2391 (Parkstone) Squadron - Air Training Corps
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Shooting Training

Training for Cadet Shooting

Cadets at all levels of the Air Training Corps have the opportunity to participate in the sport of rifle shooting. Since the ATC was originally a recruiting organisation for the Royal Air Force it made good sense for marksmanship to be on the training syllabus. Though the military ties are not as strong now, shooting has been retained as a cadet activity and a popular one too.

A "range" is a location designed so that people can take part in shooting under controlled conditions and ranges come in many shapes and sizes. Initially, shooting takes place with the target 25m from the firer, either on a 25m indoor range or a 25m barrack (outdoor) range. As the firer advances through the weapons they will start to shoot at ranges of 100m or more.

Safety is paramount with all ATC activities and shooting is certainly no exception. Training is an integral part of the system and each cadet is fully trained in whichever rifle they will be using. Supervising staff are similarly trained to deal with any eventualities and to ensure that the range is run safely and efficiently. All rifles are fired from the prone position (the firer is lying on their stomach) at static targets.


First Steps

The first rifle that a cadet will be trained on is the No.8 bolt action rifle. This weapon started life as the Enfield No4 rifle as used during World War II. It was modified to have a shorter barrel and altered to fire the .22 long rifle round instead of the .303. It also no longer takes a box magazine holding 10 rounds - each round must be fed in manually.

"Dry training" is part of a cadet's initial training and they are shown the No8 rifle in detail. The commands and practices used on the range are also explained so that the cadet knows exactly what to expect before they come anywhere near the range. Only after the cadet has successfully passed the Weapon Handling Test (WHT) - which supersedes the Test of Elementary Training (TOET) - will they be taken to the range and allowed to fire ammunition.

The No8 rifle itself is a nice, simple weapon - ideal for training. The sights are simple iron-sights (as with all cadet weapons) and it operates with a manually fed bolt action. There is very little noise from the rifle, though ear defenders are always worn when it is being fired.



Cadets over 14yrs old may fire the L98 Cadet GP rifle (L98)

The L98 is again a modification of an existing design, but in this case it is modified from the standard British rifle on current issue - the Enfield L85A1. It fires the same ammunition (5.56mm) as the L85 but is manually cocked and can only fire one round at a time so it is just like the No.8. The primary difference in operation is that ammunition is supplied in a magazine which is fitted to the rifle rather than loose to be fed by hand each time the rifle is fired.

Since the weapon is different from the No8, firers must be retrained with this weapon and go through dry training and WHT again before they are allowed to fire. You notice that you are firing higher calibre rounds because it makes a louder noise and gives a more robust kick in your shoulder as it does so.


Serious competition

Recently reintroduced back in to service is the L81 rifle. The L81A1 was a slightly modified Parker-Hale M82 rifle but was taken out of service in 1995 for maintenance. It has been reborn as the L81A2 rifle.

A step back in complexity, this weapon is very much like the No.8 rifle in operation, though scaled up. It fires the 7.62mm round and is capable of considerable accuracy.

Cadets also have the opportunity to train and fire smallbore competition rifles such as the Anschutz or Feinwerkbau.


The Future

It is planned to replace the L98A1 Cadet GP rifle with a semi-automatic version of the L85A2 by 2005.

The basic automatic version of the L85A2 rifle can fire semi-automatically (one bullet each time you pull the trigger) or fully-automatically (it keeps firing until you release the trigger or the magazine is empty). The big advantage will be that the rifle will load the next round itself - most of the problems encountered when firing the L98A1 are due to incorrect operation of the manual cocking handle.


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