Silhouette Nationals being held here this week

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Grace Smith takes aim at a target Tuesday during the smallbore competition at the 2018 Canadian National Silhouette Championships at the Prince Albert Pistol and Rifle Club.

A week after hosting the Western Canadian Skeet Shooting Championship, the Prince Albert Pistol and Rifle Club is welcoming more of the best shooters in the country.

Competitors from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the United States are battling it out on the range just West of the city for the next few days as they vie for honours at the 2018 Canadian National Silhouette Championships.

“We expect to have around 40 participants here for the course of the week and everyone seems to be pleased with how things are going so far,” said Chris Conant, who is the Silhouette director for the Prince Albert Pistol & Rifle Club.

“We have shooters who were here before the forest fires took place around the range in 2002, which was when the trees were big and there was a lot of shelter from the wind. We also have people here that came for the last time we had the nationals five years ago, which was when the trees were very small and there was little shelter from the wind. It was pretty much like trying to shoot in the middle of a field.”

With only a handful of ranges able to host the event, the Canadian National Silhouette Championships tends to make its way to Prince Albert every five years.

“You need to have a facility that’s big enough to host the number of competitors that come out to an event like this,” Conant said.

“For example, in the small bore competition we are capable of having 16 shooters on the line at one time.”

The event got underway Sunday with the smallbore rifle competition, which saw shooters firing at targets from 40, 60, 77 and 100 metres away.

After three days of action, Derek Budd of Benalto, Alta. won the standard rifle event and Neil Suttil of Meadow Lake captured the hunting rifle title.

The high power rifle competition will begin Thursday and run until Saturday, with shooters aiming at targets that are 200, 300, 375 and 500 metres away.

“A lot of the basics are the same, but the weather plays more of a determining factor when you are using the high power rifle,” Conant said.

“For instance, if there’s a lot of wind there’s more of a chance that it will effect your shot.”

After a practice day Wednesday, the final three days of the competition will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.