Thursday, February 14, 2008

Heck of a Shot

One of the things I love about my job is that I am constantly challenged to explore and discover new information. Often times this is a direct result of questions my students ask me during a class. Having taught here almost 3 years, my students know I'm not omniscient. As I remind them constantly, no one person can know everything about a given subject. I think sometimes due to the colonization process of the past, qallunaat were once thought to know everything. Heaven knows, many authority figures in the past attempted to pass themselves off this way in the past. Anyhow, I learned a quirky new fact this morning and was able to use it to teach my students about life.

We had just begun a look at Canada's involvement in WWI this morning and since the students have tomorrow off I thought I'd take a different approach to the class by having them ask me any questions they might have about the subject. Given that this is a hunting culture here, it didn't take very long before I was asked about firearms. Specifically, the subject of snipers came up. I read a Masters thesis back in university about sniper training in Canada's military during WWI so I was able to speak rather intelligently on the topic for several minutes. I then invited the students to take a look with me on Wikipedia to see what other things we could discover. (ah, Wikipedia, friend of social studies teachers everywhere).

A question came up about how far one could shoot and make a successful shot. We discovered that a Canadian soldier holds the record for the longest confirmed sniper kill. Corporal Rob Furlong of the PPCLI had a confirmed kill during Operation Anaconda in Afganistan in 2002 - a rather impressive 2430m (1.509 miles) .

I was a bit surprised I had never heard of this as I try to keep up to date on military matters. I guess I'm not surprised the feds wouldn't want this little tidbit of information to become too well-known as it tends to clash with its soft-hearted, loopy liberal, slushy delusions of Canadians as strictly peacekeepers who, God forbid, should never get involved in armed conflict. Anyhow, given the hunting culture here, the boys were quite impressed with this feat. I was able to use this morsel of information to explain how sniping (however gruesome or politically-incorrect one might find it) requires patience, determination and a high level of discipline - three qualities which also help you succeed in life.


jennifer of nunablog said...

Very cool, teach!

towniebastard said...

I actually did know that, I suspect mainly because the sniper in question is a Newfoundlander.

I think there was also some racket about it in the months that followed. I'm not usre if he's part of the military anymore. Also, the US wanted to give him a medal for his work in Afghanistan, but I think there was a racket about a Canadian solider accepting medals from Americans.

But still, it was a hell of a shot. And yeah, it might be gruesome, but it's nice how you tied the skills required into a good lesson.

Way Way Up said...

If I'm not mistaken, Furlong was awarded the Bronze Star, or at least he was recommended for it.

One thing I forgot to mention in the original post was that Furlong is now no longer in the Canadian Forces. Interestingly, he has returned to civilian life - as a police officer.

Aleks said...

Back to WWI, you wouldn't be getting too far as a sniper with a Ross rifle!! :-D

I am however pleased to the see the military still uses Lee Enfield 303's (haha), and I understand some hunters up there use them too.

Now there's a project for the kids, (not!). :-)

Clare said...

Actually aleks, snipers preferred the Ross Rifle due to its inherent accuracy. The Ross Rifle's problems stemmed from when it was rapidly fired, causing the bolt to jam. In the sniper's world that wasn't a problem and it was the sniper rifle of the CEF.

On that note Darcy, if you would like some background info on the Great War I can help. If you'd like I could even come in with some pictures, a German bayonet, and I have jpgs of my visit to Vimy (mostly graves).

There was quite an article in McLean's about the Canadian Snipers in Afghanistan. They were honoured by the American's but they were actually investigated by the Canadian Forces.

Clare said...

By the way, 2430 metres translates as a shot from the House to the start of the dump road. Incredible.