From New York City in a grip of a killer hurricane to the painted red, white and blue protestant curbs of Northern Ireland, Ryan Schaefer has seen a lot in his travels to the World Police and Fire Games.
Now he has a collection of medals to remind him of the hard work he put into representing Canada at the 2013 Games in Belfast.
Schaefer, a 26-year technical communications systems specialist with the Prince George North District RCMP, made a pointed impact in the archery event, completing a gold-silver-bronze medal trifecta.
Entered in the freestyle unlimited category, Schaefer won gold in the 3-D event, silver in the field target competition and bronze in the flat target event. His only glitch was when he mistakenly shot two of his partner's targets in the field event, which knocked him out of the gold-medal position.
"It would have been nice to have two golds but a full complement is fine with me," Schaefer said.
"The first two medals were good but it didn't kind of dawn on my until after I got the gold that I'd won all these medals."
The annual event is open to firemen, police officers and corrections staff. Schaefer also competed in the 2009 Games in Vancouver. His previous best result was in New York, where he was fourth in the 3-D event. Because he competes in a number of 3-D events in B.C. during the summer months, Schaefer excels on that type of range, a series of stuffed animal targets set up in a forest at various distances to simulate real hunting.
Schaefer was in New York last year on Oct. 29 when Hurricane Sandy ripped through the city, killing 73 people and causing an estimated $65 billion in damage. Archery was one of the few events that went ahead as scheduled in the pouring rain.
"We were the only event running in the hurricane on the first day of the Games," said Schaefer. "Some events did get canceled because the venues were gone, just flooded. But after the first day it went off without a hitch."
While shooting in New York he met a fellow competitor from Dublin, Kevin Quirke, who served as host and tour guide for Schaefer and his fiancee Sarah Randall during their 10-day visit to Ireland. Quirke's reluctance as a Catholic to drive through a Protestant neighbourhood in Belfast took Schaefer and his future wife by surprise, a sign the Irish "troubles" that plagued the country with political unrest in the '60's, '70s and '80s are not far below the surface.
Schaefer, a director with the Silvertip Archers in Prince George, took up archery as a Grade 10 student in Quesnel. He joined the Quesnel River Archers and before long got his brother Jonathan and parents Cathy and Wayne involved as well.
The Games last month in Belfast also brought out the best in retired Prince George RCMP inspector Keith Redl, who won silver in the 50-and-older toughest competitor event, which involved a five-kilometre cross-country run, 100-metre run, shot put throw, 100 m swim, bench press, pull-ups and an obstacle course.
Canada finished fourth in the overall standings with 321 medals, behind the U.S. (580), Spain (389) and the United Kingdom (326).