Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Adventure in the Marine Corps Museum


During the Christmas holiday, my husband, another couple and I went to visit the U.S. Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia.  This is an amazing place, well documented and stocked with impressive exhibits of real planes hanging from the ceiling, tanks, and a CH 46 helicopter with vibrations and sounds that imitated being on board during transport.

Entering the museum, you become an enlistee getting off the bus to the camp, standing on bright yellow footprints, for the first group’s formation.  Then it’s off to male and female Drill Instructors, known as D.I.s, where you listen to the ranting of your new best buddy for many excruciating weeks of your new life.

We stood inside an LVT, the forerunner to the Amtrac, during WWII, experienced the humidity of the Vietnam jungles, the cold from Inchon, Korea, and surprised by the most lifelike mannequins hanging from the ceiling, as if tethered from a helicopter ready to land.

The exhibit photographs, memorabilia and documentaries were awe inspiring, but there was an opportunity for me to do something that generally no civilian gets to do, fire an M-16. 

Yes, a Marine Corps weapon and me.  
The rifle was heavy, heavier that the two shotguns I tried to fire at Thanksgiving, but it was easier to get the target lined up and pull the trigger.

The caveat to this scenario was that the M-16 was altered to be an electronically monitored weapon- there were no bullets and I was happy.  
So were Scott and my companions.

Scott showed me how to stand and where to look for the target.  
The weight of the M-16 made it hard to keep my arm steady.  
I had 10 shots, which were registered by a computer and then my target map was printed out.

In the military, there are several levels of proficiency with a rifle and pistol:

Expert

Sharpshooter

Marksman

BUT-R-LABB (Better Use The Rifle Like A Baseball Bat)

Rock Thrower

Blind Man

I fell into the 50% category of proficiency, between                   BUT-R-LABB and Rock Thrower. 
I would be better off hitting a potential burglar with a softball than a bullet. 

Actually, I was a mean softball player in college, so that was neither surprising nor insulting.
Remarkably, this performance was better than on Thanksgiving. (See previous entry for details)

Scott was elated that my M-16 shooting was better.  “You might not kill someone, but you’d wing him, so I don’t have to worry about you.”

Next time, I’m going to try shooting a pistol. 
After all I’ve been through, it should be easier, right?


Maybe I should just stick to shooting with my Nikon D3100, 
or killing off a few well-written sentences… I tend to be good at that.



If you've been to the museum let me hear about it.  Email me at aitken.helen@gmail.com.


Have a great day.

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