Canadian Rangers compete with historic .303 rifles for the last time

Canadian Rangers and soldiers during CAFSAC 2018
Ranger Cindy Suganaqueb of Webequie, right, shoots with other Canadian Rangers and soldiers during CAFSAC 2018. Photo: Submitted

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By Sergeant Peter Moon, 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group

A team of Canadian Rangers from Northern Ontario shot against some of the best military marksmen in Canada at the 2018 Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration (CAFSAC) in September.

The Rangers’ historic .303 Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles were used in a national shooting competition for the last time at the historic Connaught Ranges near Ottawa. The annual competition attracted 450 shooters and staff from the CAF and teams from Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, and the United States.

“A lot of the Rangers from across Canada were happy to show off their .303 Ranger rifles for the last time to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the teams representing other nations,” said Warrant Officer Ben Kirke. “It’s the last year the rifles will be used at CAFSAC. Next year, all the Rangers will be competing with the new C-19 Ranger rifle.”

The Lee-Enfield has been used by the Rangers since 1947, and is in the process of being replaced with the C-19, a specially designed .308 bolt action rifle.

The Rangers gave soldiers at the competition an opportunity to fire their .303 rifles, and in turn, got to shoot other weapons.

“There was tremendous interest in our rifles,” said Corporal Jordan Ayearst, a Ranger and hunter from Moose Factory, a small Cree community on James Bay. “We were as excited to see their modern weapons as they were to see our Lee-Enfields. A lot of them were familiar with automatic weapons but they’d never fired a bolt action rifle before.”

He had read about the Steyr AUG assault rifle used by the Australian Defence Force, and had always wanted to fire one. “Sergeant Tom Squires of the Australian team let me shoot with his and I let him shoot with my Lee-Enfield,” he said.

The Rangers had opportunities during the event to shoot with pistols, sniper rifles, assault rifles, and light machine guns.

“CAFSAC was everything I hoped it would be,” Cpl Ayearst said. “I learned from the training we did before we got here and I learned from being here. I go home a better shot.”

The team members from Northern Ontario were Ranger Hondy Atlookan from Eabametoong, Corporal Jordan Ayearst from Moose Factory, Ranger Leonard Beaver from Webequie, Ranger Zedekiah Brisket from Wunnumin, Ranger Kyle Linklater from Peawanuck, Ranger Jerome Mack from Peawanuck, Ranger Cindy Suganaqueb from Webequie, and Master Corporal Donny Sutherland from Constance Lake.

Image gallery

  • Corporal Jordan Ayearst of Moose Factory fires his .303 Lee-Enfield Ranger rifle in a competition shoot during CAFSAC 2018
  • Master Corporal Donny Sutherland, right, runs from one shooting position to another in a during CAFSAC 2018
  • Corporal Jordan Ayearst (left) holds an Australian Steyr AUG assault rifle while Sergeant Tom Squires (right) of the Australian Defence Force holds a Canadian Ranger .303 bolt action rifle
  • Corporal Jordan Ayearst
  • Canadian Rangers and soldiers during CAFSAC 2018
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