Home » Law & Government » Military » What is the “Faith Shot”?

What is the “Faith Shot”?

Military traditions are the practice associated with soldiers and the like. These traditions often play a quintessential role in their lives, often relating to pride, morals, and fellowship. But did you know that the French Elite Forces have a tradition of shooting their brothers-at-arms?

The French Elite Forces, known as the GIGN, have one tradition before graduating. A recruit must shoot a small clay pigeon attached to his teammate’s bullet-proof vest, demonstrating trust and faith between the two.

The French Elite Forces

The Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) is the French premier military counter-terror and hostage rescue unit. It is similar to most elite forces of different nations like the US Navy Seal Team 6, UK’s SAS, Germany’s GSG-9, and Poland’s JW GROM.

GIGN was formed in 1973 because of the Munich terrorist and hostage crisis. It belongs to the National Gendarmerie, whose existence goes as far back as the Middle Ages, and its primary focus is internal security and order.

Members of the elite team are considered highly skilled operators of hostage rescue and intervention. It was a relatively small force when it started with a core of just four troops with 20 operators. But in 2007, the elite unit expanded to ensure that they could respond to the changing nature of terrorism and global threats. 

Elite units in the French Armed Services like the airborne Parachute Intervention Squadron of the National Gendarmerie (EPGIN) and the Security Group for the Presidency of the Republic (GSPR) were integrated into GIGN.

Due to its nature of operations, the GIGN has access to the world’s most sophisticated and technologically advanced weapons and systems. However, the GIGN also relies heavily on older and proven tools. Most of the operators are observed carrying a French-built MR-73. It is an old revolver the unit prefers for its use and reliability in close-quarter combat. The revolver is seen as a symbolic weapon for the GIGN. (Source: Jalopnik)

Getting into the group is not an easy task. A candidate must pass specific physical, medical, and psychological evaluations. Another qualifying skill required is that the candidate must practice skydiving. Applicants should be under 34 years old upon the selection process. (Source: Gendarmerie)

What is the “Faith Shot”?

Candidates for the GIGN undergo rigorous training. Though it is undisclosed what training and how long their training programs last, it is known that the last test before graduating and becoming a fully-fledged member of the elite French force is the most difficult.

Members of the elite force will be issued with the symbolic MR-73 revolver. A passage from a 2014 issue of the official Gendarmerie magazine states that the revolver is given to each new member of the GIGN to remind them of the values of respect of human life and discipline in firing their weapons righteously.

Upon issuing the symbolic revolver, the new GIGN operator will have to undergo the Faith Shot. It is more of a right of initiation than an actual test. The faith shot is performed when a team member puts a clay pigeon over their body armor. The newly initiated GIGN operator must shoot the pigeon from 15 yards.

This practice reinforces the new operator’s trust in himself. It enhances the target’s faith in the operator’s capability since both are trained in the same fashion. Though not typical in Western elite forces, the practice is still maintained today, and it helps build confidence and trust amongst peers in the GIGN. (Source: The Drive)

Leave a Comment