Cape Sable Island native James Smith has his sights set on the 2019 World Police and Fire Games in China this August, where he will be competing as a long-distance rifle shooter.
This will be his second time at the games. In 2017, when he competed for the first time against 177 other law enforcement officers from around the world, he finished with the bronze medal.
“I knew I did well at the end of the competition,” said Smith in an interview. “I knew my scorecard looked good but I didn’t know I won the bronze medal until the awards ceremony. It was more than what I expected to achieve from it.”
Smith, who is a forensic police officer with the Saint John N.B. police force, said his interest in shooting began as a kid when he would go to the local rifle ranges and gun clubs with his late grandfather Allison Atkinson Sr.
“I never went hunting,” he said. “I went once but it wasn’t my thing. I preferred the shooting range. I always liked the challenge of trying to compensate for everything that would affect the bullet. When it comes down to shooting, on any given day the biggest effect is the wind and being able to read the impact on the bullet.”
Since becoming a police officer in 2011, Smith has upped his marksmanship, training at the GPS Defense Sniper School in Arizona with U.S. Marines, and earning his sniper, advanced sniper, counter sniper and urban hide qualifications.
“I did all that. Whether it ever plays into my occupation or not remains to be seen but all that experience has helped me with competing.”
For Smith, who is 47, becoming a law enforcement officer is a goal he had since graduating from BMHS in 1989, but his eyesight held him back. “It wasn’t until the young age of 38 that I had laser eye surgery done,” which corrected his vision he said.
“I basically never gave up on all of my other training and experience that would better my chances as soon as my vision was corrected.” When that happened, “all the doors opened and I began this path,” he said.
Besides the World Games, Smith has competed at other venues as well. It was while he was at the 2017 World Games in California, and his wife Candace livestreamed him competing on social media, that Smith realized he had quite a large following back home in Shelburne County.
“I checked after to see who was viewing it and there was so many I went to school with and are still on Cape Island and Barrington or somewhere and you think, these people are still friends, the ones you grew up with,” he said. “Just because I’m here for work, your home is still down there, so I touched base with a few and they said why don’t you come down here and do something. A lot of people who like to see you again and catch up.”
With the help of a few friends and his wife, Smith will be hosting a pasta dinner at the Barrington Regional Curling Club on June 1 from 12 to 3 p.m. as a fundraiser for his trip to China. He will be setting up a display of the medals he has have won as well as some of the firearms he uses competitively. Tickets will be available at the door.
The World Police and Fire Games is held biennially, attracting upwards of 10,000 active and retired law enforcement officers, with events in athletics, as well as specialized competition. Smith noted a lot of competitors are professional athletes.