FROM BATTLEFIELD TO THE WORLD
The lineage began with Kenneth Gillam, a World War II Veteran who fought in the deserts of Tobruk and in the jungles of New Guinea, combined his battlefield experiences and skills as a signaller to build a prototype Automatic Target Apparatus in 1954. Driven by a desire to better prepare Australian Diggers to win battles and save lives he demonstrated his invention to the Australian Army, which resulted in a collaborative development effort with the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (RAEME) to further refine Ken’s invention under the codename “Austfire”. Ken lodged a patent for the Automatic Target Apparatus on the 2nd of September 1959 under his wife’s name, Valis Gillam.
Under the newly formed company, Australasian Training Aids (ATA), Ken’s invention evolved to become the Disappearing Automatic Retaliatory Target (DART). Partnering with electrical contractor and shooting enthusiast, Lindsay Knight, the two men introduced a variety of features, including radio control and automatic marking capability. This partnership resulted in the DART concept being expanded to become a complete live fire training system, with the first of 17 portable and static ranges being installed for the Australian Army from late 1966. The soldier and inventor Ken Gillam eventually relinquished his share of ATA at a time where the company needed to expand under the entrepreneurial leadership of Lindsay Knight to deliver an Australian led transformation of live fire training to the rest of the world.
In 2002 the business evolved to eventually become Australian Target Systems (ATS) Pty Ltd. Today’s ATS team hold the same core values, hands-on experience and innovative philosophy espoused by its ATA forebears. ATS is a unique organisation with deep empathy for the end user, which is found in few other companies. We are the target systems people and we are proud of the contribution that we have made over the past 60 years and will continue to make for the next 60 years.