In a new series of articles, London & South East Region (LASER) Air Cadets will be exploring some of the qualifications available for adult volunteers in the RAF Air Cadets. We will be speaking to officers, non-commissioned officers and civilian instructors who have undertaken a course through the organisation, to find out what they thought of it, and how it’s helped them both with the cadets and in their working lives.

Range Conducting Officer (RCO) – Short Range

Marksmanship is one of the best loved parts of the cadet experiences, offering cadets a chance to learn a new skill, and compete in competitions right up to inter-Service level. In order to train and supervise cadets on the ranges, there are a number of qualifications that adult volunteers can undertake within the RAF Air Cadets. For many, the starting point is undertaking a Range Conducting Officer (RCO) qualification – starting with a Short Range course. Sgt Lucy Bracken from 2262 (Bexhill-on-Sea) Squadron is one of LASER’s most recently qualified RCOs, and has shared her insights into how she prepared for the course, and what she feels she got out of it.

What made you want to do the course?

I enjoy the activities itself for its own qualities but also, I like the discipline side that it brings for both the staff and cadets. I also wanted to support the existing RCOs.

What did the course involve?

The first weekend involved all the training, including how to write a Range Aide Memoir (RAM). The following weekend we were assessed on running the range and our ability to coach & safety supervise the firers.

How much time did you spend preparing for the course?

I spent around 2 weeks before the course preparing, studying cadets training ranges  & reaching out to all RCOs within my Wing to help – they were more than happy to help.

Is there anything in particular you recommend in terms of preparation, for someone thinking of doing the course?

I recommend that before going on the course, you should gain as much experience on ranges as possible. Also, study the Cadet Training Ranges 2017  & speak to other RCOs in your area.

Qualified RCO - short range course

Sgt Bracken putting her qualification to good use on the range

What was the thing you found most difficult?

Having to run the range with trained RCOs and candidates as firers, getting into the mind set of treating them as cadets, I found the most difficult thing to be the approach of role play.

What was the best bit of the course?

The knowledge and skill level of the directing staff and their approach to delivering the course.
Also, passing the course and gaining my qualification.

What are you hoping to do now, to put your qualification to use?

Since qualifying I have RCO’d on many ranges and will continue to do so as often as I can.

Do you think the qualification will be useful outside the cadet world?

Yes, the qualification itself is a transferable skill through the National Rifle Association. Doing the course also improved many aspects of my teaching but that was due to it giving me a big boost in confidence. Both on and off the range it helped me to be quite stern with cadets, which allowed me to have better control during activities, courses & on the squadron, which I did struggle with before hand.

Do you have any future plans to take more, related qualifications?

Yes. I aim to gain my DCCT (Dismounted Close Combat Trainer) qualification at the end of the year & next year I am hoping to progress on to the Long Range qualification.