Operation Shooting Team
Each summer the RAF holds a service-wide Operational Shooting competition at Bisley Camp, Surrey. The RAF High Wycombe team took part in this competition, achieving considerable success, including selection to represent the RAF in the inter-services shoot and in some cases beating the Army.
Pre-selection for this event was conducted during the Group Operational Shooting Competition that was held in April. Again, High Wycombe achieved significant results, with two station personnel making it into the top ten overall, and the station winning silver in the pistol competition.
The competitions are open to all RAF Service personnel and involve competing in various shoots, with the ultimate aim of winning the RAF’s Queen’s Medal for Champion shot of the Royal Air Force. This competition is based around the use of the British Military standard weapon systems, the SA80 A2 with SUSAT optic sight and the Browning 9mm pistol. The highest performing individuals throughout the RAF Operational Shooting Competition are selected to compete in the Inter-Services competitions against the Army and Navy. If you are good enough, you can be selected to compete internationally in the USA, Canada, South Africa and Australia. A number of personnel from RAF High Wycombe have been selected over the past three years to go to either the USA or Canada.
So what is Combat shooting and what is involved? Well, it is a skill that is directly transferable to Operations and has proven to be a life saver. The matches that we compete in are based on criteria of experience gained on operations and are designed to reflect them as much as possible in a regulated environment. Think of your CCS shoot as your annual fitness test, this is more like a decathlon by comparison. However, don’t let this put you off, as the RAF shooting team are looking for willing personnel from all ranks and experience to train up to this competition standard. Combat shooting is not just a case of pitching up on the range, firing off a few rounds and packing up for the day. During training and competition you would typically fire upwards of a thousand rounds of 5.56mm ammunition and several hundred rounds of 9mm. You also have to wear Enhanced Combat Body Armour and webbing weighted to 7.5kg, whilst undertaking rundowns from ranges such as, 500m to 100m, shooting at different targets every 100 metres, as you advance down the range.
Another match is carried out at 100-25 metres, with engagements every 25m to simulate fighting in built up areas. Safety is always paramount and it gives confidence in weapon handling by shooting in a relaxed but competitive environment, with a very good social side.
In September 2011 the RAF’s Operational Shooting Team flew out to Ottawa, Canada, to take part in the Canadian Forces’ Small Arms Concentration (CFSAC 11), their equivalent of Bisley, where they award their Services’ Queen’s Medal for Champion Shot.
A team of 12 shooters, including Flt Lt Waters from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Role Office, represented the RAF in the Canadian CFSAC shoot. Achieving notable success and enhancing their skills on some of the most challenging military competition shoots in the world, the team consisted of a balanced squad, with competence in both the rifle and pistol skills, again using the standard issued weapons. The event has over 280 competitors from all 3 Canadian services and also several other countries from around the world.
Of all the competitions, one of the most dynamic is the Combat Pistol, which provides combat scenarios, where threats are engaged anywhere from 3 to 25 metres. These involve engaging moving and reactive targets, which are exposed as the competitor moves through a simulated built-up area, using both primary and secondary weapons as the situation dictates. For the rifle competitions, individuals were engaging a figure 12 target (1/2 man) at a range of 500m, in windy conditions and achieving 10 hits on the target and many in the centre circle.
This is not a sport but a basic military skill, with full duty status, which enhances shooting ability fitness and confidence and is ultimately very rewarding. No experience is needed, just the time to spend a few days on the range and a willingness to learn and compete. If you would like to know more contact either Sqn Ldr Prangley (2Gp ISTAR) Ext 5045 or Flt Lt Waters (EOD RO) Ext 7163. We routinely try to run one range day per month and utilise the DCCT to practice every two weeks, on Wednesday evenings.