When he puts things in his sights, Doug Blessin isn't one to miss.
The Port Coquitlam resident turned a new interest into a dedicated passion - and in just over three years has earned a spot at the biggest competition in the world.
Blessin will represent Canada at next month's Paralympics in London in the sport of competitive shooting.
He was one of two people chosen to compete at the 2012 Paralympics, after a gruelling competition that pitted the relative rookie against a grizzled veteran.
"I beat a guy who had 20 years of shooting experience - I had a real good day," says Blessin.
For someone with a natural competitive nature, the quick rise was still a bit of a surprise.
"I take it really seriously," says Blessin. "I'm never one to take up a sport just for fun. I want to be the best that I can at whatever I'm playing."
Sports has played a large role in his life, even after a car accident in 1995 left him partially paralyzed.
That traumatic event changed his life, but he's strived to make sure it doesn't define it.
"Since then I've lived the dream," he says. "I loved to play sports of all kinds growing up, and what I found was that I liked sports that were individual as opposed to team sports. If something goes wrong, it's on your shoulders. And if it goes right, you get the credit."
After his accident, Blessin took up wheelchair rugby. Through meeting the game's founder, Duncan Campbell, Blessin proceeded to the provincial team and played at the nationals.
Nine years ago, he and wife Joanne were blessed with the birth of twin sons, which resulted in him choosing to trade in the rugby ball in exchange for the fun challenges of being a father.
With the boys older and playing their own sports, Blessin decided to pick up a new game to fill his competitive urge.
"I didn't want to go back to rugby and put my body through that punishment," he said. "I loved it but now I'm older [and] wiser."
That's where shooting came in.
Under the guidance of coach/competitor Christos Trifonidis, Blessin found a fit that suited his skills.
"Every time I went shooting I got positive feedback. I kind of take it as it comes- Once I started tasting a little success, I pushed for more. I had to have a custom-made table made for my chair.
"Everything has to be exactly perfect and right in this sport."
While he didn't target the world's biggest stage when he first picked up the air rifle, Blessin remembers how his competitive nature seemed to prepare him for such a challenge.
"I was just thinking about that exact question," he says. "I recalled when I first really looked at the Olympics, maybe in 1984. I thought, Wow, it would be so awesome to be on that stage and doing something to represent my country. And now I am.
"When I made the national team it was really emotional, I shot my best match to date... There were a lot of people who I had to call and thank for helping me get there."
© Copyright 2013