Every year on Armistice Day, the tradition in the Kuperjanov Battalion is to take shots at the commander's watch - not while the timepiece is on his wrist, of course.
The first successful shooter gets to upgrade to a nicer watch of his or her own. If everyone misses, it is the commander who is line for a better, more expensive timepiece.
Had the tradition started in the WWI era, the prize might have progressed to Rolexes by now, but the competition is newer than that, started 19 years ago by then battalion commander Aare Ermus, who used his already damaged watch for the first year's competition. Ever since, the target watch has been a perfectly functional one. Almost every year, the commander has had to buy two watches, and the stakes are getting higher.
Lots are drawn for shooting order. This year, the company's chaplain, Anna-Liisa Vaher, shot first. Like the others, she wasn't a stranger to marksmanship, but she missed. So did the second contender, and the third. In previous years, the score would have been settled by now, but this year was different.
With 100 shooters having had their turn, the strap was gone and the target board Swiss cheese but the watch's casing was intact.
In the end, on the fourth round of all the participants having a crack, it was the chief of staff, Major Toomas Tõniste, who finally shot out the watch's guts.
Some might have remembered Eesti Ekspress's Thursday interview with Defense Forces commander in chief Major General Riho Terras, where he had rather gloomily noted that policemen were beating soldiers routinely at sharpshooting competitions. But the condition of the watch's strap and the target behind it didn't indicate much of a deficit.
"As you can see from the target, our defense forces' shooting ability is such that a head shot from 100 meters is not a problem for anyone in the unit. But an eye shot at 100 meters takes a little time. You have to know how to shoot, but you also need some luck," said Tõniste.
The last time the shooters had to buy the commander a new watch was in 2007, when every man in the unit had five shots and an extra chance but came up empty.