Marksmanship training prepares recruits for duty

A rare glimpse inside the digital laser range and warfare simulator at Royal Navy HQ in Portsmouth, where young sailors waiting for their next course have been receiving some bonus training.

The Dismounted Close Combat Trainer (DCCT) at HMS Excellent gives a taster of what will be needed to qualify to bear arms on deployment and be effective in a variety of scenarios when they complete the full course later in their training.

HMS Excellent and HMNB Portsmouth have been hosting groups of sailors waiting for their next stage of training whilst some courses were delayed due to the coronavirus epidemic.

Dubbed Phase 1.5, these trainees have undergone a two-week package, which also includes ceremonial drill and adventure training, having completed Phase 1 at HMS Raleigh. The second week was spent on HMS Prince of Wales.

The final group completes their course this week. They will move on to branch-specialised training at Phase 2 training establishments having kept up their adjustment to a career in the military with this additional training, rather than just waiting for their next course to begin.

Because the DCCT uses laser and digital technology the team can run through a wide range of scenarios from basic target practice on a simulate range to judgmental assessments. In the judgmental assessments a video is played to test the knowledge of the student to decide if it is justifiable to fire at a target. There is a huge library of situations available to test trainees, from defending an airfield to storming a beach.

Trainees would normally visit a facility like this just prior to going to their first unit for their four-week military rifle competency course, allowing them to carry out duties such as gangway watch or a hostile vessel boarding. Their training at HMS Excellent gave them a taster within an hour-long session having done basic weapon-handling at Raleigh.

AB Jack Marshall is training to be a Mine Warfare Specialist.

I really enjoyed the DCCT as it builds on the knowledge we learnt at Raleigh. Today’s session gave us an insight into reasoning, and it made us think what we would do in a real situation. All the drills we completed at Raleigh came back to me while firing on the simulated range here. The gas magazine creates a realistic feeling but without the pressure of having live rounds in the rifle.

AB Jack Marshall

AB Rebecca Saunders is training to be a Writer Submariner. She said: “I loved going on the simulator, it’s better than the one at Raleigh as it gives you more of an insight to what real world scenarios would look like, and it’s comparable to shooting on a real range as the gun recoils.”

The rifles provide feedback to students when they are fired. The air canister in the magazines are charged to 3000psi, which provides recoil when the trigger is squeezed. By using this system over traditional firing ranges, it is estimated to save a considerable amount of money and be safer.

The first fortnight of the four-week course consists of a range-based package to get students confident on the weapons and to a level at which they can legally bear arms. The second two weeks is the tactical and educational part of the programme, covering topics like rules of engagement, and the application of firepower; how to move around a ship in order to defend it or detect an intruder.