No other action shooting event has the pomp and circumstance of an IPSC World Shoot. Held every three years, the event begins with an opening ceremony highlighted with a parade of national athletes, welcome from shooting federation and host city, lighting of the world shoot flame and cultural entertainment. It has the feel of the Olympic Games and one can’t help but feel honored to be a part of it, especially as a member of a national team.
The people of Rhodes and the Hellenic Shooting Federation put on QUITE a show. It all started with a bus ride from the match hotel to the Acropolis where athletes were dropped off and directed to meander through the ruins. We followed a path down into the ancient theater and stadium. The stadium’s original sphendone (rounded end with turning post), proedries (seats of officials) and some of the lower seats in the auditorium are still intact. You can read more about its history here. I love archaeology and to me it was the perfect place to open our games.
Athletes were staged in an area just around the corner from the stadium behind national flags organized in alphabetical order except for the host nation of Greece placed at the end. I wasn’t sure what to expect when Team USA rounded the corner, but was excited to see the stadium seats filled with cheering spectators and the rest of the athletes as we walked completely around the circumference. I had plenty of pins from USPSA and Smith & Wesson that I handed to the outstretched hands of smiling children before we took our seats. To see so many people excited about shooters, was thrilling.
Once all the athletes were in place, the show began. I have snippets of video from the program that I will be putting together over the next few weeks but in the meantime, here are some photos from a most entertaining evening that included energetic traditional Greek dancing by Vangelis Tzellos Group, beautifully sung music by the Choir of Rhodes and an interpretive dance by the Dancing Group of Rhodes College.
We closed out the evening taking photos in front of the World Shoot flame. There are only a few of these pics floating around as the majority of athletes deserted the event long before it ended. Riding back to the hotel on the bus, the coordinators were very sad that such a small number of athletes remained to watch after working so hard to put on an amazing show. We thanked them profusely and expressed how much we enjoyed all the talented performers. It was simply wonderful. More photos can be found on my Flickr album here.