Car­rier pi­geons a clay hit

Think it would be easy to hit a tar­get from a navy flag­ship? Sport­ing Gun finds out more

Sporting Gun - - Snapshots - JAN­UARY 2019 www.shootin­guk.co.uk

HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth is the Royal Navy’s new­est air­craft car­rier. Built by an al­liance of com­pa­nies within the UK, she is ex­pected to have a very ac­tive life of about 50 years. She was built to carry the new F-35B Light­ning II short take-off ver­ti­cal-land­ing (STOVL) air­craft, the world’s first su­per­sonic STOVL stealth air­craft. The car­rier’s flight deck is 70m wide and 280m long, enough space for three foot­ball pitches. What does this have to do with shoot­ing, you may be won­der­ing.

That flight deck, one small part of it on the star­board side aft (right-hand side near the blunt end), is where the ship’s new clay tar­get shoot­ing as­so­ci­a­tion has just held its first shoot. HMS Queen El­iz­a­beth is cur­rently de­ployed on West­lant 18 op­er­a­tion in the west­ern At­lantic Ocean and is head­ing to the US to carry out tri­als with her new F-35BS. The club has been set up to pro­mote clay tar­get shoot­ing to all mem­bers of the ship’s com­pany.

Rou­tine

The crew, gen­er­ally num­ber­ing 800 but ris­ing to 1600 when the full air group em­bark, work long hours of­ten in an “eight hours on, eight hours off” watch rou­tine 24 hours a day for weeks at a time. They are un­der­stand­ably en­thu­si­as­tic about mak­ing ef­fec­tive use of their down­time. The first shoot took place on what is known as a “Satur­day at sea rou­tine”, whereby crew mem­bers who have an af­ter­noon off and oth­ers in their “off watch” time can utilise the up­per deck. This

“The chal­lenge is raised by the shoot­ing ground ac­tu­ally mov­ing in one di­rec­tion and pitch­ing and rolling in another”

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