With the Sun shining and a refreshing breeze, it could not have been a nicer day to be on the ranges at Bisley for what seems to be the biggest annual operational shooting competition. Teams from all three services and international teams gather to the mecca of shooting in order to compete for the Methuen Cup, the best individual Service shot (the Queen’s Medal) and a myriad of other individual and team prizes. Over 400 competitors and an extraordinary array of silverware to win, each piece enshrined in unique chapters of military history.
It is a fantastic event that brings together the very best talent and well drilled individuals and teams to fight for the honours. Team Army has for several years provided sponsors to make the whole week really special for the regulars and reserves and this year was no exception with the long-standing support of Qioptiq, the maker of weapon sights and optics and for the first time Heckler & Koch who produce the SA80 A3 upgrade which drew much positive acclaim.
Supported by senior chiefs from all three Services it was DCGS, Lt Gen Nick Pope who presided over the event in the place of the newly arrived CGS, Gen Mark Carleton-Smith.
Army Operational Shooting Competition
Competition shooting in the British Army started in 1874 with ‘non-central’ matches on unit ranges. The ‘Army VIII’ was formed in the same year, its purpose was to select a team for Inter-Service matches organised by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The Army Rifle Association (ARA) which was founded in 1893, became the governing body of service shooting. It was formed to encourage interest in service shooting to “promote interest in small arms shooting for service purposes by means of collective competitions, matches being framed to induce practice in methods which lead to increased efficiency on the battlefield”. By the 1970s, all three services had established their own competitions and associations, the Army’s being the ‘Regular Army Skill at Arms Meeting’ or RASAM, (also known as ‘RASAAM’ – Regular Army Skill At Arms Meeting). As part of constant up-dating, the event’s name was changed to the ‘Army Operational Shooting Competition’ in 2009.
Figure targets were first used in 1908. The electric target range (ETR) came on stream in 1967. A moving target match was introduced in 1974 with two infantry night shooting matches being competed-for initially in 1982. Firing in respirators and a ‘march and shoot’ competition was introduced in 1986. Casualty recovery and the carrying of 15 kilogrammes of personal equipment was brought in in 2009.
The top 100 competitors earn the right to wear the coveted 100 badge on the left forearm.