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Ready to compete
Naujaat, Rankin cadets name biathlon, marksmanship teams

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Members of the 3019 Rankin Inlet and 3055 Naujaat Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps will be competing for top honours in marksmanship and biathlon during the next six weeks.

NNSL photo/graphic

Cadet Lance-Cpl. Felix Alakannuark draws a bead on his target during marksmanship practice in Naujaat earlier this month. - photo courtesy of Lloyd Francis

Each corps will be sending a six-cadet team to the biathlon, while Naujaat will have two teams vying for marksmanship honours and Rankin one team.

Naujaat was awarded the second team because the corps has more than 61 cadets.

The biathlon will be held from Feb. 12 to 15 in Whitehorse, Yukon, while the marksmanship competition starts with a mail-in qualifier.

Capt. Lloyd Francis said after the corps receives the targets around mid-February, the cadets will shoot in Naujaat and the targets will be mailed to be tallied.

He said if one of the two Naujaat teams advances to the next round, they will travel to Gimli, Man., in mid-March to compete.

"We have four boys and two girls going to the biathlon competition, as well as two staff cadets who will act as support," said Francis.

"We have five cadets on each of our two marksmanship teams, plus one alternate.

"Our shooting is good, but we really need to work on our skiing for the biathlon.

"The snow is not good in Naujaat -- being mostly ice -- and the kids find it very difficult, so going to Whitehorse, really, will be a learning experience for them this year."

Francis said about 35 cadets show up regularly for shooting every week.

He said four or five relays are held during the evening, as only eight cadets can shoot at a time.

"For our marksmanship tryout, we had everyone shoot the same number of targets, dropped their lowest couple of scores, and added the rest to determine our two teams.

"To make it more of a learning experience, there has to be two cadets on a team who are under the age of 15.

"We have a few cadets who are on both the biathlon team and one of the shooting teams, and every one of them are pumped for the competition.

"Biathlon and marksmanship are two of our four annual competitions, along with the drill-and-skill competition and the Army Cadet Challenge."

Rankin Inlet corps commander 2nd-Lt. Dorothy Tootoo said about 14 cadets started off competing for the six spots on the Rankin biathlon team.

She said a number of them dropped out as the training moved along and became progressively harder.

"We're confident we're sending the best team we can to the biathlon competition," said Tootoo.

"It was tough making the final couple of selections because of the junior- and senior-cadet criteria.

"It's the same with our marksmanship team having to include two junior cadets.

"Even though they may not be among your best shooters overall, you have to select them because they fit the criteria."

Tootoo said Rankin's been in the same boat as Naujaat when it comes to having difficulty being able to have the biathlon cadets practise their skiing.

She said a couple of times the cadets tried, but they only made it from one end of the FOL building to the other before she had to call them in because of the conditions.

"I had to haul them back in because their faces were starting to freeze, so they've really only been out once for a full practice on a Saturday afternoon since this past November.

"Our male athletes, Andrew Powell and Obadiah Sanguin, should be competitive despite the lack of practise because they do know how to ski and we've been working hard with them to improve their strength and fitness.

"We're trying to get them to the two-kilometre mark with their running, and we're having them do squats and things to build their leg muscles.

"We want them, more than anything, to really concentrate on their cardio and ability to breath properly, as well as how to slow down their breathing when they come in to shoot and things like that."

Tootoo said almost every Rankin cadet tried to make the marksmanship team.

She said most Rankin youth like to shoot and the Rankin marksmanship program is a good drawing card to get other young people involved in the cadet corps.

"The hardest part is the stand-up shoot because we're so used to doing the prone shoot over, and over, and over again.

"We only have three little lanes for the stand-up shoot, so it takes a lot longer to get the kids through.

"We may not win competitions, but our marksmanship program is doing quite well overall."

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