"Avoidable accident" on the ranges, report released on death in Tain last year

In know weapon drill I have ever known is resting one’s chin on the pointy bit acceptable. I can see - very loosely - that failing to unload could happen conceivably, but it’s hard to blame the system. I’m not trained on the Ford Mondeo but I can drive a BMW 3 series - as a consequence my driving license assumes a level of ability to requiring a new test. Basics are still ******* basics. In this case, the Swiss cheese example of airlines is a stretch.


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Again, we agree: but it leaves open the question of weapons handling culture in his unit/sub-unit. I'd hypothesise that having seen 'big risks' on a tour or two, NCOs may simply have grown somewhat nonchalant about no-no's like that
 
Doing the basics well. On my final exercise i was regarded by a couple of the full screws as 'hard line, old school' for my unswerving policy on several things.
No keep heaters lit without someone awake.
Resi and weapons within reach.
weapon handling too notch. Don't care there's no rounds. No leaning the weapon against stuff.
Etc.

in 20odd years as a AS A instr I've always laboured the rule 'don't point the weapon at something you don't want to shoot'

easy to say in hindsight.
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
cocking it three times? Another way would be checking that you've removed the mag by the expedient of putting one's finger on the magazine receiver.
Cocking it three times would also help mitigate against a lazy chamber check I tbink. It makes sense to have procedures ingrained that have a double safety mechanism.
 
An experienced soldier has an ND and kills himself.
No one else's fault. RIP.
Absolutely true but.....from my reading of it he:
- shouldn’t have had ammo (not having been trained on the weapon)

- shouldn’t have been on the range (not have been trained on the weapon)
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
As the incident happened in Scotland, by Scottish law there has to be a fatal accident inquiry, held by the civi authorities. I'm sure someone on here with a bit more knowledge on the subject can explain it better.
In actual fact was doing some further reading, there has been changes to the way military deaths are dealth with in Scotland.
As such there was no FAI into this incident as it fell under previous legistation

Corporal's 'live fire' death falls outside new fatal accident inquiry rules

Inquiries into Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths etc. (Scotland) Act 2016 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2016 - Motion to Approve: 22 Nov 2016: House of Lords debates - TheyWorkForYou

"these proposed changes have taken on added significance in recent days following the death of Lance Corporal Joe Spencer of 3rd Battalion The Rifles at RAF Tain. Lance Corporal Spencer tragically died near Inverness, three weeks ago today, on Tuesday 1 November, in what the Ministry of Defence has described as a “live fire accident”. I am sure that I speak for the whole House in offering our condolences to Lance Corporal Spencer’s family, friends and colleagues. In legal terms, the mandatory requirement for a fatal accident inquiry, proposed in this order, is not retrospective. Even if the death is found to have been in the circumstances provided for, it will not apply to the death of Lance Corporal Spencer. Instead, the existing arrangements under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 will apply, and it will be within the discretion of the Lord Advocate to rule on whether an FAI is held."
 

Caecilius

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
but such an an addition to the drill would encourage such laziness.
Doesn't any check of the magazine encourage that? If you correctly perform a chamber check then you'll see if you have a mag on or not, so why have any magazine check at all?

I was also taught to do a seven point check, which includes two checks of the chamber. Even if that encourages a lazy check the first time I still think it's better to include the second look. Personally I'm a big fan of safety procedures that have multiple ways to catch an ND before it happens - tired squaddies operating almost on autopilot are very capable of missing things.
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
He wasn’t properly trained on the weapon
None of the cadre were, which is why there were at least 3 unsafe weapons after the end of the afternoon session.

Think it was 4 in total, 2 spotted on firing point, one afterwards and the victim's weapon.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
He wasn’t properly trained on the weapon
I didn't get that as a clear statement from the report, I may have missed it but I felt it was inferred that none of the course candidates were qualified or had been properly assessed by the training team
 

Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
I didn't get that as a clear statement from the report, I may have missed it but I felt it was inferred that none of the course candidates were qualified or had been properly assessed by the training team
My inference from the report was that the DS on the course were under impression that such training had been in the pre course training, hence the skipped 18 SAA lessons at Barry Buddon when they went on the range instead.
 
Doesn't any check of the magazine encourage that? If you correctly perform a chamber check then you'll see if you have a mag on or not, so why have any magazine check at all?

I was also taught to do a seven point check, which includes two checks of the chamber. Even if that encourages a lazy check the first time I still think it's better to include the second look. Personally I'm a big fan of safety procedures that have multiple ways to catch an ND before it happens - tired squaddies operating almost on autopilot are very capable of missing things.

IIRC (some blurb from SASC) the three cocks were encouraged for just that reason: mag off/cock the weapon three times could be consigned to unconscious muscle memory, and thus performed by the soldier under any conditions whatsoever. Three cocks met some sigma of the chance of hooking a round out of the chamber with a weak extractor or stuck case.

