RCAF officer takes “top shot” at small arms competition

News Article / September 20, 2016

To see more images, click the photograph under "Image Gallery".

By Captain SueEllen MacGowan

Major Ken Barling from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, located at 17 Wing, Winnipeg, was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Champion Shot in the Regular Force division at the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration (CAFSAC), which concluded on September 17, 2016.

This is the fourth time Major Barling has won the top honour in the Regular Force division.

Corporal Dave Ferguson from 1st Battalion, The Nova Scotia Highlanders in Truro, Nova Scotia, was awarded the Queen’s Medal for Champion Shot in the Reserve Force division and the top prize for Canadian Rangers, the Captain Shannon Wills QM1 Trophy, was awarded to Ranger Mustafa Dedeci from 2nd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group in Quebec. These three each had the highest aggregate scores over a series of qualifying rifle matches. 

More than 500 participants and staff made this year’s CAFSAC a rewarding experience. The event offered more than traditional matches, with teams competing in tactical close-fire scenarios and long-distance endurance events.

“We took current operations and developed dynamic ranges that went beyond traditional matches,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Christopher Comeau, the director of the CAFSAC. “Participants encountered scenarios where they had to mix their skills as marksmen with realistic challenges that come with battle, including protecting civilians, rescuing injured forces, and overcoming obstacles.”

From September 5 to 17, 2016, the Canadian Army hosted 21 teams at the Connaught Ranges and Primary Training Centre in Ottawa from September 5 to 17. Nearly 300 participants came from the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Canadian Rangers. As well, for the first time a team from the Royal Military College of Canada participated. Each used their own service weapon to compete, including pistol, rifle and light-machine gun.

The RCAF team consisted of Major Barling, Corporal Bret Kahler, 19 Air Maintenance Squadron, Comox, British Columbia ; Master Corporal Peter Van Eykeren, 426 Transport Training Squadron, Trenton, Ontario; Second Lieutenant Justin DeRoo from 17 Wing Winnipeg, Corporal John Brooks from 4 Line Squadron, Trenton; Captain Steven Burry, Second Lieutenant Zachary Austin, Second Lieutenant Jeremy Eddy, Sergeant Jason Malcolm, and Second Lieutenant Brandon Timmons, all from 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia; Corporal Brian Stengele from 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron, Trenton; and Aviator Maxim Tremblay from 436 Transport Squadron, Trenton.

Individual and team prizes were awarded to additional top shooters. The Top Shots on Pistol were awarded to Regular Force member Corporal Robert Wright from the 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Edmonton and Reserve Force member Corporal Matt Valcour from the Governor General’s Foot Guards in Ottawa. The two trophies for Top 12 member teams were both awarded to teams from 2nd Canadian Division (headquartered in Montreal): the Regular Force team received the Letson Trophy and the Reserve Force team received the Clarence R. Smith Trophy.

New and experienced participants developed side-by-side, with each team required to have two or more “tyro” (new participant) shooters as well as coaches. Top shooters shared their knowledge during professional development sessions as team captains and on the range. All spare shooters and staff working general duties were welcomed to compete against each other in recognition of their potential to return as top competitors.

This year, all five Canadian Ranger patrol groups were represented. The CAFSAC provided them with a unique opportunity to connect with fellow Rangers, compete in an international event, explore new cultures and experiences, and see the prototype C-19 rifle. Many Rangers traveled great distances to participate, with members from the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group arriving from locations in the North West Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.  

“This year’s Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration shooters and staff were excellent,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Comeau. “They worked hard, shared expertise and gained relevant experiences that will benefit their unit’s marksmanship skills and mission readiness. We hope to build on our successes from this year to make next year’s concentration even stronger.”

The Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration was first organized by the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association at its national range in La Prairie, Quebec, in 1868. It took place at various locations in the National Capital Region before finding its home at the Connaught Ranges Primary Training Centre, where it has been held since 1921.

This year is the 95th time the annual competition has been held.

The Queen’s Medal

The Queen’s Medal was first instituted by Queen Victoria in 1869 and was 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 (including Rhodesia).

Today it is known as the Queen’s Medal and only four Commonwealth countries – the United Kingdom, Jamaica, New Zealand and Canada – continue to issue it.

In Canada, from 1923 to 1952, only one medal was awarded to the best shot from the Militia (Army Reserve), RCMP or the Regular Force for the Service Rifle Individual Championship.

Beginning in 1953, the medal was only awarded to the winner of the Canadian Army or RCMP. However, that changed in 1963 when an additional medal was awarded to members of the Reserve Force. In 1964, the RCMP were moved from the Regular Force category and became eligible for the Reserve Force medal.

For a time, members of the Reserve Force, RCMP and the Canadian Rangers competed for the Reserve Queen’s Medal. Today, Rangers compete for the Captain Shannon Wills QM1 Trophy

From 1954 to 1967, another Queen’s Medal was issued for the best rifle shot in the Royal Canadian Air Force. In 1968, the Air Force Queen’s Medal was discontinued when the three branches of the military unified and the Canadian Army (Regular) Rifle Competition, now called CAFSAC, was created.In 1991, a specifically Canadian Queen’s Medal was created and has been awarded since that time. It was designed by the late Flight Sergeant Bruce Beatty who, following his retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces, worked in the Chancellery of Canadian Orders and Decorations at Rideau Hall. There, he designed many iconic medals and decorations, including the Order of Canada insignia.

Stay up to date

Date modified: