Monday started like any other morning on base, an early start combined with a high calorie breakfast to fuel the day ahead. The week ahead, however, was a culmination of the previous twenty eight weeks of training, live firing or FFX1. Although not as physically intense as next week when our Commando tests would be beginning, this week is designed to test recruits and ensure that basic firing, teamwork and awareness skills are at a level befitting a future Royal Marines Commando.
Upon arrival in Dartmoor we jumped straight into zeroing, running through dry drills to kick start muscle memories from back in Week 12 and prepping weapons for firing. It was an enjoyable and easy afternoon, allowing everyone to get back into shooting live rounds without too much worry. Energy was running high after the day and everyone was looking forward to the rest of the week. Even the cramped, dorm style accommodation wasn’t complained about too much.
Day two was fire pairs and fire teams and with the sun in the sky the day proceeded smoothly. A new type of range of course requires new rules and a slightly different mind-set from the static lanes that we were used to but the Troop took it in their stride. Attacking multiple targets which dropped when hit was entertaining and having to retreat whilst fire manoeuvring after being ‘contacted’ by a large enemy force mixed things up a little to stop the attacks being too routine. Safety is of course an issue when any kind of live rounds are used but the Troop was praised in this respect also.
Unfortunately the clag came in for day three and shooting was brought to a grinding halt. The Troop waited all day for the fog to clear and was on standby to move but unfortunately we were unable to shoot all day. Luckily the Corporals managed to clear an hour at the end of the waiting for rap battles.
Our final day on the ranges consisted of section attacks and then heading back to camp slightly early to ensure we were prepared for the beginning of the Commando tests on Friday. So, with much nervousness we all attempted to relax and stay hydrated before what would surely be one of the hardest and most physically exhausting weeks of our life so far.