Entering boot camp, I had always thought that we were going to have a bunch of training with weapons considering it is called the “Armed Forces”. I was somewhat wrong. The truth might surprise you.
When I entered boot camp, it was on the tail end of the Clinton administration. My home state, along with other states of the union, had cycled through a series of base closings. Money was with held from certain areas and no one was in a big hurry to fix what was broken in the Navy. This lasted for a few years.
The summer I entered the Navy was one of those years. I faintly remember looking at old, rickety buildings that weren’t exactly new. Our drill halls were old. There was a new medical building but no one was taking a victory lap. One of the most notable building failures was the gun range, or what was left of the gun range. The one time I marched near it I had discovered a stupid truth; it was condemned and ready to be demolished.
I thought I had read a sign somewhere that there was funding and construction imminent. That meant that unless there was another range nearby, I wasn’t going to go “pew pew” any time soon.
The dumb trith is that we were going to have familiarization class. I had thought that we were going to at least handle a real gun and go over gun safety/functions. Like many things, I was wrong even if I was hopeful.
Like much training we had before, it was boring. And just like the other class, I ended up getting kicked out. The first aid class was mind-numbingly boring and I got caught drawing armed hot dogs. I also drew a menacing donut with a Mac-10. When it was time to go to the familiarization class, the instructor accused half of our class of being asleep on the bleachers. It was boring as f*ck and I would have rather him fire off blanks for “sh*ts and giggles”. We weren’t able to fire or actually use the sights.
(The only other time I got to even handle a weapon was during one of our final evolutions. It was an electric monstrosity that couldn’t even tell me if I had fired a shot, no recoil and the electronic machine didn’t register the shots. I was wearing a gas mask and I was never trained on how to do any of that crap).
I ended up at my ship after a few more months. It took me quite a bit longer to actually go to a range to learn how to shoot a hand gun and the M-14. People on our ship were surprised that a few of us never fired an actual gun in our lives. (I lived in the city and our people didn’t have spare land like many of the bumpkins did).
But it was a beautiful day when I finally got to throw lead. I was a bit nervous but when I got down to it, I did okay. I was able to do fairly well at the handgun. The M-14 was decent. But the noise and the smell were awesome. The recoil made me smile. I felt like I got robbed of this as a kid and I made up for years of the losses that day.
I still had to get used to hand overs and using it during security evolutions, but it was something I wanted to check off my proverbial list in life. I wasn’t scared of guns. I actually learned to respect the technology and capability. They were tools and we were the technicians to use them when needed. That is why I always nod when I actually see that one guy on watch, or in the middle of an evolution where a gun is appropriate.
(Talking about guns wasn’t the thing to do when I was in school. I was in high school when the Colombine shooting went down and I remember when Jonesboro happened too. The vast majority of the liberal church members were always chirping about crap like that).
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