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Yukon shooters get ready for North American Indigenous Games

Team scores big at Alberta provincials

Yukoners set to compete in shooting at the North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) in July tested their skills against their Alberta counterparts earlier this month when they travelled to Taber, Alta. for provincials on June 3 and 4.

“Some great results were had and much learning took place,” Trena Irving, one of the coaches for the team, noted in a statement.

The competition featured the same events the youth will compete in at NAIG in Nova Scotia.

At provincials, competitors had 20 shots in the prone position, 20 shots while standing and 20 shots while kneeling. Each competitor had 30 minutes to make their 20 shots in each position and then the scores are added together to determine the winners.

Scores are calculated out of a total of 200 points per position.

In the women’s senior and junior division for the 50 metre, Alexis Fields-Birkell and Ava Irving-Staley were extremely close in their scores. Fields-Birkell took the lead on June 3 with a score of 185 in the prone position, 152 in standing and 162 in kneeling. Irving-Staley’s scores on June 3 were: 180 in prone, 121 in standing and 168 in kneeling for a total of 469 compared to 499 for Fields-Birkell.

On June 4, Irving-Staley took the lead with 187 in prone, 137 in standing and 172 in kneeling while Fields-Birkell shot 174 in prone, 137 in standing and 153 in kneeling.

The final scores of the two days totalled 965 for Irving-Staley and 963 for Fields-Birkell.

The results meant Irving-Staley won the senior female division while Fields-Birkell took the junior female division.

Other Yukon shooters in the female shooting division were Jorja Bellmore-Smarch of Carmacks and Jorja Jackson of Haines Junction.

Bellmore-Smarch finished second in junior women division with a total score of 778 and Jackson placed third with a score of 734.

In the male 50 metre division, all the male athletes were competing in the junior men’s division.

Alex Lebarge took first place with a total score of 953.

Second place was Kolten Jim of Haines Junction who finished with a total of 809 with third place going to Josh Jackson who had a total score of 755.

Chad Itsi came fourth in junior men with a total of 649.

Along with the 50 metre events, Irving-Staley also tried her hand at the 100 metre prone shooting event where she scored an impressive 330, good enough for second place and just 35 points off of first place finisher Elizabeth Fissenko.

As Irving pointed out, Fissenko had a shooting jacket and match rifle, which tends to be very accurate, while Irving-Staley was competing without any specialized equipment.

“Very impressive to watch everybody shooting,” Irving commented.

While the Yukon team has been practising together since February, they already each have their own background in the sport.

Both Alexis Fields-Birkell and Joria Bellmore-Smarch are part of the youth Rangers group in Carmacks where they have competed in shooting competitions, while Lebarge and Irving-Staley are part of the territory’s biathlon team and have put years of work into both skiing and shooting, it was noted.

One of the biggest highlights of the two day event in Alberta, Irving said, was meeting national shooting team member Tye Ikeda who spoke with the youth about being a high-level athlete in shooting.

Irving noted this marked the team’s first Outside shooting competition, thanking “all of the volunteers, officials and athletes who welcomed and supported us” highlighting Lotteries Yukon, the Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle, Ralph Pentelski and Russ Whiteford among others.

“So the Yukon is looking strong and confident for the NAIG shooting events,” Irving said. “We are practising diligently and working on shooting, positioning and visualizing each week.”

Shooting will be one of 16 sports featured at NAIG, which is being held in 21 venues in Kjipuktuk (Halifax), Dartmouth and Millbrook First Nation in Nova Scotia from July 15 to 23.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at

Stephanie Waddell

About the Author: Stephanie Waddell

I joined Black Press in 2019 as a reporter for the Yukon News, becoming editor in February 2023.
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