Target Practice



RAF Holbeach is a bombing range on the Lincolnshire Wash that is used by British, American and European squadrons for training purposes.

Protected in part by the military presence, the range has a curious atmosphere.

Here, a team of civilian employees man the targets and look after the natural landscape.

The targets themselves are a collection of old ships, armoured personal carriers and ad hoc structures made from scrap material.

In the eyes of one local artist, Michael Sanders, they look like accidental sculptures", punching out from stark landscape of the Wash.

Local contractor Norman Parnell takes great pride in building and maintaining these structures, despite the fact that they are constantly damaged by artillery fire and the tide, and Holbeach employee Geoff Smith is as careful to check for damage to the electronic scoring system as he is in spotting oyster catcher eggs at the targets.

Those that work at RAF Holbeach maintain a delicate balance between protecting the environment and serving the needs of the pilots that use the range ahead of deployment.

Through their eyes, we encounter a unique place where the military and natural world meet in surreal and surprising circumstances, encouraging us to reflect upon the activity of the armed forces on home soil.

The producer is Katie Burningham.

This is a Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

A portrait of bombing range RAF Holbeach and the civilians who man the targets there."