Whitehorse Daily Star

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SUPER SNIPERS – The Yukon North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Rifle Shooting Team poses for a pic at a shooting range in Taber Alta. during the Alberta Smallbore Rifle Association Provincial Championships. The Champs took place June 2-4. Left to right: Ava Irving-Staley, Alex Lebarge, Alexis Fields-Birkell, Josh Jackson, Jorja Bellmore-Smarch (in front with glasses), Jorja Jackson, Chad Itsi and Kolten Jim.

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STANDING SHOT – Alexis Fields-Birkell fires from a standing position.

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DOUBLE SHOOT – Jorja Bellmore-Smarch (left) and Jorja Jackson shoot from the standing position.

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'X' MARKS THE SPOT – Chad Itsi recorded three bullseyes.

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KNEELING SHOOTER – Chad Itsi shoots from a kneeling position.

Team Yukon competes at Alberta Smallbore Rifle Association Provincial Champs

The Yukon North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Rifle Shooting Team competed at the Alberta Smallbore Rifle Association Provincial Championships in Taber, Alta. recently.

By Freelancer on June 13, 2023

Revised - The Yukon North American Indigenous Games (NAIG) Rifle Shooting Team competed at the Alberta Smallbore Rifle Association Provincial Championships in Taber, Alta. recently.

The Provincials took place June 2-4. The team included:

U19 F: Ava Irving-Staley (Whitehorse), Alexis Fields-Birkell (Carmacks)

U16 F: Jorja Jackson (Haines Junction), Jorja Bellmore-Smarch (Carmacks)

U16 M: Alex Lebarge (Whitehorse), Josh Jackson (Haines Junction), Kolten Jim (Haines Junction), Chad Itsi (Haines Junction)

Some great results were had and much learning took place. The team has been practising since February together but many of the members have a background in shooting. Fields-Birkell and Bellmore-Smarch are both members of the youth Rangers group in Carmacks, and have competed in shooting with their Rangers group. Lebarge and Irving- Staley are part of the Yukon Biathlon team and have put their years of skiing and shooting into practice.

The shooting competition was at a really cool shooting range in Taber (and they haven’t really had a lot of competition there since COVID) so this was really neat for our Yukon kids, as well as the Alberta competitors. One of the highlights was meeting and watching Tye Ikeda, who is a national team member. He came over and talked with the kids and gave some insight into being a high level athlete in the sport.

Results: The youth competed on Saturday and Sunday. The competition was the same as what they will do at the NAIG in Nova Scotia in July: prone position for 20 shots, standing for 20 shots, and kneeling for 20 shots. Each competitor gets 30 minutes to make their 20 shots in each of the three positions and then the scores are added together.

The scores are done out of a total of 200 points per position; so four targets, with five shots per target for a total of 20 shots, and out of 200 points.

In Women’s Senior and Junior Division, Ava Irving-Staley and Alexis Fields-Birkell were super-close in their scores.

Fields-Birkell took the lead on Saturday with: Prone 185, Standing 152 and Kneeling 162.

Irving-Staley’s scores on Saturday were: Prone 180, Standing 121, and Kneeling 168 for a total of 469.

On Sunday, Irving-Staley took the lead with 187 in Prone, 137 in Standing and 172 in Kneeling.

Fields-Birkell shot: Prone 174, Standing 137 and Kneeling 153. The final scores of the two days totalled were: 965 for Irving-Staley, with Fields-Birkell scoring 963. Both females won the Senior and Junior Female Divisions. Although they were close in results, they were in separate divisions.

The other shooters in the Female shooting division were Jorja Jackson and Jorja Bellmore-Smarch. Jackson scored 169 in Prone, 61 Standing, and 111 in Kneeling on Saturday. Bellmore-Smarch scored 168 Prone, 89 in Standing, and 127 Kneeling.

On Sunday, Bellmore-Smarch scored 173 Prone, 90 Standing, and 131 in Kneeling. Bellmore-Smarch came second in Junior Women with a total score of 778 and Jackson third with a score of 734.

In the Male division, all the youth men were competing in the Junior Men’s division. Alex Lebarge had first place total results: Prone 179, Standing 121, Kneeling 171 on Saturday and Sunday: Prone 186, Standing 121, and Kneeling 177 for a total score of 953.

Second place was Kolten Jim with: Prone 156, Standing 111, and Kneeling 136 on Saturday and Sunday: Prone 167, Standing 111, and Kneeling 128 for a total of 809. Third place was Josh Jackson with 166 prone, Standing 135, and Kneeling 140 on Saturday.

Sunday, he scored 131 Prone, 77 in Standing, and 106 in Kneeling for a total score of 755 and an overall third place finish. Chad Itsi came fourth in Junior Men; Saturday: Prone 150, Standing 67, and Kneeling 93 and Sunday: 148 Prone, 96 Standing and 107 Kneeling for a total of 649.

Although all athletes competed in the 50 metre events of Prone, Standing and Kneeling, Ava Irving-Staley tried her hand at the 100 Metre Prone shooting event as well. In this event, she scored an impressive 330, which was second place to her competitor, Ekaterina Fissenko, who scored 365. However, Fissenko had a shooting jacket and match rifle (which is like a biathlon rifle and very accurate) whereas Ava had no specialized equipment and still made a very respectable score in this event with a sporter rifle. Very impressive to watch everybody shooting!

So the Yukon is looking strong and confident for the NAIG shooting events. We are practicing diligently and working on shooting, positioning and visualizing each week.

Huge thanks to Lotteries Yukon, Yukon Aboriginal Sport Circle, Ralph Pentelski, Russ Whiteford, and all of the volunteers, officials and athletes who welcomed and supported us in our first outside of Yukon shooting competition!

– Submitted by Trena Irving.

Comments (1)

Up 12 Down 1

Kevin O'Grady on Jun 14, 2023 at 12:23 pm

It was a pleasure to host this event and have dedicated young athletes come a shoot at our competition. We would be honoured to work with your NAIG organization to welcome them back to see their growth. Maybe in the future our paths may cross again, or better yet we come visit the beautiful Yukon.
Take Care/Be Safe - Kevin

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