This is exactly what happened, we sent out Full Time Shooting HQAC person (TG5) who is a Sqn Ldr.
What challenges do you face that stop you from getting cadets shooting?
We have regular shoots throughout the year and in a few weeks time have a shooting camp for 200 Cadets. I also see other Squadrons shooting from outside the region via posts on Social Media.
My 2 biggest challenges at a wing level, is a lack of Instructors, and Long Range RCOs.
The RCO problem is being solved next month with 2 more going on a course,which will give us extra resilience when we run our multi range shoots that all require at least 1 LR, the introduction of the K qualification has also helped this as they can assist with Butts/Console.
Instructors, requires people to be confident on the L98 and be able to commit to the 5 day course (these are still filled) this year we greater access to Frimley courses, which may result in more new instructors.
These are the exact challenges.
On the squadron and similarly other squadrons staff do not want to do the courses. In our sector we have 2 instructors and 3 RCOs two of whom are the WIs and they are all on 2 squadrons.
5 years ago we had 6 RCOs and 7 WIs 2 RCOs left and the other couldn’t be bothered with the requal, having been doing shooting for nigh on 30 years he’d had enough, and the other 5 WIs have all rediscovered their weekends.
The biggest stumbling block is WIs as without them you can’t even start the shooting process. But I don’t know of anyone locally who want to give up 5 days and all the time beforehand doing famil. IF it was just a course it might be easier to sell it. We don’t have weapons on the squadron, which is another negative, we used to have the old DPs, so it nothing else you could get the cadets hands on.
We have Wing shoots but I’d have an easier time selling sand to Arabs. The cadets that have gone have said they sit around while staff are WHTd and then cadets, and then if they are lucky they get a couple of goes and spend the time sitting around doing nothing, or, doing something just to keep them busy, that they didn’t get up at 5 o’clock or before to do. One of the cadets said they’d sooner have stayed at home doing homework.
What we need is an all in one course like we used to for .22, so that people feel their time doing the course is worth the effort. But that’s never going happen while SASC jobsworths are in control
How many squadrons do you have in your sector?
How many cadets in your sector?
Do your cadets have any exposure to shooting, is a specific problem with a weapon system, or getting cadets into shooting with Air Rifle / Small Bore?
I would suggest that your Sector’s 3 qualified staff get together and arrange for an Initial Small Bore Training Day, that consists of the delivery of 3 Rifle Lessons for the L144 and WHT in the morning delivered by the 2 x WI/SAAI. Following successful delivery of training all cadets attempt to complete CLF 1 on the range that is run by your non WI/SAAI RCO, cadets who are successful may be able to complete CLF 2 and therefore Bronze Trained Shot. To enable effective delivery I would limit this to 12-18 cadets.
Over the course of 4 training dates, I’ve delivered IWT on the L144 to approx 120 cadets with the support from some of the other WI/SAAIs across the Wing.
rco courses - two consecutive weekends - really? Who wants to travel halfway across the country 4 times? To be honest, if I had a proper job I would, because I’m so desperate to get shooting going on my sqn. But I work shift work, so I am never off two consecutive weekends. If you are listening, PLEASE RUN AN OCCASIONAL ONE WEEK COURSE. Thanks.
Getting weapons- our parent station has L144’s, but won’t issue them to sqn because they want us to have a burglar alarm connected to a monitoring station. But we have a Benweld, which scored enough points of it were installed in the middle of a field. The parent sync were happy for us to have No8’s.
inter-service cooperation. We are next door to an act and TA unit. They have l98A2 in their armoury. Do you think we can use them? Oh no, cos their army guns. What about storing a couple of boxes of Raf ball rounds? Hahahaha - rofl.
getting an air rifle range - this has been solved in the last 6 months or so, but our range had been out of action for 3 years because there was no-one in the organisation qualified to inspect it after building work made our main hall lager.
privately purchased weapons. Parent station won’t issues service ammo for privately purchased weapons, and using privately purchased ammo usb outside of the SST, requiring a 2-star sign-off.
minimum requirement to fire l98A2 - cadets need to be a trained shot on air rifle or l144. I get why this is desirable - they have half a clue about shooting straight and understand range etiquette. But why make it mandatory? When firing L144 and AR is not exactly straightforward?
