I still remember days long ago at VMI. On Saturday mornings in the fall on the way to classes some upperclassman would inevitably stop a Rat and demand. "What day is Today Rat?" The answer was a scripted and well rehearsed "Game Day, Baby, Game Day- Sir!!!" The more vigor you put into your delivery the less trouble you were likely to recieve.
Well today and yesterday I felt like answering the question with "Range Day, Baby, Range Day!!!"
Yesterday morning we left on our convoy to the Pistol range. This was a very different course of fire from any I have performed in the past. We were given 9 preloaded magazines with between 1 and 7 rounds each. All of the targets were pop-up computer- timed targets which only were up from 3-7 seconds each at varied distances.. The last portion of the M-9 range had us all walking on line down the range and shooting pop-up targets as they presented.
Then our Navy section was off to the M4 range. First was the iron sight zeroing of the weapon at 25 meters. The coaches were not too interested in fine tuning my "dope" on the weapon, since we would be using the M68 optical sight for our qualification with the M-4. Once both of these were zeroed from a supported foxhole position, we were off to the range.
The Army range had targets, pop-up again, from 50 to 30O meters. Once again targets were up for only 3-5 seconds each. Shooting was done from a foxhole, prone and kneeling positions. I am used to a more leisurely precision firing, so I had to change tactics. With the M68 sight it was quite easy to take on the range. In fact I was "robbed" of 2-3 shots since I hit the target while it was still on the way up. The system only recognized a hit after the target was fully in the up position.
Night fire with the M-4 was more of a Star Wars experience than marksmanship. The range was completely black. We had our night vision goggles on and our PEG-2 lasers- which are mounted and bore sited on our M-4's. All night fire was from supported and then unsupported foxhole positions. The laser put out an infrared laser point. With the butt of the M-4 on my chest I just guided the laser point to the popup target and fired. My face was nowhere near a firing position, as we were not looking through sites or a scope. It was odd, but while the targets were a little closer, I did almost as well during the night as I did during the day. It was another late night since we didn't get back to Camp until after midnight.
While I must dime out the Army for not even giving us a period of instruction on the basics, disassembly or cleaning of the M-4, I have lots of confidence in this weapon.
We also completed our Combat lifesaver course with mass casualty drills, carries of live personnel with moulage injury makeup. Since we are Medical folks, we pretty much smoked this event.
Today was the Mark 19 range. The Mark 19 is originally a Navy weapon system adopted by our ground forces. It is an automatic grenade launcher. It fires 40mm grenades up to 1500 meters like a machine gun. It is a fun area target weapon, but is not a precision weapon. It is used alongside 50 cal machineguns to compliment the effects of each. The Mk-19 can also be used to provide short range indirect fire to positions you cannot actually see. It was a fun, but all too short 32 rounds.
Photos are of an UpArmored HMMWV with a Mark 19 mounted.
Photo #2 practice rounds hitting the target.