Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Watching Bullets

The post yesterday got me to thinking and reminiscing about the few times I've seen bullets fly.  That post yesterday was the first time I watched a bullet fly all the way to the target, but there have been other times that I've seen bullets fly.

Of course, tracer rounds, from every caliber from 5.56 to 120mm.  Tracers don't count.

Back in 1974 I was at Fort Riley, KS, and went through an artillery familiarization, to show non-artillery types how a firing battery works  We worked the Fire Direction Center, then went out to the guns, reviewed the sighting system, then did a crew drill on the guns.  On firing one round, I happened to look at the muzzle, and watched a 105mm round leave the gun.  For just a second I followed it as it sailed across a cerulean blue sky.

And mortar rounds, of course.  I used to be fairly adept at seeing a 4.2" mortar round on it's terminal plunge.  I'd ask the other soldiers if they could see the round just before impact.  Some of them could, some of them couldn't.

Studying long range riflery, many of us have seen the "trace" of a bullet as it displaces the air around it, especially on a humid morning.  We're not looking at the bullet, but we're seeing the air around it move.  It's pretty cool if you've never seen it.

Once, years ago, a bunch of us were qualifying for the yearly police quals, and we were on an outdoor range in north Louisiana.  The weather threatened to be hot, as Louisiana summers are, and the folks wanted to get done early before heat exhaustion became an issue.  We got started early, and as I was watching the line, I noticed sparkling downrange.  I realized that the targets were oriented to the west, and the rising sun was coming in over the shooters left shoulder.  What I was seeing was the sun glinting off the base of the bullet as it flew to the target.

Pretty cool stuff, sometimes.


Old Grafton said...

As a Service Rifle competition shooter I've watched and called "trace" many times for a team-mate, and if at any time the sun is low behind you, the reflection off the bullet bases may sometimes be seen. Shooting .45 ACP from pistols and carbines is a hoot anytime but under those light conditions it's like watching golden bumblebees zipping downrange. The shooter might not see it due to recoil but an observer will almost always get to see the "bees" especially if shooting at longer-than-usual ranges, like 50 yards or more. LOL

Old NFO said...

Yep, fun times! :-) And we joked they were 'golden BBs' we were watching... Traces work well for spotting shots at long range.

pigpen51 said...

off topic, but my uncle was a lifer in the army, and he was stationed at Ft. Riley. I actually visited him in Junction City in Nov. 1977.

He was a communications electrician. He was lucky enough to end up in both Korea and Vietnam. He never saw any combat in Vietnam, but did have a few stories about Korea. Like the time shooting a Chinese soldier in the chest 3 times at 100 yards with an M-1 carbine who did not just fall over like he should have. My uncle was not impressed.

He used to visit us in MI often and hunt white tail deer with us in November. He hated cold, as he had gone into the Yalu (sp?) river in Korea in winter and his feet never recovered. But the stories he told to us when I was a teenager from an army lifer who had been to every corner of the world were unforgettable.

He unfortunately has passed from lung cancer brought on we think from exposure to Agent Orange in Nam, but of course, he was also a smoker, so who knows. I do know that he said that when they sprayed it, the stuff would get on their ponchos like rain. And the next day, the vegetation would be just down, like someone had cut it.

I remember him fondly and with pride, and so it is with great thanks that I wish to remember you for your service to our country and for bringing to mind my dad's little brother, and many great memories of my younger years, and a much simpler time.
May you and yours have a great fall and happy holidays.