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June 7, 2012
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CAPT Felicity Hamblin
TWO teams and a number of indi-
vidual entrants from Air Force have
showcased their talents at this year's
Australian Army Skill at Arms
Meeting (AASAM) at Puckapunyal in
Victoria from May 7-17.
Teams from 23SQN and 1 Airfield
Defence Squadron (1AFDS) proved
themselves against some of the best
competitors, with great results across
the board, including first place in sev-
eral pistol and rifle events in both the
individual and unit-team categories.
LAC Nigel Raddie, of 23SQN, who
gained top place in the service rifle for
1.5 optics event in a field of more than
100 competitors, was top shot of the Air
Force after a 14-year break from com-
"I've done surprisingly well, much
better than I expected," LAC Raddie
"I wasn't sure how I'd shoot so I've
really surprised myself."
With only brief notice that they were
competing in the event, which this year
attracted more than 300 shooters, the
Air Force teams pulled together quickly.
"We shot twice before we came; it
was very last minute for us, so not too
much preparation," LAC Raddie said.
"But hopefully next year we'll have
the time to put more into it and finish
with even better results."
LAC Darin Carruthers, who won
gold for 23SQN in two team pistol
events with shooting partner LAC Dean
Thurtell, said preparation time was pre-
"Unfortunately being reservists, it
meant trying to fit in our normal civilian
jobs and our reserve work," he said.
AASAM offered a fortnight of
diverse shooting events, attracting com-
petitors from 16 countries.
Several domestic teams pitted them-
selves against tough competitors, with
reservists making up a large portion of
this year's shooters.
While two weeks away may seem
a stretch for part-time ADF members,
their civilian employers had no prob-
lems giving them leave to attend the
"I work as a Sergeant at the
Queensland Police Academy," LAC
"The bosses at the Academy have
shown total support; they've been posi-
tive and acknowledged it's an important
contribution towards skills enhance-
"It also allows the shooting tech-
niques we teach at the Queensland
Police to be compared with the other
competitors here at this shooting forum.
"It's good to validate our training
techniques against military personnel
and see if what we're actually teaching
is best practice."
FLTLT Daniel Cook, of 1AFDS,
who normally runs shooting practices
as OIC on the range, enjoyed being a
competitor rather than a supervisor,
and hopes this year's results will entice
more Air Force teams to Puckapunyal
for AASAM in years to come.
"I'm looking at putting on a decent
training camp next year so we can pre-
pare as much as possible before getting
here," FLTLT Cook said.
There was an interservice challenge
between the Air Force teams this year,
with both managing some excellent
results, but it was the competition with
the Army that impressed spectators.
"It's all friendly rivalry and we're
all on the same team but it definitely
brings a smile to my face," CO 23SQN
WGCDR Simon Nickson said.
Another Air Force competitor,
FLTLT David Hirst, of 87SQN, said it
was still relevant for all services to be
proficient in shooting.
"It's interesting to note the carry-
ing and use of small arms by all ADF
personnel is still relevant in the modern
battlespace," FLTLT Hirst said.
"Traditionally, the view was only the
Army needed to be proficient in rifle
and pistol competency but recent opera-
tional experiences have challenged this
notion, particularly in light of the con-
siderable number of Air Force and Navy
personnel who have deployed in support
of land operations in East Timor, Iraq
and Afghanistan since 1999."
A RARE sight appeared at RAAF Base
Amberley on May 22 when all five of
36SQN's C-17As were together in the
same place for the first time.
While the fifth C-17A (A41-210)
first arrived at RAAF Base Amberley on
September 19, 2011, scheduled overseas
maintenance for one C-17A combined
with a busy flying schedule for the
remaining fleet have conspired to keep
all aircraft apart. The reunion lasted just
two hours, as one C-17A (A41-206) was
departing on a task. A sixth C-17A has
been ordered for Air Force and will arrive
at Amberley in November.
ON TARGET: An
fires at targets (far
left), while one hits
the mark (below). Left,
the team from 23SQN
pose for a photo.
From left: WOFF John
team captain; LAC
Dean Thurtell and LAC
Darin Carruthers who
took out the ADF team
pistol trophy; FLTLT
Wayne O'Brien and
LAC Nigel Raddie,
who took top place in
the service rifle for 1.5
Photos: SGT John Waddell
Photo: CPL Glen McCarthy
Shooters aim high
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