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June 6, 2013
SGT Brian Hartigan
A FIRST-TIME entrant at the
Australian Army Skill at Arms
Meeting (AASAM) liked the expe-
rience so much she is aiming to
raise an all-female team to compete
PLTOFF Joanna Bonner, of
RAAF Base Edinburgh, competed
as an individual in this year's event
"I didn't know what to expect
when I came, but it was much big-
ger than I thought it was going to
be, with all the international teams,"
PLTOFF Bonner said.
"I really enjoyed it. It's harder
than I thought it was going to be,
but I'm certainly keen to come back
"I'm looking at getting a RAAF
Edinburgh team ready, maybe an all
female team, and I think it would be
nice to come along and rival 23SQN
for the RAAF position."
PLTOFF Bonner found it disap-
pointing that there were only six
females among the almost 350 com-
petitors at AASAM.
"I don't know if it's because
women don't think they are good
enough shots to compete against
the men or whether they are just in
positions they can't get out of work
for two weeks," she said.
"Bringing an all-female team
here is not necessarily an attempt
to crack the male/female nut -- and
that's not a nut I even want to
crack -- I'd just like to bring some
more girls here so we can compete
against each other like for like."
She said the women who were at
AASAM had sat down and chatted
about the competition.
"I talked to the American lady
in particular, specifically about
strength and fitness and what she
does to prepare for this," PLTOFF
Bonner said. "So now I have some
idea of what we need to be practis-
ing and getting better at."
PLTOFF Bonner said the tough-
est physical challenge for her was
wearing the combat body armour in
"Before joining the Air Force I
did a lot of bush walking. I was with
the SES and we would carry 30kg
and walk through the bush when we
were searching for someone," she
"The upper body strength, to be
able to hold your rifle in the posi-
tion you need it while having 23kg
on your shoulders, is probably the
hardest thing and the key area I can
work on for next year."
It's not just
"I've been competing against some
very good shots and I guess I'm some-
what relieved to achieve that favourable
Other winners of the Champion
Shots Medal were Army's WO1 Andrew
Munn, of Combined Arms Training
Centre, who has won it an impressive
five times, and AB Christopher Benton,
of West Head Gunnery Range, who
claimed the prize for Navy.
CA LTGEN David Morrison award-
ed the Champion Shot Medal to each
service winner and praised the level of
professionalism displayed at AASAM.
"What binds everyone in this room
together, irrespective of the country they
come from, or the service they belong
to, is the recognition that as service-
men and women there is nothing more
important than having an ability to use
your personal firearm," he said.
"It's what sets us apart as a pro-
fession of arms, and the skill at arms
meeting run by the Australian Army at
Puckapunyal each year recognises that
fact first and foremost."
LTGEN Morrison also praised the
standard of shooting and thanked the 16
international teams that had travelled to
"For all of those teams who have
travelled across the globe to be here, my
thanks," he said.
"It is of particular pleasure for me
that we have seen two
AASAM this year -- a team from Tonga
and a team from China. We are here to
learn from each other, to improve both
as individuals and as teams.
"I think that one of the things that
has really been apparent to me ... is that
the levels of shooting have gone up,
certainly within the ADF, but I think
also within the international teams."
CO 23SQN WGCDR Simon
Nickson praised LAC Thurtell on his
"To see LAC Thurtell win the
Champion Shot Medal and to see him
carried in that chair to be presented that
medal by the Chief of Army is quite
inspiring," he said.
"It will inspire other members of the
Air Force, and other units in Air Force,
to provide more teams for next year."
To be named Champion Shot,
each shooter competes in 11 matches.
Matches one through to seven are basic
application of fire from 100-450m. The
competition then goes into LF6, the
applied marksmanship practice and
Match 16, which is the close-quarter
Those who achieve the
gate score from these ma
enter the top 20 Army,
Navy and top 10 Air F
shooters, before compe
for the Champion Shot.
Air Force marksmanship
THIS year's Champion Shot of Air
Force hopes his win sparks new
interest in competition shooting
within the RAAF.
LAC Dean Thurtell is Air Force's
first Champion Shot since 2004.
The nine-year gap between
awards is the longest since Air
Force first competed in 1956.
Air Force has a long tradition
of competing for marksmanship
honours, having first shot for the
Queen's Medal in 1956 and compet-
ing every year after until 1987 when
the honours and awards system was
changed and the Champion Shot
Medal was introduced.
Air Force went on to compete for
the medal, missing only two years
between 1988 to 2004 before taking
the extended break because of the
ADF's operational tempo.
LAC Thurtell is confident the time
is right for a resurgence in competi-
"It definitely appears that there's
been a resurrection in competition
shooting in the Air Force," he said.
"The whole team achieved excel-
lent results and we're all grateful for
the continued support that we've
had. It would appear that there will
be a lot more competition in years
Because the Champion Shot
Medal is gazetted and is worn
alongside other service medals,
approval is granted by all three
service chiefs allowing AASAM to
conduct the Champion Shots com-
of Air Force LAC
Photo: SGT John
Photo: SGT Brian Hartigan
Personnel take aim
during Match 102.
Photo: SGT John Waddell
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