Hunters aim for accuracy at rifle sighting event

Hunters aim for accuracy at rifle sighting event
Keith Schaefer (front) sights in his Remmington with the help of Environment and Natural Resources officers last Tuesday in Fort Smith at the annual “Sight in Your Rifle” event.Photo: Paul Bannister.

Hunters set their sights on a successful big game harvest last week in Fort Smith with the help of renewable resource officers at the department of Environment and Natural Resources’ annual “Sight in Your Rifle” event.

Around 30 people came out to the shooting range Tuesday and Wednesday evening last week to make sure their firearms were sighted properly, both to assist in a productive hunt and hopefully avoid leaving any animals wounded.

“The main thing is to help make people aware that they need to have their firearms sighted in properly before they go hunting just to ensure accurate shots, so if they do go harvesting, hopefully they won’t wound an animal by hitting it in the wrong place or whatnot, and just to help them to be more efficient with their harvesting,” renewable resource officer Tony Vermillion told The Journal.

Vermillion said the event, started up three years ago, is part of the department’s three-pillared compliance model, which focuses on education, prevention and enforcement.

“This falls more under the education part and awareness of having accurate firearms, just so there’s no wastage,” he said. “If your animal does get wounded and run away, it becomes a bigger task after that to retrieve the animal.”

Vermillion said participant numbers were up from last year, when around 20 people attended.

“It’s been improving every year,” he said.

Ethan Gillis, 7, gets some help from his grandfather Louie Beaulieu (left) and rangemaster Tony Vermillion, a renewable resources officer with Environment and Natural Resources, last Tuesday during the annual “Sight in Your Rifle” event at the Fort Smith shooting range.

Ethan Gillis, 7, gets some help from his grandfather Louie Beaulieu (left) and rangemaster Tony Vermillion, a renewable resources officer with Environment and Natural Resources, last Tuesday during the annual “Sight in Your Rifle” event at the Fort Smith shooting range.

Apart from being educational, Vermillion said the come-and-go event also provides an opportunity for hunters to network over a free barbecue and ask questions.

“It’s just for people to come and bring their firearms out and meet with other hunters, meet the officers and people who work in ENR. It’s a good time to make some contacts and ask any questions that they might have,” he said.

“We also have hunters helping other hunters to sight in their rifles. It’s not just us doing it; everyone’s kind of helping each other out. It’s a good get-together.”

The officers plan to do a similar event in Hay River in late September or early October.

Department spokesperson Judy McLinton couldn’t say what other, if any, rifle sighting events were taking place across the NWT this fall, but recommended hunters contact their local ENR office for more information.

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