A £3.8m firearms training facility was opened at HM Naval Base Clyde yesterday, 13 June, for use by military personnel and Ministry of Defence Police.
The new centre is the jewel in the crown of military firearms training - a purpose-built facility to give Royal Navy, Royal Marines, MOD Police and Reservists the best possible instruction available.
Equipped with a giant firearms simulator, known as a Dismounted Close Combat Trainer or DCCT, the centre can replicate a variety of different scenarios, allowing trainees to practise their responses in a safe environment.
The highly advanced simulator allows those under instruction to use a number of weapons, from British Armed Forces’ standard SA80 rifles to twin mounted General Purpose Machine Guns.
Projectors beam the simulation onto one wall of the giant room, with the trainees taking up positions at the opposite end with their specially adapted firearms.
What follows is akin to the world’s largest games console, with students firing at the simulation and adapting as the scenario plays out.
Sophisticated software measures elements such as breathing and trigger squeeze and even recreates factors like wind speed, temperature and humidity - all of which can make a vital difference to accuracy.
The centre, which took 16 months to construct, is also fitted with cinema style seating, meaning students can watch other trainees’ performance and learn from their efforts.
Officially opening the firearms training centre was Commodore Michael Mansergh CBE, Commodore of the Royal Navy’s Maritime Warfare School, and the MOD Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Gerard McAuley, who unveiled a commemorative plaque and met with instructors and students.
Run by a team of five firearms instructors, or ‘gunners’ as they are known in the Royal Navy, the Naval Base’s firearms training centre offers a variety of courses for military personnel, tailored to the range of situations the modern Armed Forces may encounter.
Chief Petty Officer Stephen Maclennan, the officer-in-charge of the centre, said:
We offer a number of courses for Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Naval Reservists. Everything from team leaders’ courses to training those who have to conduct guarding duties on ships and submarines - we can cater for it all.
In my twenty-four years as a gunner, this is quite simply the best firearms training facility I have come across.
I think what makes all the difference is that training staff were consulted during the design and during the construction. The results speak for themselves; we now have a fully equipped facility which is ideal for purpose and a huge asset to military training.
As well as the high-tech simulator, the building also boasts fully-equipped classrooms, complete with smart boards to aid instructors in teaching the theory aspects of handling firearms. And for those returning to the centre after training in the field, there are on-site showers and drying rooms, which the building’s solar panels help to power.
Meanwhile, outside the building, areas are set aside where trainers can simulate vehicle searches, personnel searches and instruct students in conflict resolution.
The major construction project was managed by Naval Base staff from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). The building work was awarded to Turner Estates Solution who, in turn, sub-contracted to Henry Brothers Scotland.
Elaine Hamilton, DIO’s Project Requirements Manager based at Clyde, said:
A lot of hard work and careful management has gone in to the creation of this facility. To see it through from start to finish offers us an enormous sense of satisfaction and to witness the simulator in use today at the opening was fantastic.
Everyone involved in this project is immensely proud to have contributed to the next generation of military firearms training.
The new building will be named ‘Richie VC Building’ after Victoria Cross winner Henry Peel Ritchie.
On 28 November 1914, the Edinburgh sailor led a search and demolition raid on the German harbour at Dar es Salaam in East Africa. Although severely wounded several times, his fortitude and resolution allowed him to continue his duty until his eighth wound rendered him unconscious.
The heroic action saw him receive the first Victoria Cross awarded to naval personnel during the First World War.