Fort McMurray IPSC organizers hope to grow the sport as legislation takes aim at handguns

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Speed, discipline, accuracy and strategy were tested as dozens of sports shooters competed at the Fort McMurray Fish and Game Association. The competition was organized by the Alberta chapter of the International Practical Shooting Confederation.

Competitors are challenged to hit targets at different distances and heights. Different relays are designed for handguns, rifles and shotguns. The shooter must consider obstacles, cover, movement, reloading and clearing stoppages when it’s their turn to shoot.

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People must stay within designated areas when they are firing, and there are multiple officials watching for safety.

“It’s no different than any other sporting event. You get spectators and officials and participants coming here,” said local match director Marina Campbell. “We have everyone from software engineers to outdoors people. There’s office workers and construction workers. There’s young, old, women, men and people who just shot in their first match weekend.”

Local organizers hope to host more competitions and larger events in the future. They have not asked for support from the municipality or Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development and Tourism (FMWBEDT). But if they succeed in bringing larger events more often, Campbell says that might change.

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IPSC Alberta hosts competitions at ranges most weekends during the summer. Roughly 50 people came from outside Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo to shoot. This was the second IPSC Alberta competition in Fort McMurray this summer.

“These events bring in revenue to the community. Some of the people here are staying in hotels and eating in restaurants in town. Then it brings revenue for our club, which goes back to our members,” she said.

Current gun control legislation has organizers worried about the future of the sport’s handgun component. The federal government has recently put a freeze on importing, buying, selling and transferring handguns. Regulations aimed at capping and reducing the number of handguns in Canada are also in place.

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The legislation also makes it easier to revoke firearms licences in cases of domestic violence, criminal harassment or protection orders.

The federal government argues this legislation is needed to fight crime. Hunting groups, firearms organizations and some First Nations have argued that banning firearms will hurt law-abiding firearm owners, including hunters, collectors and competitive shooters.

Campbell said future competitions can include non-restricted firearms if the legislation passes the senate. She still argues it is still worth getting a restricted license, which is needed to use handguns and certain types of rifles, to demonstrate safe use of firearms.

“It’s disappointing because this will be the casualty of efforts to fight crime. This competition is not the problem,” she said. “The way they’re drawing the line in the sand doesn’t make any sense. This is what will be hurt more than anything.”

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