By contrast, its perfectly possible for a soldier under certain conditions (tiredness, NBC mask, low light, sweat in eyes, combination of any of these, etc) to simply "not see" the base of a chambered round thats actually in plain sight. This physiological phenomena is bound to be exacerbated with front-locking weapons where it can be difficult even to see the end of the chamber.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
My inference from the report was that the DS on the course were under impression that such training had been in the pre course training, hence the skipped 18 SAA lessons at Barry Buddon when they went on the range instead.
Fail for the DS unless Wht's took place to show a level of competence
 
My inference from the report was that the DS on the course were under impression that such training had been in the pre course training, hence the skipped 18 SAA lessons at Barry Buddon when they went on the range instead.
Christ; what an epic cluster!

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Fang_Farrier

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Fail for the DS unless Wht's took place to show a level of competence
1.6.12. Skill at Arms (SAA) Training. Army Operational Shooting Policy (AOSP) clearly states' that it is mandatory to complete all basic sniper system weapon lessons and successfully complete the sniper system WHT before any live-firing can take place. Phase 1 of the SOC's DTC endorsed syllabus showed how all required 18 x SAA lessons would be delivered on Days 3-5 of the course. However, this did not take place. On Day 3 when students were supposed to be receiving SAA Lesson 1, they were instead live-firing on the range, having completed a WHT during the evening of Day 2. At no point were Lessons 1-18 retrospectively taught. As all students had completed some form of precourse training, most of the DS incorrectly assumed this had included SAA Lessons 1-18 and WHTs. This led to some of the students commencing live-firing having had no formal SAA training on the Sniper Rifle. Specifically, there was no evidence to prove LCpI Spencer had received any formal SAA training on the Sniper Rifle. The combination of inadequate oversight and supervision of training delivery, a lack of adequate external assurance of training delivery and poor unit training records resulted in students live-firing on the SOC without having completed the mandatory SAA training. This made the accident more likely.
Tain
 
1.6.12. Skill at Arms (SAA) Training. Army Operational Shooting Policy (AOSP) clearly states' that it is mandatory to complete all basic sniper system weapon lessons and successfully complete the sniper system WHT before any live-firing can take place. Phase 1 of the SOC's DTC endorsed syllabus showed how all required 18 x SAA lessons would be delivered on Days 3-5 of the course. However, this did not take place. On Day 3 when students were supposed to be receiving SAA Lesson 1, they were instead live-firing on the range, having completed a WHT during the evening of Day 2. At no point were Lessons 1-18 retrospectively taught. As all students had completed some form of precourse training, most of the DS incorrectly assumed this had included SAA Lessons 1-18 and WHTs. This led to some of the students commencing live-firing having had no formal SAA training on the Sniper Rifle. Specifically, there was no evidence to prove LCpI Spencer had received any formal SAA training on the Sniper Rifle. The combination of inadequate oversight and supervision of training delivery, a lack of adequate external assurance of training delivery and poor unit training records resulted in students live-firing on the SOC without having completed the mandatory SAA training. This made the accident more likely.
Tain
Massive contravention of JSP 822 right there.

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He wasn’t properly trained on the weapon

I think thats a bit of an irrelevance in this case. He was a trained and experienced soldier with the issue L85, and was operating a bolt action rifle that had a virtually identical - but far simpler - unloading sequence. Mag off, open bolt, check chamber, etc.

Its not the same as being accustomed to an L85 and then jumping onto a totally different system like - say - a GPMG, where insufficient training could thoroughly confuse a novice.
 
I didn't get that as a clear statement from the report, I may have missed it but I felt it was inferred that none of the course candidates were qualified or had been properly assessed by the training team
of
As I read it, they were a bit of a mishmash, in terms of formal training on the rifle. The deceased was one of those who had not received formal training to the mandated minimum standard: lessons 1-18/tests passed: I think he had been 'apprenticed' to Sniper Platoon, and the SOC would have been his qualification course.

To ensure this mishmash thing was dealt with, Ph1 was planned to include this training, starting on day 3.

But, probably not understanding the issue, the person running Ph1 Day3 scrubbed round the progeamme, and they went shooting on that day.

So, it would seem that those trainees who didn't turn up trained to the mandated minimum standard, never did receive that mandated training, before going on to shoot, on and after Day 3.
 
The fact that the report mentions that at least two other rifles on the firing point were left in a similarly unsafe condition points to an obvious problem with unfamiliarity with the weapon and inadequate training and / or supervision.
The soldier apparently didn’t depress the trigger on purpose so you have to say that he was dreadfully unlucky- and that appalling luck was compounded by his casual treatment of the weapon.

But I’d argue that the casual weapon handling was almost certainly at least partially down to his misplaced confidence that his rifle was in a safe state. Although that is obviously no excuse.
It is some tiny consolation that he didn’t shoot one of his mates as happened to the son of a friend of mine- also with a bolt-action sniper rifle.
 

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