Exercise HEAVY METAL

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Article / December 9, 2015

By: MCpl Evan Bullock, A Company, 2 Platoon, 2 Section,  Second in Command, The Calgary Highlanders

In past years Exercise HEAVY METAL consisted of familiarization and qualification shoots for C6, C9, Carl Gustav , Grenades and even a memorable .50 cal shoot. This year was quite an offshoot from the standard. The scope was Personal Weapons Test Level 3 (PWT 3) Qualification and Live Pairs Fire and Movement. 

On Friday October 16, 2015, the unit met at Mewata Armoury at the usual 7pm where we drew weapons and hopped on the bus in a timely manner. The bus ride’s feature films, brought to you by Master Corporal  McDermott, were Pain & Gain and Edge of Tomorrow. After a stop at Chez McDonalds we arrived to CFB Wainwright at around 1am. Not too shabby.

Reveille on Saturday was 6am and a hearty breakfast was had at the mess before heading out to the range to zero and fire PWT 3. The weather was optimal with not a cloud in the sky and a slight breeze.

One of the benefits to firing on the CFB Wainwright ranges, as opposed to Edmonton, is that firers actually get to walk up to their targets and analyze their shots. We used the skills of shot analysis and adjusting our scopes to zero our C7s.

I find it satisfying to minimize a grouping and adjust the scope to the correct zero position. I believe it gives the firers more confidence and assurance in their shooting.

After completing the PWT 3 range we moved to the pairs range. On the way to the range we came across several sentries from multiple units posted on routes in and around their respective ranges. Their task was to ensure vehicles coming in and out were cleared by range staff in order to ensure maximum safety.

After receiving our range safety brief we practiced dry runs of team fire and movement before breaking off into two man teams for the live portion. Teams were tasked to approach possible enemy locations. Once the targets popped up the team fire and movement portion began. After the double tap, dash, down, sights, observe the teams assaulted the enemy position.

Unfortunately , due to dry conditions we were unable to employ Thunder Flashes as simulation grenades. After clearing the trench, teams advanced and destroyed two more enemy positions. It was noted by staff that the fresh new Privates Ardell and Abboud had performed the task in the quickest and most effective manner. Sergeant Wagg and Corporal Hardiment were the only ones to have expended all 90 rounds.

I found this exercise beneficial as I hadn’t shot a live fire attack in many years. It really builds on the skills we practice while shooting blanks and enhances confidence. It is one thing to perform an attack with blanks, but when live rounds are going downrange it drives home the need for taking those aimed shots and communicating with your fire team partner.

After the range was completed we headed back to base for dinner and weapons cleaning. Two of the officer cadets also took off later in the night for navigation exercises.

Another reveille at 6am and meal in the mess was followed by 1 Platoon staying on base and clearing out the shacks and 2 Platoon heading out to the range to pick up brass and return the targets. We departed Wainwright at approximately 11am and watched Charlie Wilson’s War and Crank on the way back to Calgary.  We were dismissed at 5pm.

All in all, the weekend was a success with those shooting PWT 3 and Live Fire in teams. It is not often we get to fire live outside of the conventional range and it was a great training opportunity for all ranks. I, as well as others look forward to building on the skills we learned and refreshed over the weekend with group, section and hopefully platoon live fire attacks.

Airaghardt!

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