Cpl Mark Duncan enters NZ Army Combat Shooting record books
By Cpl Mark Duncan
Every two years, the armies of the British Commonwealth select and train their ten best marksmen and machine gunners to travel to the biannual CENTSAM competitions held at the historical Bisley Ranges in Surrey, England.
CPL Mark Duncan at the Army Combat Shooting CENTSAM competition held at the historical Bisley Ranges in Surrey, England in 2010 (AW-10-0819-3).
As with the nature of warfare, shooting has also evolved too, gone are the days of static targets and prone shooting positions. Combat shooting has developed along side the latest practices used by operational forces to simulate the environment which a marksman is likely to find themselves operating in. Fleeting encounters, obstacle courses, 100m sprints with gas masks on, while wearing body armour and ballistic helmets all add to the pressure of shooting in a competitive environment - these are the types of shoots you find at Bisley.
To compete at Bisley is to achieve one of the high points in a shooters career. To win a match against some of the best shooters in the world is to stand out as being the best of the best. It is a rare feat.
TF NCO, Cpl Mark Duncan, B Coy, has achieved this and his name has been entered into the record books as one of the great shooters to compete at this level.
Over the past few months I have been lucky enough to be involved with the New Zealand Army Combat Shooting Team. It began with a selection up in Waiouru back in April. LCpl Raihania and myself were the only TF representatives. There were a lot of top shooters including many that had been in the team before so we approached the selection as a means of gaining some shooting experience and knowledge at a level just above what you might ordinarily see on a range. The week went well with both LCpl Raihania and myself shooting very well, considering our relative inexperience to the other firers. LCpl Raihania only just missed out and I somehow snuck into the training team.
What followed was around six weeks of dedicated training up in Waiouru on the range each and every day. Working in a small group with motivated and experienced soldiers was very satisfying. All the shooting was carried out in body armour, helmets and webbing using SP Steyrs with ACOG sight systems. This was initially pretty challenging adapting to all the extra weight and sight system which magnifies every mistake you make. My initial scores during training were pretty poor. As an example of how serious the team takes the competition, we even conducted psych sessions to help with the mental side of shooting which was very interesting to be a part of and this I think helped my scores later down the track.
After six weeks in Waiouru including the usual snow and rain as part of winter we headed over to Bisley in England to shoot in the British shooting competition alongside other foreign armies. Some of the other armies have full time shooting teams which make standing on a mound with these guys pretty daunting and it is amazing to see some of the results they produce. Temperatures reached 30 degrees so that added to the pressure and it is fair to say there was a lot of expectation to do well after so much build-up training. But that’s exactly what the team did. Several NZ firers turned in amazing results winning matches included a couple of pretty prestigious team shoots. All in all, very satisfying and by far one of the best experiences in my career to date.
In terms of getting in, you need to show up for Freyberg and just listen, learn and watch everything that is going on around you and don’t be afraid to try new things and take advice or criticism. You never know where it might get you.