Here we go… Yesterday I mentioned briefly about stepping out of my comfort zone. Now, I’m going to share my experience. I was invited to attend “Westie for a day” offered up by the Canadian Forces- now in its 15th year.
Our morning started off in New Westminster at the Armory where we were greeted and signed a waiver. Coffee was offered up and we boarded a charter bus before heading off to Chilliwack. It was a quiet ride on the bus for me. Not many people wanted to speak to a guy with blue hair wearing a Deadpool t-shirt. But I listened to the conversations around me. It sounded like the experience was going to be new for most of the guys on the bus. I also overheard some history of the military in the Lower Mainland and how things have evolved over the years.
We arrived in Chilliwack and were taken to the firing range used by the Armed Forces. We were all here to experience a bit of what the reserves do. Some people, like myself, have never fired a machine gun (maybe it’s a Canadian thing). We were given a quick course showing how to load, unload, and fire the guns. Safety was reiterated over and over. This wasn’t going to be a game.
My friend who invited me was there to help out when it came time to fire the guns. I turned forty a few weeks ago, and now was the time for me to fire my first real gun ever. Not a hand gun, shotgun, or rifle to start. I went straight for the big gun- the C6 Medium Machine Gun.
“Son-of-a-bitch” was the term I was told to use each time I pulled the trigger. That would allow for short bursts of firepower. Damn. The term was accurate for how much force the gun had. It was awesome. 120 rounds went 100 meters in a matter of seconds. I paused a few times to try and adjust my aim. Afterwards, my buddy told me that the gun was “dumbed down” because it was too accurate for a machine gun. The military wanted it to intimidate with a sweep rather than precision shooting. I still did pretty good and got near the target more often than not.
We then went on to fire a C9 light machine gun. My accuracy was improving and I really enjoyed firing this gun. At the end of the familiarization of the use of the guns- I must have looked like a kid at Christmas getting all the gifts I wanted. I was grinning from ear to ear and had a rush of adrenaline pumping through me. Finally, at age 40, I became a man. Lol
We walked back to our transportation and headed for our next location-the Kill House. This is a location being used for the past ten years to train in urban combat and building clearing. We, the civilians, were taken inside and given a demonstration of how the training was done. We were then given the opportunity to try what we had just seen using a C7. We were in groups of three with two instructors assisting us in the Level 4 training exercises. Apparently Level 4 takes years to get to, but we were doing it on the first day, only an hour after using the firing range!
We did a few practice shots & then our group began doing the room clearing exercises. We started slow, to build up a rhythm, and as we went on we worked through the challenge as a team. Best team building experience I have ever had. After about 12-15 room clears, we were becoming cohesive. Darting into a room or hallway, looking around corners, behind doors, and watching each other’s backs was becoming second nature. By the end, we were sweating but didn’t want to stop.
The day ended with dinner and more discussion about the day’s events. As a token of thanks for coming out, we were each given a commemorative coin. We took a bus back to the armory and during the ride I made some new friends. The guy with the blue hair was now being talked with and we were all connected more than when we started our day. My comfort zone has now been expanded and I’m glad for that.
I have a new found respect and understanding for The Canadian Armed Forces Reservists. Seeing and experiencing firsthand what they do and the challenges they meet was eye opening.
Did I mention that I finally fired a gun?