Saturday, April 15, 2006


I can shoot! Or so says the Army. It took me two tries today, but I was showing slow improvement each time. As you may recall, I shot 21 of 40 yesterday. My first try today was 22. And the second try, I finally improved to 23, the magic number to qualify. Which means I will soon be on "weekend pass" in Army terminology (and probably skip updates until Monday). The qualification range really is challenging. There are seven pop-up silhouettes, each the size of a human, placed at ranges from 50 to 300 meters. The 300 ones are practically impossible to hit, although they pop up the longest, about 12 seconds. The 50 ones are easy to hit if you can get to them, but they are only up for 3 seconds... the drill sergeants nickname them "Fast Freddie." The key to qualifying is hitting consistently on the midrange ones. The whole qualification reminds me of an Army version of the arcade game "Whack-a-mole" where the little moles pop up and you bash them with a mallet. M-16, mallet, same thing, right? Maybe it's "whack-an-insurgent" or something. Speaking of the drill sergeants, I must say, they are some of the most professional people I have ever met. While I am fortunate enough not to have to endure the private's view of Basic Training, I have thoroughly enjoyed interacting with these highly knowledgeable soldiers. Some of them were saying they might be headed to Iraq themselves soon, to help train the Iraqi army. I'll close this week's updates with a joke one of the drill sergeants made today while we were doing familiarization with the .50 caliber machine gun, 40mm grenade launcher, and M249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon... the new and improved version of Rambo's M-60 machine gun), all of which we'll actually get to shoot and blow stuff up next week. "What's the difference between the Boy Scouts and the Army?" The answer: "The Army has heavy artillery." Have a good weekend! I'm off to enjoy my last weekend in a long time!

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