Get a grip!

Camp Atterbury, IN -- Me and my M4 rifle, undergoing the “stress fire” range at Camp Atterbury.  It’s designed to stress the shooter physically and mentally while challenging them to still hit targets.

Camp Atterbury, IN —
Me and my M4 rifle, undergoing the “stress fire” range at Camp Atterbury.
It’s designed to stress the shooter physically and mentally while challenging them to still hit targets.

Again, we were at the firing ranges, but this time we did “stress fire.”

A stress fire range is different than the regular range. At a regular range, we stay in one place (either standing, sitting or kneeling,) and we take our time to perfect our breathing, aim properly and get a good grip on the trigger before squeezing.

But not during stress fire … Stress fire is intended to mimic firing under combat conditions. At this range, the instructors are yelling at us. The shooters don’t walk to the firing points, they low crawl, high crawl or run to them, dropping down to avoid being fired upon. Instead of nice, neat firing points, the range has us firing live ammunition over barriers intended to resemble what we will fire behind while in the ‘stan (i.e. over Hummers, through windows, and around the corners of buildings.)

On a regular range, it’s easy to shoot a perfect score (as I did during my previous turn on the range.) But under stress fire, it’s far more difficult. There is no time to get into a nice shooting position. And after running and dropping to the ground repeatedly, and low-crawling or high-crawling in between, it becomes harder to control your breathing (which affects your shooting accuracy.) Likewise, it’s hard to shoot around a left corner with your left hand (if you’re right handed.) Add to that an Army Non-Commissioned Officer yelling at you “HURRY UP! GET DOWN! RUN! TALIBAN SEES YOU!”, and stress fire certainly lived up to it’s name today.

As I was going through my turn, my adrenaline was pumping. I ran, then dropped to the ground, low-crawled, got back up, ran again and high-crawled to the first barrier (a Hummer I was to use for cover.) I poked my head and rifle over the hood of the vehicle and looked through the sights. With my heavy breathing, I couldn’t really control the weapon well. I tried to remember the basics of marksmanship before I squeezed the trigger.

BAM!

Immediately after I fired the weapon, I shouted “AWWWW, FUDGE!” (Only I didn’t say “Fudge.”) It seems in all the excitement, exhaustion and heavy breathing, I forgot to get a firm grip on the weapon. If you know what RECOIL is, then you know what happened next.

That’s right, the bolt (the part that pushes and extracts the bullet) flew to the rear, taking the charging handle with it … right into my face (my lips to be exact. That will teach me to forget to get a firm grip!)

We fired 40 rounds during the session. At a regular range, I would hit about 38 of those. But during stress fire I only hit 14. Turns out that the average person only hits 2 or 3, so I figure I’m still doing okay. I guess the point is to teach us to keep firing at the enemy no matter what situation we’re thrust in. Even if I didn’t hit all 40 targets, I still fired 40 shots … the Taliban would still duck to avoid all 40, right?

Anybody got any Carmex?

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