Army Gunners Put Firing Skills Into Action

Forces News has been given special access to the British Army's marksman training programme in Wiltshire - the Specialist Weapons School.

Machine gunners in the final stage of training for future conflicts have been taking part in Exercise Relentless Fire.

As the name suggests, it is teaching gunners how to use their weapons in a tactical environment.

The exercise is a chance for the soldiers, based at the Specialist Weapons School in Warminster, to put their firing skills into action.

During the part of the exercise Forces News observed, the machine gunners had to successfully target a tank as quickly as possible. 

The aim was to test their reaction to engage, as during conflicts they could remain in a defensive position for long periods of time.

Part of the test also involved being able to carry a lot of kit and move quickly into another position.

Snipers during ex relentless fire 021019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg

For many of the gunners it was a refresher of the basics of their role, while for others Exercise Relentless Fire offered a chance to put everything they had learned into practice.

"The most challenging thing for me has been going from very little experience in machine guns to getting to the stage where you can finish the course in six weeks," said Lieutenant Ben Upton.

"We have learned quite a lot, practicing not only our personal skills and drills, but being taught how to lead a team and command a section," added Lance Corporal Matthew Phillips.

Snipers carry kit around during ex relentless fire 021019 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
The machine gunners need to be able to carry 65kg of equipment with them.

Working in pairs, the lead gunner and the gun controller were marked on how well they got into position, mounted the weapon and shared information about what they could see with the section commander.

LCpl Phillips told Forces News: "It is hard work at first... people have their own different ways of doing things, but you work together and come up with your own kind of practices.

"It's important because you never know who you are going to be working with in the future, or where you are going to be, or what you're going to do," he added.

The exercise saw the gunners patrol over 6km, carrying 65kg of equipment.

"Within that distance, we have sweated a lot," said Lance Corporal Subhash Ghartimagar, from the Royal Gurkha Rifles.

"Most of us have lost five to ten kg."

gunner transport fake casualty during ex relentless fire 021019 credit bfbs.jpg
The final part of the training exercise looks at dealing with casualties.