PCF Gun Camp 2016 – Strathconas Confirm their Core Gunnery Skills
Capt V. Vahal
Every posting season brings about a change in crews, as soldiers move to other squadrons or positions within the Regiment. This posting season was no different and the changeover came with a requirement to train the incoming crew members in their new gunnery positions. Moreover, the Regiment is currently in a state of high readiness and the new crewmen had to be trained in time for Ex STEELE SABER (fall exercise) and Ex STEELE PANTHER (D+90). To achieve this goal, the fall PCF cycle started in mid-Aug after summer leave and covered the theoretical portion of gunnery on the Leopard 2, Leopard C2 and 25 mm platforms. This garrison portion was immediately followed by the PCF gun camp 19 – 25 Sep to confirm the gateway gunnery standards assigned to individual crewmen using live ammunition. In addition to the PCF gunnery courses, the 3 Cdn Div Worthington Cup Team also completed their live fire practice requirements during this period.
This PCF gun camp was a Regimental effort with every squadron contributing soldiers and resources to its success. RHQ took the lead with the Regimental Gunnery Officer, Capt Varun “I inherit my vigorously interesting writing style from J.D. Salinger” Vahal and the Regimental Gunnery Warrant Officer, WO Richard “Harry” Delaney acting as RSO and FPO respectively. Under their leadership, an advance party of 40 soldiers and numerous support vehicles departed on 15 Sep for Range 16, CFB Wainwright to build the perfect AFV range. The range build not only included the set-up of the target array, but also the camp where the gunnery students, course staff, range staff and supporters would live for the duration of the gun camp.
The main body comprised of the gunnery students and course staff arrived at Range 16 with their vehicles on 19 Sep. After a short camp brief by the FPO to all 107 soldiers on the range, live fire commenced with the zeroing of all tanks. This was followed by the 3 Cdn Div Worthington Cup Team, under Capt Erik Giajnorio, conducting their live practice shoots. The team included some of the best Leopard 2, Coyote, LAV III and G-Wagon (reserve) crews from across 3 Cdn Div, who set the bar high for all the observing gunnery students. Once they completed their shoots, the PCF gun camp began in earnest with the tank courses shooting first, followed by Coyotes. Each gunnery student had a chance to practice their role by day and night, in a static position and on the move. The focus of this gun camp was in creating an environment conducive to learning good gunnery techniques, while using live ammunition. The Leopard 2 students also had an opportunity to shoot service HEAT at hard targets and experience the lethal power of the 120mm cannon.
In the end, every single student passed their shoots and walked away with a newfound appreciation for AFV gunnery along with a new PCF qualification.