PICTOU - Pistols, rifles – even anti-armour weapons – were being used for training purposes at the armoury in Pictou this past weekend where about 75 members of the 1st Battallion of the Nova Scotia Highlanders from throughout Northern Nova Scotia were brushing up on their techniques.
“Basically we’re improving skills here,” said Deputy Commanding Officer Major Colin Todd.
Although there were plenty of guns for the training exercises, live ammo was not to be found as the reservists made use of modern technology to digitally track the accuracy of their shots. They also used the time to focus on proper technique for holding, loading and firing weapons.
“The last few years our shooting team has done very well,” Todd said. “We have one fellow who is actually the top shot in Canada.”
The majority of the participants are not full-time soldiers. Their roster includes everything from police officers and teachers, to nurses and students.
Regular training is held once a week and then once a month there is a weekend of training held preparing the men and women in the event they are needed. In the past members of the battalion have been called to serve in numerous places overseas including Bosnia, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan.
While numbers have remained relatively steady the last five years, Todd said it is dramatically lower than what it was when he first started with the group.
“In the late 80s we had over 400 soldiers,” he said. “Right now we’re sitting at just over 200. We’re a lot smaller than what we used to be.”
But they are actively recruiting with hopes of finding more people with an interest.
“Most people here are outdoors people,” Todd said. “They like being in shape. They like working somewhat outdoors. In January we did a winter survival weekend in Debert where we slept outside in tents.”
To participate in reserves a person has to be a Canadian citizen, at least 16-years-old and have completed Grade 10.
Todd, for his own part, is glad he has the reserves in his life.
“I think it adds excitement.”
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