I woke up three times before the alarm rang a 5:20 am. By 715 I was at range control ready to go. At 8 am we were back at the Shoot House. Our briefing from Phil was fast, blindingly fast for an Army briefing. He did take a few minutes to tell us the objective of all of his Shoot House training, whether for law enforcement or military groups.
"Something, maybe everything will go wrong in these operations. My goal in every mission is that at the end of the day we all go home."
He then added what must be an old joke but I never heard it before. "When I get home if I can get in the shower and count to 21, that's a good day."
Then we split into teams of four and started drills securing the lower floor of the building. There were no dress rehersals. We got an order; made a plan; lined up at the door and went in firing.
I went through twice, then was put on ammo guard for an hour at 10 am. this was more like usual Army training--watching someone else shoot while I stood by the ammo.
By 11 am I was back on a team and doing more complicated drills. By Noon Phil added the room at the top of the stairs to the training.
The Shoot House we are training in is a building with two floors connected by a staircase, somewhat resembling an Afghan house built on the side of a hill--common rooms and main entrance upstairs, small bedrooms on the lower floor. The rooms and hallways are made so the building floor plan can be changed with barricades to limit the area of attack.
Since we are the first group through and the building is brand new, the rooms are mostly empty, though Phil set up some barricades and trash for us to move around.
If you have seen a SWAT unit assualt a building, you will get some idea what we were doing. I also recommend looking at the videos on You Tube--just search Live Fire Shoot House. With a four-man team, one man opens the door and the next three move in a line and begin going through the doors, clearing the rooms of hostiles and rescuing the hostages if they are part of the scenario.
By midday I started to get brain fade. I was not moving smoothly. I was dragging my feet as I walked through rooms with my weapon at ready. During lunch I tried to figure out what was wrong. It turns out in the tension of the rapid movement and gunfire, I forgot to walk with both eyes open looking over the sight of the M-4. I closed my left eye and was looking only ahead instead of scanning 180 degrees. This also kept me from picking up both hostile targets when there were two targets in a room.
I walked back and forth during the break with both eyes open looking across my sights to get the proper technique fixed in my head.
By the end of the day my shoulder was aching from holding a ten-pound assault rifle at ready, sometimes with one hand and firing more than 200 rounds in a dozen practice assaults.
I was exhausted at the end of the day.
But Day Three was awesome. More later.
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