Trooper vs Race Gunner: Reopening the Divide Between Canadian Gun Owners

I’m taking time off for Christmas 2018, and as I type this, am in a fairly large Facebook conversation with some of the individuals responsible for planning out the 2019 season.

One remark that I found particularly intriguing was from a young man in his 20’s who is very active and serious in the competitive shooting circuit.  I’m very impressed by his accomplishments – he only started 3-Gun shooting 2 years ago, but I suspect he has it in him to be one of the best competitive shooters in the country.

In describing his whirlwind tour for the season, he made the remark:

“I’ve met a lot of competitive shooters this year and I was pretty surprised to hear that most of them know of you, and they really, really hate you.”

While personally, I try not to harbor animosity towards (or foster it within) others, I can understand why.

If you are one of those competitors, I sincerely am sorry you feel that way, but in no way will I change course on the basis of your disapproval.  It’s nothing personal against you (although I really don’t even know who you are), but I shoot the way I shoot because I love doing it and because I’m standing for a principle.

Again I reiterate, even and especially if you have hate me, I don’t hate you.

The topic of the conversation revolved around my recent interest in taking up “Trooper Division” style shooting, which by my estimation is a nascent (or in actuality, the original and revived) mentality related to 3-Gun shooting that involves “field appropriate” equipment and places more emphasis on the raw physicality of action shooting as opposed to employing technical strategies to derive the fastest time / lowest score.

Basically, physical, tactical gunning versus performance race gunning.

To be clear, I’m in no way criticizing the race gunning.  I think it requires an enormous amount of skill and dedication to be good at it and have profound respect for the guys who have the talent (and dedication) to take it on.

Maybe some of the hate stems from my use of the term “Peacock” shooting to describe race gunning.  But to elaborate on that, I think Race-gunning bears elements of the “Handicap Principle” of evolutionary biology, wherein sexually dimorphic animal species, the ability of a male of the species puts on extravagant displays requiring the massive outlay of resources as a way to signal to females their sexual worthiness.

Basically, male Peacocks with the most elaborate plumage (hard earned by working harder at procuring resources than other males) can convince a female he is dominant within the male hierarchy and most worthy of her attention.

That in no way is meant to be disrespectful, but I think a valuable metaphor to make to describe why shooting (especially race-gunning) should inspire young men to work hard and work to better themselves – so they can procure the resources necessary to climb up the male dominance hierarchy: as demonstrated by their brightly colored guns and mad run and gun skills… but I digress.

Race gunning has not, does not, and never will appeal to me.

Not because I don’t believe in climbing the male dominance hierarchy, but because I believe in a different expression of masculinity.  Something more akin to lion prides, wherein male lions endowed with physiological features and the capability to act as a protector enable them to be the leaders of their individual pride.

A parallel to the “lion pride” mentality is one commonly used in the American CCW community of “the sheep dog.”  To be a man who, like a sheep dog, looks as intimidating as a wolf, but is actually committed to (and capable of) protecting the sheep from them.

It is for this reason I have gravitated towards the re-emerging “Trooper Division” type of shooting that is emerging in the United States (and I earnestly hope, will eventually here in Canada).  I’m not so inclined (and have no reason) to demonstrate I have the discretionary resources to climb the male dominance hierarchy.  But I do have a wife and 4 young daughters who will one day be teenagers, young women and, God willing, grown women.

Having volunteered (both through Young Guns and through my church) for years with teenagers, I can attest that one of the greatest handicaps a TEENAGE girl (and I suspect a the woman she grows into being) is the absence of a positive, male role model.  As fathers, I believe either a peacock or a lion can be a good role model to a girl, I, however, unequivocally gravitate towards identifying as a lion.

To put this into broader context, as well as why I’m not overtly concerned about being a lightning rod of hate within the competition shooting community is that gun ownership is a massive pillar within the ongoing cultural war that I believe is hitting it’s apex, and within a decade or so, will come to a resolution.

The three factions of the culture war are:

  1. The anti-liberty, anti-individual, collectivists.
  2. The anti-authority, anti-collective individualists.
  3. The silent majority.

I self identify more as group #2, but with the passing of time, I’ve come to moderate my view somewhat.  I’m not an anarchist and I don’t think total liberty necessarily will result universally in positive outcomes – but that’s a whole other article for another time.

Many (if not most) of the driving figures or those with strong opinions on protecting and enhancing gun rights sit within this camp.

The gun grabbers absolutely are entrenched within group #1.

Here is the interesting paradox.

Within Canada, the 2 million or so licensed gun owners (and odds are 2-3x more total individuals with indirect exposure to access of firearms, such as family members of a household with a PAL holder, etc.) reside within all 3 camps.

There are pro-union, pro-LGBT, green, socialist gun owners.  There are zero-government, zero-income tax, universal free-market gun owners.  I think the proportion of these people are probably equal in size.

The vast majority of gun owners, on the other hand, occupy the silent majority.

