Skill at arms meet on target

This article has photo gallery Published on FLTLT Tom Maclean (author), CPL Mark Doran (author), CPL Nunu Campos (photographer)

Location(s): Puckapunyal

Topic(s): Shooting

Australian Army officer Brigadier David Westphalen (left), Commander of 4th Brigade, awards Petty Officer Malcolm Day with the champion Navy shot award during the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting in Puckapunyal, Victoria, on 12 May 2017. (photo: CPL Nunu Campos)
Australian Army officer Brigadier David Westphalen (left), Commander of 4th Brigade, awards Petty Officer Malcolm Day with the champion Navy shot award during the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting in Puckapunyal, Victoria, on 12 May 2017.

An electronics technician has won the champion Navy shot at the annual Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting at Puckapunyal between 5-26 May.

More than 200 top shooters from almost 20 countries competed in what is one of the world’s biggest meets.

Units from across the Australian Defence Force competed against each other and the best were selected to take on personnel from the visiting nations.

Petty Officer Electronics Technician Malcolm Day, of HMAS Kuttabul, won the Navy award, and said it was his second time competing at the event.

“I competed in 2015 and placed third,” he said.

“My plan this year was to do my best and ignore what everyone else was doing. I just concentrated on each individual shot and if I made a bad one I just moved on.

“The goal was to qualify for my marksmanship badge, so it was a bonus to win top shot. It was a good feeling and it was awesome to be carried on the chair.”

Officer in Charge of the Boatswain Faculty at HMAS Cerberus, Lieutenant Commander Ashley Bexton, said Navy personnel were required to be weapon users for boarding parties, force protection, joint operations ashore and force protection.

“Marksmanship is a skill which takes repetition and practice to ensure the firer is proficient and confident to use their weapon should the situation require,” Lieutenant Commander Bexton said.

“It is a perishable skill when not used regularly and it’s through participation in events such as this that personnel are able to maintain their skills.”

The Meeting now involes testing skills on more moving and robotic targets to increase the focus on combat shooting, rather than just marksmanship on a traditional classification range, and the new practices are all included in the champion shot aggregate.

All competitors wear body armour and helmets – as are worn on operations – which adds an extra physical challenge and ensures the fittest participants stand out.

Participants have to react quickly to unexpected threats and learn to shoot in some challenging situations, including small gaps and awkward positions.

Petty Officer Day said his preparation included a week of training at Cerberus.

“We spent time at the Weapons Training Simulation System and did live firing at the range,” he said.

“I enjoyed the combat shooting as it was new and a lot of fun.

“It would be good to see more Navy at the event next year.”

Cambodia competed this year for the first time and regional neighbours such as Timor-Leste and Papua New Guinea returned.

Fiji sent observers with a view to sending a team next year. Stand-outs included participants from the Republic of South Korea, Indonesia and Japan, with Indonesia’s team the overall champions.