Setting their sights on success!
News / May 3, 2016
The room is quiet as a string of focused competitors enter the range and take their positions behind their designated lanes. A lot of effort has gone into earning their spots in this competition and a place at the national competition is on the line, but despite the competitive nature of the sport, the camaraderie is truly palpable and the idea of supporting your fellow competitors is at the heart of all the teams training programs.
Marksmanship training begins at the local unit level where every cadet is introduced to the basic principles of marksmanship as part of their weekly training. Each corps and squadron can then choose to expand upon these basics and begin building their own competitive teams. These teams can then compete at the local level with the goal of moving forward to provincials where they will vie for a spot at nationals. In order to be truly competitive and advance through these stages, teams must put in the hours of practice and push themselves to meet the challenges at each level of competition. This means every team member has to learn how to effectively manage their time, how to maintain focus, how to set personal goals and they have be able to perform under pressure.
Marksmanship as a sport may seem simple on the surface, but as Corporal Ashlee Tucker of 2562 Queen Elizabeth Army Cadet Corps in Foxtrap, N.L. can attest that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.
“We practice as a team on average 3-4 hours each week starting in September. Marksmanship takes a lot of practice, so we practice a lot. It’s important to remember that this is a real sport that takes real focus and concentration. Thinking about your position, your breathing, your timing, all that stuff affects your performance. It seems like little things, but it all makes a big difference in this sport.”
In spite of all the hard work and dedication this sport demands many competitors are quick to sing its praises. Flight Sergeant Brianna Ricketts of 537 Gander Air Cadet Squadron in Gander, N.L. knows firsthand just how much fun marksmanship can be, saying, “My first night on the marksmanship team I was hooked; I had found my thing. Here was a bunch of people who loved something as much as I did and we could get together every week and practice and have fun together. I’ve learned a lot from this sport, but mostly I’ve just made some awesome friends.”
Each level of competition is designed to push competitors to not only perform to their best, but also to encourage personal growth through challenge. In recent years the competition has seen the introduction of the standing shooting position to the competition. Prior to this introduction the competition was focused solely on shooting from the prone position, however as the level of competitors improved the level of competition had to be advanced to ensure competitors continued to develop their skills. Under the current competition structure, the prone position portion of the competition counts for 67% of the teams score and the standing position accounts for the remaining 33% of their score.
Under the current competition structure each province in Atlantic Canada can send one team to the national level. Atlantic Canada has proven itself to be competitive on the National stage with Nova Scotia taking Gold in 2014, Silver in 2015 and they are currently positioned to perform very well in 2016.
Each team is comprised of a mix of both junior and senior cadets with the requirement to have at least 2 junior cadets on the team. This balance allows not only for equality among teams, but also reinforces the fundamentals of the cadet program, by giving competitors opportunities to practice leadership and coaching skills.
“We really do work as a team, everyone supports one another and pushes each other to do better. I try to share the things I’ve learned over the years with the new members of the team. It has taught me lots about leadership,” says Chief Warrant Officer Rebecca Power of 2372 Avalon North Army Cadet Corps in Bay Roberts, N.L.
This year across Atlantic Canada 30 teams in total competed at the provincial level of the competition, with 1535 Army from NB, 53 Air from PEI, 2610 Army from Nova Scotia, and 2562 Army from NL representing their respective provinces at the National competition which will be held in Gimli, Manitoba in May.
Captain Lorie Greene is a Unit Public Affairs Representative with the Regional Cadet Support Unit (Atlantic) and is the Training Officer for the 510 Lions Air Cadets.
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