204 Troop Training Diary
After completing Gym Pass Out on the Friday and a short church service with the king’s Squad over the weekend, spirits were high for deploying on Exercise Hunter’s Moon on Monday morning of week 10. Following a couple of lectures and loading all the stores, we departed lympstone Commando Training Centre (CTC) for Dartmoor Training Area, where we went straight into a day navigation exercise.
Aimed at practising our navigation skills and with the weather on our side we all made it to the Scout Hut near Gutter Tor – this was to be our base for the majority of the exercise. That night we were up late doing a night navigation exercise with our Section Commanders.
This helped to familiarise ourselves with the area and highlighted the challenges of navigation in low light conditions. The next morning after a few hours sleep and a kit muster we were out on the moor again doing more navigation practice with the Corporals. This was followed by an interesting military pyrotechnics brief in the evening.
It was then our turn to be let loose in 4 man fire teams without any of the instructors with us to do another night navigation exercise. Needless to say, some found this more challenging than others. On Wednesday morning we conducted a stalk which proved to be good fun. Several members of the Troop managed to improve their stalking scores from Exercise Marshall Star.
Following the stalk, we packed all our kit and had our first taste of ‘yomping’ with full bergans. We were to march for about 4 hours to the site of our survival phase – this was an eye opener to say the least. The troop then spent two nights under shelters made from whatever we could forage and heated by our own fires. Eventually we would be given live chickens to keep us from totally starving. We all enjoyed the survival phase as we were left on our own with only minimal supervision from the training team. After 2 nights we dismantled our shelters to leave no sign of our presence and once again we put on our bergans for our extraction march.
Nobody knew how far or how long it would take, but after a short while, we made it to a carpark where minibuses were waiting to pick us up. Spirits were high getting on the buses knowing that Hunter’s Moon was over. We got back to the accommodation, de-serviced our field kit and went our separate ways for long weekend leave.
As week 11 of training commenced, 204 Troop departed CTC to head for the first week of our live firing exercise at Straight Point ranges near Exmouth. Upon arrival we were introduced to the Combat Marksmanship Team instructors, whose job it would be to help us perfect our shooting from a variety of different firing positions and distances.
Progressing through the week we were also introduced to Advance Military Fitness in the form of circuits training, weighted rope climbs, fireman’s carries and a weighted 3 mile speed march on local roads – all in preparation for our first session on the famous ‘Bottom Field’ in a couple of weeks time. By Thursday, it was time to conduct our first night shoot at around 2200.
Collectively, the Troop was uncertain about how shooting in almost total darkness would turn out. However, on completion the Troop’s moral lifted with everyone having comfortably passed the shoot. The final day at Straight Point ranges soon arrived, which involved us shooting the Annual Combat Marksmanship Test (ACMT). This was our chance to implement everything we have learnt during the week and drop as many targets as possible in order to reach the required shooting standards for the Royal Marines.
The test consisted of 3 distances; 100m, 200m and 300m, firing from several different firing positions. This proved to be a difficult test for some more than others. However, every member of the Troop eventually managed to pass their ACMT allowing us to progress to a second week of firing practice at Straight Point. Let’s hope the weather stays great during week 12.