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 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.