Thursday was rifle qualification – again. Unlike Benning, the range here at Hood actually works, making the whole process much easier. However, the safety briefing at Benning didn’t include a warning about engaging free range cattle. (Apparently cows have been known to wander across the range at inopportune times.)
For anyone who believes the Army should issue AK-47s instead of M16s, I challenge them to shoot the groups that I did on the zero range on Thursday with an AK. At 25 yards, each group was just three holes touching each other – almost as good as my bolt-action .22 with a 4x scope. This rifle – from the B company armory – is virtually brand-new, and after a little lube has the sweetest trigger of any M16 I’ve handled. It has almost no creep and breaks cleanly at maybe 6 pounds – light for a military rifle.
We also had to night-qualify again. As darkness set in, we hit the range once more, and in a brief absence of sense, I volunteered to be a range safety – someone who stands behind the firer and verifies that their weapon is empty at the end of the firing sequence. I was assigned lane five – the start of a long night.
The targets were virtually invisible, so after the first group fired the range officers had to go downrange and attach chemlights to each target so we had any chance of scoring a hit. Every third round in our magazines was a tracer round – they made yellow-white streaks across the blackened range and when they ricocheted off a berm, they spun off in crazy directions like a flare, accompanied by a weird high-pitched whizzing sound.
Our fatigue descended into near-delirium and general hilarity as the firing continued until about 0230 – much later than we should’ve been out there. Luckily, no one got crazy – despite the best efforts of the inept civilian range control to get somebody shot.