‘Getting Down and Dirty’ – in the Force Shooting Festival

By Corporal Joseph Lewis
Headquarters Jamaica Defence Force (Civil Military Affairs)

With sweat dripping down their faces one could see that the route was challenging.  Standing among the spectators, you could hear the soldiers panting as they cover the last few metres of the five-mile march to the Twickenham Park Range in St Catherine for the Force March and Shoot Competition held on 12 January 2008.

The National Reserve team leaving the start point
of the March and Shoot Competition

The competition is scheduled each year but may be delayed due to the operational commitments of the Jamaica Defence Force as all major units compete, showcasing the fitness and shooting prowess of their members.  The March and Shoot Competition is staged as part of the Force Shooting Festival, being the first major event in a series of shooting competition, that ran from 12-27 January 2008.  The Force Shooting Festival overall on focuses on the necessity for good marksmanship, normally referred to as the ‘bread and butter’ of soldiering, and recognizes those who display sound shooting skills both at individual and team levels.

The winning team (3rd Battalion The Jamaica
Regiment (National Reserve) posed with their Commanding Officer.

The March and Shoot Competition starts at the Kingston Polo Club and continues through the hills of the Caymanas Estate before ending at the 600 metre bank at the Twickenham Park Range.  The rigorous terrain allows the soldiers to get down and dirty as the march, which is really a running pace, is designed to test their stamina.  Failure to complete the five-miles march within the specified time limit results in point losses, which each team desire to hold onto to have a viable chance of taking the winning trophy.  After the run, the teams have to negotiate set obstacles before engaging the targets from varying distances and shooting position on the range.  As the teams ran unto to the range, loud cheers of encouragement echoed from the spectators, even as the soldiers pressed on with determination etched on their faces.

At the end of the competition, the Jamaica Defence Force Air Wing claimed the trophy for the team which had the fastest time.   The proud Unit had won the second consecutive year.  They also took the trophy for the Best Point Section in the competition.

Soldiers negotiating an obstacle during the
Force March and Shoot Competition.

The overall winner of the March and Shoot Competition was the Third Battalion The Jamaica Regiment (National Reserve).  Second place went to the Second Battalion The Jamaica Regiment and third place to the Support and Services Battalion.

“I personally think the competition would be much harder,” said Private Ricardo Burton of the 
winning team.   Private Burton was representing the team for the first time in his short army career.  “I was told by the older members of the team that the competition was very hard but I did not find it that way,” he said.

Members of 1st Battalion reaching the finish line
during the Force March and Shoot Competition.

After the presentation the Chief of Staff, Major General Stewart Saunders thanked all present for coming and said that the competition was a good one and he challenged the teams to continue their hard work.

The Force Shooting Officer Major Rohan Hibbert also thanked the supporting staff for the hard work that they had put in.  He gave special thanks to the Butt Party for a job well done.  He said that the competition was a success.

The remaining events in the Force Shooting Festival are: 

  • Tuesday 15 January
Pistol and Sharpshooter Competition
  • Wednesday 16 January 2008
Gun competition
  • Friday 25 January 2008
Major  TN ‘Bagga’ Martin Competition
  • Sunday 27 January 2008
(Finals and Presentations)

                                                                         Queen’s Medal Shoot (Falling Plate) Competition
*The Force Shooting Competition is opened to the families of serving members and the general