YES, the river does have fish! I learned about this at the Hunting Summit!
HECK! Back to the Hunting Summit!
After a day of touring Florence I got a good night’s sleep, again enjoyed the breakfast experience at the hotel and then met up with the Hunting Summit group to proceed to our location for events.
The group of attendees included writers, editors, publishers, competitors, influencers, commentators, tv show hosts and more. We had time to visit and get to know one another. I learned that they were form all over Europe, South Africa, and I would be the sole American. Everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Thank goodness I’d taken some time to get rested and acclimated because at our orientation meeting we were given watches with heart rate monitors. We were informed that we’d be spending the next two days focusing on an experience of shooting under stress.
As a hunting guide I’ve experienced many times when a hunter arrives and has only shot from a bench or lead-sled. They haven’t practiced real life scenarios, and definitely haven’t planned for the adrenaline they’ll likely have during a hunt. They sometimes have shots that miss their mark and blame their equipment.
There are three factors that can throw our shots off. Yes, our equipment is one, the environment and ourselves are also to blame. Can you guess that many people never add that last factor to the list?
Heading into this Hunting Summit, I’d be using new equipment, but they gave us time to get to know our scopes, ammunition, and rifles. We’d be shooting under stress in over 100 Fahrenheit weather, topped with a huge amount of humidity. — Yes, the environment would cause this arid climate accustomed Colorado girl some stress. I’d also be shooting among about 25 strangers. To top that off, we’d be presented timed challenges including mind games.
*For safety purposes, all challenges were shot from a prone position. We shot Steyr rifles topped with the NEW Swarovski Z8i scope and used Norma Bond Strike ammunition in .308 Win.
After being put through stressed challenges, we’d have the opportunity to assess our heart rates and reflect on what did or didn’t do well.
The first challenge involved simple math (5+2= ___ for example) followed by our shooting a target at 100 meters. We’d be time in hitting the numbers in the order we received them, (5, then 2, then 7). Sounds easy right? Well, sorta. I mean, you do want to win, don’t you?
My equation was 10-4=___. I looked at the card. They flipped it upside-down. I looked through the scope, located the 10 and shot it. As I located the ten, I saw the four but knew in the back of my mind there was no 14. — YES. My mind played a trick on me and I fought it. I knew the numbers only went to ten, but my heart raced as I shot and missed the 4, disappointed myself and searched for the fourteen and at the sometime knew I needed a six. I located, shot at and missed the six. WHEW!
Did I mention penalties for misses? Yep. The thought of penalties adds stress too.
Other challenges included shooting at over 200, 300, 400, and 500 meters. We’d be timed as our range master pointed to a color target on a chart and we’d locate and shoot. For another challenge we were paired off agains another attendee. We ran down and up a hill for 100 meters, then lay prone to shoot those targets. I’m pleased to tell you that although I don’t run well, I do shoot well with an elevated heart rate.
I learned to manage my stress, trust my equipment and read the environment in a matter of moments all while gently pressing the trigger and hitting all of my targets. After all’s said and done, I ended up being 7th overall in the competition.
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