Other Pointers

Aiming Artists: Team Norway

Živa Dvoršak

Sep 1, 2023

One of the greatest pleasures of competing is meeting amazing athletes. Although we may be rivals on the firing line, we enjoy talking and learning from one another behind the scenes. In a series of interviews, we aim to share a few insights that the big names of shooting have to offer.

Shooting is fundamentally an individual sport, but there is always a good team behind individual success. The team consists of shooting experts as well as other shooters. The more cohesive the team, the more support its members give each other, and the more knowledge flows between them. This is the way for not only one individual growing, but for everyone progressing.

A good example of a team of successful individuals who are not only top shooters on the firing line but also show team spirit and cohesion off the shooting range are the shooters of Team Norway. Each of them is definitely worthy of a separate interview, but this time they feature as a team! Aiming Art spoke to four shooters, Jeanette Hegg Duestad, Jenny Stene, Henrik Larsen, and Jon-Hermann Hegg, who can proudly present 5 team medals from the recent World Championships in Baku. They are led by coach Espen Berg-Knutsen.

Writing a shooting journal: yes or no?

Without any hesitation, everyone said yes. Jeanette recently shared her review of Shooting Notes: “I have checked out Shooting Notes, and I really like what I see! The ‘diary’ pages look good. They aren’t too advanced, but you still have what you need. But even more, I like the first pages. This is what I write most about in my shooting diary now: shot process, weapon settings, competition preparations, mental work and so on. Mostly because I love to be able to go back to my old notes.”

Setting goals: how and when?

Team Norway believes that setting goals is essential; each athlete does it after the season or in the preparation period before the new season begins. When your goals are written down, you can evaluate your improvement during the past season, and this also gives you direction on how to move on in the next one. Jeanette pointed out that she also sets “goals for every competition and every training, making a plan on how to develop my weak spots”, while Jenny added that you also need “a long-term goal that will help you focus more on your overall development and growth and not so much on your results.”

Shooting Team Norway on 10 m air rifle range with coach looking at them

How do you overcome stressful moments during a competition? What is your SOS exit?

Team Norway agreed that focusing on breathing helps a lot. Henrik pointed out that he focuses on calm thoughts, which Jon further explained: “I have a thought-out plan involving calming thoughts and specific words (trigger words) that keep your focus on the task at hand.” Jeanette agreed: “Focusing on breathing helps me concentrate on my tasks.” Read our Practical Pointer to find out more on how to maximize the benefits of such approaches, preparing them in advance and using them in practice. This is the only way they will work when the pressure kicks in.Team Norway agreed that focusing on breathing helps a lot. Henrik pointed out that he focuses on calm thoughts, which Jon further explained: “I have a thought-out plan involving calming thoughts and specific words (trigger words) that keep your focus on the task at hand.” Jeanette agreed: “Focusing on breathing helps me concentrate on my tasks.” Read our Practical Pointer to find out more on how to maximize the benefits of such approaches, preparing them in advance and using them in practice. This is the only way they will work when the pressure kicks in.

What is your advice for shooters and what is your advice for coaches?

The team agreed that we must keep pushing ourselves as shooters, never settle for results, and constantly find ways to improve. Henrik summed it up nicely: “Dream big and push yourself to be the best version of yourself as an athlete.” Jenny added that even though hard work is always present, having fun while doing it increases the chances of success. I was curious what Espen as a coach has to say about his shooters’ comments. He agreed with what they said and elaborated further: “to become a successful shooter, you must train a lot and consider all areas, from physical and technical to mental skills.”

Agreeing with him, I asked him what he does as a coach and what would his advice for coaches be. “Set ambitious goals, make and implement detailed plans, support and motivate the shooters during training and competition, evaluate their efforts and performances and provide honest feedback.” Looking at the four shooters, I wanted honest comments on their expectations from coaches. Jeanette and Jenny were very clear on how important it is for a coach to get to know their athlete well, to really see them. Henrik pointed out that the coach needs to provide support: “Be supportive but also critical to the athletes. Don’t sugarcoat situations. Be straight-forward.” Jon, on the other hand, believes in less emotion: “The coach needs to focus on the shooter’s performance and keep pushing them even if what they are doing is already good”. We all agreed that coaching is a work in progress, and Espen pointed out that good communication has to be constantly present. We have to be aware that everybody is different, but if we state things out loud, a path can be found, and then everything is possible.

We select motivated and dedicated shooters willing and able to put down a lot of systematic training together within a relatively strict regime organized by a common coach.

What does Team Norway do to be a team? What makes you successful?

Looking at Espen, he was the first to answer. “We select motivated and dedicated shooters willing and able to put down a lot of systematic training together within a relatively strict regime organized by a common coach.” The shooters agreed with him and pointed out that they spend a lot of time together. If not in training, then somewhere outside, hanging out, doing fun stuff, and sharing experiences. Jenny added that having a good team also requires work and willingness of each individual. Everybody understands they’ve come to the range from different places but knows that only a good team spirit will push them forward. So they create goals and work together to achieve them while focusing mainly on their performance.

Shooting team Norway adorned with medals

Do you have any advice for creating team spirit, bearing in mind that not all clubs or even national teams have a large budget? Where to start?

The secret ingredient, it turns out, is not so secret. Their answers all blend into Espen’s final advice: “Spend time together, both on and off the shooting range. Treat each other well and wish the best for all.”

Top sport shooter Jeanette Hegg Duestad (Norway) holding Shooting Notes

Jeanette Hegg DUESTAD (1999). Current #1 in 50 m Rifle 3 Positions Women and #4 in 10 m Air Rifle Women on the ISSF ranking list is a young shooter who started competing internationally in 2017. Only two years later, she won her first medals in Suhl Junior World Cup and in Beijing World Cup. Since then, she’s been participating in the finals of highest-level championships, collecting 33 medals in total.

Top sport shooter Jenny Stene (Norway) holding an air rifle

Jenny STENE (1998). Currently #5 and #16 in the 50 m Rifle 3 Positions Women and 10m Air Rifle Women respectively, and current world record holder in 50 m 3 Positions with a score of 596. Winner of 22 medals from the largest competitions.

Top sport shooter Henrik Larsen (Norway)

Henrik LARSEN (1997) started competing internationally in 2014, winning his first medals as a junior at the European Championships in 2016 and at the World Championships a year later. Going by his motto “Everything is possible if you work hard enough”, he proves it by shooting in many highest-level championship finals, winning 15 medals so far. He is  also Jeanette’s “partner in crime” in Air Rifle Mix events as well as her life partner outside the shooting range.

Top sport shooter Jon-Hermann Hegg (Norway)

Jon-Hermann HEGG (1999)started competing internationally in 2017.  He made his biggest breakthrough in 2022, when he won 18 out of his 22 medals from largest competitions.

Sport shooting team Norway national coach Espen Berg-Knutsen

Espen BERG-KNUTSEN (1969) is a former rifle shooter who competed internationally from 1990 to 2009, participated in three Olympic Games, claimed 2 world championship titles, and won 10 medals at highest-level competitions. He’s been Team Norway national coach since 2016.

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