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Catch You On The Rebound - Rojin Altares

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Annie Oakley is perhaps the best-known women sharpshooter in history. Touring with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show starting in 1885, it was said that her best trick was, “to repeatedly split a playing card, edge-on, and put several more holes in it before it could touch the ground, while using a .22 caliber rifle, at 90 feet.”

According to legend, Oakley picked up her first rifle at age eight, killing a squirrel.

Fort McMurray has its own version of Annie Oakley, although she is not shooting at squirrels, in the presence of Rojin Altares, a rising star in the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) handgun discipline.

The other divisions are Action Air, Rifle, and Shotgun.

The Grade 11 Holy Trinity Catholic High School student said she “was born into the sport.”

A sport, which according to the official IPSC website, has competitors shooting at, “Multiple targets, moving targets, targets that react when hit, penalty targets, or even partially covered targets, obstacles, movement, competitive strategies, and other techniques are all a part of IPSC to keep shooters challenged and spectators engaged.”

Even for spectators still in the womb?

“When my mom (Mary Jane) was pregnant with me, she would attend the (IPSC) competitions that my dad (Romel) was competing in,” recalled Altares, 16. “Growing up we would attend all of the competitions.  My dad (also an IPSC ranked competitor) always says that I was raised on the (shooting) range.”

Rojin, who picked up her first gun at age six, gained attention from the IPSC community in 2012 when at age 11; she placed second at the IPSC Alberta qualifiers. She would go on to win her first provincials. In future years she would add three more titles.

“I felt very intimidated and I did not think that I would do that well,” reminisced Altares of the 2012 event held in Spruce Grove. “It was my first experience competing and being so young and competing against all of these women...some who had probably been shooting longer than I had been alive. But my dad made sure that I stayed calm and stayed on my shot.”

Altares, who now competes with a Czech CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow pistol, which is drawn from a gun holster, said the key to success, is to have the ability to stay “focused on the stage “and “not to repeat mistakes or overthink things.”

Accuracy, balance, power and speed are also key elements of the sport which require competitors to be mobile while timed through stages.

“You get in a zone,” said Altares, who has traveled to the Republic of Colombia for competition. “At first you are really amped up and excited. You feel the energy through your body when you are on the stage and you make your stage memorize. I will see the target in my head and visualize, so I know where to bring my gun up.”

Such is her progress and potential, that Altares has a sponsor with Trenton Sukovieff of Pro Performance Shooting Inc. based in Calgary.

“During the (May 3, 2016) evacuation of Fort McMurray (due to (Fire 9, MWF-009, Horse Creek Fire) I stayed with Trenton and his wife in Calgary for the rest of the summer. He trained me and I learned to be more consistent. He had me also training at a gym on a regular basis lifting weights. Being physically fit is very important as when you are in a (shooting) scenario, you want to explode from one position to the next.”

Speaking of exploding, Altares estimated that she “went through 20,000 rounds of ammunition this summer.”

She is also the first to speak about the significance of gun safety, on and off the field: “Gun safety is very important. If you don’t have the proper certification and follow those riles, things could go wrong.”

Such was the case in a competition where Altares suffered a cut on her thumb.

“I had a huge gash on my thumb and I was told that I should go to the hospital and get it stitched. But I decided to stick it out. It was bandaged up and with a bloody thumb, I still finished the match. I know that this is something that I can do really well and I will continue to strive for.”

Shooting to the top is her goal.


Catch you on the rebound.


Curtis J. Phillips has been a sports journalist in print/electronic mediums since 1976. A strong advocate of volunteerism, he is a founding father of numerous local events and organizations including the Challenge Cup and Wood Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. Phillips is also recognized internationally as a sports historian.