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Firing Off the start of the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration

The marksmanship skills of more than 300 sharpshooters from Canada and her allies will be tested during the annual Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration (CAFSAC).
Taking place at the Connaught Ranges in Ottawa, Ontario, the two-week competition will include international shooters from Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Individuals and teams representing the Canadian Armed Forces Regular Force, Primary Reserve, and Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups will also compete. The Concentration is held each year to help improve marksmanship and small arms proficiency, while at the same time increasing the operational effectiveness of the CAF.

During the two weeks, participants will be challenged by a variety of scenarios requiring them to shoot at targets from varying positions and distances. Using diverse weapons, such as the 9-mm Browning service pistol, the C7A1 service rifle and the C-9 Light Machine Gun, competitors are challenged in a series of challenging individual and team-based skills matches while wearing their “Full Fighting Order,” which consists of a tactical vest, helmet and ballistic eyewear. The event also includes a military biathlon, a series of traditional and dynamic shooting ranges as well as a night shoot.

“Each year, the Canadian Army ensures that the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration matches are challenging, relevant and reflective of the current operating environment. The Concentration is a training platform that hones skills such as shooting accuracy and tactical ability under stressful conditions through dynamic and traditional ranges,” says Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration director Lieutenant-Colonel Peter St Denis.

One of Canada’s longest-standing shooting competitions, the first concentration was hosted by the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association at La Prairie, Quebec in 1868. It moved to Connaught Ranges in 1921. While there are many trophies and medals up for contention, the top prize that all shooters have their eyes on is the prestigious Queen’s Medal.

First instituted by Queen Victoria in 1869, the Queen’s Medal and was initially awarded to the best shot from the British Army and Navy. It ceased to be issued after 1883 but was re-introduced by King George V in 1923 as the King’s Medal. It was open to participants from the United Kingdom, India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Today, it is awarded for the best shot at CAFSAC with the winner being carried in chair off the range by their fellow shooters. The Canadian Rangers compete for the Captain Shannon Wills QM1 Trophy.

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