Friday, May 8, 2009

Range Day, Machine Guns - Day and Night

- A day at the range is most definitely better than a day in the office. Yesterday was the first of only two days at the firing ranges during our training here. The course of fire was both to familiarize and if possible qualify on the M2 .50 caliber machinegun, and the M240G machinegun both in day and night settings. We also did familiarization fire with the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) during the day. All firing was performed from a stationary HMMWV. Daytime with iron sights, nightime with thermal imaging scopes. Each individual fired about 900 rounds of various types throughout the day and night.

- Like most range days, we arose early (0530 muster). Our Navy teams, Blackbeard and Neptune, are still in the early stages of mastering mounted combat patrols and convoy operations. We did make it to the range all together and in one piece. The first order of business of course was the safety and range briefs. Then I was off with a small group to zero the M240. After we accomplished this we rejoined our group in line for daytime firing of the M2 50 cal.

- The 50 cal has been in service for at least 70 faithful years since before WWII. It is featured in the photos, along with yours truly getting directions from the range coach. The 50 cal is also one of the most popular and photogenic of the defensive mounts on HMMWV's and other armored troop carriers. While the arcane art of maintaining settings of headspace and timing is required to safely and effectively employ this fearsome ordinance, its tremendous shock power, range, and penetration have made it an enduring and powerful symbol of the US.

- Next was the M240 7.62 mm machinegun. It is the successor to the M60(pig) of earlier years. It can be moved onto a target more rapidly at short ranges. It seems heavier than my recollection of the old M60, but is a seemingly reliable light machinegun.

- Last was the SAW, which is slightly modified from the days I knew it in the early 90's. Perhaps because I had fired the SAW more than these other weapons, I did much better with the SAW.

- Daytime firing was OK, but after using the thermal imaging at night, I truly understand why our technology has made us masters of the night. The imaging systems were awesome in their effectiveness. It was ridiculously easy to pick off a target at 1000 meters on a pitch black night with the 50 cal. That is over half a mile away!

- My favorite course of fire was the M240 nightime qualification. Eleven pop up targets in 3 minutes from 100 to 400 meters with 200 rounds to use. I tied with several others for high score on that event. It was fun, but even more fun to watch others as the fireworks from 10 gun positions lit up the sky.

- Thankfully the weather was nice during the day. I would like to especially thank my Dear Love for the ipod, which made the waiting times more tolerable.

- On the challenge side our HMMWV started to smoke on the return to Camp Funston and had to be towed. We did not leave the range until 0430 the next morning after clearing the range. The rain and pillars of lightning from the sky while I was in the open topped HMMWV were less than welcome, as was the 8 hours of weapons cleaning our team performed on the machine guns today.

- I am beat after about 40 hours without sleeping in a bed. As tired as an Intern as they say. Now to sleep.

But a day at the Range beats a day in the office anytime.

1 comment:

  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 05/11/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.