ORA Ranges

There are 5 ranges in Ontario that I shoot on through being a paid up member of the ORA. I consider myself very lucky in this respect. All of the ranges are DND ranges. Two of the 5 go out to 1000 yards. Well that’s not quite accurate. The Mons Range at Camp Borden does indeed go right back to 1000 yards. The other long range is The Connaught range in Ottawa and it goes back to 900 meters. So if you do the math it’s close enough to a 1000. The photo in the top banner on my website was taken on the Mons range if you look super close you can see two targets up on the right side of the range. There is a berm running down the centre of the range which creates what some have coined the term “vortex.” It just simply means they don’t know what the heck is goes on with the wind in the shooting positions near this berm. Anytime you have an earth wall as high as the ones that exist on some of our ranges be prepared for the unexpected to happen. On the far left side of Mons is a long row of trees. This can have an effect on the shooting positions closest to it. What type of effect? Well that’s up to individual shooter to find out. In either case with a tree line or berm you won’t discover what’s going by firing just a couple of shots downrange and if you do I’ll guarantee you it will change the next time your out and you’ll start all over. When you think you’ve got it all figured out something comes along to change it.

Cedar springs is a beautiful range to shoot on it over looks lake Erie and the furthest we can shoot on this range at least in ‘06 was 600 yards. We used to be able to shoot further but things change. On the left side of the range there is a long row of trees. On the right side of the range is different types of farmer worked annual crops. The range faces south, south east to be more precise. So during the morning you are faced with sun that’s almost coming directly at you and you need to learn to deal with that aspect. Hats, caps any type of headgear is good here. You need it to keep the sun out of you eyes which is going to be coming directly at you in the morning from sort of your left side then working its way over to your right side towards the afternoons. Your other option on this range is an umbrella. The Umbrella Corporation made of up nefarious shooting individuals who’s membership is in constant state of flux hangs out here. They have some type of unwritten rule that umbrellas are allowed on the firing line. This group has even come up with ingenious devices which they stick in the ground to hold the umbrellas. I’ve been trying for years to find what their secret code amounts to. It’s possible it’s some type of handshake I’ve yet to discover that allows you to become an elite member, sort of like the Masons I suppose. Suffice to say that if you want to take an umbrella to the line you can but you’ll have a better chance if it has the wildest combinations imaginable, then I guarantee it gets to go forward.

Where this picture was taken is on top of some recently installed septic type system is not where you can shoot. It use to be, but not now. The 600 yard line is about horizontal with the first yellow wind flag you see on the right. From there you don’t quite get the view you’re seeing here. Now some might say gosh it looks pretty easy to put a shot over the butt or embarkment right out into the lake. This is not the case. From a prone firing position on the firing line you’d have to have cranked on one pile of windage to do this. As a safety precaution down on the lake side of things there are buoys out in the water designating the impact area where a bullet might strike. Should any rounds go over the butts they would fall harmlessly into the impact area. There are warning signs plastered over all of the buoys and boaters should head these warnings for obvious reasons. Some boaters believe by some misguided divine right that they are exempt from obeying the signs, that the warnings apply to the other boaters or the other guy but certainly not to them. To guard against their misguided notions and because we put safety first in anything that we do we have established a procedure whereby we have a beach patrol on duty anytime the ORA has activities on the range. The beach patrol is in operation for the full time we are firing on the range. They have binoculars and radios and are in contact with the RSO short for Range Safety Officer on the firing line. If the beach patrol sees a boat that is motoring or sailing close to the impact area they will radio the RSO who will then call a cease fire on the fire line until such a time as the impact area is deemed safe again. The range is located naturally in Cedar Springs which is not too far from Chatham, which is within throwing distance of Maynard’s backyard lucky him or maybe you’re more familiar with Windsor.
The Winona Range is located on the south side of lake Erie close to Hamilton and it sort of faces Toronto which is across the lake. We can shoot up to 800 yards on this range. I like this one because it is only about an hour and a half from my house and it’s pretty easy to get to once you get across the 401 at the top of Toronto. Of course when I leave it usually very early in the morning and the only trouble you run into is the usual daily commuters who don’t realize it’s the weekend and travel along at a snails pace in the left most lane with absolutely nobody on their right for miles ahead. In a couple of the photos you can see Des Vamplew instructing his son Tom. In the background you can see the firing positions. What you might think are the targets are actually the number boards. The targets are further down below the number boards which indicate the target positions. Those boards are located on the butts and the targets are a distance from them at ground level. This is a fantastic sport to enjoy if you have a young son or daughter. If you are seriously looking for a way to spend quality time with your kids you need to look no further because this is an excellent way to do it. If they are in their mid-teens they can even make some money down in the pits pulling targets. Most of us shooting on the line are more inclined to pay for having our target pulled rather than spent time in the pits when we can be shooting. Tom, Des’s son has pulled targets for us many a time and so it was nice to see Tom on the firing line. His dad has shot numerous competitive events over the years and has been on many Canadian shooting teams. The instruction Tom would receive from his dad would be the best you can get. With a spotting scope on the left side of Tom I would put odds on the fact he’s receiving TR type instruction.

