We get into camo gear for a military away day with ACF Teambuilding
I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for when I agreed to take part in this ACF teambuilding challenge. I knew that we were going to learn how to drive a tank. But I wasn’t expecting to be greeted by two ex-military men in head-to-toe camo and bulletproof vests. The safety briefing didn’t do much to calm my nerves either.
It’s this deliberate concealment of details that adds to the sense of anticipation as we complete three hours of military training with former Royal Marine Gary Braim and event manager Adrian Farris. Coming under surprise fire is a fact of life when operating in war zones, we’re told. This looming threat level only ups the adrenaline.
Camouflage on, Gary shows us how to handle and fire a Heckler & Koch G36 C imitation firearm. These are the same assault rifles that Royal Marines train with. We’re told they use BB pellets: they don’t kill, but you’ll feel the impact.
We begin with a series of target practice and shooting drills. Then we’re told our next target will be Adrian – and he’ll be shooting back.
The next hour sees Gary teach us three techniques for escaping a vehicle while under fire: we must safely exit the 4x4 while ‘killing’ our combatant. I feel bad for shooting at friendly Adrian (it is four against one, after all) until he pulls on a terrifying skull mask. His scary visage, appearing through the fog of an exploded grenade in front of our Land Rover, is enough to persuade me to fire back. Then he drops to the ground and aims six bullets at my shins. They hit me. It’s on!
This really is teamwork epitomised – if we don’t communicate and cover for each other, we’ll be shot. It’s not easy, but by attempt three, we’re working together – my colleagues Millie and Lizzie manage to get Adrian in the head (don’t worry, his skull mask protected him).
Next, we clamber into a FV432 armoured personnel carrier. Weighing 15 tonnes, this is a serious machine. One by one, we take to the driver’s seat, pulling the necessary levers to manoeuvre the tank through dips and ditches around the course. It’s exhilarating. If it wasn’t for our excited squealing and cackling, I’d feel like I was in Fury.
This is high-octane team bonding: it’s all high fives and cheering whenever each of us nails a bullseye or completes a lap. Yet throughout the day, Adrian and Gary’s personal stories of their time in Afghanistan and Iraq really hit home and add proper gravitas to the proceedings.
This is a physical experience: my hearts races, yet my face aches from grinning. The next day, my legs are covered in bruises. No doubt about it: this was the best day we’ve ever had out of the office.
Military days with ACF Teambuilding & Events start at £150pp, which includes refreshments, training and safety equipment
Aldwick Court Farm, Redhill, Bristol, North Somerset, BS40 5RF | 01934 862305
Photography Jenna Foxton
More teambuilding days to plan? How about learning the art of polo or hitting up some volleyball courts on the south coast?