Saturday, October 22, 2011

Basic Marksmanship

Every once in a while being in the military gives one the opportunity to have some fun that other jobs don't offer.  No, I'm not talking about shining boots or dusting wall lockers; I'm talking about real fun.  Like shooting a machine gun, doing an obstacle course, or jumping out of an airplane.  I've found that while the Air Force offers a lot less of the shining boots variety of mundaneness than the Army did, it also has less of the repelling out of a helicopter awesomeness. 

Needless to say, I was quite stoked this week when I got the opportunity to take part in a shooting competition.  While I had no delusions of scoring in the top 10% and getting a medal, it was a great opportunity to get out of work for a couple of hours to shoot an M16, and we didn't even have to clean the rifles when we were done.

After a quick safety brief we went to the range where silouettes were hanging upside down, with four targets in a quad on each silouette, and a smaller target beneath the four to be used for zeroing.  We got to shoot five rounds at the zeroing target, go downrange and inspect it, make adjustments to the sights, then repeat the process once.  Then the competition began.

First up was 60 seconds to shoot 10 rounds at the top left target on your silouette while standing.  I quickly discovered two things.  When there are 34 people shooting in tight quarters it is imperative to make sure you are shooting the target that has your lane's number below it, as there are three targets straight in front of you.  And also, it's really hard to see what you're shooting at when the smoke from 34 rifles fills the 25 meters between you and the targets.

I did slightly better standing than kneeling, which was the second position, this time with only 45 seconds to squeeze off 10 rounds.  The bullseye was worth 10 pts, with successive rings down to 6 pts.  Unfortunately, I had a round land in the 6 pt circle, and those didn't count.  I also realized I was hitting a little high, so I dropped my aim a bit for the next portion - 10 rounds from the sitting position in 45 seconds.  I have never fired a rifle sitting, but with my aim lowered a bit my shots hit closer to center - I got 93 pts compared to 82 standing and 78 kneeling.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty good about going into the last portion, which was 60 seconds to fire 20 rounds from the prone position.  Unlike the previous three positions, the prone is a position I have actually fired the M16 from before, and it is one I am very comfortable with.  I got into position, waited for the buzzer, and started squeezing off shots, about one every two seconds, until my clip was empty.  As I was shooting I could occasionally see the holes opening up on the target through the haze and they seemed to be centered pretty nicely.

Once the second buzzer went off I put my rifle down and stood up for a better view of my target.  It was at this point that I noticed I couldn't see the holes in my target anymore.  In fact, while the top left, right, and bottom left were holey, the bottom right appeared untouched.  Then I looked over at the bottom right target on my neighbor's silouette to the right of me and noticed that his target seemed full of holes.  40 to be exact.  Yes, I had forgotten point number one above and filled my neighbor's target full of holes.  Unfortunately, although he was allowed to reshoot at a fresh target, I was done for the day.  So I guess the bad news is, if I'm ever in combat and you're next to me, I may inadvertantly shoot the bad guy that you're shooting at.  The good news is, he'll definitely be dead when we're done.