We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, October 22. 2006
Editor's Note: This is one of a series of occasional reports from our friend Nathan, who is "making aliyah" this year. For more info about this, and for past postings, click the Aliyah Diary category. I have to say that I am both amused and pleased to see Nathan getting comfortable with firearms. Most Jewish, urban psychoanalysts are not - and that is fact, not stereotype.
Aliyah, October 21
The "dry training is perhaps twenty minutes: shows us how to check the rifle when we receive it. Always check. Trust no one. Two fingers into the empty magazine to be sure no bullets inside; slide back the bolt and eye-check for remaining bullet in rifle; check that safety is on. Then load.
Details. If the magazine's ears are bent apart (can happen with
repeated use), bullets can jam. Check the magazine. Check that the
magazine is fully loaded; too late when in teh field, to find out that
only two bullets were in the magazine.
Then Reuven points out the "line of death." No one steps past it on
the firing range. Never. Stand behind, get ear cover, pick up rifle.
Check rifle. Load. Then, always: hold barrel parallel to ground;
always point towards target; always keep forefinger along barrel until
ready to fire. Always, always. Yet, I am surprised how often,
someone with loaded rifle, turns to ask Reuven or an instructor a
question, with barrel waving in the breeze, finger on trigger.
Perhaps 60 people crowded in here. We are quickly lined up to shoot.
Five standing; five kneeling.
Standing position I recall: about forty-five degree knee bend, feet a
bit beyond shoulder width, right slightly back.
I drop to kneel; forget details. Make a body tripod: right knee drops;
butt on right heel; left elbow rests just forward of left knee; cheek
to stock. Shoot.
Once cocked, the Carbine unloads its clip with each pull. If jammed,
check bolt; resume.
Cartridges fly about; one, still-hot, glances my scalp. The ground is
covered in a hail of .30 cartidges. Two girls reload our magazines.
You could tap dance without taps here.
I go for a second round, realizing that I fired not fully aware of
what I had done. Surprised at the power of the recoil, how much the
barrel rises after each shot and needs to be re-aimed. Concentrate on getting the front sight (a "shin" in hebrew) within the center of the
circular rear sight. With the Carbine, I use my right eye; with the
gun, we learn differently. Do fine with standing shots, then drop to
shoot, with left knee down. Both instructor and I notice that I err.
Correct to right knee, and he gives a slight push to my rump,
encourages me to have a firm seat on my heel. Fire the remaining five
We break before handgun training.
We will shoot on Berrettas and FN, except for those who brought private guns.
Reuven emphasizes the close-range and difficult accuracy of handguns. With good aim, effective to ten meters; every meter beyond, accuracy drops fifty percent, until almost zero likelihood of hitting intended
target at twenty meters. Intended target he emphasizes. A degree off in close range, means about one meter off from near target. He
engraves into our heads that passersby get hit by handguns. Almost
every close-quarter terrorist action has some passerby hit by
After the dry training on gun parts, the rapid draw demonstration, he
keeps it to the point. For handgun, point and shoot. Don't bother
aiming. Point: with forefinger towards target, then into trigger,
then quick bursts. Aim to stop the terrorist.
We move past the line of death, deep into the target range. This is a
shabby concrete outside structure; nothing like the TV versions of
indoor ranges with mobile targets and such. Beyond the targets is a
deep berm of heavy sand (to absorb bullets, prevent ricochet) and
beyond that, concrete wall. The wood posts between the line of death and the far targets are bullet riddled.
This is just to get the feel. No drawing from holsters, no fancy right
elbow at 90 degrees followed by left hand cock and hand rotation 90
degrees to elbow at side. Just stand, grasp right hand with three
fingers on stock, forefinger along barrel, thumb ninety degrees around
the inner stock; left hand three lower fingers wrapped around right
fingers. Stand feet slightly wider than shoulders, elbows slightly
out, triangulating with the gun at the apex of this isosceles. Bring
gun up to eyes, not head down to gun. Fire in burst.
Then, drop to crouch, and fire remaining clip. Each Berretta carries
eight .22 calibers, just a bit more than half the diameter than its
larger cousin, the nine millimeter. Lighter, smaller, the Berretta is
weapon of choice for citizen police. The nine millimeter FN has a
more pronounced recoil; need to get it aimed more, even as I try to
remember to point, shoot bursts.
On the bike ride back, Russell reveals his knowledge and background
about arms. Defying the danger of the traffic, I try to listen. He
goes through technical details; differences between rifle and handgun;
how god made each man different and Samuel Colt made every man
"equal"; how the rifled barrel spins the bullet so that it begins to
spiral outside, enters the body, flipping over itself, creating
greater danger. From him I learn about stopping power. From this
father of four, an engineer, who left South Africa after his mother
was tortured in front of his wife and children. Who lives in this
idyllic Ra'anana. Who, on bike patrol the night before, sees teh
suspicious abandoned bag left by the sidewalk of a bustling
restaurant; the car parked in a bus zone as commuters wait; the
Russian fellow, nervously smoking a cigarette as he waits outside a
money-change store as the owner is just locking up. He notices more
than I see. I admire, but do not envy how much he notices.
What I do notice at the firing range is the absence of machismo. These men and women are here to learn how to shoot; there is no sport in this. There is an air of seriousness without being grim. Stopping power. Sobering.
My friend, Paul told me that the two countries with highest per
capita ownership of firearms are Switzerland and Israel; both have low
homicide rates. Seems a matter of culture and self-control.
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"Seems a matter of culture and self-control."
Yeah, predators always show more "self control" when confronted with prey with sharp teeth.
Congrats on your newfound firearms skills. One fine point of trivia (not important for the practical application of shooting in your situation but still nice to know for reasons explained below) is that the .30 carbines were designated M1 (the classic carbine, WWII era, semiauto), M2 (selective semi/full auto) and M3 (an M2 with an IR-based night vision scope on it). The M4 is a shortened M16, which takes 5.56mm ammo.
Why should you care? Well, .30 carbine ammo won't work in a gun designed for 5.56 and vice versa. In certain circumstances, getting the wrong ammo can cause a very dangerous situation. We always teach students to match the "4 Bs": Barrel, Brass, Box, and Book.
Incidentally, the history of carbines (which are really just shortened rifles - the M1 Carbine is a scaled down M1 Garand; the action is very similar but not identical) goes back much further than paratroopers - its origins were in the days of mounted cavalry.
Again, congratulations both on aliyah and on the skill at arms that you're building. Regardless of whether the training is for sport or for deadly serious business as in your case, I've found firearms studies (and teaching) immensely satisfying and hope you find it likewise.