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GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

TARGET PRACTICE |

April 20, 2007

TARGET PRACTICE
Name: CAPT Drew Morton
Posting date: 4/20/07
Stationed in: Kabul, Afghanistan

I have finally succumbed to peer pressure. I am the fourth captain in our B-Hut, and the other three have all posted on The Sandbox. I am the youngest (29), but I have been able to slowly bridge the gap with my older hootch mates by playing Family Guy, American Dad, HALO 2, (early) Dave Mathews, and O.A.R.

I want to share a little story from the first month Doug Templeton and I were in country, when we volunteered to take ANA soldiers in Log Command out back for target practice with their brand new S&W 9mm pistols.

A word about these. There are absolutely no safety features (there is no "safety"), so as soon as you chamber a round, the weapon is hot. Also, they are primarily made of the finest composite plastic and very little metal, so it feels like you are holding a toy gun.

As soon as we get behind the building and on top of the hill, all you hear is the sound of about 45 magazines being slapped in and rounds being chambered (did I mention that these weapons do not have a safety?). At this point we turn around and there are loaded weapons being pointed all over the place. Well, everywhere except down at the ground. Through a translator, we instruct them to clear their weapons, and announce that we will take two at a time to shoot. Then we set up their targets -- two empty water boxes.Framed_morton_firing_range_2

Think of every way imaginable in which you could hold a pistol and fire it. There are guys standing sideways firing, guys holding their weapons in front with their palms facing down (gangster style). We even have one guy support the pistol on his left forearm to fire. Yes, we show them how to stand, hold the weapon, and aim, but all of this instruction is lost as bad habits kick in.

While we are supervising the firing and keeping the rest from loading their weapons, I start hearing some weird sounds. Weird because they are new -- "pings" "zings"  and "fa-pings."

I turn and ask Doug, "Are those ricochets I am hearing?" And while I am saying this, we both hear a "fa-ping" followed by a thud. My hand reaches for the side of my stomach and Doug and I lock eyes thinking the same thing. “Crap, I've been hit!” I pull my hand away and see nothing, and let out a sigh of relief that I haven't been hit by a ricocheting bullet, but by a piece of rock.

The firing for the next 30 minutes is uneventful. In the end we have a lot of fun with the ANA soldiers, who get to fire the 9mm about as often as we Air Force officers do -- once every two years. I am also glad to say that the water boxes suffered a glorious death, and looked like Swiss cheese. 

Comments

Drew,
Nice anecdote about how training really works. Reminded me of when I was a kid practicing with my air rifle in the back yard. I used a rocky retaining wall for a backstop. My father was not happy to fill in all those dents in the siding of the house where those BB's ricocheted!
Could you explain why you practice with the 9mm's if you don't use them?

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