Normanville sailor Christopher Benton has been named the Navy’s best marksman at the world’s largest military marksmanship competition held recently in Victoria.
Christopher represented the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) at the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting (AASAM) and hedged out eight other members of his RAN shooting team to be named Champion Shot of Navy.
AASAM is the world’s largest international military shooting competition attracting competitors from across the globe, including USA, France, UK, New Zealand, Japan and competition newcomers, China.
Christopher, 25, is employed as a Boatswains Mate at the Navy’s West Head Gunnery Range in Victoria.
He joined the Navy five years ago and said winning the coveted title came as a shock.
“I’m ecstatic, absolutely ecstatic. I was three points behind at the last serial, so it was pretty tight. I didn’t really think I was going to win, to be honest. It was pretty close all the way up to the last detail where I slipped in front. It’s been amazing really, a really good competition and really tough,” Christopher said.
In an age-old tradition, Christopher’s Navy teammates ‘chaired’ him into the award presentation by carrying him in on their shoulders.
More than 350 competitors from 17 countries were vying for honours at this year’s competition, including the coveted titles of Champion Shot, Best Unit Team and Best International Team. The competition pitches soldiers against each other in a tough combat-like environment to test the skills required of a modern fighting soldier, using their standard issue rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and machine guns.
Marksmen competed in a series of team and individual shooting events in both day and night over a variety of distances and shooting scenarios, with snipers engaging moving targets and targets at more than 1000 metres. There was also a bayonet assault course to simulate close-quarter fighting.
Christopher was competing in all events including the military biathlon.
“Basically, there was a fair bit of running involved and at a station you’d be given an ammunition magazine, which you loaded onto your rifle, and then engaged a target, unload, and keep running to the next target. It’s timed and scored, you have to be quick, and you have to be accurate as well,” he said.
A keen sportsman, Christopher is also a Military Fitness Leader and has undertaken several opportunities to travel overseas.
“I’ve done a four-week operational relief in the Persian Gulf on HMAS Toowoomba in 2010. I’ve also been to Japan, Guam, Singapore, Mumbai and Dubai,” Christopher concluded.