It was the first week of Straightpoint which consists of 2 weeks of shooting with our SA80’s. We left camp early to get to straight point early to square away our kit for the week ahead.
The first shoot we did was 100m, 200m and 300m at the gallery range with the iron sights to gather our point of aim in the prone, kneeling and seated positons, once that was complete we moved onto the better sights of the SUSAT.
On Monday we did a full days shooting with the SUSAT in preparation for our ACMT (annual combat marksmanship test) at the end of the week. The first thing we did was zeroing of our SUSAT which is different to each person, once this was complete we moved onto the 100m, 200m and 300m target practice cover 3 positions which were the prone, seated and kneeling. In the evening we moved into Dismounted Close Combat Trainer (in layman’s terms it’s a realistic computerised range). Where we would practice the kneeling and standing supported.
After practicing the new positions, we now would do them for real on the range which at first wasn’t the most comfortable positions as they were new to us but we soon found our way and got comfortable and confident with them. When night fell we would move down to the 50m range to do a small night shoot to get a feel of what is it like to shoot in low light.
Moving onto Thursday we had a morning off from phys to rest us up for out intro to speed marching. We were approaching our ACMT so all day we smashed the ranges to get as much practice as possible, being a small troop of 19 we got a lot of range time which worked well in our favour.
With our first speed march under our belts which went well we went onto the range and conducted a practice to find our Point Of Aim (POA) at 100, 200 and 300 metres. The weather was ideal for the test, as it had been all week; sunny with a steady wind. The ACMT then commenced and involved use of all positions at increasing ranges, culminating in 300 metres range from the prone position. Once it was complete we all packed kit ready for transit back to CTCRM. On return we cleaned rifles and de-serviced our kit ready for a return to straight point on the following Monday.
All round everyone did well on the ACMT with Rcts Bishop, Poole, Woods, Tanner and Kennard standing out by each earning the title of Marksman.
The second week of straight point had been eagerly anticipated, there had been lots of talk from Recruits in more senior Troops about how good the week was going to be. It did not disappoint.
We began with Close Quarter Marksmanship (CQM) shoots at 15m, 10m, 5m, and 3m in the standing position. We started with ‘point of aim’ shoots to the head and the chest then progressed onto cadence drills, hammer pairs and the miss drill. Everybody loved the CQM shoots, it showed on all the lads beaming faces as they came back from the firing point.
During the week we got to play with some new toys. Laser Light Modules (LLM’s) and Helmet Mounted Night Vision Goggle’s (HMNVG’s) This allowed us to shoot in the dark using Infra-Red technology (invisible to the naked eye). This was an amazing thing to do but made it much better because you use the laser to point at the target without looking through sights.
Two of the more difficult shoots were the respirator shoot (using a gas mask) and the moving target shoot.
The week was fantastic and everyone enjoyed themselves with the shooting. It was now back to camp and off on a whistle stop tour of Normandy.
We left Lympstone on the Friday evening and travelled to Portsmouth ferry terminal to hop the channel to Cairn. We arrived early Saturday morning, picked up our fantastic guide “Smiler” and started our Battle field tour of the D-Day landings.
Firstly, we went to the British Cemetery at Bayeux and placed crosses at the headstone of graves to show our respects. There were many Royal Marines in the cemetery along with other soldiers from a huge variety of regiments.
Over the two days we visited the beaches of the landings, museums, cemeteries and watched interesting films about the D-Day landings. Although we have visited the sites of the landings, the graves of the many that died and been able to watch some of the original films, it is very difficult to comprehend the loss of life and sacrifice that these young men gave for the freedom we enjoy to this day.
230 TROOP DIARY
Entering week 13 morale was high post our battlefield tour in Normandy. We gained a new perspective on our future careers by looking back at those who came before us. Despite our renewed determination however there was a slight trepidation in the air among the 20 men of 230 Troop that remain. This was not unwarranted as the trials ahead were not insignificant.
Monday morning saw us ready ourselves for our new arena of pain, the bottom field assault course. 11 obstacles. The same we saw before we even set foot off the train at CTCRM, an intimidating site. “Aggression” the words of the PTI and key to bottom field stuck in our minds during our intro, with the carrot and stick incentive of finishing early or a dip in Neptune’s playground (colloquially known as ‘The Tank’) respectively. We started on the low and high ‘obs’ a small test of our confidence at height. Moving on to the assault course going through stages at a time, before a full run through, followed by fireman’s carries over 200m and climbs on the 30ft ropes. Later we’d be taught the full and half regain manoeuvring our bodies around a rope from dead hang to the top position. We performed well in the session, with the oggin avoided and ‘man phys’ in the bag for the day you might have thought they’d be a chance to take a breath however you’d be wrong. Literally, as we were about to throw our CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) kit on to experience CS gas.
Respirators donned we wouldn’t have looked out of place in some post-apocalyptic thriller. Thrilled we were not however as first hand reports of it being not dissimilar to snorting wasabi then rubbing tobasco in your eyes had some of the lads a little nervous. The first five entered the chamber myself included. We ran around in the small rectangular enclosure to ensure the build-up of sweat to check the seal on our respirators and, I’m sure, also so we’d take a nice big lung full of the incapacitating gas. Sheepishly we one by one removed our hoods and respirators, confirming we could obey an order even if it may be detrimental to our body. The coughing, spluttering and eyes watering started almost immediately for the other lads a couple in the troop and I was one of the rare few that are immune. Upon reporting to the DS ensuring you are not holding your breath the lads would run out of the chamber and try to compose themselves. The consensus was that the hilarity of watching the lads come out of the chamber outweighed the suffering received on the inside.
Tuesday had the troop up early and ready to deploy on EX BAPTIST WALK a preliminary exercise to prepare us for the following week criteria exercise. We were tested on our ability to camouflage ourselves to the environment and to stalk the enemy. Tested on proficiency with maps, our understanding of fire control orders, target indication and our ability to observe and spot anomalies on the ground and our navigational competence at night. Finally how well we can administrate and sustain ourselves and our kit. Everybody came away from the EX knowing what they needed to work on and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
The tail end of the week came in with a bang travelling down to Warminster ranges to get to grips with the L109 high explosive grenade. Safety points and mock throws done we got underway. The training team kept a relaxed environment to reduce the chances of us panicking in turn we worked hard and moved fast. The day went well and everyone returned limbs intact. On the journey back I mentally noted the normality of it all and how much we’ve changed in our short time at CTC.
The week ended with a trip the RNAS Yeovilton to practice under water helicopter escape drills better known as ‘dunker drills’. In small groups there were 4 dunks in total each with a slightly different variable ie the mock helicopter being inverted, low lighting and complete darkness. The key was to keep calm, orientate yourself and understand your position.
Christmas leave looms on the horizon but as the week draws to a close thoughts turn to EX BAPTIST RUN a test of everything we’ve learned so far. A binary test. 1 or 0. Pass or fail that will either have us progress onto phase 2 of training or leaving 230 Troop. Everyone yet remains hopeful and I am confident in the ability of the lads of 230.