1404 (Chatham) Squadron

Air Training Corps

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Shooting

As a member of the Air Training Corps, you will receive the opportunity to undertake dry training to fire various rifles starting with the No.8 a .22 rifle, then on to the L98A1 a fullbore 5.56mm rifle.
Upon sucessful completion of this training, you will be able to partake in various events, such as the Shooting Competition, and you will have the opportunity to improve your shooting skills and techniques.

Training for Cadet Shooting

Cadets at all levels of the Air Training Corps have the opportunity to participate in the sport of rifle shooting. Since the ATC was originally a recruiting organisation for the Royal Air Force it made good sense for marksmanship to be on the training syllabus. Though the military ties are not as strong now, shooting has been retained as a cadet activity and a popular one too.

A "range" is a location designed so that people can take part in shooting under controlled conditions and ranges come in many shapes and sizes. Initially, shooting takes place with the target 25m from the firer, either on a 25m indoor range or a 25m barrack (outdoor) range. As the firer advances through the weapons they will start to shoot at ranges of 100m or more.

Safety is paramount with all ATC activities and shooting is certainly no exception. Training is an integral part of the system and each cadet is fully trained in whichever rifle they will be using. Supervising staff are similarly trained to deal with any eventualities and to ensure that the range is run safely and efficiently. All rifles are fired from the prone position (the firer is lying on their stomach) at static targets.

First Steps

The first rifle that a cadet will be trained on is the No.8 bolt action rifle. This weapon started life as the Enfield No4 rifle as used during World War II. It was modified to have a shorter barrel and altered to fire the .22 long rifle round instead of the .303. It also no longer takes a box magazine holding 10 rounds - each round must be fed in manually.

"Dry training" is part of a cadet's initial training and they are shown the No8 rifle in detail. The commands and practices used on the range are also explained so that the cadet knows exactly what to expect before they come anywhere near the range. Only after the cadet has successfully passed the Weapon Handling Test (WHT) will they be taken to the range and allowed to fire ammunition.

The No8 rifle itself is a nice, simple weapon - ideal for training. The sights are simple iron-sights (as with all cadet weapons) and it operates with a manually fed bolt action. There is very little noise from the rifle, though ear defenders are always worn when it is being fired.



Onwards Cadets over 14yrs old may fire the L98 Cadet GP rifle (L98)

The L98 is again a modification of an existing design, but in this case it is modified from the standard British rifle on current issue - the Enfield L85A1. It fires the same ammunition (5.56mm) as the L85 but is manually cocked and can only fire one round at a time so it is just like the No.8. The primary difference in operation is that ammunition is supplied in a magazine which is fitted to the rifle rather than loose to be fed by hand each time the rifle is fired.

Since the weapon is different from the No8, firers must be retrained with this weapon and go through dry training and WHT again before they are allowed to fire. You notice that you are firing higher calibre rounds because it makes a louder noise and gives a more robust kick in your shoulder as it does so.

 

The Future

It is planned to replace the L98A1 Cadet GP rifle with a semi-automatic version of the L85A1.

The basic automatic version of the L85A1 rifle can fire semi-automatically (one bullet each time you pull the trigger) or fully-automatically (it keeps firing until you release the trigger or the magazine is empty). The big advantage will be that the rifle will load the next round itself - most of the problems encountered when firing the L98A1 are due to incorrect operation of the manual cocking handle.

Hitting the Target


Although initially each shooter will concentrate at becoming familiar with the weapon, the eventual goal is to hit the target accurately and consistently.

Shooters with the ATC will typically be firing one of the following four practices:


Grouping:

The firer selects a single aiming point on the target and fires a number of rounds at that point.
The aim is for all the rounds to fall as close to the aim point as possible and it is measured as the diameter of a circle encompassing all of the holes in the target. Grouping practice is excellent for concentrating on perfecting your technique. There is no limit to how long the shooter may take when firing groupings.

Deliberate Fire:

This practice is fired at a target with marked, concentric scoring rings. The shooter aims at the centre of the target with the intention of placing the shot as near to the centre as possible.
The shooter's score is marked depending on how near to the centre of the target they manage to get. Common targets for application shooting are a large, single target or a card with 5 or 10 separate targets marked on it. When firing at a card with multiple targets, the shooter will aim to place one or two rounds on each of the targets. The shooter can take as long as they like to make the shots as the goal is optimum accuracy.

Rapid:

All that is required is that the shooter gets the round within the target area. However, they now have a time limit - for instance they may be required to fire 10 rounds in 40 seconds on a No.8 rifle and that really isn't too easy.

Snap:

Again, all the shooter needs to do is get the rounds to fall within the target area. However, the targets only appear for a short time before vanishing again and the shooter must typically hit the target with two rounds whilst it is visible. A snap practice might be for the target to appear and disappear 5 times, each time for 5 seconds. It will appear at random intervals so the shooter cannot anticipate the
target.