One of Canada’s greatest sport shooters and the son of James Boa, an international sport shooter and World Champion in 300 m military rifle prone in 1923, Gil Boa was already making the news for his shooting skills at the age of 13. He attended his first of five Summer Olympics in 1952, where his best result was fourth in the 50 metre rifle, prone. In that event, he found himself in a three-way tie for the bronze medal with Art Jackson of the United States and Erich Spörer of Germany, each having scored 399 out of a total of 400 points. Boa and Jackson had more hits in the center ring than Spörer, which was the first tie breaker, but the judges determined that Jackson had been the more accurate shot and awarded him the bronze. Boa’s biggest success came in 1954, when he set a world record (598 out of 600) and won the 50+100 m rifle, prone event at the World Championships, Canada’s only medal at the tournament. Two years later he was back at the Olympics and again tied for bronze, now sharing that distinction with 1952 gold medalist Iosif Sîrbu of Romania, as well as Sándor Krebs of Hungary, Erling Kongshaug of Norway, and Otakar Hořínek of Czechoslovakia. This time, however, the judges decided in his favor and Boa stood on the podium with his countryman Gerry Ouellette, who had won the gold medal despite sharing a rifle with Boa.
Boa attended three more editions of the Summer Olympics, in 1960, 1964, and 1972, but only came close to the podium in the 50 m rifle, prone event at the 1964 Games, where he was again fourth (although not by virtue of a tie-breaker). He also served as his nation’s flagbearer in the Opening Ceremony of those Olympics. He captured gold in the small bore rifle event at the 1966 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, but only managed sixth in the 50 m rifle, prone at the 1967 Pan American Games. Four years later, however, he participated in arguably his most successful major international tournament, the 1971 Pan American Games, where he took silver in the 50 m rifle, prone and bronze in the 50 m rifle prone team. He likely had many competitive years left in him after the Munich Olympics, but he died of a brain hemorrhage in September 1973, at the age of only 49. He has been inducted into the Canadian Olympic and Canada’s Sports Halls of Fame.