Friday, December 17, 2010

The Rifle: A Great Way to Make Friends in Afghanistan

As I get ready to actually do my job in Afghanistan I noticed that military personnel have doubts about whether geographers have the necessary skills to survive in Afghanistan (which is understandable).  To put fears of incompetence to rest I decided to "battle zero" the rifle I was issued and show them how capable a shot I am.  The BZ test adjusts a rifle's sights to each user so a shooter can actually hit the target.  I went outside to a local range where I was all alone.  In the process of battle zeroing the rifle fired off a magazine of thirty rounds.  By the time I was finished another American showed up.  Apparently it was a slow day for him and the sound of rifle fire at the range attracted him.  We chatted about weapons when two Afghan National Police (ANP) officers appeared.  They also heard the sound of the rifle and wanted to join me in shooting off rounds.  I politely decline because I only brought one magazine with me.  They presented another clip to me and told me to "put the rifle on fun."  Taking that to mean fully automatic I reloaded and fired off thirty rounds in a series of burst at the target.  The ANP then took turns pointing out targets on the range and trying their best to one up with each other.  Another ANP officer appeared and joined in on the fun.  After a few more rounds of this I had to head back.  However, I made several new friends in the process and have been invited to shoot off more rounds whenever I want.  I in turn promised to bring snacks as gifts to whoever wants to join me in a shooting competition.  The rifle has proven to be a great way to make friends in Afghanistan.

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