Monday, March 9, 2009

Then and Now--Sleeping on a Range

Today was qualifying day on the machine gun range. Almost 30 of us went spent the day qualifying on the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. It was a much longer day than it was supposed to be. We arrived at the range just after 8 am, but did not start firing until almost 1 pm. Someone somewhere screwed up and the ammo did not not arrive until 12:30.

But I was happy. I love being on ranges. And after yesterday's race, it was good to have some time to relax. When things are screwed up on a range, we just sit and wait. We sit and wait in a Kevlar helmet and bulletproof vest so we are very warm.

In the 70s I knew I had acclimated to Army life on ranges when I woke in the middle of the day on a tank gunnery range on Fort Carson, Colorado. I was lying at the ammo point 100 feet behind 17 tanks lined up fender to fender test firing machine guns. It wasn't until they started firing the 105 mm cannons that I woke up. Even then, I was half asleep and saw the little stones in the sand bouncing from the blast. I stayed lying on the ammo boxes and watched the dirt bounce for a few seconds before I actually woke up.

This afternoon, after my team had fired, I was one of several soldiers who stretched on the gravel at the briefing area 50 feet from the machine gun firing positions. An hour later I woke up to more firing. If I can fall asleep and nap while four SAWs are firing full-auto on a range, then I am really getting used to life on the range again.

When I was awake, I fired qualified, so it was a really good day. Here's a good You Tube video of a SAW range.

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