1. This week saw the troop move onto Straight Point Ranges to conduct Live Fire Training. This began with introductions to the Combat Marksmanship Team (CMT) who are the corps gurus on all things related to marksmanship and competition shooting. After rifles had been zeroed we started to conduct practice and point of aim shoots in different fire positions and ranges, varying from 300m to 50m. This is because due to the trajectory (flight) of the round (bullet) at different ranges you have to aim at different points to actually hit the centre of the target and that’s even before you take into account wind, which also has an effect. The CMT imparted loads of knowledge to help us improve our shooting technique in the different positions, which range from prone (lying down), standing and kneeling both unsupported and supported by using a post, and finally from a fire trench. This all helps to add realism, practicing the range of positions we would use in combat. The post also helps to make the standing and kneeling positions more stable.
2. After our time with the CMT we moved on to the Electronic Target Range (ETR), recently refurbished this is an awesome facility as due to clever microphones and technology it can show you exactly where your rounds are going on a tablet next to you at the firing point. This helps massively in working out where your rounds are actually going if they are not hitting the target, allowing you to adjust accordingly.
3. After all the practice shoots were complete it was time for us to move on to the Annual Combat Marksmanship Test (ACMT). This tested us on everything we had learnt so far this week. Thanks to a lot of diligent work form the training team and lots of dry firing practice (this is where you practice getting in and out of and holding the different positions without actually firing, but improving muscle memory so you shoot better when actually firing) over half the Troop achieved marksman due to the very high standard of their shooting!
4. I mentioned earlier that when shooting you must take into account the wind. This is a shoot’s nemesis but fortunately for us over the course of the week we became very well practiced in accounting for it, due to the Ranges location on the cliffs at Exmouth it is constantly blowing a hooly, making those that got marksmans’ achievement even better! The position of a beach just below the ranges enabled the days to start with some ‘SEAL Team 6’ esq phys which was a welcome change from the gym and really raised morale in the Tp. The week culminated in a night shoot that saw us engaging targets in the pitch black which was a further challenge, but really good fun.
RECRUIT DIARY WEEK 12
1. The second week of our time on straight point ranges started with a bang as we commenced bayonet training. This consisted of learning how to close and engage an enemy when our primary weapon had stopped working. Although some may think this is outdated, it is still an essential skill. With some furious charging, parrying and thrusting at our enemy the sand bag, with one unfortunate, but very funny slip caught on camera, we all thoroughly enjoyed the lesson.
2. The next day saw the introduction to Close Quarter Marksmanship (CQM). As the world, and so warfare, have become increasingly urbanised and battles are now being fought house to house rather than trench to trench, CQM and similar training has been introduced. CQM is used to engage targets at close range, at speed, requiring a significant shift in mind set from the usual drills we had been taught.
3. Having established some basic fundamentals of CQM, the following day was geared towards building on this with some more advanced drills and shoots. This also included new techniques, such as tactical reloads. All of the range time was great in helping us develop our mastery and speed at CQM. The day also saw the introduction to the new service pistol the Glock 17 which many of the troop couldn’t wait to get their hands on.
4. Finally the day we had all been waiting for had arrived when we got to fire the Glock 17. This is a great bit of kit, but took us, like when we learnt to fire our rifles, a little time to master. However as rounds went down range our confidence grew and by the end there were some good shots amongst the troop.
5. Friday proved to be a really good but busy day. The first half of the day was dedicated to the Light Support Weapon (LSW), which is a longer range and more accurate version of the SA80, employed in a support role. We got to do some introductory shoots on the weapon, including firing it in automatic bursts. Once completed we made our way back to camp for an uber quick turn-around to board a ferry for France for our two day tour of the beaches of Normandy where D-Day took place.
6. Traveling overnight we arrived at Broadax on the Saturday to be greeted by our guide, an Ex Royal Marine Colour Sergeant. We started the day by traveling to Gold beach to see where the British contingent of Operation OVERLORD had occurred. Speaking to the guide and witnessing the size and sheer force of enemy guns and the complexity of the positions the allies had to take was truly humbling. Between Juno and Sword beach we witnessed the size and devastating firepower that the Germans possessed on their reinforced defensive positions. It was a very costly endeavor to take these key positions and allow allied forces to come inland and gain a foothold in Europe. We had the privilege of visiting some of the war graves of British and Commonwealth Forces and also the American cemetery at Omaha beach, paying our respects to our fore bearer’s, in particular the men of 47 commando RM, who had paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of the nation.
7. Our final day saw us visit the American beaches and key areas such as St Mere Eglise. We visited Utah beach and learnt how the sequence of events unfolded on June 6th 1944. The size and magnitude of the task force rallied to take on the Germans is hard to comprehend. From Utah beach we visited a museum, which gave us more of an insight into the difficulties faced by the allies. From there we made our way through Carentan and St Mere Eglise, two key positions the American offensive. From there we travelled to the German war graves and finally to visit the famous Pegasus bridge before catching the ferry home. The trip on the whole was a somber experience, educating us to the harsh realities of war and conflict on both sides. It also helped to cement a great respect for the men who took part in Operation OVERLORD. As potential Royal Marines we were able to see glimpses of and learn about the legacy the men before us have laid down. A legacy whose qualities, through deeds of great courage and bravery, we hope to one day embody.