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Culdrose Field Gun Crew start ‘Track’ training

9 May 2017
Members of RNAS Culdrose Field Gun crew commenced their outdoor track training last week. This is an annual competition known as Brickwoods, after the sponsor of the event.

It is held at HMS Collingwood where teams for all three Armed Services compete for the coveted Brickwoods trophy. This year it will take place on 2nd and 3rd of June where members of the public can watch the 23 teams race over the course.

The aim of the Field Gun event is to race with a Field Gun over a flat distance. The gun is dismantled and reassembled at various stages and the whole evolution takes about 100 seconds.

It differs slightly from the older ‘Inter Command’ Field Gun that took place at the Royal Tournament at Earl’s Court in London. 

It is a test of strength, fitness, speed, coordination, teamwork and precision.

Here only the three Commands of Portsmouth, Devonport and the Fleet Air Arm raced over obstacles. This event ceased in 1999. The Brickwoods Trophy allows each establishment or regiment to race on a flat course.

The Culdrose team have been training hard in the gym for the last few months, but last week saw them move outside onto the ‘track’. Their training follows strict guidelines where they are only allowed to train on the track twice a day for 5 weeks.

During this time, they practice assembling, reassembling and racing with the gun. Each person has a specific role to do and aims to perform that role as quickly as possible and in a safe and controlled manner.

It is a test of strength, fitness, speed, coordination, teamwork and precision. All of these skills are important military attributes and following ‘Field Gun’ the runners feel a real sense of achievement.

The team is managed by a group of trainers. In charge this year is Andy Penrose. Andy raced in the Royal Tournament for the Fleet Air Arm in 1999 and on 5 occasions for Culdrose in the Brickwoods competition.

He has been a trainer for two years. He is very positive about how the training is going so far and gets a real sense of satisfaction to see the runners’ progress. Andy says that it is all about pride, hard work and teamwork.

Runners transfer the attributes they have developed during their training and racing and apply it to their everyday work.

Last year saw Culdrose come a very close second to the REME, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. This year they want to go one better and they feel that they have a good chance.

The team will move to Collingwood at the end of May where they will live and train prior to the racing commencing.

Leading Air Engineering Mechanic Mat Nichol is running for his 7th season. When asked why he does it, he says that he loves it; the comradeship, the sport, discipline and physical aspects. He says that it is addictive.

He found his first year intimidating but says that it is truly fantastic. He finds it really rewarding, especially performing in front of the crowd of a few thousand people, cheering on their team.

For those wishing to watch the teams race, they can attend the HMS Collingwood open day on Saturday 3 June 2017. Details of tickets can be found at: http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/features/collingwood-open-day-2017

We wish the RNAS Culdrose 18 person team of runners and training staff all the very best.

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