Soldier under Training (SuT) Alastair Byrne blogs again from the Army Training Centre, Pirbright about his eleventh week of Phase 1 Training. He writes about taking – and passing – his Annual Combat Marksmanship Test.
On Monday we began to practice for our Annual Combat Marksmanship Test (ACMT) on the electronic range. It was the first time we had been given the chance to use a rapid rate of fire and we tried snap shooting as well. It was a great chance to get to grips with the test format. That afternoon the rota said that we had basketball in the gym – but after around 10 minutes of playing basketball we were doing press-ups. And we did them until we couldn’t physically do any more.
The whole of Tuesday we spent on the outdoor ranges for live firing, practising all of the positions and distances of the ACMT. It was one of the best ranges we have been on. There were small computers which showed where the rounds had hit and the score awarded. I didn’t get to shoot at the 300m distance because it was too foggy, so instead we practised low-visibility shooting at 50m.
On Wednesday we had our second march/run with boots. I found it challenging but after a few miles my back seemed to get used to the weight of the bergen allowing me to concentrate on getting through it. I got back to the block, had a quick wash and got ready for the rest of the day’s activities. We had some lessons on improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and all paid attention as they are one the main threats to soldiers on operations.
Thursday was the day of the ACMT. Everybody was nervous about the test – you could tell because all the talk was about the shots and possible excuses! As we got there the wind was low – that made me feel a bit better as it wouldn’t affect the rounds as much, especially at longer distances. I volunteered to be in the first group to shoot as I wanted to get it out of the way. I hadn’t shot at 300m before on a live range so I just had to rely on the skills that I had been taught. After the shoot the people who passed were named over the loud speaker. “Lane 3, Byrne – pass”. It was like being the winner on a TV show and a weight off my shoulders. As I was one of the first to pass I spent the rest of the day cleaning my rifle.
On Friday morning we had battle physical training (PT) and it was one of the hardest lessons I have been on. We went a few times around the assault course and had an intense warm up. I misplaced my water bottle so was given some one-on-one PT with a lot of vocal motivation. After a lot of crawling and general exercise I was completely knackered. I had to crawl back to my Section who were just about to set off around the assault course once again. I joined them and surprised myself (and most of my Section!) by getting round the course and helping others do so too. So in the end I learnt something else about myself and it was a very productive lesson. That evening we had a lecture on prisoner handling and grenades.
On Saturday we cleaned rifles for most of the morning. Throughout the week I had passed all of the tests and had stayed under the radar so was allowed out of the camp for 6 hours. We all went to a Chinese restaurant and had some exotic food and plenty of orange juice. Then I got a phone call from one of the guys who told me that the contents of my locker had been emptied onto my bed. Apparently it had been caused by a magazine on my bed and my locker not being locked! So I’m back on the radar and there’ll be no going out next week, but it’s not a problem because I had a taste of normality for a few hours. I spent the rest of the weekend sorting out my locker and making sure all my kit was put away.
Week 12 will be the hardest yet – all the physical tests are put into one week so it’s going to be very demanding.