Gunners Battle Each Other to be the Best


Airborne gunners have gone into battle against each other as they train for their role in the British Army’s rapid reaction force.

Colchester-based 7 Para RHA held a best gun detachment competition at Warcop in Cumbria to test the full range of their skills, as gunners first and infantry soldiers second.

As well as the key artillery skills of accurate live firing and safe movement of the 105mm L118 Light Gun, the competing gun detachments were tested on their first aid, vehicle recovery, rifle shooting and fitness.

Lt Col Gary Wilkinson OBE, CO of 7 Para RHA, said: “This competition has enabled the gun crews to demonstrate all the abilities and attributes expected of the modern day field gunner, showing their robustness, technical competence, resilience, determination, flexibility and basic soldiering skills. It has been tough, but has proved that our soldiers are more than up to the challenge of anything that is thrown at them. This versatility is a vital attribute for all as we train to meet future operational demands.”

Two six-man detachments from each of the unit’s three gun batteries took part in the competition. Detachment commander, Sgt Soper said: “There’s always a healthy rivalry between the gun teams, and the competition has been a great way to test everyone’s skills. As we train for our rapid response role, we’re really going back to what 7 Para RHA is all about. It’s back to basics gunnery – shooting and moving and living out of our vehicles – rather than working from fixed locations as we have been on recent operations in Afghanistan.”

The competition marked the start of Exercise EAGLES RESOLVE 12, which is training to maintain 7 Para RHA’s skills as part of the Airborne Task Force (ABTF). The ABTF sees 16 Bde maintain a force ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice. 7 Para RHA provides a gun battery and Fire Support Teams (FSTs), who work with infantry on the ground to co-ordinate artillery, fast air and attack helicopter support.

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