The history behind the Nordic Shooting Region
(by Poul H. Glesner)
The background for the establishment of the Nordic Shooting Region in 1921, may well have found its origin in the fact that the nations of Europe after the first world war were sharing a deep yearning to renewing the commercial and cultural connections, among which the shooting sport.
Not quite unexpected it was the southernmost member of the Nordic family, Denmark, to take up the idea of creating a more formalized co- operation among the Nordic countries in our sport, being already started on a bilateral basis.
The first preparatory meeting took place in Copenhagen on the 1st July, 1921, during a Danish-Swedish shooting match. At this meeting Mr. Bjoern presented his sketch plan, being very well accepted by the participants. A fast working drafts-bill-committee, consisting of the following members, Mr. J. C. Bilbo, Mr. Ove Bjoern and Mr. C. Justesen from Denmark, Mr. E. Benedicks, Mr. H. Blomberg and Mr. G. C. Boivie from Sweden, was set up, and already in the beginning of September, the committee had finished its task, to prepare the proposal for the final version of the constitution for the "Nordic Short-distance Shooting Association".
The first official General Assembly was summoned to Stockholm on the 9th of September 1921, and the representatives unanimously approved the proposal as well as the new shooting program, thus the official birthday of the Nordic Shooting Region falls on the 9th of September 1921. Sweden and Denmark became the first members. Finland joined the association on the 9th December, and Norway during the winter 1921/1922.
The preamble of the constitution was to strengthen and to further develop the sport shooting cooperation in the Nordic countries, to organize official Nordic Championships, and to exchange opinions and experiences on arms and ammunition, in order to create the best obtainable conditions for all Nordic sport shooters participating in World Championships and Olympic Games (almost the same ideals as of today).
The shooting program was very differentiated and ambitious for that time, including all kinds of disciplines. There were individual and team events with the cal. 22 small-bore rifle in standing and prone positions over 15 and 50 m. The 300 m "half match", three positions with the army rifle (large caliber), individual and team. The 600 m prone position, 20 rounds with the free rifle, individual only. (This match, however, only appeared in the program during a few "Nordics", mainly due to the lack of range capacity). The free pistol match over 50 m like today. Individual and team events with the large caliber pistol/revolver over 30 m (only the dueling part). Further the clay pigeon event for both individual and team with 100 clays. Finally the "running deer" event with single and double runs over 100 m, 10 and 20 firing shots respectively, totaling 17 events.
The Norwegians asked for the honor of organizing the first official Nordic Championships the year after the foundation, and it took place at the town of Kristiania, the 21st and 22nd July 1922 with large delegations from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, and hereafter the "Nordics" grew into a very appreciated and respected tradition In Scandinavia. The championship cycles changed once in a while between every second of fourth years, depending on the ability of the host nations to organize the championships for both seniors and/or juniors.
The last world war made a temporary stop in the championships, but after the war the "Nordics" were resumed in full strength in an agreed turn among the member federations. Many new events were still being added to the program, concurrently with the development in the International Shooting Union and on the European continent, but at the same time we are still keeping old Nordic events as the "running deer" over 100 m, and even adding new to the program, f. inst. the Nordic trap. As a matter of fact, the Nordic Championships are probably including more events in the program than any other championship in the world.
In 1968 - during the Olympic Games at Mexico - the president of the Swedish Shooting Federation at that time, Mr. Karl-Arvid Norlin, invited the Nordic presidents to an informal meeting. Mr. Norlin, already then a respected member of the UIT council, mentioned the Importance of discussing and coordinating our Nordic views on International shooting matters in the UIT. The Scandinavian shooting Ideals ought to become much more visible than before, and the qualified "officers'! of the Scandinavian shooting federations should offer their experience and shooting expertise for some years of serving the ESC (European Shooting Confederation) and the UIT bodies. Furthermore Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden ought to invite UIT member federations to open international championships in order to introduce to the surrounding world the best of the Nordic sport shooting traditions. At the same occasion the undersigned had the pleasure to present a new and updated constitution for the Nordic Shooting Region, being in principle already accepted by the member federations. The new name, NSR, was also instituted during the same meeting.
The sixtieths and seventieths were very happy years for the Nordic Shooting Region. Very fine cooperation in all areas, many international top shooters, well organized Nordic Championships with several hundreds of participants (at that time it was still a great honor to qualify for and participate in the "Nordics"). Almost all of our countries obtained posts in the boards or committees of the ESC and UIT. General Regulations to cover all details of the NSR shooting events were worked out and published, likewise the record statistics. As a matter of fact, after half a century the Nordic Shooting Region had come through and assumed a very respected and honorable position in Scandinavia and internationally.
In the beginning of 1971 the joint Shooting Associations of Great Britain applied to the Nordic Shooting Region for a full membership of the region. After many board meetings in the Nordic federations the final vote was decided to be taken at Viborg, Denmark, on the 30th of June 1973 during the Nordic Championships here. The presidential meeting unanimously approved that Great Britain entered the Nordic Shooting Region as a full member. The English delegation was very happy with the result, addressed its gratitude to the meeting on behalf of the Great Britain Shooting Association, and promised to live up to the ideals of the Nordic Shooting Region as well as to comply with all obligations in the constitution. The promise of which has been fulfilled in every respect after entering the region.
During the last 6 - 8 years the importance of the "Nordics" has decreased concurrently with the increase of the World Cups as one factor and lack of economical means as another factor. The member federations have been forced to send their top shooters to world cup competitions all over the world in order to obtain quota places for the Olympics, resulting in the fact that neither federations nor the top shooters can spend the necessary time and money on participating in the "Nordics”. To the undersigned this is a great tragedy for our sport, but a future Nordic Championship without all or just some of the top shooters in Scandinavia will lose its interest and reputation immediately, and sink into oblivion.
During a presidential meeting at Farnborough in November 1991, the above problem also was discussed for a long time. No conclusion was reached, however a small working group with representatives from each of the Nordic member federations was set up with the task to present the result of the survey and maybe a proposal for discussion at the "Nordics" in August 1992.
Due to the fact that this historical review will not be published and issued until we arrive at Bisley for the "Nordics", the undersigned cannot resist the temptation to unveil my own proposal under the motto: "Look forward, but use the past as your springboard!"
- Suspend the senior Nordic Championships until further notice, at least till the UIT World Cups will be drastically reduced in number, replaced by something else acceptable to all of us or completely abolished.
- Introduce official Nordic Championships for juniors (male and female) only. Details about cycles, number of participants, events, etc. must be worked out shortly after the "Nordics" 1992 at Bisley.
Concluding comments: In my opinion we should never give up our Nordic Championships. They hold so much invaluable tradition, heart and friendship, which cannot be found among nations any other place in the world.
These "family get-together's" are so humane and give all of the participating members an indescribable feeling of well-being among our sisters and brothers from the other Nordic countries. Here you do not need to start a friendship - you had it already before you left home, and why is it so? Because many centuries of history with war and peace, sorrow and joy have sealed the ties of kinship among all our countries. Therefore!
Poul H. Glesner