/Sharp shooter among best in country 
Minden Hills resident Chuck Hopkins competes in the Florida Open Pistol Shooting Tournament. Hopkins is ranked among the top pistol shooters in Ontario and will compete in the national competition in Calgary this summer. /Photo submitted

Sharp shooter among best in country 

By Chad Ingram

Published March 23 2017

A Minden Hills man who operates his crane business by day spends his weekends as one of the continent’s best sharp shooters.

Chuck Hopkins competes through what is known as the International Practical Shooting Confederation.
“It’s basically a game of guns” Hopkins explains.
Hopkins competes in the action pistol category in which participants run through courses shooting at targets reloading their guns as they go. It looks like something from an action movie.
“You’ve got all your magazines which hold your bullets on you” Hopkins says.

Competitions are divided into various stages and throughout those stages competitors may fire as many as 300 rounds shooting at a variety of targets. Some are paper some steel. Large targets called poppers fall either forward or backward once struck.
Competitors are graded not just on speed but on accuracy as well. Most targets need to be hit twice.
“A lot of guys can shoot fast but not accurately and fast” Hopkins says.
Shooters as skilled as Hopkins can call their shots meaning they can tell even before they get visual confirmation that they’ve hit the target based on the way the shot feels. This allows them to move along quickly.

Hopkins is good. Really good. Out of about 100 action pistol competitors in Ontario he consistently ranks in the top four.
“I’ve hunted since I was 15” says Hopkins 37. “I’ve always enjoyed target shooting.”
Hopkins honed his marksmanship at the MilCun Training Centre near Kinmount which is run by former national shooting team member Linda Miller and retired military captain Keith Cunningham.
“It’s a great place to learn the fundamentals of shooting” he says.
Hopkins has been shooting competitively for the past seven or eight years.
Taking part in regional competitions in places such as Huntsville Peterborough and Guelph he earns berths to provincial and then national competitions.
“I’m going to be in Calgary this summer for the nationals” Hopkins says.

He recently returned from the U.S. where he competed in the Florida Open Pistol Shooting Tournament where he took first place in his division.
While there was a cash prize this time “it’s just for the bragging rights” Hopkins says of competitions. “Every now and again they’ll have a pistol.”

Competition is highly technical. Not only must competitors abide by the briefings they are given prior to a stage – which positions to shoot from etc. – but they are also subject to random ammunition checks.
“They’ll pull your bullet apart they’ll measure your bullet” Hopkins says explaining that officials scrutinize bullets on weight length how much powder they contain as well as velocity which is attained by firing three bullets over a chronograph.
Hopkins makes his owns bullets.

“I make all my own ammunition not just for cost but for recipe” he says. The procedure requires great precision and Hopkins has his own chronograph over which he fires bullets to ensure they meet regulations.

With such highly developed marksmanship does Hopkins have any plans to give up his crane business to become a sniper?
“I don’t think I’m there yet” he laughs.