158 Troop Chronicles – Week 11
Week 11 was the first of a 2 week range package at StraightPointRanges, which consisted of lots of live rifle shooting next to the sea. In the past, Troops used to stay at the ranges for the duration of the week, either under ponchos or in the Troop shelter if they were lucky, but for reasons undisclosed to us, Troops now travel there and back each day by coach. It made for some early starts and some busy evenings, but the upside to this change is the 20 minute nap we able to get on the daily commute (well, except for on Thursday when Recruit Fonseka performed a brilliant cover of Carly Rae Jepson’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ down the coach’s speakerphone).
Everyone looks forward to the opportunity to fire rifles – it is one of the more appealing aspects of basic training. Life on the ranges is far more relaxed than life on camp; when you are not shooting, on sentry, or working in the butts moving targets around you can find yourself with not a lot to do (unheard of at Lympstone). This inactivity was remedied with intermittent bouts of rifle cleaning; dry firing practice, and even a game of keep-ups with a tennis ball. Overall, it was an enjoyable and somewhat successful week. We started with zeroing our SUSAT scopes, before going onto finding out our points of aim at varying distances and positions.
After a few days practice we began to do some of the more interesting shoots, firing from different ranges in different positions. We all passed the initial 400m shoot from the prone position which was a good confidence booster, some of the lads even managed to get 100%! We also had a night shoot which was rather interesting, and once again there were no dramas there, it was interesting to be shooting at closer range but in low light levels. The problems started for some on the ETR range where we underwent our Annual Combat Marksmanship Test. Some are having trouble finding their point of aim, and therefore failing the shoot. There is not really anything we can do other than keep on practicing, listening to what the team are trying to teach us and to try again next week.
Week 11 also gave us our first taste of what our PTI describes as the ‘man phys’ or to use the official term: ‘Advanced Military Fitness’; cardiovascular exercises and strengthening circuits done in fighting order (consisting of weighted webbing, boots and rifle). We have so far stayed within the relatively comfortable confines of the gym, carrying a meagre 10 lbs of weight and wearing trainers to get our bodies used to this new form of exertion. It is hard work though, and some of us are already missing IMF! Also, we have been introduced to the infamous ‘tank’ and every session the losing team gets wet, which acts as a great motivator.
We have also had accommodation inspections throughout the week. Every morning after we departed for Straight Point, the Troop Commander has been looking around our rooms to make sure we are putting the effort in with our cleaning and personal administration. In true 158 Troop style, the consistency was extremely lacking but the threat of losing our weekend was sufficient enough to produce satisfactory results towards the end of the week. That said, a few of our number were picked up for minor transgressions and were labelled as ‘dirty recruits’ and subsequently had to return their leave passes until their shortcomings were addressed.
On Monday we begin another hoofing week on Straight Point, topped off with a weekend in France. Training is not all bad!