RAF High Wycombe operational shooting team
The pinnacle of RAF Combat Service Weapon Shooting is held at a competition each June/July at Bisley Camp, Surrey.
This competition is the service-wide RAF Operational Shooting Competition (RAFOSC). The 2 weeks involve competitions for the UAS, Air Officers and Station Commanders, the RAF and then the Inter-Services. Sqn Ldr Emma Marsh represented the RAF High Wycombe Station Commander and finished 4th whilst Air Commodore Russ La Forte, ACOS 22 Gp, won the Air Officers’ match. The team from RAF High Wycombe achieved considerable success, winning several trophies and 2 of the team (Flt Lt Ady Waters, EOD RO and Flt Lt Danny Couzens, DIO) were selected to represent the RAF in the follow up Inter-Services Competition. They won the overall Inter-Services competition, beating the Army in 3 of the 5 main matches that involved using both rifles and pistols. These 2 individuals have also been selected to represent the RAF at the Canadian Forces Skill at Arms competition in Ottawa, later this year.
Pre-selection for RAFOSC was conducted during the Group Operational Shooting Competition that was held in April. This was a week-long event for up to 80 individuals. Again, High Wycombe achieved significant results, with two station personnel making it into the top ten overall and SAC (T) Sykes winning the Group Novice pistol competition, and the station winning its Gp out of the 3 Gps represented. The noticeable factor for the event was the abysmal weather, rain and high winds. It rained every day, including the practices (67mm total of rain recorded at Farnborough over the week) and on the final Sunday alone, there was a total of 24 mm. Despite this, there was still considerable enthusiasm from all the competitors. These conditions allowed the team captains and participants to show considerable leadership skills, whilst trying to maintain morale in poor conditions and also ensuring the safety levels were maintained. It also tested physical strength and stamina due to the weights involved and shooting from all different positions.
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.
So what is Combat shooting and what is involved? 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. To compete you 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, in 30-second bounds, as you advance down the range.
Another match is carried out at 100-10 metres, with engagements every 25m, to simulate fighting in built-up areas. At 25m, you transition from using rifle to pistol, to shoot the last 4 practices down to 10m 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.
This is not a sport but a basic military skill, with full duty status, which enhances shooting ability fitness, leadership and confidence and is ultimately very rewarding. No previous 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 Flt Lt Waters (EOD RO) Ext 7163 or Cpl Matt Hopson (JDLMO) Ext 4663
The team comprised of
Flt Lt Ady Waters, EOD RO
Flt Lt Danny Couzens, DIO
WO2 Richard Coleman, JDLMO
Cpl Matt Hopson, JDLMO
SAC Kenroy Mitchell, Dental Centre
SAC (T) Chris Sykes