I did shooting for 13 years and felt like I had done my bit by that point. Trying to get other staff to do it across the Wing is also a problem, as we are not that well endowed in terms of qualified shooting staff. Every time someone gets qualified it is almost an annual report mention.
Is shooting a must do for ACF staff? Whereas is the true sense of being volunteer staff, in the ATC you pick and choose.
@themajor the problem is with so few staff getting any number of cadets trained, tested and retested never mind shooting is problematic. These people deserve a life as much as any of us. If it was just train, test and go it wouldn’t be so much of a problem, but it’s the constant WHT requirement for staff and cadets, that adds to the load. We have around 150 cadets in the sector. As I said with the wing shoots, selling sand to Arabs would be easier to do. Shooting as an activity needs to be made attractive to all staff, including CIs. Just by seeing what people need to do just to go shooting, I am glad I’m shot of it. When I was doing it, turn up, sign range orders and go.
OK, perhaps they are not wholly to blame but they are certainly part of the problem.
I would point the finger squarely at SASC for the make-up of the courses that are on offer. They seem to be determined to push everybody down a full-bore route as that is what they are most comfortable with and don’t seem interested that we have a significant number of people who would be happy operating solely at air-rifle and small-bore level, leaving fullbore for the sort of weirdos that like that sort of stuff. SASC know best and won’t listen to the real customer.
Some of the limitations of the RAM system and the alleged “safe system of training” add complexity and confusion that are again obstacles to enthusiasm and patience and which limit shooting. do not underestimate that volunteers have limits on the levels of nonsense they will endure before they find another way to spend a day.
Many of the other differences are due, in part, to how we differ form the ACF. The lack of permanent staff to pander for us, bring stuff out to us and assist us means that transport and storage is seemingly more complex for us.
The rest are mostly due to our beloved leaders not knowing their horse from their helbow, making poor decisions and generally getting in the way.
It would also help if the new progressive shooting system allowed a little flexibility and had ben designed for a multi-activity youth organisation with differing resources and abilities instead of a shooting club in cloud-cuckoo land! Writing the PTS shooting manual correctly, consistently and without the extra fluff they felt the need to include wouldn’t hurt either.
It is 2 weekends, and people complained when the SAAI Course went from 2 weekends to 5 consecutive days, I can’t see us keeping everyone happy here.
Weekend 1 is the delivery of the Training to become a RCO (missing the part about booking ranges), while Weekend 2 is the Assessment of your skills to act as an effective and safe RCO.
The problem here, is that the delivery of these courses, while support and accredited by SASC, is by the volunteer SATT who can’t deliver the course consecutively, for the same reason you can’t complete 2 weekends. There may be potential, if they exist, to join a RCO course at Frimley, question for the Shooting Portal.
It’s not that there is a difference with the No.8 v L144, but there has been an update to JSP 440, that requires the armoury staff to ensure the weapons they issue will be held in accordance with. The requirement change requires armoury’s to be alarmed, and has been written from a Joint Service position, without consideration for the cadet world. I beleive the Army have accepted the risk and are therefore ignoring this JSP for Cadets, the RAF is not prepared to accept the risk and is therefore complying with the JSP
Potential Solution - Draw and return weapons from the parent station for a single day of training at any location, or transport the cadets to the parent station for the training, and combine with use of the range.
This is inherently a local/relationship issue, a good relationship with the ACF can result in the pooling of resources & instructors.
This is a self made HQAC issue, that is now resolved and has also resulted in the empowering of the TSAs to complete the inspections.
