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Army

Ammunition Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time


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Overview

Ammunition Technicians are responsible for all Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) ammunition, explosive stockpiles, as well as ammunition and explosives safety programs. They also perform technical inspections, tests, proofs, maintenance, modification and disposal of all CAF ammunition and explosives.

The primary responsibilities of Ammunition Technicians are to:

  • Provide advice on all ammunition and explosive safety matters
  • Manage the storage of ammunition and explosives
  • Prepare and ship ammunition and explosives
  • Maintain static facilities, field and deployed installations
  • Perform render safe and disposal procedures on explosive ordnances
  • Certify ammunition, explosive items, munitions and non-munitions scrap to different degrees of classification
  • Conduct improvised explosive devices disposal operations
  • Operate equipment in support of operations

Work environment

Ammunition Technicians may work in a wide variety of locations and environmental conditions. Ammunition Technicians are initially posted to an ammunition facility to gain experience and knowledge. Once all training is complete, they may be posted within Canada or deployed on operations around the world.

Career Overview

Transcript

PRIVATE SPENCER SLOAN: I’m Private Spencer Sloan from Buckingham, Quebec. I’m an Ammunition Technician posted to Canadian Armed Forces Base Borden.

Ammunition Technicians, or Ammo Techs, are the experts at issuing, storing, shipping and disposing of ammunition in the Canadian Armed Forces. They are technical advisors who are entrusted to ensure that all ammunition and explosives the Forces require are safe to use. Ammo Techs have to know every kind of munition — how it looks, how it sounds, and the dangers in dealing with it.

PRIVATE SPENCER SLOAN: Anything from what a machine gun can fire, a rifle, a pistol, artillery, as well as tank ammunition, whether it’s high explosives or just big sabot rounds that are meant to go through the armour, all within the range.

Ammo Techs operate a variety of equipment and work with other trades to move ammunition where it needs to go — be it across Canada, or overseas to support military operations around the world. This unique career path is well suited to those who have an inclination for technical knowledge and troubleshooting. Attention to detail is a critical skill for an Ammunition Technician.

PRIVATE SPENCER SLOAN: There’s no cutting corners in the Ammunition Technician trade because the more you cut corners, the more that you could be bypassing safeties, not doing your job properly and then that’s when things can potentially get dangerous, that we try to avoid at all costs.

The daily work of an Ammo Tech is incredibly varied. On exercises here in Canada, they are responsible for safety-checking and issuing munitions, keeping track of what’s used, and taking back and storing what isn’t fired. When the exercise is over, they go out and clear the range of unexploded shells and missiles. 

PRIVATE SPENCER SLOAN: To become an Ammunition Technician, you do need to love blowing stuff up. You get to do something that no one else in civilian life — and most people even in the Army — get to do.

PRIVATE SPENCER SLOAN: In the earliest stages of my career, I was able to do a three-month stint working with the Special Forces, and being an Ammo Tech and working side-by-side with their technicians and seeing how life was on their side of the fence. It was very different, it was a lot more fast-paced, even more than it is here, and the constant changes, the different things that happen, the different people — there was a lot of information that came in that I’ve been retaining and trying to learn from. And it was a great experience and I’d love to do that again.

After becoming trade-qualified, Ammo Techs will work on bases across Canada in facilities that hold national inventory of ammunition and explosives. They work with all aspects of the ammunition life cycle.

PRIVATE SPENCER SLOAN: It all starts at Day 1, when it’s getting manufactured. It gets shipped to our depot; we do an inspection on it to accept it; we then store it into our mags; and then we’ll take out potentially parts of it to issue it out to other units or bases; and if it’s been in the mag for too long, then we take it out and we do a periodic inspection on it; then that will go on until either the lot is done or until it’s at the end of its life cycle. Then we’ll go to the range and it will be disposed of accordingly.

Ammo Techs rotate through various sections, such as Tech Services, Receipts & Issues, Warehouse, Explosive Safety and Salvage. Typically these rotations last three months or longer to ensure that each Ammunition Technician becomes well rounded in all facets of the job.

As you gain experience, you’ll have a chance for advanced training on Canadian and international courses and the disposal of chemical munitions. 

And there are many opportunities to travel across Canada, and overseas in support of current military operations.

PRIVATE SPENCER SLOAN: If you have any kind of curiosity, this is the place for you. Because you’re always driven to be better, there’s always something new to learn and there’s always something new happening in the ammo world. And there’s always going to be fastballs and there’s always going to be something going on that you’ve never seen before no matter how many years you’ve been in the trade. There’s always something that’s going to go a different way than you expect it and then you get to learn — every day.

 

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Engineering and regulatory inspectors
  • Material handlers
  • Civilian Ammunition Technician
  • Civilian Explosive Ordnance Disposal Range Clearance Operator

Training

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

After Basic Training, Army recruits go to a military training centre for the Basic Military Qualification – Land course for approximately one month, which covers the following topics:

  • Army Physical Fitness
  • Dismounted Offensive and Defensive Operations
  • Reconnaissance Patrolling
  • Individual Field Craft

Learn more about Basic Training here.

The Ammunition Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics in Borden, Ontario, for approximately five months of training in the identification, characteristics, receipt, storage, inventory control, maintenance, issue and disposal of ammunition and explosives.

The next phase is three months of Explosive Ordnance Disposal training, which includes:

  • Explosive ordnance disposal training in proper disposal techniques of dud, misfired, and stray ammunition
  • Range clearance operations
  • Investigation of ammunition defects and malfunctions
  • Field and deployed operations

The last step is eight weeks of training on ammunition and explosive safety programs, technical services, ammunition serviceability verification, ammunition and explosives accident investigation, development and inspection of ammunition facilities, explosive disposal operations, range clearance operations and the performance of Service Representative Officer duties.

On-the-job training

After the initial five months of training, Ammunition Technicians then continue with 24 months of on-the-job training at an ammunition facility for practical exposure and hands-on experience in performing key tasks prior to commencement of the next phase of training.

Ammunition Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Improvised Explosive Device Disposal
  • Transportation of Dangerous Goods
  • Disposal of Biological/Chemical munitions
  • Marine Explosive Handling

As they progress in their career, Ammunition Technicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Conventional Munitions Disposal Advanced

Entry plans

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.