We pile on our gear, familiar as all hell except everything around us is too safe and too green, and we're boarding a school bus. Vile, raunchy conversation spews out of our mouths as Fort Lewis drags past the windows. I see one of the Strykers for the newest unit here and this time around, I'm the experienced vet and they're the new dicks. Just a few months to go, life is great.
The range isn't the usual pop-up target range. It's all on paper targets, fro 25 meters away or something. The size of the silhouette is scaled to the distance or some shit like that. So now, one has to shoot 38 out of 40 o qualify Expert. The plan is to hit that mark as soon a possible and get the hell out.
We grab two 20 round magazines from the ammo shack after our pre-range brief. Set up sandbags. Wait for the command. Slap in a mag. Wait. Flip the switch to semi.
I dot each target twice, nonchalantly. You can't do this shit when you stress about it. Put the red dot on the center of the silhouette and squeeze, let the rifle buck, repeat. On to the next silhouette.
We bring our targets up. My friend hit 40/40 first time. Me? 37.
"Are you fucking KIDDING ME? 37 should be expert, no doubt about it. This is bullshit. Goddammit..."
Two new magazines in my hand, I wait to fire the next iteration. Waiting for the go-ahead.
I squeeze the trigger forty times and when I bring the paper up for grading, its a 38. Awesome. Expert, so I can go now, observe that my weapon is clear and I'll just be on my wa-- Where the fuck is the bus?
My friend caught the bus back to the company area to enjoy some shamming, while I repeatedly qualified expert because we had a metric fuckton of rounds to burn off. Thanks man.
It got to the point where we buddied up in teams, one guy on a knee, the other standing, shooting at one target, going for best team out of 80 rounds. My buddy ol' pal and I won each time with a simple system. The guy on a knee shoots the smaller targets, the guy standing takes the bigger ones, and after the first magazine, we switch. All three times, we win.
When you get the command to fire, all you can really do is get slightly lost in the insanity of gunsmoke and the smell of carbon and the crack and little kick, the dirt kicked up behind the targets, the knowledge that you're spitting lead and death at a fuckload of feet per second. It's ridiculous. It should defy explanation. Good GOD, what the hell are we doing out here? Shooting shadows to prove our competency! LUNACY! HIGH FIVE!!!
We're shooting and spewing profanity and talking about each other's moms. We are demon-spawn wrapped in neo-samurai armor with Oakleys.
Oh, right, the contest. What did we win?
Well, ah...jack shit. A filthy M4 to clean I guess. Fuck it though, another day off my calendar.