Monday. We had an interesting week lined up ahead of us. We put our packed bergans, webbing and black bags on the coach, signed out our weapons from the armoury, and were off to Straight Point Firing Range, where we would spend the next four days. When we arrived, those that had failed their Advanced Combat Marksmanship Test in the previous week had to redo it, which we all passed on this occasion. Then we all got taught how to attach a Laser Light Module to our weapon, the SA80 rifle. We had to zero the LLM by aligning the point of the SUSAT and the point of the laser on a wall, roughly ten meters away. After this we had firing practice wearing our Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear breathing apparatus, to put it simply this is a gas mask. This was particularly challenging as it was very difficult to look through the SUSAT with the breathing apparatus on. Finally, after lunch we spent a good few hours on the Close Quarter Marksmanship range, when we got taught the basics, such as how to wear your slung weapon, how to hold the weapon in the shoulder, how to position yourself (knees slightly bent, hips back, etc. ).
We then learnt the post firing checks, tremendously important in the CQM range, and in close quarter combat, or urban combat. This means after incapacitating an enemy threat at close range, to lower the weapon slightly, look left, look right, then apply the safety catch, make sure that the magazine is still firmly in place, and then forward assist the cocking handle. This was heavily drilled into us, a procedure to be carried out after every single target fired at throughout the week, including drums firing. After this, we fired from 3 meters, 5 meters, 10 meters and 15 meters, working on zeroing our shots. Personally, I found that when aiming at the throat through the SUSAT, my rounds would hit the targets chest. To sum up Monday, it was a truly enjoyable day.
Tuesday. The troop had a bad start to the day, lacking a sense of urgency and leaving a few areas untidy, such as the showers. This made the training team unhappy. However, once getting to the CQM range again, morale picked up. We were taught how to fire a control pair, two rounds at the target fired quickly in succession under control. We were then taught how to fire a hammer pair; two rounds fired one after the other as quickly as possible. After this we were taught how to fire when the target hasn’t been incapacitated from your two rounds to his chest. This is often due to the target wearing strong body armour, though this can also be due to the target consuming high quantities of Class A drugs. If the target fails to stop, you’re to aim one clear shot at the head. This will eliminate the target in 99% of cases. This is called the failure drill. Finally, we were taught the box drill. This is where you have two targets in front of you. You fire in this order: two rounds at the right target’s chest, two rounds at the left target’s chest, a single round at the left target’s head, and a single round at the right target’s head. We finished on the range early on Tuesday, at 1300, due to it being booked for another troop, hence we moved to the indoor firing range for simulated firing at moving targets. We did this in the prone (lying) position, and the kneeling unsupported position. This was very difficult, as you have to predict where the targets will be before firing, and then time it exactly right. Not an easy task, with the targets moving in different directions and at various speeds!
Wednesday. We were on the CQM range once again, working on movement before firing. This including approaching the target, turning 90° to the right, 90° to the left, a full 180° turn to the right, and a full 180° turn to the left. We incorporated all our previous firing drills into this. For example, we would have our back to the target(s), turn around and fire a control pair/hammer pair/box drill/failure drill, all with post firing checks at the end. This was tremendously good fun and was very rewarding to see the targets being hit with a close grouping after several rounds. We then learnt how to fire in pairs and with the change lever on automatic, which I unfortunately missed due to being on sentry at the main gate.
In the evening we focused on bayonet training, a blade that you attach onto the muzzle of your weapon when in Close Quarter Battle. A very good chance to let off steam, demonstrating 100% aggression to eliminate several targets, which were sandbags stuffed with cotton rags on the grass, at knee height, at chest height and then again on the grass. We all had two run-throughs, and in my opinion this had to be the highlight of the week, many recruits favourite part.
Thursday. Thursday had a particularly bad start to the day, as six recruits hadn’t completed the required homework in their NVQ folders, a folder that we have to complete in order to earn a National Vocational Level 2 Qualification in Public Services in the sector of HM Forces. At 1730 we headed to Dartmoor for some practice at night firing. Having arrived at roughly 1900, we unloaded the wagons for the Sergeant before listening and understanding a safety brief. We ate dinner and prepared ourselves for the night shoot, by attaching our Head Mounted Night Vision System to our helmets. The best way to describe the HMNVS is simply to imagine the green night vision you see in films. It was weird at first, as you are aiming through your left eye rather than your right eye. Tremendously good fun once again though, to be firing in pitch black darkness, using the LLM as your point of aim, and using the HMNVS to see the targets.
Friday. We returned to camp at around 0100, unloaded the wagons, got clean, and went to bed. We got up early though, around 0500 to start de-servicing our kit. We cleaved our weapons, boots, rig, webbing, day sack and its contents. We had a weapons inspection at 1500, and that was us finished for the day.
Saturday. We had an inspection at 0830, full locker inspection and full rounds inspection. Thankfully, everything was immaculate and the Corporal was pleased with our efforts. We then cracked six units in our NVQ folders, including the important ones regarding navigation and kit maintenance. Once this was finished, that was the end of our week.