By Richard Lawrence
The Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration (CAFSAC) is an annual shooting match for CAF and foreign military teams using rifles, pistols and light machine guns, held to help improve marksmanship and small arms proficiency. In 2018 the competition was held at the Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre from 10th to 22nd September with teams from the CAF Regular Force, Primary Reserve, and the Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups (CRPG) as well as international teams from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
This event has been taking place, in one form or another and under differing organizations, since 1868 when the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association (DCRA) was founded as a response to possible external threats. The federal government thought that as the primary weapon of the day was the rifle and invasions would be met by militiamen from the civilian population, it was incumbent upon them to support an organization whose mandate was to “promote and encourage the training of marksmanship throughout Canada”. The result was that the DCRA brought 33 independent rifle associations from several provinces under a single organization. In return for the government’s support (which was free ammunition and military range access), the Militia Act (1904) stipulated that the DCRA had a legal obligation to the defence of Canada and its members were required to serve in the militia in times of emergency. CAFSAC, as it is now known, is now run by the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Center Headquarters
During CAFSAC, there are 25 different matches using different weapons, differing distances, and differing goals. And lest you think this is an ideal environment for shooting and bears no resemblance to real world conditions, think again. The participants are in full tactical kit, including body armour, ammo loads, rucksack, etc., and go despite the weather conditions. For the first week of the competition, they endured 30 degree direct sun with humidity added (up to 38 degrees) while on the 21st for the Queens Medal for Champion Shot event, they endured 10 degree temperatures in a downpour of rain with increasing winds (note that the evening of the 21st was when the tornados hit Ottawa). Nor are the positions static as some of the events require rundowns starting with firing positions at the 500 metre mark and then sprinting down to 400, 300, 200, and finally 100 metre positions, all in full kit, while shoot at stationary and moving targets at the different distances from prone, kneeling, and standing positions, with targets exposed for varying durations. It’s a test for sure. One of the matches, M31 – Soldier’s Cup Service Rifle and Light Machine Gun, required a three kilometre march followed by a full obstacle course before getting to the live fire section attack.
The final competition is for the Queen’s Medal for Champion Shot for the Regular and Primary Reserve members held in conjunction with the Captain Shannon Wills Trophy for the Canadian Rangers and the two are run as a single match – M15. This is the event noted above that starts at the 500 metre mark, in full kit, with four 100 metre sprints down to the 100 metre firing positions, firing from various positions at various targets with varying durations. One Queen’s Medal for Champion Shot is awarded to a member of the CAF Regular Force and another to the Primary Reserve or Royal Canadian Mounted Police member who has shot the highest scores in the qualifying matches at CAFSAC. The Shannon Wills Trophy is awarded to the Canadian Ranger with the highest score in the Canadian Ranger Open Match. The match was held under cloudy skies and intermittent rain with enough wind to move the shots around. This year, the winners are:
Queen's Medal for Champion Shot for top Regular Force shooter
1st Lt. B.P.J. Hordo 1198 with 90 Vs* RCAF
2nd Cpl P.B.J. Simard-Brodeur 1187 with 98 Vs 3 Can Div Reg
3rd MBdr R.C. Seawright 1183 with 75 Vs 5 Can Div Reg
Queen's Medal for Champion Shot for top Reserve Force shooter
1st Cpl T.W. Nault 1198 with 92 Vs 3 Can Div Res
2nd Cpl J.T. Roy-Gauvin 1189 with 88 Vs 2 Can Div Res
3rd Cpl B.G. Hunko 1180 with 78 Vs 3 Can Div Res
Shannon Wills trophy for top Canadian Ranger
1st Ranger Elijassiapik 859 with 39 Vs
2nd Ranger Barfoot 853 with 32 Vs
3rd Ranger Jaaka 800 with 17 Vs
It should be noted that the Queen’s Medal for Top Regular Force shooter went to and Air Force Lieutenant which I’m sure is being discussed by the land types. As well, the Rangers continued to shoot with the old Lee Enfield because not every Ranger has yet been issued with the new C-19 and it wouldn’t have been fair for everyone not to be using the same weapons.
*Vs stands for bulls-eye. As we use a 5-point target in Canada a bulls-eye is referred to V-bulls or Vs with the V coming from the Roman numeral for 5, or V.