Gurkhas Prove Themselves the Best Shots in the British Army

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
British Army soldiers competing during the Army Operation Shooting Competition 2018 (MOD)

Riflemen from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles have proved their skills during the British Army’s annual Army Operational Shooting Competition at the historic Bisley ranges. Shooting teams from across the British Army took part in the competition.

The annual shoot at the Bisley ranges in Surrey is the British Army’s the biggest shooting competition and has been running since 1869. The competition was held concurrently with the 149th Imperial Meeting, a season of shoots which seen both civilians and military marksmen compete in various competitions.

Corporal Bishal Rai presented the Queen's Medal by Lieutenant General N.A.W Pope (MOD)

The Gurkha Rifles are part of the British Army’s Gurkha Brigade, made up of soldier’s recruited from the mountains of Nepal, they have a fearsome reputation and have been part of the British Army for over 200 years. Corporal Bishal Rai won the prestigious Queen’s Medal, awarded to the ‘best shot in the service’, while three more Gurkhas were in the top ten rankings. The competition includes firing at ranges of up to 500m from various positions with the soldier’s service rifle.

From the photos taken during the event, it appears that Corporal Rai and the team from 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles was using the newly issued SA80A3, with its upgraded forend, new upper receiver, and flat dark earth finish.

When asked by the British Army’s ‘Soldier’ magazine what it took to win the prestigious competition Corporal Rai said “It’s all about getting the basics right. And it is important to have confidence in yourself and your weapon; that comes with experience.” Rai continued “I have only been able to implement the principles of marksmanship after years of practice. Training and knowing the match conditions are also vital.”

The 2nd Battalion had long set their sights on winning the Army Operational Shooting Competition, and selection for the battalion shooting team was tough. Captain Vijay Limbu, the officer in charge of the battalion’s shooting said: “we had to ensure we picked the right people not just based on past records but their current form and performance.”

As tradition dictates Corporal Rai, as the winner of the Queen’s Medal was carried back to the range’s clubhouse in a procession on a chair. 72 of the top 100 ranked shooters were reportedly from the Gurkha Brigade. These men were presented their awards by Lieutenant General N.A.W Pope CBE Deputy Chief of the General Staff (DCGS).

Sources: 1 2

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: & Overt Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at:

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5 of 17 comments
  • Uncle Yar Uncle Yar on Aug 08, 2018

    72/100 top shooters in the British Army are not even British natives.

    So, this is twofold. Great job and Congratulations to the Gurkhas, and once again proving why Nepali mercs are always in demand worldwide. It relieves me that the Nepali people has the conscience to only work for the free world. China would pay good money for Nepalis to fight for them, too, but good luck with that, Gorkhas (Nepali soldiers and mercenaries) has only fight for themselves, the British, the Indians, the Americans, or out hunting by themselves for cash in the MENA region, picking their clients very discriminately.

    On the other hand, this is worrying.

    The track record in recent years shows the British are losing its ability to create its own fighting men. As a citizen of a British Ally, this worry me greatly. I worry for the day that Britain no longer makes its own fighting men. While Nepal will always stand with the Crown as the Crown will always stand with Nepal, a nation cannot defend itself with just foreign help.

    I'll see myself out for the next couple of years. See how this develops. I hope its for the better.

    • See 2 previous
    • Uncle Yar Uncle Yar on Aug 09, 2018

      @DangerousClown Terrorism? No one would invade Nepal neither, but we sure ain't disbanding our Army and Armed Police (Gendarmerie). A need for a professional lethal force is arguably more essential than ever. Unlike in previous wars we can't just conscript shooters to win today's wars.

  • Mazkact Mazkact on Aug 08, 2018

    Go Gurkas