I both agree and disagree with this requirement, at the current time due to the issues with the No.8 OSD and the roll out of L144 the opportunities have been limited to achieve this, however this is compounded by local issues with lack of Air Rifle (Non Central Cost). The requirement will result in more productive full bore shooting, and allow for development, the pre PTS requirement was to have just shot the Air Rifle/No.8, at least now you have to hit the target.
I think there have been moves to reduce this, but this has met resistance from permanent staff at HQAC. It is a restriction, but should encourage increased delivery of small bore to our cadets to enable their progression. L98 is harder to deliver than L144
To think as a CI on a squadron in the 80s, the Squadron had a wonderful relationship with the TA unit on whose site we were located on. The Squadron would book into the local range and sign out a couple of thousand rounds 7.62 and .303 of ammunition and some SMLEs, also we would pick up from our TA centre half a dozen SLRs and a couple of LMGs, which we transported ourselves to the ranges 20 miles away in a car boot. This was at the time of a very high terrorist threat. The cadets approx 20 to 25 would travel to the range by train on a warrant, the station was down the road from the squadron and the end station was outside the main gates of the range complex.
All the cadets had been taught how to use the SLR as a standard as this was the weapon in use at annual camps by the Regiment detachment.
All the cadets and staff had been taught how to use the SLR and had to be able to field strip and clean it at the end of the day.
Many happy days were to be had turning lead into brass, also we never had any ammunition to return as it was always shot off down the range by the end of the day. Never a casualty never a problem with well run ranges. Even managed to use GPMGs as a swop with an army unit who were surprised with the kick of the SMLE compared to the SLR.
Tell that to the ACO today and in the words of Victor meldrew, ‘I don’t believe it’ would be screamed everwhere.
So, the question was ‘What challenges do we face that stop us from getting cadets shooting’.
Yes ‘people’ will complain if a course is changed. They’ll complain if you change the brand of biscuit in the canteen. I’m not asking for consecutive weekend courses to be stopped. Simply an acknowledgement that a significant number of us work shifts and it’s easier to take a week’s leave than two weekends. An occasional weekday course will make it easier for some to get an essential qualification.
A change in a JSP effectively prevents sqns from holding weapons. The suggestion is that we do it at our parent station is apparently straightforward - but that round trip adds 2 1/2 hrs traveling time. ( Although we are in a garrison town, we are over an hour away from the nearest Raf station). So if I only want to run some IWT, that’s a big overhead. It’s no longer something that can be done during sqn evenings. It means that iwt now has to take place at the weekend. Did I mention that I work shifts and only get 1 weekend off a month?
L98 [iwt] is harder to deliver that L144: only if you have access to L144. I have L103’s in my armoury, so I can run a lesson, or bash out a couple of wht’s in an evening without breaking a sweat.
None of these problems are insurmountable. But they are hinderences that make it much more difficult than it could be. Which in turn means the cadets do less of it.
I think there are a lot of shift workers in our organisation, a key element is made up of police officers, and it doesn’t seem to matter which SATT you go to they have a police officer as part of the team. So weekday courses should be possible, somebody just needs to drive it, and it won’t be driven unless there is sufficient demand.
The JSP Change is inexcusable, and work needs to be done to either remove the alarm requirement from us, as per ACF or the funds allocated to make the required changes. The use of the Parent Station was a suggested work around that I’m using locally and is working for us, our cadets / staff would travel their to shoot on a barrack range anyway.
I told the OC of my SATT thst it was an issue and asked why we couldn’t have a weeklong course and also the opposite why SAAI couldn’t be done over 2 weekends, so everyone is catered for. I didn’t really get a reason in his reply.
Ive also mentioned it to SATT. They were open to the idea and compared it to staff doing a weeks camp. They even went as far as to mention running it alongside existing shooting camps… ive heard nothing in the 5 years since.
I know week long courses have been offered for the SR course. About 2012, maybe 2013. Despite it being driven by demand and being advertised, the course in the end was barely viable. The majority of attendees were ACF.
If there is real demand then it needs to be fed up to the Regionals Commandants. They direct the training and courses their SATTs offer.