Commanders’ “Moose hunt”
Text: Matti Käkelä, from the "Moose hunt" organisation. Photos: Patria
The event was usually held once a year in the early spring, during February or March. Engineer Martti Helmivirta from the Aircraft factory was the competition director. Two sports education officers from the Air Force Technical School, first Markku Leppämäki and later Pertti Mörö, were responsible for setting up the ski tracks and shooting range, and also for placing moose head figures in the terrain for the distance assessment.
The competition consisted of three disciplines: skiing, shooting and distance assessment (long and short range). The points obtained in these disciplines were added together to form a combined score according to Martti Helmivirta’s chart. This was back in the 1980s, when the concepts of strategic partnership, wellbeing at work and networking had not yet been conceived of – yet this event had them all. Matti Kankaanpää also competed annually in the triathlon, as did the then Commander of the Finnish Air Force, Lieutenant General Rauno Meriö. A total of about 30 management personnel took part in the competition from both organisations.
"Good things are not always born and developed solely in meetings and behind desks," noted Lieutenant General Meriö.
Although it was only meant to be a friendly competition aimed at forging team spirit and closer cooperation between the organisations, preparing for the competition and attaching numbers to chests became quite a serious business at times. Every now and then, a babble of voices rose as the competitors chatted about all manner of work- and leisure-related topics as they waxed skis and sighted-in their weapons. The Aircraft factory’s management also displayed a degree of good humour and playfulness that wasn’t necessarily evident from the professional exterior they normally maintained in their daily work. After the competition, the event culminated in an award ceremony in which the results were announced starting from the middle. Before the final prize was awarded, there were only two competitors left: the winner and the person in last place. This was always a moment when the whole crowd fell silent. The lowest-ranking competitor was awarded a helmet with bullock’s horns, which they had to wear for the rest of the event. At least once, these horns ended up on the head of Air Force Commander Rauno Meriö, which resulted in a great deal of laughter and amusement, and enough jokes to last not only the rest of the event but no doubt the rest of the year.
Even though it was just one small event, you can well imagine how this "moose hunt" deepened the mutual trust between customer and service provider, that is, between the Air Force and the Aircraft factory. Lieutenant General Meriö noted that good things are not always born and developed solely in meetings and behind desks. This excellent insight provided the management of both organisations with a good way to meet without neckties, in the playful spirit of competition.