A steady hand and a keen eye are key ingredients of good marksmanship.
Add natural talent and a rigorous practice schedule and success is sure to follow.
At least that’s been the case for 15-year-old Yukoner Danielle Marcotte who last weekend was awarded the prestigious Commanders Pennant at the opening ceremonies of a Junior Canadian Rangers summer camp at Yukon College in Whitehorse.
“It was surprising because I didn’t know until the day I got it,” said Marcotte of the award, which was signed by Brigadier-General C.T Whitecross Commander and presented by Major Chang of 1 Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, Yellowknife, NWT.
“Then when I got there (at the ceremony) it was lots of fun and I liked it a lot.”
Marcotte received the award for her overwhelming success in 10-metre air-pistol shooting competitions, both on a national and international level.
“They wanted to bring her to Ottawa to present it, but due to her World Cup championships … we weren’t able to make the time to go down there,” said her father, Darcy Marcotte.
“They had a Junior Ranger exercise this summer and they figured it would be a good time … to present it during the opening ceremonies. And that’s what they did, in front of about 150 Junior Rangers and a few military men. So it was quite and honour for her.”
In less than two-years of competition, Marcotte’s list of achievements is nothing short of astounding.
Twice the Junior Rangers sergeant from Pelly Crossing has won the title of Top Shot at the Canadian Junior Ranger Regional Air Rifle Championships held in Yellowknife, making her the only Yukoner to bring the title to the territory.
And last summer she won Junior Championships title at the Canadian National Pistol Championships in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
In February at the International Grand Prix Air-gun Championships in Toronto, Marcotte took gold in the junior division and finished fourth in the woman’s division, missing third by half a point.
More recently Marcotte has given noteworthy performances on the world scale, competing in four world cups in the last four months.
In March she earned the world ranking of 19th at the World Cup in Rios de Janeiro, Brazil, and was the youngest competitor in the woman’s division.
Following Brazil, Marcotte competed in a string of three World Cups in April and May, traveling to Beijing, China, Munich, Germany and Malan, Italy.
When all was said and done, Marcotte’s world ranking was 45, where it currently sits.
It should be noted that in China’s World Cup, Marcotte outperformed Avianna Chao, who will be representing Canada in the Summer Olympics next month.
What makes her success all the more amazing — to the point of incredulity — is that she’s a relative newcomer to the sport and took it up somewhat by chance.
“I wanted to make it for the Canada Winter Games rifle team, but I didn’t make it for the rifle team. So they needed a pistol shooter so they handed me a pistol and I started from there,” said Marcotte, speaking of her introduction to the sport in December 2006. “I shoot rifle, but my discipline is pistol … I’m way better at it.”
“There was one spot left for the pistol (team), so she asked me, ‘Dad, can I try the pistol?’” said her father. “So she went out on the range and … she shot an eight on her first shot and he (the Junior Rangers shooting coach) said, ‘Try that again.’ So she did it again and she put it right through the centre and he said, ‘That’s all I need to see.’ So that’s where she took off.”
A natural or not, Marcotte’s achievements are the results of hard work and a history of shooting.
“We’d take her out and she’d be shooting .22s and the .410 shotguns, shooting grouse with the family,” said her Marcotte of his daughter, who’s been shooting since she was six or seven.
She has been shooting as a member of the Junior Canadian Rangers since she was 10.
“For the last year she’s been shooting three nights a week in Grey Mountain with her coach Ken Speiss, and then there’s three nights in the gym. So she’s got a six-day workout that she has to do.”
Hoping to defend her title, next week Marcotte will be competing in Canadian National Pistol Championship in Calgary.
“If Danielle wins this she’ll most likely be on Team Canada going to Pune, India, in October for the Junior Commonwealth Games,” said Darcy. “So she’s got a lot on her plate.”
At the start of August, Marcotte will be traveling to Victoria, BC, to represent Team Yukon at the North American Indigenous Games.
In the last one she competed in, held in Denver Col., she took silver in bantam. She missed the gold by a single point.
“So much has happened in such a short period of time, it’s one day at a time,” said Darcy Marcotte. “We just try to follow this little girl — she’s just phenomenal. She’s done so well.”