EXERCISE BRASS COACH 2016 – Written by Cdt Rosi Nicholson
24 cadets. 12 adults. 4 (sort of 5) different weapon systems. 5 different ranges. 10,000 rounds. 7 days.
Starting the week off at Bicester (Oxon ACF HQ) meant that we had a flurry of brand-new-basics desperately trying to see what senior cadets could do, watching how to march properly and peering through people just to get a glimpse of the different weapons systems. Whilst at Bicester, we focussed on WHTs (Weapons Handling Tests), lessons and the No. 8 rifle. After successfully passing our WHTs (not all first time..!) we progressed through to applied learning on the LSW (Light Support Weapon). This was the first time that some of us had held the LSW and you can bet we were excited!
At Bicester we also covered the Marksmanship Principles, a basic foundation of knowledge for anybody trying to shoot; when we got out on the ranges we learnt how to apply these in order to get the best shot. We used the 15 metre indoor tube range to practice our groupings (how close the shots were) for the No. 8 rifle and then continued to the indoor 25 metre range to test out application of shot. We also carried out an LSW shoot on the 25 m range outside, this was an ‘Introduction to the LSW’ shoot and an opportunity (for those of us who hadn’t already) to pass our WHTs on this weapon.
After a final dinner at Bicester we set out to Longmoor Camp. The journey to Longmoor took two and a half hours, thankfully there was not much traffic! When we arrived we sorted all the weapons and ammo into their selected areas in the armoury and then continued to the billets. The male billets were almost full, they managed to fill more than two rooms; however the female billets were a different matter…with only five of us there was plenty of space. This resulted in us having no conflict over showers and numerous itchy-scratchy’s (blankets) to keep us warm during the night! The accommodation was comfortable but we did notice a strange noise on the first night…sounded a bit like an inconsistent waterfall! Too tired to go and investigate we waited until the next morning, only to discover that it was the urinals flushing every ten minutes…whoever would have guessed…
The following morning was a little foggy and a tiny bit soggy, we set off after breakfast to the armoury to pick up the GP rifles. Then we travelled to the GP ranges and were all issued brand new cleaning kits, I’ve never seen cadets so excited about something involving cleaning! On the ranges we were able to apply the coaching methods that we had been taught and practice shooting with GPs, we were aiming for small groupings and the electronic targets made this easy to monitor from a distance. We had one rather entertaining moment when LCpl Haywood decided to launch himself into one of the shooting trenches (quite by accident) and disappear from view, only to return with a painful wrist…not a happy trip!
We were able to start with some LSW shooting on Tuesday, at Longmoor. Throughout the day we progressed from 100 to 400 m on the electronic converted gallery range and everyone had a blast ~ despite the wet, chilly weather. Despite the cold we managed to keep warm by moving swiftly between different distances on the range. We also found out how to adjust the sights to counteract the wind factor. In the evening we started learning about the CTR (cadet target rifle), readying ourselves for the WHTs to following morning.
The next morning we started by finishing off our CTR lessons and then progressing onto our WHTs. We also carried out a 25 m shoot for the CTR to practice our groupings. This was followed by more practical lessons on the CTR, for this we were placed into groups of three, organised by similar height (useful for adjusting the rifle) and I came to the conclusion that I was the shortest in the cadre.
The next day we were shooting with the CTR at distances from 100 m up to 300 m. We had some people coaching and the rest were butt markers…not quite cool as it sounds! They had one of the hardest jobs, having to pull down the targets whenever they got shot and use markers to direct the coach as to where the shot had gone so that the sights could be adjusted appropriately…definitely a good test of teamwork. This was then followed by our mess dinner at Bisley, we arrived and got changed in one building before heading out to the building we would eat in. As we formed up outside the building we realised that it didn’t feel quite right in suits and dresses! The dinner was incredible and awards were given out, congratulations to LCpl Kate Harris on receiving Top Student, and SMI Bennett on receiving Best Instructor. After a lovely dinner we headed back to Longmoor Camp for our last night.
On the final morning we packed up the billets and spent the majority of the day cleaning weapons, something we may need to perfect! We also had the opportunity to have a go on the DCCT, something some of the cadets hadn’t experienced before – a good experience! After lunch and a beautiful rendition of some Les Mis songs by SSI Halsall, we got in the minibuses and set off back to Bicester.
In summary, there was occasional sun, accompanied by lots of wind and rain. The lessons we had were practical and interesting and will be really valuable in the future (and the instructors were all incredible – thank you again!).
For me it was lovely to spend a week with cadets from all four companies, as well as 3 cadets from another battalion. I made a lot of friends and I am looking forward to Annual Camp. I am very grateful that I got the opportunity to go on this week and I have definitely improved my shooting and coaching skills.
Thank you to the shooting team!
Cdt Rosi Nicholson
North Oxfordshire Detachment