Members of the Canadian Armed Forces Combat Shooting Team (CAFCST) made their country proud at the internationally exclusive, annual marksmanship competition, the Armed Forces Skill at Arms Meeting (AFSAM), by snatching the top prizes in the rifle category and winning an overall of 23 medals.
“It was a fantastic opportunity. It’s always great to work in an environment where everybody is really passionate about what they do, and everyone is the best at what they do,” said Lt. Matthew Clancey, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) delegation Team Captain.
Held from April 24 through April 28, AFSAM is hosted by the United States National Guard at the United States National Guard Marksmanship Training Centre in Little Rock, Arkansas.
This year’s AFSAM welcomed more than 60 competitors representing U.S. All Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. 2nd Infantry Division, Royal Air Force, British Army Reserves, Italian Army and the CAF.
The Canadian delegation was comprised of 13 members, including four reservists, from across the country. The delegates are chosen from the annual CAF Small Arms Concentration held in Ottawa. The top shooters from this Canadian marksmanship competition are chosen to represent the CAF in international competitions such as AFSAM.
Canada did remarkably well at this year’s AFSAM and won first and second place in individual rifle and first and second in team rifle awards.
“I think it’s a testament to our training system. When we get to go to competitions like this, and we dominate with the service riffle in the way we did this year, I think it really shows the members of the team that yeah we may not have the same size as some of the other nations, but we aren't lacking in any of the skill or quality that they have,” noted Clancey.
Winning at such a high level also validates the training of the CAF, says Clancey.
Although the competition is fiercely competitive, there is also a deep bond of camaraderie between the international shooters.
“All the members are friends, they all know each other, they all talk to each other. They exchange tactics, they exchange techniques, they really bond. The international camaraderie is really excellent,” said Clancey.
Not only is the competition a chance for CAF members to show off their skills, but it’s also a unique opportunity to gain invaluable training and skills.
“At the end of the day, everything that we do, if it doesn’t have a training value it doesn’t have any value to us as members of the CAF. I think this competition does an excellent job of having both a competitive atmosphere, that is operationally relevant and very much relevant to the requirements of soldiers in a modern military, but also has a good training value. It gives us an opportunity to work with other teams,” explained Clancey.
Overall, competitions such as AFSAM enable CAF members to establish crucial international alliances and prepare for any future international missions.
“Being able to work in an atmosphere with other countries, especially some of our closest partners in NATO and the Five Eye, is really an opportunity to get to know their tactics, their techniques, and the way they operate. And I think that enables our shooter to bring those skills back to their unit and really take the value of the competition that these 13 individuals have experienced and share it amongst the CAF,” said Clancey.