The Canadian Rangers held their third-annual marksmanship event late last month.
The territorial small arms training and competition was held Oct. 25 and 26 at the Hay River Shooting Range, about 10 km south of town on Highway 2.
The top shooter from Hay River was Sheila Warren, who was the only female in the event and finished sixth in the individual competition.
“It was my first time in any shooting competition,” said Warren, who has been a Canadian Ranger since February.
She said the event was great, adding, “I learned a lot.”
Warren said her goal going into the competition was to place in the top 10.
Matthew Storvold of Hay River took ninth place.
The 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group conducted the event to enhance marksmanship skills and encourage camaraderie among participating patrols from various communities.
In all, 28 shooters attended – the two best shooters from 14 Canadian Ranger Patrols in the NWT.
“At Hay River, we try to find the top shot of the top shot, and we try to find the top team, too,” said Sgt. Stephane Gelinas, a trainer from Yellowknife.
In the team competition, Hay River finished second behind Fort Simpson. The third-place team was from Behchoko.
The 14 teams came from Fort Simpson, Hay River, Behchoko, Fort Smith, Deline, Fort Good Hope, Fort Resolution, Paulatuk, Inuvik, Gameti, Ulukhaktok, Tuktoyaktuk, Aklavik and Fort Providence.
The top individual shooters were determined in a separate competition from team matches.
The top shooter was Sgt. Frank Beaulieu from Behchoko, while second place was taken by Master Corporal Frank Green of Paulatuk and third went to Emmanuel Adam of Tuktoyaktuk.
Gelinas was impressed.
“I see lots of improvement from last year. Last year, we had a couple of good shooters, but this year all the scores were very, very tight,” said Gelinas, a member of the famed Royal 22nd Regiment (also known as the Van Doos) who has been assigned to the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group.
Forty shooters had been expected to participate, but six teams did not make it because of weather issues and some shooters were unable to get time off work.
Canadian Ranger Rob Wilkins of Hay River was the co-ordinator of the event.
“This is the third year that it’s been held in Hay River, and I would say it was the most successful of the three years so far,” he said. “A good time was had by all. We had an extremely successful and a very challenging shoot, and had nothing but positive feedback.”
Wilkins also noted the marksmanship was far better than in the first two years of the event.
“It looked to me very much like the Ranger patrols in the other communities are beginning to take this event very, very seriously in terms of training for it and sending their top marksmen from their patrols to attend this event,” he said.
Even though the competition was held a week later than in 2013, there was virtually no snow this year, compared to a lot of snow last year.
“We had great weather through the course of the weekend which certainly made conditions much more favourable for shooters in terms of not having to deal with the snow and the wet conditions that they saw last year,” said Wilkins, although he did note the weather was cold. “The ground was firm, but I think everybody was prepared for much, much worse weather as we can sometimes get this time of year. We were very, very fortunate that the weather co-operated as well as it did.”
The co-ordinator said it was an exciting, fun and safe event.