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June 6, 2013
SGT Damian Griffin
LAC Dean Thurtell promised his daugh-
ter he would bring her home a medal
from the ADF's foremost marksmanship
competition, and he didn't disappoint --
bringing home the coveted Champion
Shot Medal for Air Force.
After more than a week of intense
competition at the Australian Army
Skill at Arms Meeting (AASAM) at
Puckapunyal Military Rage from May
2-17, LAC Thurtell, of 23SQN, claimed
the top honour in only his second
"It was my second AASAM," he
"But I'd like to thank my seven-year-
old daughter Claire, because I've now
missed out on two of her birthdays and I
promised to bring her home some med-
als this year, like I did last year.
"She was quite happy when I told
her I've got the most important medal of
all and that she could wear it on Anzac
LAC Thurtell's final score of
935.010 was enough to edge out his
nearest rival, LAC Nigel Raddie, of
23SQN, who clawed back 17 points in
the final shoot to score 894.012.
LAC Thurtell said it was a close-
fought battle, but he didn't feel under
"To be honest, both of us are expe-
rienced competition shooters and pretty
well had the mindset that you just shoot
your own shoot. The Champion Shot is a
number of shoots and it's basically who
was the most consistent over the period
LAC Thurtell said the key to his
success was in his careful preparation
before each shoot.
"You need to really focus on the task
at hand, and having goals obviously,
studying the shoots the night before,
making sure that you've got all your
calculations -- points of aim to points of
impact -- going through your trajecto-
ries, there's a lot of study," he said.
"You don't just turn up the morning
of the shoot and expect your equipment
and your head to be in the right frame
"It's not about doing the best shoot
for every shoot, it's about having a game
plan and being consistent, and ensuring
that you try to remove the human factor
as much as possible and try to shoot to a
sequence within the timings and try and
keep everything aligned."
A Queensland police officer in his
regular job, LAC Thurtell is an accom-
plished marksman and has competed in
many civilian shooting competitions, but
said the Champion Shot Medal was the
highlight of his shooting career.
"It's a great honour," he said.
SGT Brian Hartigan
PUSHING their physical and
mental abilities as marksmen
were two of the key challenges
for the 23SQN shooting team at
this year's Australian Army Skill
at Arms Meeting (AASAM).
While the team from RAAF
Base Amberley put in a solid
effort, OIC of the 23SQN team
FLTLT Wayne O'Brien said they
did not compete as well as last
year, when they performed
beyond all expectations.
"It's definitely a mind game,
but mainly with yourself," he
"If you stumble, you just have
to think hard and focus on the
next shot and not the one that
you've just thrown."
FLTLT O'Brien said that
AASAM 2013 was quite similar
to last year's competition, with
a few tweaks here and there.
"As far as targets and unusual
shoots go, it is good to push
yourself, but it also makes us
more determined to take the
manual away and study it for
more specific preparation for
next year," he said.
"Particularly in body armour.
You can be as comfortable as
you like sitting there in your
cams and webbing, but as soon
as you put body armour on
some people just can't adopt
certain positions, or positions
that they are used to.
"So you really have to learn
new positions and figure out
what suits you and sometimes
that can be a fundamental dif-
FLTLT O'Brien said shoots
like the barrier match were
"That's something you
wouldn't normally come across
and it is definitely not boring,"
he said. "It also really pushes
your abilities, especially when
you put a time limit on there --
thinking, am I going to adjust for
accuracy and hope that works?
shots off and hope that I'm able
to get enough points that way?
"Those kinds of things are
definitely something we can dis-
cuss and plan as a team before
we step on the range."
23SQN is looking forward
to training hard for next year's
"This year our training wasn't
rushed, but it wasn't as com-
prehensive as we would have
liked," FLTLT O'Brien said.
"We can also learn from the
other teams, too. Some of them
have vast experience and we
are definitely all part of a broth-
erhood of shooting here."
Shot of Air
Photo: SGT Brian
Photo: SGT John
sets sights on
From left, LAC Dean
Thurtell, LAC Darin
Nickson and AC
Photo: SGT John Waddell
TOGETHER: LAC Darin
Carruthers and LAC Dean Thurtell
during Match 35.
Photo: SGT John Waddell
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