Sunday, 5 February 2012
Father and son weekend.
My son John, has invited me on a father and son weekend, laid on by the sergeant`s mess at 45 Commando RM. They held one in 2010 which I attended. Arriving at RM Condor in Arbroath on the Friday, there was a meet and greet in the mess that night at which a fantastic hot buffet was provided, after which we had a few beers and a pub quiz.
The Saturday was taken up by doing various activities. We were divided into four teams of fathers and sons, and our team firstly did a rock climb followed by an eighty foot abseil, then it was off to the S.A.T. range, every little boy`s dream as it is like a massive arcade video shooting game, but using the real thing. The weapons are hooked up to a CO2 supply, simply to give a realistic recoil when the trigger is pulled. A laser acquires the target and hits are totted up by computer. A great piece of kit.
After a bag lunch, we were off for a ride in a BV, a tracked vehicle which bends in the middle. When I say "bends", it is actually one tracked vehicle towing another, but unlike the conventional towbar set up, they are connected by hydraulic bars. We were taken over the rough terrain course and through water obstacles, a wild ride! The BV will easily climb a 60 degree slope, but I think that the steepest gradient we did was 45 degrees.
The BV ride ended at the 30 metre range where we were to have a shoot as part of a competition to find the best shot among the fathers. I have fired the SA80 before at a previous F & S weekend at 40 Commando. I had, in my time in the Corps, been instructed in the SLR, 7.62 of stopping power, and knew what a recoil it had, but I was surprised to find that the SA80, even though it fires a smaller round, has quite a kick to it as well.
We were given a 30 round magazine to fire in the prone position. This was to get a group on the target, and find a point to aim off so that we were hitting the centre of the target, since we weren`t to alter the sights. On inspection of my target, my group was about the size of a 50p piece, and I knew that I hadn`t lost my shooting skills.
Another full magazine, this time standing, and we were ready to do the competition shoot, the same thing all over again, only this time at competition targets. There was a lot of ammunition left, and we just had to fire it off, but with the MINIME, a great little machine gun which I wanted to take home with me. Obviously, I wasn`t allowed to. For me, the shooting was the highlight of the day.
On the Saturday evening we attended a regimental dinner in the mess. Best bib and tucker, and all the SNCOs in mess dress, we sat down to a wonderful meal, drank good wine, and the port was passed about five times I think, by which time I was quite tipsy having had a couple of beers before the meal.
The mess president stood up and said that we were probably anxious to know who had won the shooting competition, then went about telling us in true X Factor fashion by drawing it out from fourth place to first. At the end of my shoot that day, I had four rounds left when I finished firing in the standing position, a possible 40 points lost, but not enough to keep me from getting my mitts on the trophy, an engraved pewter hip flask.
After the dinner it was back to the bar for a few more beers and games of "nails". Now to explain how the game is played would take another post, but the outcome of each game is that the loser buys a round of drinks, something which, luckily never happened to me. We got our heads down around three in the morning, got up and had breakfast and later said our goodbyes to each other. All in all a great weekend, and I am looking forward to March 4th.