Sharnna Walker of Huntly recalls he father once telling her never again touch a firearm after she almost shot him as a child. Thankfully that didn’t stop her from a career in the Army and representing her unit at the world’s largest military marksmanship competition.
The 20-year-old full-time solider was one of only six female shooters amid a field of about 350 marksmen from 17 countries at the Australian Army Skill at Arms Meeting (AASAM) held recently at Puckapunyal.
“My dad never wanted me to touch a firearm after firing his and shooting the ground about two metres in front of him,” she said.
But Sharnna soon realised she was a natural shooter when she undertook recruit training at Army’s First Recruit Training Battalion at Kapooka, NSW.
“When I got to Kapooka shooting was just really natural, I just love it,” she said.
After growing up in Huntly and graduating from Bendigo Senior Secondary College in 2010, Sharnna enlisted in the Army and is posted to Darwin’s 1st Aviation Regiment and as a storeman.
While at AASAM Sharnna took the opportunity to head home to Bendigo to visit her mum, Sharon, dad, Geoff, and brother Sam and sister Jess.
AASAM is the Australian Defence Force’s foremost international shooting competition attracting military competitors from across the globe, including USA, France, UK, New Zealand, Japan and competition newcomers, China and Tonga.
The competition is designed to pitch soldiers against each other in a tough combat-like environment that tests the skills required of a modern fighting soldier, using their standard issue rifles, sniper rifles, pistols and machine guns, to vie for the titles of Champion Shot, Best Unit Team and Best International Team.
Marksmen compete in a series of team and individual day and night shooting events over a variety of distances and shooting scenarios, with snipers engaging moving targets and targets at more than 1000 metres. There is also a live-fire bayonet assault course to simulate close-quarter fighting.
Sharnna was one of only four women in the competition and the only female in her 15-member shooting team.
“This was my second year competing. I was on the team last year and I was the only female then too. It was a bit intimidating as I didn’t want to be the worst shooter on the team, but I did beat quite a few of the boys,” she said.
This year she came equal 15th in the 300m shoot, equal 3rd in the 450m shoot against an Australian International team member and was placed 91st overall with a different scope which she said was difficult.
Sharnna was also placed 45th in the pistol aggregate and 46th in the service rifle aggregate
She said competing at AASAM was a great opportunity to learn and gain shooting experience.
“You get to do shoots that you won’t do anywhere else. You get to mix with international teams and learn from their weapons and their techniques and you get to excel in everything you do and teach others as well. I hope to come back every single year of my career.”