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Newton Abbot Air Cadets take aim as rifle range opens

BUDDING sharpshooters among Newton Abbot’s sizeable core of Air Cadets can now sharpen their skills from the comfort of their own headquarters, as a three-year project to install an air rifle range comes to fruition.

1322 Newton Abbot Air Cadets, who operate out of the Cadet Centre along Wharf Road, are now among the few Devon-based squadrons to boast their own range.

Having first completed the appropriate training, of course, Cadets, with either one of the two, 10-shot rifles in hand, have the option to put a plethora of pellets down range and work toward tightening those shot groupings thanks to their Squadron Warrant Officer, Mike Vooght.

‘We have set up this air rifle range as, ultimately, a form of encouragement, to give our Cadets a hands-on activity,’ Mike said.

‘A lot of what the Cadets do is classroom-based, but this gives them another activity of interest,’ he added.

Under the watchful eye of Squadron Warrant Officer, Mike Vooght, Cadet Corporal Wakeham, left, and Cadet Rivers, right, take aim down range. (Ethan Heppell / MDA )

A project some three years in the making, it would be fair to say that it was a less than easy ordeal.

A considerable about of remedial work, for example, was required on Mike’s part: covering windows and radiators, reinforcing certain areas and so on.

‘We did struggle a little bit with red-tape,’ Mike said.

‘But by shooting diagonally we can just about, by the skin of our teeth, shoot here, and meet the required distances to comply with the regulations,’ he added.

Meeting every Monday and Wednesday, Newton Abbot Squadron is always on the look-out for new recruits, who, in addition to handling, firing and, with time, mastering the air rifle, can spend time traversing the skies in a state-of-the-art flight simulator, of which the squadron are fortunate enough to have two.

Elsewhere, one would be remiss to not mention the seemingly endless opportunities Cadets have to gain new experinces.

‘It’s so easy now for youngsters to stay on their laptops or phones, but there are things they can be doing differently,’ Mike said.

‘Once they come to Cadets they can learn about lots of others things.

‘Take last weekend, the squadron was in Chigwell, the Cadets shot air rifles, trained first-aid, completed command tasks and all sorts of other things – it’s a weekend away!

‘There must have been 200 of them up there – it is a great chance for them to learn social skills too.’

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