Canadian Armed Forces Combat Shooting Team excels

Article / September 2, 2015 / Project number: 15-0129

Bisley, United Kingdom — Two of the Canadian Armed Forces Combat Shooting Team’s Reserve force members took first and third place in the honours category of the prominent annual Army Reserve Operational Shooting Concentration held in Bisley, United Kingdom from June 21 to July 1, 2015, which drew more than 700 military shooters from around the world

Sergeant Tatyana Danylyshyn of the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's) took the top shot honour for service rifle and Corporal Baron Hordo of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada earned third. They were competing with more than 700 other military shooters from around the world.

Opportunities such as the Bisley shooting competition allow our soldiers to hone their skills and deliver operational effectiveness. I am very proud of Sergeant Tatyana Danylyshyn’s exceptional performance and I applaud her for being a role model for her peers and the international community,” said Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Commander of the Canadian Army.

It was an honour to be selected to represent Canada at such a prestigious event, and a real privilege to be able to shoot with and against some of the best shooters from various nations in the world at Bisley. I am grateful for the skills I have learned and honed through the Canadian Army,” Sgt Danylyshyn said of her recent feat.

The Canadian shooters, with 1012 and 981 points respectively, sandwiched the second place shooter, British Reserve Corporal Johnny Moore, with a score of 1001.

The award for the Reserve Force top shot, known as the Queen’s Medal for Top Shots, went to Britain’s Cpl Moore.

So how, you may wonder, can the second place shot take the medal?

Queen’s Medals are awarded in the UK and at many Commonwealth nations’ small arms concentrations, including the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration (CAFSAC). However, shooters can only win a Queen’s Medal at the national concentration of their home country. They are also distinctive in that they are the only shooting medals that may be worn on dress uniforms. 

At international shooting competitions, visiting teams from other countries shoot “for honours” only, since the ultimate purpose of such national events is to identify and reward the host nations’ top shooters. Yet another reason for the honours approach is that every country uses its own kit and equipment. A truly fair international match would require identical gear and weapons for all, as is done at the Olympic Games.

Taking part in shooting concentrations, both at home and abroad, gives Canadian soldiers the opportunity to train and test their combat readiness. This training platform also allows Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members to share knowledge and best practices of small arms training with other participating nations, as did the Canadian team in this instance.

“Bisley,” as it is commonly known, is actually three concentrations held over a two-week period each summer. These include the Army Operational Shooting Concentration for Regular Force matches (in which Reserve Force members may shoot for honours) and the AROSC, which is the Reserve Force event where Sgt Danylyshyn took top shot. The third event is for the British national civilian shooting organization known as the National Rifle Association.

The 20-member Canadian team is made up of 10 Regular Force and 10 Reserve Force members and drawn from 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Canadian Divisions and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Team members, who qualify through high performance at the previous  national-level CAFSAC, shot their service rifles, service pistols and service light machine guns in the completion, placing strongly across the events.

Although the shooters perform highly as individuals, some AROSC events are team endeavours, like the section attack and the casualty evacuation. 

The CAFCST participated in combat shooting matches competing alongside and sharing best practices with the British military, German Army, United States Army and Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces,” said Captain Erin Neate, Bisley CAF Combat Shooting Team Contingent Commander. “The CAFCST placed in the top three for the majority of matches entered. The team is strongest in Service Rifle, Light Machine Gun and combat-oriented matches like section attacks, casualty evacuation or moving targets.

Highlights of the Regular Force members’ efforts include being named the second highest scoring international team overall, Top Fire Team Combat Snap Shoot, Top Light Machine Gun, second place in the Section Attack event. Two members made the top 10 International list.

The Reserve Force team members earned top shot overall (Sgt Danylyshyn) and top (honours) for the Section Attack and Casualty Evacuation event (with Sgt Danylyshyn as team section commander). Remarkably, all 10 Reservists achieved the Queen’s Medal “Stage Two” and the Army Reserve Top 50 (honours).

The ultimate goal of the CAFSAC program is to raise the standard of shooting in the Forces,” noted Sgt Danylyshyn. “The Army’s shooting program is designed not just so shooters can go to national competitions and come back with shiny stuff – it’s designed to essentially train coaches, so when they go back to their units, they have the kind of cutting-edge information on shooting that will benefit their units’ shooting abilities.

I believe CAFSAC is developing into the best and most relevant operational shooting competition I have been to,” she added. “It's a place where you learn to be a better shooter, and a better coach, by watching the different things that the best shooters do.

She credits Lieutenant-Colonel Don Haisell, the CAFSAC Director and Capt Neate for making CAFSAC a flexible and outstanding place to train, test and develop shooting skills.

I’ve had the chance to develop into a strong shooter because of the shooting program and being selected to join the CAF Combat Shooting Teams abroad,” said Sgt Danylyshyn. “I wouldn’t be such a good shooter without this program – you don’t develop on your own.

CAFSAC is conducted annually at the Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre in Ottawa each September. In addition to Service Rifle, Service Pistol and Light Machine Gun shoots, CAFSAC will also include the Canadian Army Skill-at-Arms Meeting.  The shoots in all three small arms disciplines are designed to be progressive from static to dynamic, and are updated annually to be combat-oriented and operationally relevant. 

CAFSAC 2015 will bring together approximately 300 of the top CAF, International and Police shooters and will occur from September 7 to 19, 2015. Allies and police services joining the CAF to compete at CAFSAC 2015 are the United States Army, British Army, British Army Reserve, Royal Air Force, Dutch Army, Toronto Police and Peel Regional Police.

By Lynn Capuano, Army Public Affairs

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