Monday, November 07, 2005

Guard Recap

For those readers who might be interested, here's a brief recap of my second official weekend as a citizen-soldier.

The highlight of Saturday was my introduction to the M16A2 automatic rifle. They did not, of course, give us loaded weapons. We were issued with borrowed, unloaded weapons, and taught some of the basics of aiming and shooting. The highlight was "firing" 10 single shots using a laser simulation system. This was second nature to many of my comrades. I, on the other hand, hadn't handled a firearm in over 20 years, and never a military weapon. At first, I couldn't even figure out how to aim through the sights. With the help of my ever patient recruiting sergeant, however, I soon learned how to use the sights, and managed to hit the target silhouette on 3 of 10 shots. Not great, but a decent start. Considering my lack of experience with weapons, I was glad to get the opportunity. We also had the chance to take apart and reassemble an M16, which was helpful.

Sunday emphasized physical training and marching. The day began with about 45 minutes of physical conditioning, built around a number of very intense stretching exercises. A great workout, but I'm still feeling it as I type. After lunch, we had Drill and Ceremony (D & C). This is where you learn how to march, form ranks, and do the various maneuvers such as About Face. This is where my natural clumsiness proved to be a bit of an obstacle. I'll just have to keep working at it.

The highlight of the day was a couple mile nature hike. We went through a wooded area, climbing over fallen tree trunks and dodging branches. The really fun part was when our NCOs made us go through a 15 foot wide pool of mud. At its deepest, the mud was calf high. Somehow, I managed to maintain enough forward momentum to make it through without getting stuck or falling over. A few others weren't so lucky. Of course my BDU (uniform), which I just had washed, will be going right back to the dry cleaner.

As during my first drill, I had fun and learned a great deal. Just as important, I was also reminded of what I still need to learn.


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