The best sharpshooters in North America will be heading to Cranbrook next week to participate in the Canadian National Championships for metallic silhouette shooting, which is hosted by the Bull River Shooters Association out near Fort Steele.
The club has two members who own all four championship trophies from last year’s national competition in Calgary, which means there will be lots of shooters looking to dethrone the local reigning champs during the week of July 30-Aug 5.
Club president Jeramy Marsh is looking forward to hosting roughly 90 participants, who are coming in from all across Canada, the United States and Mexico.
“We got lots of top shooters from all over the place coming,” said Marsh, “and there’s some rivalries that are up for challenge here. Our club got back all four trophies last year at the Canadian Nationals so there’s other clubs that are coming to take those back, so there are some good challenges that are going to be going on.”
Silhouette shooting involves hitting metallic animal targets at varying distances with small-bore (.22 calibre) or high powered rifles. The targets are set up on a rail and must be knocked off to score a hit.
Participants shoot from a standing position at targets that are between 40 to 100 metres away for small-bore rifles and up to 200 to 500 metres for high power rifles.
The competition will start with the small bore shooting from Sunday, July 30 and run to Aug. 2. Following the small-bore competition, the high power rife event will get going, with a day for sight in on Wednesday, Aug. 3 and competitive shooting on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Spectators are welcome to come out during the competition. Opening ceremonies, including playing the national anthems of Canada, the United States and Mexico, will begin on Sunday.
Marsh says people can bring a lawn chair and binoculars and observe the action behind the firing line. Ear protection isn’t necessary for the small-bore portion, however, it is advisable for the high-power events.
Marsh estimates that there are up to 40 local shooters who will be participating.
It’s the second time the Bull River Shooters have hosted the Canadian Nationals, as the club held the same event 17 years ago.
“This club’s reputation for putting on great matches, high quality shooting, it travels throughout this whole sport of silhouette,” Marsh said. “When people found out we were hosting nationals, I was getting calls from shooters all over the place saying when they heard we were hosting this again, they wanted to be there and get their entries in.”
Landing a national competition is no small feat, however, the gun range that the club uses just off Highway 93/95 between Cranbrook and Fort Steele is more than adequate for hosting the event.
“We have the ability to host the small-bore and the higher power events all at one range,” Marsh said. “We have a huge firing line with a roof over us, with a good big cement pad for everybody to stand on for shooting and spotting. We also, on our small-bore, have five banks of animals at the four different ranges we have, so we can run 20 shooters all at once.”
Marsh has been shooting silhouette with his brothers since he was a young teenager, and the East Kootenay region has the strongest concentration of silhouette shooters in the country, drawing anywhere from 20-35 shooters for mostly club matches.
“ We weren’t getting the numbers like we did, but we really started promoted trying to get families involved in this, getting juniors to come out and see how much fun this sport is,” Marsh said. “Once people are around the shooters and the club, they find out what a great bunch of people there are out there.
“…There is an instant reaction when you hit your target and the metal target flies off the rail, you get that instant feedback of whether it was a good shot or not so good and it’s kind of addicting. It really gets people hooked on the sport and coming out once a month being around everybody at the club.”
For more information about the Bull River Shooters Association, contact Marsh at 250-420-7302.