Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting 2015
Teams and individuals honed their combat marksmanship skills and abilities on rifles, pistols and machine guns.
AASAM’s focus in 2015 was on more combat-orientated matches, including rifle matches with bayonets fixed.
This year also recognised the Centenary of Anzac with the introduction of an Anzac team made up of Australian and New Zealand firers.
Corporal (Cpl) Aaron Woolston, of 10/27 Royal South Australia Regiment, was named Champion Shot of the ADF.
CO AASAM Lieutenant Colonel Angus Bell said every competitor left with improved combat marksmanship skills.
“The foundation warfighting skills developed at AASAM will save lives on operations,” he said.
He said AASAM constantly focused on improving capability.
“The underlying goal of every activity is to improve ADF combat marksmanship, making members aim and shoot better, faster and smarter,” he said.
This year was the first AASAM where every firer competed in all their matches with full body armour, including helmet and vest equipped with training plates, which reinforced the combat marksmanship focus. Carrying 15kg of gear made close combat events more physically demanding and realistic.
The expanded use of robotic targets, developed by Australian company Marathon Targets, was a highlight of the competition.
The realistic plastic figures, wearing uniforms atop a four-wheeled base vehicle, challenged all firers by manoeuvring independently and reacting when fired upon.
During the sniper competition, the robotic targets snuck up on competitors quickly, adding a level of stress that taught soldiers to expect the unexpected.
Competitors also had to scale obstacles and aim through large wooden boards with holes in them of various shapes. This taught firers to shoot at awkward angles.
Twelve months of planning went into AASAM 2015 with reservists preparing and running the massive event.
Lt-Col Bell said CATC and Forcomd were big supporters and provided valuable administrative support as they understood the important role AASAM played in a soldier’s marksmanship development.
Regimentan Sergeant Major - Army Warrant Officer Dave Ashley is one of AASAM’s biggest fans and said it made him proud to see so many militaries sharing their marksmanship knowledge.
“From the international engagement perspective, AASAM is the jewel in the crown,” he said.
“I love it when I stand on the range and I can see 60 lanes and different uniforms and different coloured berets.”
League of Nations
The most anticipated match of the AASAM was the new Anzac challenge.
The Anzac team, made up of both Australian and New Zealand firers, took on a coalition team of randomly selected shooters from the other nations competing at AASAM.
The teams fired at targets from 450m to 50m and machine gunners had to use suppression tactics so their teammates could advance forward. At 100m shooters fixed bayonets for a final assault.
After the physically demanding run-down from 450m to 50m during serials, the Anzac team was victorious with 526 points compared to the coalition’s 378.
All firers said it was the best match they fired at AASAM.
The Guardsman Trophy involved the Australian Army Combat Shooting Team (AACST) taking on the British Army Combat Shooting team over the same 450m to 50m course. The AACST came out on top.
Meanwhile, the British Army won the sniper competition, 2RAR claimed second place and Japan jumped up the rankings this year to place third.
Overall, Indonesia claimed the greatest medal tally. Its team has been one of the dominant forces at AASAM since joining in 1991.
Timor-Leste also made some noticeable improvements after training with the AACST in the lead up to AASAM 2015.
“Australia’s close neighbour will now take these new skills and this marksmanship knowledge back home, improving its whole defence force,” said Commanding Officer AASAM Lt-Col Angus Bell.
Our champion shot
A beekeeper from the coastal farming town of Meningie, south-east of Adelaide, has beaten the best of the best and been named the ADF’s most accurate shooter.
Cpl Aaron Woolston, of 10/27 Royal South Australia Regiment, now holds the proud title Champion Shot of the ADF.
“I grew up shooting rabbits and foxes on farms around Meningie from an early age,” he said.
Persistence paid off during the recent AASAM and he beat more than 150 of the best shooters from the Army, Navy and Air Force during two weeks of demanding combat shooting.
Cpl Woolston consistently got top scores on still and moving targets from 25 to 450m.
The keen marksman has a long history of shooting in his family. Both his uncle and grandfather were members of the Salisbury rifle team that won the South Australian Country Rifle Championship in 1956. His grandfather also competed regularly in the King’s and Queen’s medal competitions in the 1940s and ’50s.
Now the soldier wants to improve marksmanship in Defence as part of the Australian Army Combat Shooting Team.
“Possibilities include running shooting courses around the country for arms corps and other units, testing and giving feedback on new weapon systems and equipment, and participation in other international shooting events to broaden and bring back knowledge,” he said.
“We have a small military, so to off-set this it is important to ensure the skills we have are of the highest quality.”