A target-shooting enthusiast from Weyburn, Jeremy Murray, has qualified to represent Canada at a world-level competition in pistol-shooting in October.
He teaches firearm safety and hunter education classes in the Weyburn area, and has been involved with the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) for the past few years.
“I started in Weyburn in 2004, shooting with the Weyburn Rifle and Pistol Club in the city,” said Murray, noting his interest was raised considerably when he was introduced to the IDPA style of shooting, which involves being able to move rather than the traditional style of sitting or standing in one spot to shoot at a target.
As he became more involved with the IDPA style of shooting competitions, he began to travel into the United States for more competitions held by the United States Pistol Shooting Association, and the International Practical Shooters Confederation.
With the IDPA, he started as a range officer and a safety officer at competition, “so I actually held the competitions and shot in them.”
Murray said competitors are rated in the association according to a number of criteria after members take part in classifier matches.
“You start as a novice, and work your way up to marksman, sharpshooter, expert and master. So currently, I am ranked as an expert,” explained Murray, noting he needs to shave a few seconds off his time before he qualifies as a master, the highest level.
With this classification, he goes up against others in the same category with the same level of abilities.
“We’re ranked on our ability and we’re ranked on our equipment as well. The equipment I have is an ESP or enhanced service pistol,” he said, noting his weapon is a 9mm handgun. He has competed with rifles as well, but his preference for competing is his pistol.
He has qualified to attend the world competition set for Talladega, Alabama, on Oct. 23, and Murray has set up a gofundme page to help him a little bit with expenses. The goal he has set on the page is $2,500.
He notes it can get very pricy as a competitor, with the cost of ammunition particularly. In a short practice round with his handgun at the Weyburn range for this interview, Murray estimated he shot off about $40 worth of bullets.
The main difference between IDPA shooting and the standard practice of standing or sitting in one position is the movement, as shooters hone their skills in using a tactical way as they shoot at their target within a certain time frame.
Even with the movement allowed, however, there are strict guidelines as to how far a shooter can move, and a safety officer ensures that a pistol is never pointed outside of the target zone, or else the shooter is disqualified from taking part any further at that competition.
“So yeah, you’ve really got to go in with a game place and know your movements ahead of time,” said Murray. “Down here (at the Weyburn gun range), it’s kind of a poor representation, because I’m dedicated to that line. There’s no dynamic movement there.”
He notes that the Weyburn club does have an outdoor range along with the indoor one, and once you’re a member, you would then have access to them both.
“We manage a shooting team, called Team Ramrod, that practices IDPA, a little bit of two-gun shooting with a rifle and a pistol. I also shoot three-gun, which is a rifle, pistol and shotgun. It’s a lot of the same movements, but you’re using different firearms for that.”
Larger clubs in Regina and Saskatoon hold competitions for that, along with Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg, while Murray has also been travelling to competitions in Minot, N.D., and Plentywood, Mont.
To qualify for the worlds, he attended the Minnesota State Championship in June, where he won as the high international shooter, earning enough points for him to qualify for the world competition.
Murray admits he did not expect to do this well, and was surprised to find out he could represent Canada in the enhanced pistol competition, expert category.
“I really stumbled upon it, I really wasn’t planning for that level of competition,” he said, noting if someone had told him a few months he’d be representing this province and country at an international competition, he would’ve laughed out loud.
For most of the competitions he attends, there’s a $20 cost to cover the expense of the targets and the competition, but for the world competition, he had to pay a $400 fee up front just to get in.
At the world competition, he has been put into a squad of shooters from other countries in the same category he shoots in, with competitors from Germany, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands and France in his group.
Murray has found there is a lot support from other shooters within a competition, which he finds quite unusual compared to other sports.
“When you go into this competition, nobody wants to see you fail, everybody wants to see you perform at 100-per-cent. So if you have equipment failure, people are there to back you up. If you don’t have enough ammunition, people will give you enough so you can perform to your best ability and shoot your competition. I’ve never been discouraged in this sport,” said Murray.
He notes his 13-year-old son Everett has also picked up the sport, and often competes with him, with a marksman rating so far.
Murray hopes that with his work as a firearms instructor, hunter ed instructor and as a competitive shooter, he is able to take some of the stigma out of the use of firearms, which he admits is very strong in the national media. His view is, a handgun is a tool just like a hammer is a tool for building a house, and it all depends on its intended use. While people question the use of handguns, he points out that for him it’s useful as a competitive target shooter.
There are checks and balances in place to ensure the safety of the weapons he uses, as Murray pointed out they are checked on a daily basis by the Canadian Police Information system, and there is a continuous eligibility screening program in place.
Videos of himself and his son competing can be viewed on Instagram at flatlandergunslinger. For those interested in supporting Murray in his quest to compete at the world level, the gofundme page is located at www.gofundme.com/profile/jeremy-murray-9zwyh.