Rifle Range
"The M-16A2 Service Rifle is a Lightweight, Magazine Fed, Gas Operated, Air Cooled, Shoulder Fired Weapon!  It fires 5.56mm rounds with a range of 550 Meters Point Target and 800 Meters Area Target!"
-one of the first things that a recruit learns about his rifle.

    From about the third day of training until a few days before graduation, your M-16 is your most constant companion in Boot Camp.  You carry it almost everywhere, you account for it at all times and God help you if you misplace or abuse it.  The importance of this cannot be stressed enough to the recruits; All Marines are first and foremost Riflemen.  Every Marine is responsible for knowing how to shoot and shoot well with their rifle regardless of their rank or MOS.

    This is why Qual Week in Boot Camp is one of the most stressful times.  If you don't qualify on your weapon, you don't continue with your training.  And since you are about three weeks from completing training at this point, there is a lot of pressure on you to pass.
    Qual Day was on a Friday.  We had spent the whole week learning to shoot and sending live rounds down range.  When we weren't shooting, we were in the butts pulling targets and watching the rounds impact against the berm (A barrier made of earth.).   I was lucky since I was on the first relay.  I knew that all I had to do was pass this; we knew what was coming up for the rest of the training and I was confident that I could survive that.  The sun had barely begun to rise when I took my position and started shooting.
    I don't remember many details about the day.  We shot at the 200, 300 and 500 meter mark in all of the firing positions that we were taught.  The Drill Instructors were constantly hounding us when we moved from one mark to the next, the Rifle Instructors were hounding us while we fired.  You might say that things were a little on the stressful side.
    The best moment for me was on the 500-meter mark.  I knew that this was the part that would make or break me.  I got into the prone position and began to sight in on the target.
    Aiming the rifle is a rather simple process.  You have to line the front and rear sights with your target, keep the sights clear and the target blurry.  Folks, I am quite blind without glasses so I was used to staring at things that were blurry.  I am proud to say that I was making head and heart shots on a human sized target at 500 meters.  I passed and remembered the letter that I wrote that day.
"Dear Mom,
    Great news!  I learned that I can shoot a man at 500 meters.  Provided that he is 2 dimensional, made out of paper, standing still and not shooting back.!"

She was quite proud.