Yukon rifleman sets two Canadian records

A steady hand and an eagle eye have put Whitehorse's Nicholas Rittel in the record book.

A steady hand and an eagle eye have put Whitehorse’s Nicholas Rittel in the record book.

The 21-year-old set two Canadian shooting records and won three divisions at the 2012 Canadian Rifle Silhouette Championships in Kamloops, B.C., finishing on July 12.

“It’s pretty awesome, but I don’t get too excited,” said Rittel. “Pistol I’m not as good at, but rifle is a lot of fun. I’m getting into pistol now.”

Rittel finished first in two smallbore divisions in the master class and also won the hunter high power division in the AAA class. (Master is the highest level of shooting, followed by AAA.)

He also tied for second in the standard high power class, and dropped to third in a shootout.

“I’m just slowly getting into the high power, but I’ve gotten pretty far into it now,” said Rittel.

His records are just as impressive. Rittel set a Canadian record for pegging off 39 out of 40 animals – or steel silhouettes of animals, as the case may be – in the smallbore division. He has tied the previous record of 38 animals at a previous championship.

“That’s a Canadian record. In the states there have been people who have shot 40 out of 40,” said Rittel.

Rittel’s other record was in the high power division, hitting 10 turkey silhouettes in a row. The turkeys are 400 yards away from the shooters, who all shoot “off-hand”- standing without a rest to put the gun on.

“It hasn’t been done in Canada, to our knowledge, in a competition,” said Rittel. “I’ve done nine about three times, but that last turkey, it’s a mental game – and I got over it.”

Rittel has been shooting for about seven years and won smallbore classes at the Canadian championships the last two years.

This year’s results are by far his best. In fact, he was so pleased with his performance he is going to the U.S. championships this weekend in Raton, New Mexico, for the first time.

“It’s a lot more intimidating,” said Rittel. “If you don’t shoot very good the whole time, you’re not going to get all the way up there.

“I don’t plan on getting first at all, but if I can get in the top 10, I’ll be very happy.

“We had 51 smallbore shooters at the Canadian (championships), down there it’ll probably be 200 or more.”

Rittel’s growing interest in handgun shooting helped him achieve second and third place finishes in two events at the Yukon Handgun Championships over the weekend at the Whitehorse Rifle and Pistol Club.

“I try to come up here at least once a week,” said Rittel. “Before, when I just started, I shot air-gun and would come up here three or four times a week. I was practising with that pretty hard.”

Rittel, who is vice-president of the Yukon Shooting Federation, would like to see more gun club members come out to the weekly silhouette shoots. What better person to get shooting advice from than a national record holder?

“For silhouette, on Wednesdays we come up here at 7 p.m. and people are always welcome to come up,” said Rittel. “There are lots of members, but not a lot of people come up for the organized shoots. We’re trying to get more people out to the organized shoots. I’d like to see more people come out for the silhouette. If they don’t have their stuff, we’ll lend them a gun – you just have to buy ammo.”

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