The Field Gun Run
Field Gun is a unique, spectacular and exciting event, pushing competitors “to the limit and beyond”. Two Field Gun crews consisting of 18 men apiece compete to be the first to haul a field gun and limber over walls and ramps and across a chasm. It is rightly regarded as the toughest competitive team event in the world and was the centrepiece of the Royal Tournament at Earls Court in London up until government cutbacks forced the tournament to end in 1999.
At the exploding of a thunder-flash, the gun and limber are raced from the start position down the side of the arena, turning at the end so they can be manhandled over a five-foot wall. Within seconds, wooden spars weighing 170lb each are erected and wires rigged across the 28ft chasm. Whilst gun and limber are rapidly dismantled the first men are hauled across, some carrying 120lb wheels on their shoulders. The gun carriage and gun barrel follow. As the 900lb barrel is launched back into its carriage, the remainder of the crew, wheels and limber are pulled across the chasm. Having raced through the opening in the enemy wall, which is too narrow for the gun and limber to pass through with wheels on, the gun and limber are run to the 1st action line where the crew engages the enemy firing three rounds as quickly as possible.
A bugle call is sounded. The crew with gun and limber has to be withdrawn over the wall and back across the chasm. The steel wire over the chasm is tested to some 5 tons and still sags each time these heavy items are hauled over it. As soon as the last man of the crew is across the chasm, the rig is collapsed and at the 2nd action line the gun crew fires three rounds to signal the end of the run back.
At the sound of the “G” on the bugle, the gun and limber are disassembled, taken through the home wall, reassembled on the other side, and using the drag ropes all 18 members of the crew race with it over the finishing line down the side of the arena.
Fastest times for PAFG were set at the International Festival of the Sea in 2005:
- Run Out 1min 49sec.
- Run Back 1min 12sec.
- Run Home 32sec.