Carrier pigeons a clay hit
Think it would be easy to hit a target from a navy flagship? Sporting Gun finds out more
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.
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”