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Junior field gunners compete in unique challenge

14 July 2016
Hot on the heels of the Seniors Challenge which took place on Saturday 4 June, HMS Collingwood hosted the annual Junior Leaders Field Gun Competition on Friday 8 July.

This competition is very similar to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity Field Gun, but is predominantly for youths aged 16-24, who have either only recently joined the Armed Forces or are studying at college.

This year in addition to the Armed Forces crews, teams competed from the Princes Trust at Highbury College, Fareham Colleges, Chichester College, Sea Cadet units and University Technical Colleges (UTC) across the country.  

Building on The Team Works and emphasising the training theme, the teams came into the competition with little or no prior experience of Field Gun and only had one week to train, with the finals taking place on Friday in front of friends and family and personnel across the base.

We’ve really bonded together as a group and it has been a learning curve.

Engineering Technician Owen Harris

With 17 crews taking part this year the audience were privileged to witness 3 finals; Plate 2 was won by UTC Bristol, Plate 2 with the home team Victory Squadron taking the honours, and the main final which saw the SMQ North team from HMS Neptune take the honours.

Third place in the main final was HMS Sultan who were permitted to have 33 year old Engineering Technician Owen Harris, from Fareham, in their crew by special dispensation.

Only having joined the Navy recently he said: ‘It has been an amazing experience. I’ve loved the whole week.

“We’ve really bonded together as a group and it has been a learning curve.”

Warrant Officer Glen Young, who organised this year’s event said: “It’s amazing to see what happens when you train young people like this and witness the strong camaraderie among them by the time it gets to the final day.

“Each and every one of them has been excellent and has put their heart and soul into the training.

“They go through about every emotion you can think of when they’re pushing that gun up and down across the field.”

The Junior Leaders Challenge is the only competition open specifically for new recruits and youths, offering them a chance to work as a team and challenge themselves in a unique setting. 

It is hoped that the enthusiasm and professionalism on display by the teams will encourage them to take part in the main Royal Navy Field Gun Competition in future years.  

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