Leadership Stories - Marine Corps Rifle Range

This is a continuation of the leadership stories I have been telling you about my experiences in Marine Corps Boot Camp.

It was at the rifle range one of my fellow recruits lost it!

During the second week of the rifle range we actually got to qualify with the M16A1 rifle.

That first week was necessary but it was filled with extras that I would have preferred to do without. Those hours and hours of sighting in on a little black spot on a white barrel just was not my idea of fun. Again I suppose necessary, just not fun.

Leadership Stories - My Marine Corps Boot Camp Experience

We also went through an enormous amount of safety training. They covered every possible scenario imaginable. One of the most items covered was always make sure your rifle was pointed down range and on safe when you are not actually firing. The M16A1 had a switch you could move from safe, to simi-automatic, and finally automatic.

We would be firing from the 100 yard line, 200 yard line, and finally from the 500 yard line. The M16A1 was not that accurate much past the 500 yard line. Fortunately we would be only firing from the prone position from the 500 yard line. The prone position was lying down. One of the most steady positions to fire in.

From the 100 and 200 yard lines we would be firing from the standing, sitting and kneeling positions also.

Leadership Stories - My Marine Corps Boot Camp Experience

When we weren't firing we were working the targets. That meant that we were down in the Pit area. This Pit was not the same Pit that we did exercises in. This Pit was under the targets pulling them down and marking them after each shot.

Once marked we would raise them and using a round metal piece on a long handle give the score. Depending on where you placed the round circle when you raised it, this would identify to the Marine down field on the firing line what the score was.

This was actually kind of fun. Two people were assigned to each target. I suppose it took a couple of hours each time you went down there. The fun part was when someone would miss the target completely you got to wave the sign across the target.

Leadership Stories - My Marine Corps Boot Camp Experience

I don't know why but while we were qualifying the DI's were almost human. Although I never wanted to test that theory out. Maybe it was because they wanted us to do our best so they didn't stress us out.

This would change in an instant as soon as some recruit would rush to get off the firing line without putting his weapon on safe, or not pointing it down range.

You were not allowed to move back from the firing line until the person on a loud speaker would say “All Clear on the right”. Then once he got a thumbs up from the DI checking the right side of the firing line to make sure everyone had their weapons on safe. He would do the same on the left side “All clear on the left”. Then finally he would say “All clear on the firing line.” That is when we could get up and move back.

There would almost always be someone that would try to move before he said the “All clear”.

Leadership Stories - My Marine Corps Boot Camp Experience

The tragedy came when one of the recruits in my platoon decided he wanted to go home so bad he took matters into his own hands.

Maybe I should say hand!

During one of the firing sequences he placed his hand out in front of the rifle barrel and shot a hole through his hand.

All hell broke loose like you can't believe.

They immediately called out “Cease fire, Cease fire”!

They always had Medic's on the firing line and they were scrambling over to this knuckle head.

Why in the world would he think that this was a way out!

Leadership Stories - My Marine Corps Boot Camp Experience

He did get his wish to get out of our platoon I suppose. He was rushed to the hospital and dropped from our platoon.

The only problem was that he was still there after we had graduated from boot camp.

His little plan didn't quite work out the way he thought. I guess as his hand healed he also received mental health treatments. Seems logical that someone that would blow their own hand off with an M16A1 rifle would need to get some mental health help.

I ended up qualifying as a Sharp Shooter which is the middle classification. Expert was number one and Marksman was the third and final classification. I guess I was proud of myself, but eventually once out of Boot Camp I qualified as Expert.

You see once out of Boot Camp you had to qualify every year with the rifle. I would later go on to be on the 50 Caliber Machine Gun Team also. This was an amazing weapon.

Our next stop was Infantry Training!

Slowly but surely I was transforming into a Marine!

Thank you for reading another one of my leadership stories and may God Bless you!

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