Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"I Guess We Can Call That One a Five"
Howdy Folks. This time around I thought I'd give y'all a recap of the pistol firing I've gotten to do here. We have spent the majority of our time here at various rifle, pistol, or machine ranges, and I have yet to provide any details. We did our final firing over the weekend, so I'll do a post now to brag a little about my pistol prowess, and one later detailing my frustration with the rifle.
Soon after we were issued rifles and pistols, and given some basic instruction, firing began in earnest. I've previously qualified on the pistol for the Navy, so I wasn't too concerned about the lack of practice. The plan was to take us out to the pistol range, run us all through the qualification course three times each without a break. If you qualified, you were sent to the pistol "stress" fire course. Those who didn't, would stay on the range until they did. No kidding. The drill sergeants made it clear we would be there until sunset if that what it took. The first time through, I knew I would qualify, and also knew that I had two more chances. I wanted to do well, but I didn't care; not in a negative way, but in a relaxed, unhurried, almost blase' manner. I had a clear mind, and focused on nothing except a mental void. The course involves firing from a 3, 7, and 15 meter line, shooting a total of 48 rounds. Each round has a max value 5 points, so a perfect score would be 240. In my disassociated mental state, I didn't care that I was perfect from the three meter line, and when I left the 7 meter line still shooting perfect I reminded myself that I still had two more qualification rounds after this and reformed my void of mental indifference. I didn't even remember pulling the trigger on the 15 meter line, I just remember looking down at my empty pistol, and waiting for the range safety officer to give us permission to go down range to change out our targets. When I checked my target I saw that I was almost perfect. I had gotten every shot in the five ring, except one. It was a half inch outside of the center, for a final score of 239. Oh well, I still had two more chances.
The funny thing is, the next round, when I was focused, and interested in the outcome, I shot worse and scored 237. By time I finished firing on 7 meter line on the third round, It was obvious that I would not get a perfect 240. As I was walking to the 15 meter line for the final time, I took an interest in a coffee cup that one of the range safety officers had left leaning up against the base of my target. While walking, I flippantly told him,"You know, since I can't get a 240, your coffee cup is about to be destroyed, right?" He told me he would throw me off the range if I shot at anything except my target. I just shrugged. I fired my first magazine, and before loading my final magazine containing my last eight rounds, for the final time that morning, the safety, who looked a lot like Ed Harris, smugly said, "You don't have the balls to shoot that cup." I responded with silence. Anger, frustration, embarrassment, and nervousness all fought to get in, but at that moment I felt nothing. When the command to fire came, I dropped to one knee and put seven straight shots into the belly of the silhouette target. Then, without skipping a beat and maintaining the cadence of the previous seven shots, I lowered the pistol down and to the right. I don't remember pulling the trigger as the cup passed in front of the sights, but from almost fifty feet away, my final bullet hit the six inch tall cup dead center. As the cup and its contents exploded against the berm behind the targets, I heard a "HOLY S*** !" from the safety behind me. He added, "I guess we can call that one a five. " My final round was a 235.
After that we were put through what the Army calls a stress fire. There are five stations: prone, kneeling, crouching, standing supported, and standing unsupported. You wear all of your body armor, helmet, etc and have to run between stations while a drill sergeant is yelling in your ear the whole time. There is also a three minute time limit. Maximum score is 18, and you need 12 to pass. Most folks focused on, and a lot of them were scoring 18, but used all of their allotted three minutes, and even walked between some of the stations. I was feeling good after killing a cup of coffee, so as I approached the stress fire start, I told the drill sergeant to not hold back with the yelling and getting in my face. When they said go, I took off running and ran between each station, and pulled the trigger as fast as I could each time. I finished in 58 seconds, but only scored a 17. Almost perfect, again. But also like the last time, I had a blast. As far as I know I was the only one (out of 80+) to finish anywhere near the minute mark. I was quite the spectacle. I later overheard several conversations where people talking about the coffee cup, and how I was shooting up the stress fire course without even appearing to aim, like some crazy cowboy. It was a fun day.
If anyone knows me, then they know that I am not one to brag or toot my own horn all that much, but what happens happens, and I'll write about it. Good or Bad. Speaking of bad, let me tell you about my time at the rifle range. That's a story for another day, though. Til then, take care.