Ontarian takes top honours in marksmanship course

If you live in Ontario, getting into the Whitehorse Cadet Summer Training Centre is no easy task. About 80 Ontario cadets applied for spots in the…

If you live in Ontario, getting into the Whitehorse Cadet Summer Training Centre is no easy task.

About 80 Ontario cadets applied for spots in the marksmanship course being offered at the Whitehorse centre. Only five were accepted.

Two of the Ontarians finished in the top three out of the 20 enrolled in the course.

Ronald Copeland, of Keswick, Ontario, won the title of best shooter.

Justin O’Neil, from Orleans, Ontario, finished third in the course.

Ryan Gillis from Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, finished second.

The graduation ceremony took place Thursday evening at the Whitehorse training centre.

“It was different — different and fun,” said Ronald Copeland, 14, speaking of the program. “(I most enjoyed) the horseback riding and the shooting.

“I wanted to make more friends throughout Canada and be a better shot,” added Copeland, listing the goals he set out for himself as a cadet.

The three-week course targeted all the basics of air-riflry, such as how to shoot, how to hold the weapon and breathing techniques.

It was only after two complete weeks that the cadets started applying their skills to a competition.

“In the final week, they ran a series of competitions during which you had so much time to complete so many shots.

And you do a relay, take a rest, shoot a relay, take a rest,” said Maj. Chris Barron, the commanding officer of the training centre.

“Some of the targets were application, which was one shot per bull’s-eye, with a score for each target. Some of the competitions were grouping — you had to get the best grouping (of shots).”

The completion of the course does not mean the end of air rifle shooting for some of the cadets.

The course may become a precursor to other more advanced courses as well as national and international competitions.

“In most cases … if they achieve a certain score level they can then advance to the Cadet Leader Marksmanship Course, which is a six-week course,” said Barron.

“Some of these cadets could very well represent the Canadian cadet program on the Bisley team in England in three years’ time.”

Bisley, England, is the site of the UK’s National Rifle Association and the host of many international shooting competitions.

Even though producing straight shooters was the main target, the program was intended to strengthen more than just the trigger finger.

During their stay the cadets attended tours of the Klondike Museum and other museums, spent three days in the field on an adventure training exercise and performed citizen activities, which included learning about their surroundings and Canada as a whole.

“The aim of the program is to promote leadership, citizenship, physical fitness and the activities of the Canadian Forces,” said Capt. Cheryl C. Major, public affairs officer.

“The program teaches transferable life skills that are convertible to any career that a cadet may choose. Our cadets are very successful in everything they do; the skills (developed) in the program helps them through life.”

Currently there are more than 50,000 cadets in Canada, who, according to Major, are making an impact on the lives of 200,000 people countrywide everyday.

National cadet programs are free and date back more than 100 years.

“The big thing is that they interact and learn how to work with people of different cultures and from different communities … all trying to achieve the same goal,” said Barron.