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The team of nine spent three gruelling days being putting through their paces and faced a series of challenges that tested skill, stamina, teamwork and cadet knowledge.
First up was a navigation practical where cadets used a map and compass to reach defined points.
Next up was a cadet force knowledge theory test, followed by an unexpected first aid scenario where they were confronted with a chainsaw accident site to manage.
An observation challenge, initiative activity, equipment carry, observation lane and memory map drawing test all featured on the first day.
After another navigation theory test, drill and dry firing training test followed.
Ashburton cadet unit leader Major Cezarne Rodgers said the area skills competition went down to the wire, with the top three placings in each activity announced one after the other.
Consistency was key, she said, and when the final placings were known the Ashburton team almost leapt out of the parade ground.
“This was a hard fought win and the team should be very proud taking its first every national skills title.”
The C-130 Hercules has been delivering troops and cargo all around the world for 55 years