A life outdoors on the Great Northern Peninsula has helped prepare 21-year-old Jesse Bussey for his military training.
And he’s already impressing.
The St. Anthony native is currently undergoing training in the Canadian Armed Forces, where he was one of the first recipients of the MCPL Jody Mitic Top Shot Trophy.
The award is presented to recruits who distinguish themselves on the firing range.
Bussey was the winner for his platoon this past March.
Participants were scored shooting at a range of 100 metres with a Colt Canada C7 assault rifle.
Bussey told The Northern Pen his father taught him how to shoot at a young age.
Whether hunting wild game, such as moose or duck, in the vast wilderness of the Great Northern Peninsula with his parents, or target practising, the young man has been able to bring plenty of experience to his training.
Bussey started his military career in November 2018 and graduated from the Basic Military Qualifications Program at Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on March 14.
He is currently stationed at CFB Borden, Ont., where he has started Electronic-Optronic Technician training.
According to the Canadian Armed Forces website, Electronic-Optronic Technicians “maintain, repair and modify fire control systems to ensure the accurate delivery of ammunition to the intended target.”
Bussey has about two years of training to complete.
He says growing up on the Great Northern Peninsula has helped him in other facets of his training.“I’m very happy with how it’s going so far,” he told The Northern Pen. “I’ve met a lot of friends and I’m probably in the best physical shape of my life because of all the training. I’ve learned a lot from it.”
He learned basic survival skills while in the woods with his parents; for example, how to properly start a fire.
And when it came time to set up 10-man tents outside, in the Quebec winter of February and March, he didn’t mind bearing the cold. He was used to it, growing up in St. Anthony.
As a teenager, Bussey was also a member of the air cadets for two years. There, he said he learned basic foot drills and how to take care of his uniform. He was even taught a few shooting tricks that he still uses, including how to wrap a rifle sling around your hand to steady your shot.
All this experience has come in handy since he started training.
Still, his family was surprised when he made the decision to join the Canadian Armed Forces.
After graduating from high school in 2016, he completed the Electrical Engineering Program in St. Anthony. But he had trouble finding work.
After two years, one day he was looking online and discovered the Electronic-Optronic Technician position.
When he decided to apply, it caught his family off guard.
“He was always a quiet, shy kind of kid, so when he said he was going to apply for the forces, we thought ‘wow, this is not like you,’” his mother, Karen, told The Northern Pen.
Until then, joining the military was not something he had expressed much interest in. But in a matter of a few months, he was accepted to do basic training.
She expressed pride in watching him grow.
“Words can’t even describe how proud we are of him,” said Karen, “to see this kid grow up to become the man he is.”
Bussey wished to thank everyone, including family and friends, who have supported him.