Pat Vamplew has been on many Canadian Shooting teams and he’s been around the world representing Canada in many shooting events. Pat can be seen cleaning his rifle. You may have guessed it right Pat is related to Des they are brothers. Both of them are excellent TR shooters. They have long histories maybe not as long as Art Grundy. Now that’s long... and distinguished just like Art! In competition you wouldn’t know they were brothers. On the firing line, neither gives into the other. I took the photo of Pat cleaning his rifle and come to think of it also the ones of Des and Tom in June/July of 2004 at Winona. Both of these days were great days for shooting weather wise. The Winona range is very similar to Cedar Springs but it has it’s own quirks with regards to wind and possibly mirage. that’s one of the interesting things about firing on different ranges. Each of them is different and as diverse as the people firing on them. You have to learn how to shoot on each one of them.


We have another range in Kingston, Ontario which goes out to 300/500/600 yards. We don’t normally shoot 100/200 yards. Our starting distance for most of our competitions and most practices is the 300 yard markers. Kingston is another beautiful range. Come to think of it all the ranges we shoot on are great. it’s weird that I don’t have any pictures of that range but as soon as I can remember to take some I will. The one good thing about Kingston is that you never have to worry about “boats in water” or technically “boats in the impact area”. There’s no water behind the butts at Kingston to interfere with our shooting. Well no water close to the range that is. But there are times when deer run out onto the range in particular fawns. They must have gotten used the noise from the rifles. So much so that they’ll just wander right out on the range, hang about for a few minutes and then disappear. Of course we stop shooting when this happens. Kingston is a tough range. It might be short but I’m telling you it’s tough. Just ask Norm Barber and half a dozen other guys who have shot it. Including the infamous Bob Pastor. I believe that’s where the term “vortex” was born. Kingston is a little further for me to travel to but any range time is worth it in my opinion. Kingston can be done in a day. By this I mean that if the competition is held for only one day you can travel early morning, shot the match and head back home. If the match is a two day event many of us travel up on Friday evening, book into the Executive motel which is not too far away from the range and we are well rested come morning for the matches. At the end of the competition many travel home but I have stayed an extra night at the motel and come back Monday morning when the traffic heading back to Toronto is much lighter. if you’ve never shot a match in Kingston you should try it.


Mon’s really is where we do most of our shooting and it’s the range we use for the Provincial matches. There’s a whole lot of reasons why. We can start with distance for one. It goes right out to 1000 yards. It’s situated deep within Camp Borden. There are no boats power or sail anywhere near where we shoot so there’s no stoppages in this regard. It’s one of those weird quirks that I’ve noticed that going from my house to Mons is about the same identical distance as travelling to Winona give or take 10 kilometers. I prefer Mons naturally because I’m into the long range thing. This means I like to do most of my shooting at the 800/900/1000 yard markers. The picture on the left shows Terry Perkins doping the wind I would imagine, Norm Barber is adjusting his trusty ear protectors and Gord Ogg is assembling gear on the line. The Apocalyptic missing from this triumvirate plus one is Bob Pastor who was probably taking the snap.


The other photo of a bunch of f-classer has me and Leo D’Amour (blue shirt) and I can see Don McInnis on Leo's left and Bruce Conti is on my right. The leg belongs to Gord Ogg!
The final range to talk about is of course the Connaught Range in Ottawa. Connaught as far as I’m concerned is the best range we’ve got. Now if you were to ask me a couple years ago I would have looked like a thermometer trying to tell you about it or fill you in on some of the weird things I’ve experienced at Connaught. Suffice to say I think I’ve got it under control now. We hold our annual DCRA matches there and folks come from many parts of the globe to shoot the matches. These matches are annual they happen every year and they happen in August. This year we had the 2006 DCRA 900 Metre F-Class Open Tournament. There were quite a number of shooters who showed for the match.