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Gunners are responsible for surveillance, target acquisition, and indirect fire to engage the enemy. The Artillery is part of the Combat Arms, which also includes Infantry Soldiers, Armoured Soldiers, and Combat Engineers.

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

  • Position, operate and maintain Field Guns and Air Defence weapon systems.
  • Provide fire-support advice to the Infantry and Armour units
  • Use and maintain personal weapons and section-level weapons up to and including machine-guns and anti-tank weapons
  • Operate technically advanced command-post computers, laser range-finders and fire-control computers
  • Operate and maintain surveillance and target acquisition equipment, Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) III, Forward Observation Post Vehicle equipment, air defense weapons and radar systems

Work environment

Gunners normally work outdoors, where they experience the unique challenges that come with extended periods outside.




BOMBARDIER JEREMY FIRMIN:  I’m Bombardier Jeremy Firmin from Toronto, Ontario.  And I’m an Artillery Soldier with the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Shilo, Manitoba.

BOMBARDIER SHARDAE JOHNSON: And I’m Bombardier Shardae Johnson from Vernon, British Collumbia.  I’m an Artillery Soldier from the 1st Regiment of Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, posted in Shilo, Manitoba.

JOHNSON: In the Canadian Army, the big guns are the responsibility of small teams of tightly focused, expertly trained men and women. With our long-range howitzers like the M-Triple-Seven, we can engage the enemy up to 40 kilometres away.

FIRMIN: For the minute you roll into a position, it’s go-go-go.  You’re out the back of that truck and bringing that gun into action immediately.  Everybody has their job, everybody knows exactly what they want to do.  The infantry and the armoured definitely lead the way but the artillery is there pounding enemy well in advance of their position to ensure that they can safely travel through to the objective.

FIRMIN: Modern gunnery is high-intensity and very high-tech– we’re talking satellite guidance and more firepower and battlefield enablers than almost any another combat arm in the battlespace.

JOHNSON: We can strike the enemy long before he can get close enough to threaten our troops – using unmanned aircraft and various visual and sound-ranging sensors that can pinpoint his guns even when they’re still beyond the horizon.

FIRMIN: Gunners do a wide variety of things, whether it be working as a forward observer, calling in fire for the guns, being the man on the end of the gun there, pulling the lanyard, making sure that round goes downrange, prepping that ammo, or working in the target acquisition side of things - sound-ranging, mortar detection, as well as UAV flight paths and things of that nature.

JOHNSON: You’re never doing the same thing, you know, and you’re always doing a different job or in a different position, or driving a new vehicle, or working on a different gun.  There’s so many paths you can take in the artillery.  And you never stop learning, ever.

FIRMIN: As part of the Combat Arms team, Artillery Soldiers serve Canada in the Regular Force, and in 19 Reserve Units across the country.

JOHNSON: Serving Canada as an Artillery Soldier is a great career choice for anyone who wants to be a part of the action.

JOHNSON: Obviously, firing the gun is a blast, getting to pull that lanyard and feel that Howitzer underneath you.  Feel the concussion, getting to see the rounds land – everything kinda comes together and it’s a pretty cool job.

MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job

FIRMIN: The best part about being a gunner has gotta be the experiences and the sights that you see.  It’s not everybody who gets to go out and have all this fun out here in the field or go on various different deployments available all over the world, as well as working closely with all the other trades.

JOHNSON: Honestly, my best experience in the Army so far has been my deployment to Afghanistan. Your existence in the military is to train for war, you know, that’s our job.  And when you finally get to put everything into play and all your training comes into play, there’s no better feeling than being over there, with everybody that you’ve worked so hard with. You’re finally put into a situation where you really have to shine.

FIRMIN: There’s not one of us that would ever give up the opportunity to reload and fire a big triple-7 or an LG-1, that’s for sure.

MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training

FIRMIN: Becoming an Artillery Soldier requires weeks of specialized training in everything from operating radios to driving wheeled and tracked vehicles to handling high explosives. The Forces will give you the knowledge you need.

JOHNSON: After your Basic Military Training, you’ll come to the Royal Canadian Artillery School in Gagetown, New Brunswick, one of the best of its kind in the world.

JOHNSON: You’ll spend about eight weeks learning your howitzer from the inside out, plus the communications, maintenance and camouflage aspects of your trade.

JOHNSON: And you’ll train intensively in the most important skill of all: how to work together when there are lives on the line.  Because no matter what weapon you fire and what you’re aiming at, being an Artillery Soldier is definitely a team enterprise.

MODULE 4 – Your First Posting

FIRMIN:  Your first posting as a gunner will be with one of the Artillery Regiments that are stationed across Canada. You could be firing howitzers, serving as a radio operator in a Forward Operating party with the infantry that is calling in jet-fighter and helicopter support, or controlling fire in the forward battlespace as a Command Post communicator.

FIRMIN: As you gain experience, you’ll have the chance to upgrade your skills with specialized training in sound-ranging and radar operations.

JOHNSON: Like other members of the Combat Arms team, gunners can be deployed anywhere in the world that the Forces need us.

JOHNSON: You get opportunities to go to so many places.  You never stop learning.  Just when you think you’ve finished learning one thing, you know, you’re off doing something else, learning a whole new job.  And to me, there’s nothing better than constantly changing things up and moving on with my career.

MODULE 5 – Testimonials

FIRMIN: I can remember numerous stories when we’d first kicked up in Afghanistan about : “We couldn’t have done it without you” and the expression comes back: “Thank God for the guns”. 

JOHNSON: We had many times where we had guys coming in from patrols, you know, and they would come over and personally shake our hands and thank us for getting them out of sticky situations.  There’s no better feeling than knowing that you saved your buddies’ lives.  And they couldn’t have done their jobs without us.

FIRMIN: It’s unlike any other experience you’ll ever have, to be there boots on the ground and making a difference.  It’s far exceeded anything I could have possibly anticipated for it.




Basic Military Qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, 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.

Basic occupational qualification training

Gunners who speak English as their first language attend the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School in Gagetown, New Brunswick. Gunners who speak French as their first language attend the Centre d’instruction in the Secteur du Québec Force Terrestre in Valcartier, Quebec. Training takes about 10 weeks and covers the following topics:

  • Gun-position duties and gun drills
  • Individual field/battle craft
  • Urban operations
  • Field communications, including use of radios and field telephones
  • Basic survival, including use of personal weapons, unarmed combat, and recognition of minefields and Army physical fitness
  • Dismounted offensive and defensive operations
  • Reconnaissance patrolling
  • Light and medium machine gun training

Available specialty training

Gunners may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training.

Required education

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

Serve with the Reserve Force

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 training

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 Working Environment

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.