WEAPONS TECHNICIAN - LAND
PRIVATE MATHIEUX BERGERON: I’m Private Matt Bergeron from Ottawa, Ontario, a Weapons Technician posted to 2 Service Battalion at CFB Petawawa.
PRIVATE KURTIS WARREN: And I’m Private Kurt Warren, from Grand Bank, Newfoundland, a Weapons Technician posted to 2 Service Battalion in CFB Petawawa.
NARRATOR: Weapons Technicians maintain and repair weapons and weapon systems for the Army and Special Operations Forces, anything from pistols and sniper rifles, to tanks and artillery.
BERGERON: What a Weapons Tech’s main job is, is to maintain the combat effectiveness of the troops on the ground; whether it be here in garrison working in a shop, whether it be out on the ranges while they’re practising maintaining the ready state of the weapon.
WARREN: My favourite weapon would be the C6 general-purpose machine gun. I like how they’re made, I like how they function, and they sound nice when you fire them.
BERGERON: My favourite weapon would have to be the Browning M2 50-calibre heavy machine gun. With this type of weapon, firing a cartridge that big, there’s really no room for error. It has to be properly put together, it has to be properly maintained and gauged, and the tolerances are extremely tight.
BERGERON: The qualities that you need to be a good Weapons Tech would be: meticulous attention to detail, great hand-eye coordination, as well as being able to picture things in your head – whether it be the way the weapon operates, which part interacts with what. For the simple fact that while you’re on the range, you have to be quick, you have to be efficient with the work. So, being able to picture how everything is supposed to go together will help you with this.
WARREN: It’s every kid’s dream to go out and fire machine guns. To actually get to do it, it’s a pretty unreal experience. Not a lot of people get to do that, for sure.
BERGERON: It really is a broad trade. You could be going anywhere from sitting in a shop working on weapons, to an office changing combinations on locks, or going out on ranges supporting the troops there.
WARREN: The most exciting part of the job is being on the shop floor and getting your hands dirty every day.
BERGERON: The coolest part of the job for me, hands down, would be the opportunity to go on ranges, being able to sit out there and have the opportunity to fire different weapons.
WARREN: Handguns, machine guns, you’re firing 50-cal machineguns on mount. It’s pretty exciting stuff.
BERGERON: A bad day on the range is better than a good day in the shop, anytime.
NARRATOR: Once they complete their training, Weapons Technicians are posted to one of the many Canadian Armed Forces bases across the country where they’ll be assigned to a combat arms unit or a service battalion. They are a critical part of the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and they work closely with Electronic-Optronic Technicians, Materials Technicians and Vehicle Technicians to keep the Army’s equipment in top shape.
BERGERON: First thing in the morning, we’ll usually start off with about an hour of physical training. After that, you’ll move back to your shop, and you’ll start working through work orders. That can include anything from working on weapons themselves, everything from a small 9-millimetre handgun, all the way up to the 25-millimetre Bushmaster on the LAV 6 and LAV 3 Armoured Vehicles.
WARREN: It’s a huge responsibility. The biggest thing that they stress is safety. Without a functioning weapon, people can get hurt. It puts a lot of stress and onus on the technician working on the weapon because your name is on that tag. If you say it’s good to go, it has to be good to go. And someone’s life could be depending on it.
NARRATOR: Arte et Marte – “By Skill and by Fighting” – is the motto of the RCEME Corps. Weapons Technicians are soldiers first and foremost, and they receive the same basic combat training as all other Army soldiers. They need to be as mobile as the units they are supporting, working out of temporary repair facilities when they are out on exercise or on missions overseas.
WARREN: If a tank goes down, if a light armoured vehicle goes down, it’s a life or death situation, they need us there, close by, so that we can fix their equipment, get it back to the frontline guys, so they can continue to do what they do best.
WARREN: Back home I hunt; I use guns on a daily basis and I thought, why not make a career out of it? As a Weapons Tech specifically, you do learn very unique skills that a very small percentage of people in Canada have and know. So having that, it’s a pretty cool feeling.
BERGERON: My proudest moment would have to be when I was in Wainwright. I got to do a lot of different things and conduct a lot of different repairs, and really work with my hands and work with my head, and have to think on my feet. And at that moment I knew that I was in the right place and this is exactly what I wanted to do.