Now sit right back, and let me tell you a little tale about Canada.
It begins with how shooting sports got its start in this beautiful country, and how they continue to thrive to this very day.
Put on your reading glasses, if you need ones like me, because it’ll be a lengthy one.
Part 1: History of Canada’s shooting sports
The first thing to know about Canada – believe it or not – is that it is still a fairly young country. We didn’t start growing as a nation until the mid-1800s. At that time, guns were mostly used for hunting for survival and personal protection. Kids, times were a lot tougher then. There were no McDonald’s on the corner you could simply drive through to pick up a burger and fries. Back then, meat for sustenance came from hunting and non-industrial farming, which is to say, very small scales.
Eventually, Canada became more established as a nation. When larger cities were established, agriculture, technology, and businesses flourished, with a railroad connecting us from coast to coast, interests in shooting started to take on more forms. Expanding from mostly hunting, the interests in firearms became more recreational.
By the 1860s, a handful of organized shooting clubs had been established, which developed competitions for rifle, pistol, and shotgun enthusiasts. By 1871, Canada had put together its first shooting team to compete at Wimbledon, UK. By this same year, shooting clubs had been established in almost every province throughout the land. And by the 1880s, trapshooting clubs with shotgun competitions had become well-established.
With the advent of the Modern Olympics in 1896, a number of shooting sports had been slated for competition. During the 1908 Olympics in London, UK, Canada’s shooting team did exceptionally well. In individual competition, Walter Ewing won a gold medal and George Beattie won a silver medal for Canada in trapshooting. At that same Olympics, Canada took home a Bronze Medal in the Team Military Rifle category and a Silver Medal for Canada in the Men’s Team Trapshooting competition.
The Olympics for 1916 were cancelled due to World War I – a significant time in Canadian history. Canadian men and women were busy helping the allies fight the enemy at places like Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge. Over 60,000 soldiers died and over 170,000 were injured in the Great War, whose great sacrifice and effort ultimately established Canada as a country of enduring character.
Between the two World Wars, Canada would fare well in shooting competitions. At the Paris Olympics in 1924, Canada’s Men’s Team would bring home the silver medal in Team Trap Shooting. And by 1932, a nation-wide organization was formed called the Canadian Small Bore Rifle Association. In 1949, it was renamed the Canadian Civilian Association of Marksmen.
It was not until after World War II that Canada would bring home some hardware at the Olympics. At the 1952 Games in Helsinki, Finland, George Genereux would stand alone as the Men’s winner of the Gold Medal in trap shooting. At the following 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia, two men won medals for Canada: Gerald Oulette won a Gold Medal in the 50-metre Rifle (prone position) category, while Gilmour Boa won a Bronze Medal for Canada in the same category.
By 1964, the Canadian Civilian Association of Marksmen was rebranded with its current name: The Shooting Federation of Canada (SFC) bringing together the trap and skeet associations under a single organization. The Federation is responsible for developing, coordinating, and administering all programs associated with Olympic-style shooting sports in Canada.
It would be quite sometime before Canada would fare well in shooting. At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Linda Thom won the Gold Medal for Canada in the Women’s 25-metre pistol category. Although Canada has not performed well in the medal rounds at recent Olympic events, at the 1987 Pan-Am Games, Canada won 5 golds, 2 silvers and 7 bronzes in various shooting events.
Today’s Canadian Olympic Shooting Team is comprised of promising shooters, who have performed very well at various competitions, such as the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Championships, Continental American Championships, Commonwealth Games, Continental American Championships, ISSF Junior World Championships, and the Pan American Games.
And allow me to share with you some inspiring news: some of Canada’s best shooters are women, in both competitive and tactical shooting. And the best snipers, according to the world records, are three Canadian men.
Perhaps one day, a young son or daughter from your home town will become one of Canada’s premier shooters, who will continue to bring home some shiny hardware and designate our great country as one of the top shooting nations in the world.
Thanks for reading this far.
Now go have fun, and shoot responsibly!
– A Canadian Dad, who loves history as much as shooting guns