Herein is the problem with the “Trooper” vs “Race gunner” debate, from a Canadian perspective.

The historic ability of Canadian gun owners to lobby for political protection of their way of life has been somewhat underwhelming.  Personally, I believe this was an intentional consequence of the Chretien government’s creation of certain rules and regulations in C-68 that in affect, Balkanized the Canadian gun community by region.

(As a side, I think there is some very encouraging work being done by CCFR to help change this, but they have a serious uphill battle to fight.  Please consider supporting them.)

One of the biggest problems within the Canadian Firearms community (in particular manifest in the “turf wars” C-68 created for everything, from insurance providers, to range certification, business licensing) is the inability for gun owners to come together and recognize that other gun owners whose shooting interests and proclivities are different from their own have value.

Instead, there is antagonization, back-biting, character assassination, and infighting.

The result:

A divided community, easily conquered by our political opponents.  Piece by piece, the community dismantled.

I highlighted to the talented young 3-Gunner a bit of a sobering piece of information.

There are in the order of about 100-200k AR-15’s in the country (I haven’t combed through the data on my copy of the 2015 registry, but will one day).

A similar order of magnitude of pistol owners.

For ease of computation, let’s say there’s around 200k potential individuals in Canada who COULD participate in 3-gun competition.  I would be astonished if 10% of them actually do (my guess is the number is closer to 5%).

That is between 10-20k potential gun owners who have a vested interest in competition 3-gun shooting, which by my estimation has gravitated more towards “Race gunning” than “Trooper.”

To put it in context, the best estimates from before the Long Guns Registry was abolished was there were between 10-20 million non-restricted guns, with approximately 1 million restricted and prohibited, with approximately 2 million licenses of all types.

United, that could be a fairly large demographic with political clout in a country of 37 million people.

However, to highlight the one of the problems with the competitive 3-gun community is in the fact that there is only 1 gun club in the Calgary region running organized 3-gun competitions (there are more in Southern Alberta, but for actual competition, CDTSA is the only 3-gun game in town… for now).

Personally, I really enjoy the CDTSA “outlaw” 3-gun match, and hope to seriously get more involved with them.  They have a great facility, and a great core group of volunteers who run the group

(As an aside, I have seen first hand how Balkanizing the community is one of the greatest ways to deter volunteerism, which is the essential component to running ANY shooting program.)

Calgary has some of the highest per-capita rates of firearms ownership in the country (off memory, I can’t recall, but I think it may be the highest).

But even in gun friendly Calgary, there is only 1 club running organized 3-gun competitions with approximately 60-80 shooters turning, that means the political influence the 3-gun community wields is insignificant.

No one truly knows how many guns there are in Canada or how many gun-friendly votes there are, but unless we as gun owners can get past the superficiality of sub-communities of gun owners, we do not stand a chance against the anti-gun movement in persuading the majority to annihilate our entire community.

It’s already been proposed by the Trudeau Federal Government.

Divided as the entire Canadian gun-community is, I have ALWAYS strove to try to make shooting more inclusive to every type of shooter.

Maybe that’s why I’m a lightning rod of hate, because many gun owners are fiercely set in their ways and can’t perceive the bigger danger lurking beyond their clique of shooters.

My guiding principle (at times, followed imperfectly, I admit) has always been to create a broad coalition of shooters, across different disciplines together to recognize that if we don’t unite, one day we will all lose our guns.

I’m sorry if you don’t think that’s possible because I like shooting with a ballistic helmet and body armor.  In no way do I discourage you to shoot how you shoot, but in no way should you expect your disapproval to change my proclivities and preferences.


The primary criticism I have received dressing up in tactical MOLLE gear as long as I have been a civilian sport shooter is that I am engaging in “combat training.”

Personally, I think that is a misnomer, since nowhere does the Criminal code of Canada prohibit “combat training.”  If it did, martial arts with combat elements like boxing, wrestling, karate, and MMA would all be illegal.

By the same logic, airsoft and paintball would be illegal as well.

Personally, I look to “Trooper Division” style shooting as more akin to MilSim airsoft and paintball than actual “combat training” (which itself is not illegal).

It’s not militia training, it’s a game within a sport (I call it “Tactical LARPING”).

The actual section of the Criminal Code relating to militia explicitly says:

Race-gunners would do well to note that zealous anti-gunners could interpret (or push for an interpretation) that Section 70(a)(ii) of the Criminal Code could be applied to ANY use of any firearm for ANY purpose, regardless of the apparel worn.

Unlawful Drilling

Marginal note:Orders by Governor in Council

  •  (1) The Governor in Council may, by proclamation, make orders

    • (a) to prohibit assemblies, without lawful authority, of persons for the purpose

      • (i) of training or drilling themselves,

      • (ii) of being trained or drilled to the use of arms, or

      • (iii) of practising military exercises; or

    • (b) to prohibit persons when assembled for any purpose from training or drilling themselves or from being trained or drilled.



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