The annual combined infantry firepower demonstration was held at the military firing range in Hanumanthapuram village, near Chengalpattu, on Tuesday evening.

Soldiers with a combination of small arms and medium and heavy weapons fired with precision at targets placed on a hillock a few hundred metres away.

The event began with a daredevil display of paragliding by officers and soldiers of 50 Para Brigade, Agra, as well as the Akash Ganga team of the Indian Air Force.

Seventeen personnel jumped from a height of 6,000 feet. After a free fall for 2,000 feet, they opened their parachutes and landed on the ground, much to the delight of the audience, mainly comprising trainee lady and gentlemen cadets of the Officers Training Academy (OTA) and its officers and their families, apart from a few school and college students. 

The second part of the event comprised a demonstration of firing from weapons, ranging from 9mm pistol, 9mm carbines, 5.56mm INSAS rifles and light- and medium-machine guns to 51mm and 81mm mortar guns, rocket launchers and hand grenade launchers. The personnel handling the weapons were mostly from 25Punjab Regiment, Army Camp in Pallavaram, along with officers from OTA.

A spokesperson from OTA said the annual event of firepower display would give the trainees an opportunity to witness the simultaneous use of regular as well as sophisticated weapons.

“We have never seen anything like this. We do get a chance to fire .22 rifles, but what we witnessed this evening was something spectacular,” said T. Sengoottuvan, a first-year student of Velamman Engineering College, Surapet, and a native of Velankanni.

Soon after the firing of weapons came to a halt, a resident of Hanumanthapuram lost no time in rushing to the hillock where the targets had been placed and collecting the empty metal casings. He was among the number of residents, including children, who were seen on the hillock. An officer said the empty metal casings would fetch a good price, especially those of the advanced and heavier ammunition, a single piece of which could fetch as much as Rs. 500. The officer added that the message of ‘safety first’ was enforced when they conducted such firing displays or even regular practice sessions.

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