Experience definitely won the day as The Royal Wessex Yeomanry pistol shooting team from B (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) Squadron carried off the gold medal in the TA Open Pistol Shooting Championship at Bisley.
While many of their rivals were equipped with the high-tech, semi-automatic Glock 17, the Territorial Army team saw off all comers using classic 9mm Browning pistols of the kind first issued almost 50 years ago. But they too will be issued with the Glock before long.
Most of the winning quartet were of the same vintage as their weaponry – but that was no handicap as they followed up last year’s third place with an assured display of marksmanship and quick reactions over distances from 10 to 25 metres.
The team comprised: Warrant Office Class 2 Darren Hill, 46, a building contractor from Durrington; Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Coupland, 43, a security systems engineer from Market Lavington; Staff Sergeant Scott Rowe, 47, an aircraft armourer from the Woodford Valley; and Trooper Richard Carson, 27, an accommodation warden with Wiltshire College in Salisbury.
Two other troopers from B Squadron, John McGowan and Doug Jarvis, competed in the individual events,
“Most of us are ranked in the top 15 nationally as individual competitors,” said WO2 Hill. “Pistol shooting is something you can do only with the armed forces, not in Civvy Street, so it has been very much part of the TA experience.
“We were still firing the old Brownings. Other teams, including the Paras, had new Glocks – much lighter, better to shoot, more accurate.”
WO2 Coupland added: “The colonel who was scoring turned round to us and said: ‘Blimely, if you can shoot that well with those things, imagine what you’ll be able to do when you get the Glock next year?’
WO2 Hill, who joined the TA in the same week as Staff Sergeant Rowe back in 1995, continued: ‘We’ve been chasing the gold for the last ten years. Experience is vital in pistol shooting but we are keen to bring in new blood, people like Trooper Carson here.”
The Territorial Army is becoming the Army Reserve, under proposals announced in July by The Secretary of State for Defence.
The Glock pistol will be issued to reservists as part of a £1.8bn investment in better training and equipment. Made of plastic instead of metal, it weighs a third less than the Browning, is more accurate, and can hold 17 rounds to the older weapon’s 13.
Enhanced conditions for reservists include the introduction of paid annual leave and pension entitlements, plus better access to defence health services and training. Employers will be given £500 per month per reservist when mobilised, in addition to existing help such as with the cost of advertising for replacements.
The Royal Wessex Yeomanry incorporates three other squadrons – in Dorset, Gloucestershire and Devon – and trains Challenger 2 battle tank crewmen in order to fulfil an essential armoured resilience role in support of the Regular Army.
B (Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry) Squadron, The Royal Wessex Yeomanry, continues to attract new recruits. For more information call 01722 438343, or to find out about opportunities in the TA visit www.army.mod.uk/join/20237.aspx.