The saying, "A smile is worth a thousand words" is not lost on Gunner Connor Browett and Warrant Officer Colin Lowrie from 2520 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.
The two Brandon cadets achieved high scores in the Stage II Marksmanship competition recently held at the Brandon Armoury, sending them to the Stage III Provincial competition held in Gimli, MB.
The Gimli Cadet Training Centre was the showcase for the many youth, ages 12-18, to display their shooting skills on Saturday, April 5. Top-shot cadets, from across Manitoba, represented their army, sea and air cadet corps in this intense sport which brings together a marksman’s personal skill in keeping a steady hand, a sharp eye and controlled breathing.
These skills must be synchronized in the firing of the .177cal Daisy Air Rifle at a target 10 meters away while lying in the prone position and in the standing position.
Senior cadet, Warrant Officer Colin Lowrie remarked about the targets used.
"It was the first time that we used the electronic targets," Lowrie said. "That was new for us and very interesting. We could sight in our rifles better because the viewing screen was beside you. You didn’t have to rely on binoculars to see how accurate your shot was. We were allowed as many sighting pellets as we wanted but once we started firing for points it capped at 20 shots. If we went over 20 pellets they started docking points off our score."
Both cadets were put on separate composite teams of five cadets per team. Each team consisted of cadets of various ages; three senior cadets and two juniors per team, and from different corps across the province. They were also assigned a coach, usually a cadet instructor officer with marksmanship training and experience.
"Most of the members on my composite team were air cadets from Portage la Prairie. I had a really great team," Lowrie said. "There were many highlights of my weekend at Gimli. Meeting new cadets and working together as a team with cadets from other corps was a lot of fun. It was a great experience."
As the weekend progressed, Gunner Connor Browett claimed the gold medal for the province as Top Shot in the junior category, standing position. He also achieved the bronze medal for Top Shot in the prone and standing positions combined, in the junior category (12-14 year olds), thus qualifying him for the Stage IV National Marksmanship Championship.
"It was a great experience. I met so many new people and have many new friends from across Manitoba," Browett said. "Everyone there had such good shots. I was so lucky that I had such skilled people on my team and I thought to myself, ‘We have a good chance of winning because everyone on my team has such a good shot!’ But then," laughs the twelve year old, "I realized everyone else who’s not on my team also have great shots!"
Typically, contenders in the national competition travel to Valcartier, Que. to compete against the best from each province. However, due to military cutbacks, also affecting the cadet program, the contenders remained in Gimli an extra day to compete in a new competition with a new composite team and coach, vying for Top Shot on the National level.
"My coach had competed in the nationals himself, as a cadet in his younger years," Browett says. "And he had previously coached teams who had competed in the nationals, so he gave me great advice."
Sharing highlights of his experience, Browett’s face beams. "Getting to go to Gimli to compete in shooting, as my first year in the cadet program, and meeting other cadets from all over Manitoba was great. Going on to compete in the Nationals was amazing and my shot really improved over the two days. My last few shots will always stick in my mind. It was all just so much fun!"
Three cadets from Browett’s Provincial team received medals for their outstanding shooting. "I was just as happy when each of my team mates got a medal as when I got a medal because you knew this was your team. How good can we do all together? The higher the points we all get now, the higher our combined score as a team in the nationals!"
All score sheets from the weekend are in process of being evaluated and the results have yet to be determined. "This was a pretty exciting weekend for all of us at our corps," says Brandon’s 2520 Army Cadet Corps’ Commanding Officer, Capt. Rob Lussier. "This is the first time we’ve had cadets go to Provincials, achieve medals and qualify for Nationals. Both cadets did an amazing job throughout the weekend and we’re proud of them both. Now, we’re just waiting to see what their scores are for the national competition!"
The cadet program is a national youth development program which aims to grow in youth the attributes of good citizenship and leadership, promote physical fitness, and stimulate the interest of youth in the sea, land and air activities of the Canadian Armed Forces.
For more information call Captain Rob Lussier at 204-720-1494, go to 2520armycadets.com or go to cadets.ca