Wednesday, March 30, 2005

These last couple of days I've been wearing yet another hat. Helmet, to be precise. Kevlar construction, enmeshed in a camouflage net. Duty called and I answered. Late, because I wasn't familiar with the drive to camp and entered the expressway towards the wrong direction. By the time I figured out an appropriate course correction, I arrived 45 minutes past my ETA. They'll probably dock some of my make-up pay to make some kind of disciplinary point, but duh.

Objective of this in-camp was to familiarize the 416th with the new SAR21 personal weapon. We old-timers who are so used to the venerable old M16 now have to come to grips with this new-fangled rifle with its unusual shape, but oh-so-sweet refinements that make killing such a bigger joy. It's a heavier arm than the M16, but the trade-off is a built-in 1.5x magnifying scope, a snazzy laser aiming device, and the recoil is easier to handle making for more accurate shooting.

Now I can say from experience what had previously been hearsay: our new personal arm makes better shots of us all. I personally scored 17 shots out of 20 (12 day and 8 night shots). I'm not that great a shot to begin with but with the new weapon it really is almost point-and-shoot. I was dead accurate with the laser (4 for 4 night shots) though I could barely see the target in the dark.

Fine for non-moving plastic targets, but if it comes to hitting live, frantically scurrying -- or worse, charging-straight-at-you -- targets, we're going to need much more training, but at least for now I'm comfortable and confident in handling my new, improved and more deadly partner-in-war.

In case you think that I'm now a bloodthirsty psycho with a 5.56 calibre assault rifle fetish, there is the other part of the training that teaches one to truly hate, detest, abhor and have as little contact as possible with our weapons as well. The constant safety lectures, safety drills, checks and inspections at multiple levels on the cleanliness and general maintenance of the weapon, and the reminders (verbal and visually on posters) about using and treating it responsibly make picking up that weapon such a chore. It's best left in the armoury under lock-and-key, the less you see of it, the better.

Slept overnight in camp at midnight -- my earliest this week.

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