Canadian Rangers from around the NWT gathered in Hay River over the weekend to test their shooting skills.
They were in town for the second-annual NWT Hay River Shoot, an event that brought together 26 shooters from 13 communities.
“The goal is to bring everybody together to test our marksmanship skills and just enhance camaraderie between the Rangers and patrols,” said Capt. Steve Watton of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.
Watton said the Canadian Rangers are tested in 10 different competitions, ranging from 100 metres up to 300 metres, and in various shooting positions, including prone, kneeling, sitting and standing.
“All Rangers are expected to be a stellar marksman, so by holding this training every year it helps 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group confirm that their marksmanship skills are up to standard, and it is also a part of our military tradition, which goes back years and years and years of expecting to be an accurate shooter and keeping up those skills,” he said.
Shooters came from Aklavik, Fort Good Hope, Tuktoyaktuk, Whati, Sachs Harbour, Trout Lake, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, Lutsel K’e, Fort Providence, Behchoko, Deline and Hay River.
There had been Canadian Rangers shooting competitions many years ago, Watton said. “We brought it back two years ago and we’re hoping this will continue on a yearly basis from now on.”
The competition was also held in Hay River last year.
“It’s a very big event,” said Canadian Ranger Robert Wilkins of Hay River. “We’re very proud to be asked to host and we will certainly do our best that the Rangers from the communities feel welcome and people have a good, safe time while they’re here.”
Sgt. Stephane Gelinas, an instructor with 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, said Hay River was chosen to host the event because it is a big town with enough accommodation and a large shooting range, which is not available in all NWT communities.
Two Canadian Rangers competed from Hay River, while the Hay River Patrol also provided eight Rangers as support staff to help run the shooting range during the event.
On Saturday, the first day of the two-day competition, the shooters were unfazed by wet snow.
“The Rangers are expected to be functional on the land in all conditions, and so when we have challenges with weather at an event like this it just adds to the fun and makes sure that everyone can perform at their highest, even when the weather doesn’t co-operate,” said Wilkins.
Gelinas said Rangers are the eyes of the North, and can shoot regardless of the conditions.
“We don’t choose our weather,” he added.
The competition concluded with the naming of the top shooter and the top team.
The top shooter was Darcy Bonnetrouge of Fort Providence.
The top team also came from Fort Providence, followed by Fort Smith and then Lutsel K’e.
— Paul Bickford