Juliet Bravo as 42 Commando let rip on police’s state-of-the-art firing ranges

Royal Marines stride away from targets they’ve just peppered with small arms in a state-of-the-art cathedral of marksmanship.

Royal Marines stride away from targets they’ve just peppered with small arms in a state-of-the-art cathedral of marksmanship.

These are the men of Juliet Company, 42 Commando. And this is probably Britain’s most advanced shooting range... making it the perfect place for Exercise Urban Strike.

The Bickleigh-based green berets made the 400-mile journey from Devon to Tyneside as they honed their urban warrior skills... in a business park... in Gateshead.

For as well as the obligatory cash and carry and Mister Twisters children’s indoor playground, the sprawling industrial site is also home to Northumbria Police Operational and Tactical Training Centre.

Just two years old, indoors it features two 60-metre firing ranges (plenty big enough to drive vehicles around in if you so wish), a ‘judgmental suite’ – a CGI simulator at which the shooter and the target can react to each other’s movements.

And outdoors, there’s a ‘tactical training area’ – a mock-up of a street with blocks of flats and terraced houses which you can smash your way into, fight your way around and the like.

All of which should be bread and butter to the Juliets. The company is 42’s specialist unit when it comes to urban combat (aka FISHing – Fighting In Someone’s House).

Northumbria Police and the Royal Marines have established some excellent links in recent years

Captain Chris Huggett RM, Second-in-Command of Juliet Company

Over half the world’s population live in towns and cities – and that’s expected to rise – so being prepared to react to a developing crisis in such an environment a vital for the green berets.

The Bickleigh boys will truly get the chance to fight their way through a town this autumn when they head to the Mojave Desert and the US Marine Corps’s sprawling ranges at Twentynine Palms for Exercise Black Alligator.

Before you can wrestle with alligators, however, you have to start with tiddlers. Hence a few days at the police complex with simulated and live firing of a variety of weapons – chiefly Glock 17 pistols and SA80 rifles.

“Northumbria Police and the Royal Marines have established some excellent links in recent years,” explained Capt Chris Huggett, Second-in-Command of Juliet Company.

“The police have state-of-the-art facilities which allow us to really think about our actions and hone our skills on the range.

“These are all essential skills for Royal Marines. As you move into a cluttered urban environment, you need to have the confidence to handle any scenario.

“This facility gives us maximum training value – and a safe environment to practise the skills necessary to fight effectively in built-up areas.”

Both Urban Strike and Black Alligator are all elements of the comprehensive training package 42 require to take over as the UK’s Lead Commando Group – the amphibious unit the government can call on in the event of an international crisis – from May 2016.

Imagery by LA(Phot) Joel Rouse.