There was this one time, this summer, at band camp, where we spent 15 hours on a machine gun range and only fired the machine guns for a total of 20 minutes.
Yep, more proof that the Army doesn't pay by the hour, and doesn't pay overtime...We headed out to qualify with either the light or heavy machine gun yesterday, and many goats were roped by the time we piled back on the bus at 10:30 p.m. Crafty buggers that the range cadre are, they allayed our suspicions by starting us out quickly and efficiently. We had finished the zero and paper target qualification by about 10 a.m. (I tied for high score.) All we had remaining was shooting at popup targets which were located between 300-800 meters in front of our positions, and a limited visibility familiarization course using a night vision scope. "Ha!" we thought, we'll be back by 5 p.m. at the latest. T'was not to be. The .50 caliber range took forever, so those of us who were waiting to finish and therefore appeared to be less than gainfully employed were pressed into service lugging heavy crates of ammo and brass casings around, preparing the belts of .50 cal rounds, and have our ears assaulted by the constant thunder of heavy machine gun fire. The sound took me back 32 years to being on the tank ranges in Grafenwoehr, Germany...
Finally, at around 3:30 p.m. we were summoned to carry our light machine guns and tripods over to the popup range, where we stood around for another 45 minutes before finally getting to shoot. Once again, I qualified on the first try...which is so ironic, because so far I have shot the best with a weapon my unit doesn't even have, making my efforts almost totally useless. The last step was to shoot with the night vision scope. The range cadre managed to ditz around for an hour, while the wind howled, and sand/dust coated our guns. When it was time to shoot, my gun was so gummed up it wouldn't function. I couldn't get the night scope to work either, so finally said, "Screw it," to the range guy, and wandered back toward the waiting area. The other folks had similar issues. We cleaned our guns, loaded more ammo for the .50 caliber guns, and continued to vegitate until all the ammo had been fired. (This was important to the range staff so that they wouldn't have to turn in any live rounds, which is much more difficult than just turning in casings and empty ammo boxes. Your tax dollars at work, friends.)
After we all got back, uniforms and faces covered in dust and with grimy black hands, someone proposed a "Run for the Border" at the local off-post Taco Bell. (Yep, just the ticket before hitting the sack, eh?) We piled into the van, and returned with bags full of burritos, tacos, and other gut-busting delights. I downed a burrito, and after a long hot shower rolled into bed, where I slept like a baby...waking up every two hours and crying.