Engineering student is an air gun athlete
His family has a tradition of hunting, but it wasn’t until René De Haître, an Ottawa-native, came to St. John’s, Newfoundland to study ocean and naval architectural engineering at Memorial University that he started shooting on national and international levels.
“I came to MUN in 2009 and during my first year, I looked around to see what there was to do. I discovered the Newfoundland and Labrador Shooting Association located on the bottom floor of the Physical Education Building and that’s where it began,” he explained.
After trying a few sessions, De Haître became a member.
“I started out with air rifle shooting but after a few months decided to try out air pistol. The guns shoot under 500 feet per second and it’s all about precision,” he said.
De Haître explained that all the guns are air guns, which are essentially pellet guns. The only difference is that they’re made in Switzerland, Germany, which, according to De Haître offer the most consistent and accurate guns possible.
A year or so later, De Haître started competing and represented Newfoundland at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax.
“I was adopted as an honorary Newfoundlander because I’m a full time student here. The officials from the Canada Winter Games decided I could represent Newfoundland. I placed fifth, with just 7 points difference between first and fifth place. We were all very close and it could have been anyone’s,” he explained.
De Haître was the only male Newfoundlander pistol shooter and the only person from the Atlantic Provinces to make it to the finals.
“It felt pretty good. My teammates won bronze and silver medals. The shooting events received the most medals for Newfoundland at those games,” he said.
After the Canada Winter Games in February 2011, De Haître competed at the Canadian Pistol Nationals in the summer of 2012 and came in 12th overall in Canada. He and his teammate were the first Newfoundlanders to attend the Canadian Pistol Nationals in over a decade.
After doing well at a couple of national competitions, De Haître entered his first major international competition this past September, the World University Shooting Championship in Russia.
“The event is a trial run for the university games in summer 2013. But, for my first international competition, it was an eye opener. It felt like I was the house league compared to the rest of the world, which would be the NHL. The other difference is that I am studying ocean and naval architectural engineering for my undergraduate degree where most of the people I competed against are doing their university degree in target shooting. They spend all their time training, perfecting their techniques and going to competitions,” he said.
De Haître came in 22nd out of 25 in the free pistol, which is at 50 metres and 24th out of 27 in the air pistol.
“With the air pistol, you are 10 metres from your target, which has the 10- point ring the size of a dime. The nine-point ring is the size of a quarter, and so on. Free pistol is the exact same event except your firearm is a 22-caliber custom single shot pistol. The target is 50 meters away and has a 10-point ring that is two inches in diameter, the nine ring is four inches, and so on. On average, I’m shooting about high 540s out of 600. My highest score to date is 558 out of 600 per match, which is only 5 points from being eligible for the Canadian national development team. To help understand what I have achieved I can usually group 60 shots at 10 metres, within the size of a quarter, off hand. My goal was to go to Russia and get some experience and to learn how these professionals are so good. These people do this every day so it felt great to not come in last,” he said with a smile.
De Haître hopes to continue shooting, improve, and represent Newfoundland.
“I hope to get my scores up so that I can qualify for the national development team and keep representing Newfoundland on the Canada Team. We also need to recruit more in the province. Right now, though, I’m focused on my engineering degree, but I definitely plan to continue shooting.”
To learn more about the Newfoundland and Labrador Shooting Association, please contact email@example.com or visit www.nlshooting.ca.