Fall in the Sim Centre:
Strathconas Learn Gunnery on the Leopard 2
By: Lt Alexander Neshcov
Another fall training cycle is upon us, which means it is time for the Regiment to qualify soldiers in the art of gunnery on the Leopard 2 MBT. Separated into 3 modules, the theory portion of the course will last from 17 August until 16 September prior to deploying to Wainwright in order to conclude with the Leopard 2 PCF Gun Camps. Currently, there are 32 Strathconas arriving bright and early every day to learn the intricacies of the Commander, Gunner, and Loader’s stations. Each station requires its own skills and brings its own challenges, and candidates are learning to work together in order to achieve the aim of getting “a first round hit first.”
Following each morning’s PT session, the soldiers don their coveralls and proceed to have their theory knowledge tested by the Course Warrant Officer, Sergeant Kyle “You sound stupid when you open your mouth!” Chuback: B Squadron’s friendly neighbourhood gunnery expert. While designed to help the students study for their final exam, the “quickie” tests are also an amusing way of seeing whose hand can last the longest without succumbing to writer’s cramp. It’s not uncommon for students on a Leopard 2 Gunnery Course to spend over an hour a night reviewing notes (while watching Game of Thrones) and frantically writing out cue cards… sometimes legibly.
After the morning tests, soldiers move into their respective crew areas to receive instruction on theory and practice gunnery technique and drills. It’s easy to tell when a gunnery course is running at the Strathcona’s, since the amount of noise, heat, and creative expletives coming out of the simulators is very hard for the Harvey Building to ignore. Under the watchful eye of instructors such as MCpl Adrian “The Doctor” Droogers and MCpl Jeff “I’ll go Super Saiyan” Hayes, course candidates are run through their paces until they are (hopefully) able to react to a familiar order under stress. As it turns out, stress is easy to induce when MCpl Chris “Shoot through the tree!” Clegg takes offense to the preservation of virtual shrubbery. Various other skills are evaluated, such as knowing what kind of ammunition to use on certain targets, and what kind of corrections to apply when a shot is missed. Word to the wise: don’t miss in front of the Course Warrant.
The Leopard Gunnery Skills Trainers (LGSTs) are the primary tool used to practice gunnery drill at the Regiment. Running off a computer program and using a scale replica of the turret, instructors test the candidates in a variety of challenging scenarios, including fighting off a regenerating horde of enemy vehicles attacking from all directions. The LGSTs provide a fun and effective means of training, at the small cost of silencing the students’ vocal chords after hours of bellowing out fire orders.
Needless to say, everyone is looking forward to the gun camp in September!