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Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

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As a member of the military, Gunners are responsible for surveillance and target acquisition, and indirect fire to engage the enemy.

As a Gunner you are responsible for the operation, maintenance and use of artillery systems, to include howitzers, mortars, radars, acoustic systems, uncrewed aerial systems, and armoured fighting vehicles. Gunners work closely with the other members of the combat arms as in the Armoured, Infantry and Combat Engineers, along with all other support arms on and off the battlefield.

As a member of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, the primary responsibilities of Gunners are to:

  • Operate and maintain 105mm and 155mm howitzers
  • Operate and maintain future Ground Based Air Defense Systems
  • Operate and maintain surveillance and target acquisition systems, to include radars, acoustic systems, and uncrewed aerial systems.
  • Operate and maintain a variety of vehicles including but not limited to ¼ ton – 7 ton trucks, Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV), and Light Armoured Vehicles (LAV 6.0)
  • Operate technically advanced command-post computers, laser range-finders and fire control computers.

Work environment

A Gunner can be called upon to serve in any kind of terrain be it Arctic tundra, tropical jungle, desert, mountains, or urban towns and cities. They are deployed overseas on operational missions and in Canada in support of civil authorities in cases of national emergency. Initially, they are posted to one of five Artillery regiments:

  • 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, Shilo, Manitoba
  • 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, Petawawa, Ontario
  • The Royal Canadian Artillery School, Combat Training Centre, Gagetown, New Brunswick
  • 4th Artillery Regiment (General Support) Royal Canadian Artillery, Gagetown, New Brunswick
  • 5th Canadian Light Artillery Regiment, 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, Valcartier, Quebec

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview


MASTER BOMBARDIER KEVIN BRETT: I’m Master Bombardier Kevin Brett from Windsor, Ontario. I’m a Gunner currently posted at the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School in Gagetown, New Brunswick.

In the Canadian Army, the big guns are the responsibility of small teams of tightly focused, expertly trained men and women. Gunners are at the forefront of the battlespace in all Canadian Army missions. They operate high-tech weapons that can detect the enemy, and then engage them with stunning
firepower from up to 40 kilometres away.

MASTER BOMBARDIER KEVIN BRETT: The role of the artillery — we provide indirect fire support and we put fire down on the enemy to help our troops out front and make sure that we can keep moving forward.
Leveraging the shock and awe of the M-777 Howitzer, Gunners provide the Canadian Army with a true ability to reach out and touch the enemy, even when they’re still beyond the horizon.

MASTER BOMBARDIER KEVIN BRETT: Whenever anyone needs a bullet on time, on target, they know when they call us, they know that it’s up in the air and they know that it’s coming down right where they need it. “Close enough” is not the name of the game — precision is the name of the game.

Gunners are part of the Combat Arms team, working with the Armoured Corps, Infantry and Combat Engineers to accomplish the mission at hand.
Gunners have a wide range of skills on the battlefield. They are technical and tactical experts, able to use a wide variety of world-class tools to detect their enemies, and then strike them with devastating firepower that can shake you to the core — day or night, regardless of the weather.

MASTER BOMBARDIER KEVIN BRETT: The best part about being a Gunner is getting a round up the spout of that Howitzer, feeling that big “woomph” and knowing that that bomb is in the air, going down, supporting the troops in front of you.
They serve in positions like forward observers, who call for fire, in Surveillance and Target Acquisition, Air Defence, and on the gunline. Beyond working on the gunline, Gunners leverage multiple systems, such as unmanned aircraft, radars, sound ranging sensors and other modern equipment in the course of their work.
MASTER BOMBARDIER KEVIN BRETT: The most fun I’ve ever had as a Gunner is being on your gun detachment and you’re with your ladies and gents and you’re out there, and you’re grinding through the seasons, you’re grinding through the weather, you’re grinding through the guns and long-fire missions, and making sure that those bolts get up and you see that cohesion come together — and after you haven’t had sleep for 2 or 3 days, and you’re still getting the job done, and everyone’s looking at each other in the rain, laughing and smiling, and that’s when you know that you have connected and you know that you can get any job done that they’re going to throw
your way.

Once trade-qualified, Gunners are posted to one of the five Artillery Regiments stationed across Canada. Part-time reservists in this role will return to their home units. In garrison, Gunners keep their equipment in top shape and continually train to perfect their skills.

MASTER BOMBARDIER KEVIN BRETT: So when you become a gun det member, you’re going to be assigned a position and action, which is a number on a gun, and each position and action has a different job and a different role, and you need to know it. And not only do you need to know your job position and action, but you need to know the next job position and action, because you’re not always going to be in the same spot. You’ve got to know how to move, you’ve got to know how to communicate, and you’ve got to know how to handle stressful situations and taking
direction.They regularly deploy across Canada and overseas as part of military operations.

MASTER BOMBARDIER KEVIN BRETT: Being in the Canadian Armed Forces allows you to step out of that comfort zone that you have, and experience different things that are going to completely make you come out of your shell and change you as a person. It’s definitely a good thing.

MASTER BOMBARDIER KEVIN BRETT: The artillery are the kings of battle, and they’re not going to be matched by anybody else. And that’s straight out of a textbook. There’s no other gunners on this planet like Canadian Forces gunners. No other country measures up to us — our drive, our problem-solving and the way we handle our business is second to none.

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The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) course which is 9-weeks, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Upon completion of BMQ, Gunners attend The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School in Gagetown, New Brunswick for another 9-week course (DP1) covering Individual soldiers’ skills, more advance weapons handling, radio communications, vehicle driving, and common artillery knowledge.

After completing DP1, gunners get posted to one of the 5 artillery regiments across Canada, where you develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training. Gunners can specialize in one of four streams, Gun Area, Observation Post, Surveillance and Target Acquisition, and Ground Based Air Defence.

Entry plans

No previous work experience or career related skills are required. CAF recruiters can help you decide if your personal interests and attributes match the criteria for this occupation.

The minimum required education to apply for this occupation is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondary 4 in Quebec.

Foreign education may be accepted.

Part time options

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with a military unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. If additional training is required in order to specialize skills, arrangements will be made by the home unit.

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.