Military Tournament 2012
I thought it was about time I posted some of the snaps I took at the Military Tournament at Earls Court last weekend. I call these snaps as they were totally just taken for fun, and the camera I used was my Nikon D3000 – which is my little “compact” point-and-shoot camera!! Unfortunately it doesn’t cope with low light levels quite as well as a Nikon D3X, and due having to set the sensitivity (ISO in old money!) high, there’s quite a bit of digital noise – well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it J
The “theme” for the British Military Tournament 2012 was all about the Special Relationship between the UK and the US, with a number of US units involved, such as the US Army Rifle Drill Team in these first photos. These guys throw around their rifles, in total silence, the only sound being the clicking of their heels (as commands) and the clunking of the rifles hitting their hands. Totally breathtaking!
From their website: “The U.S. Army Drill Team has earned international acclaim through its breathtaking routines with bayonet-tipped 1903 Springfield rifles. Organized to support The Old Guard’s ceremonial commitments, the Drill Team has thrilled millions of youngsters and proud Americans for more than 50 years with their daring and complex performances. When not performing for the President or visiting dignitaries and heads of state, the Drill Team travels extensively supporting Army recruitment, acting as “good-will ambassadors” for the Army, and participating in major military and civic functions.
The Soldiers are selected for this elite unit after six months of rigorous and competitive drill practice. Trim military bearing, strength and dexterity are mandatory for qualification to the Drill Team. For those selected for the team, the rigors of training never stop. To execute their complicated routines as close to perfection as possible, the team practices constantly.
The U.S. Army Drill Team performs a variety of intricate maneuvers that have extremely high risk factors. One such maneuver is dubbed the “daring front-to-rear overhead rifle toss” and is deserving of such a glorified title. During this dangerous routine, four members of the Drill Team alternately toss their spinning, 10-pound rifles from the front rank to the back, often as high as 15 feet into the air and 15 feet to the rear. Then four Soldiers in the back rank catch the revolving weapons one-handed in a true demonstration of courage and concentration. In most cases, revolution of the rifle ends as the bayonet arcs just past the Soldier’s right ear, and the weapon is caught directly over the Soldiers head with his/her arm fully extended.
Marching cadence of the U.S. Army Drill team is 60 steps per minute, considerably slower than regulations march tempo. Timing must be letter perfect, as all routines are performed without vocal cadence or musical cues. Only the team’s superb discipline enables its members to continuously challenge fate, and win.”
Stunning, absolutely stunning!
Over the next few hours there were quite a few different acts, plenty of fantastic displays:
Civil War re-enactment
John Bull and Uncle Sam had a bit of banter off and on througout the show, and Baxter Bear showed off on two horses!
The Kings Troop speeding around the areana, at an unbelievable pace – you could feel the thunder of the hooves and guns rattling the seats in the stands!
Field Gun for the modern age – a competition between school kids, who to be honest pushed themselves as hard, if not harder than grown men!
The Ensign of the Royal Air Force, leading the Central Band of the Royal Air Force – I was pleased to spot a couple of faces amongst the bandy’s I recognised from the training course I did before I went to Afghanistan!
Another fantastic display from the White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team. With Mr Photog being a biker, and as a kid was in a motorbike display team himself, we all really enjoyed this bit!
From their website: The team of 30 volunteer soldiers from the Corps that make up the Royal Signals White Helmets tour Britain from April to September every year demonstrating all the personal qualities demanded of the modern Royal Signals soldier. The riders, all of whom have successfully completed an arduous induction process in the winter and spring months to gain the right to wear the coveted white helmet, are all qualified Tradesmen in the Corps By giving their traditional, thrilling and disciplined arena displays on British Millennium Triumph 750cc motorcycles they clearly show all the qualities of teamwork, courage, trust, strength and agility that are needed in the modern Army. In their immaculate uniforms, the Team performs spectacular feats of balance, death defying crossover rides and outstanding acrobatics. This record-holding team has existed as a recognised organisation since the first public displays of joint precision horsemanship and motorcycle riding were given by instructors and students from the Signal Training Centre in Yorkshire in 1927. Respected and consulted throughout the world, and envied by many, the Royal Signals White Helmets is a popular element of the Corps and makes a valuable contribution to keeping the Army in the public eye, showing off the Corps, and indeed representing Britain at events throughout the world.
A scenario beginning with a peaceful Afghan “Shura”, or meeting, which is then disrupted by insurgents blowing up a nearby bridge, the patrol then deal with the insurgents and a Chinook flies a bridge for the Royal Engineers to construct before life can get back to normal. (no, they didn’t get a chinook in the Arena!)
The end of the show, when all of the participants come back out into the arena for the final round of applause. We were pleased to see the Chelsea Pensioners there – we were over at Chelsea Hospital a few months ago, really interesting place, and awesome people!
It was a great day, and both me and Mr Photog, as well as the boys had a great time, so glad the Tournament was ressurected – they just need to start televising it now!