Thursday, April 5, 2007

Direct Lays

Well, Deke finally got the hard drive he didn't order originally for his Xbox 360 when he went to B@gram this trip. I was playing HALO with Deke, as the @DA test fired their weapons in the background. A few minutes later, Deke's boss poked his head in. He was wearing his go gear, body armored up.

"That wasn't outgoing, guys! Move!"

Well, we ran outside. We were told that a rocket had flown over the base. I got my team out to the pits. Warren and I layed the 81mm in on the spot we were told the rocket had come from, while Grant and Tony layed the 120mm in.

If you aren't familiar with mortars, most often the gun team can't see the target. The gun team is given direction from an observer who has "eyes on" the target. The mortar sight is actually looking at a set of aiming stakes, and makes corrections using those stakes. Mortars are high-angle weapons, and our targets are usually at least hundreds, and often thousands of meters away. A first round hit is virtually impossible and unheard of.

On the rare occasions when a team can actually see the target, they may choose to aim directly at it. In this case, the sight is rotated to face the same direction as the gun tube. When a round is fired, the sight crosshairs are moved to the point of impact, and then shifted back to the desired target. Three rounds to target would be pretty good.

Well, the 120mm mortar fired one round...which hit the middle of our target area, over 2,000 meters away. Perfect. Incredible.

"Lucky shot," sniffed the ratty little warrant officer.

The @DA actually fired some rounds at the mountain, too.

"Give 'em three weeks. They'll be returning fire like 3rd Group," I said.

Later, I went to help Tony shift the gun back onto our projected firing position for the possible night shoot we had scheduled.

"Do you remember the gun data?" I asked him. He laughed.

"I didn't change it. We just have to shift the gun back."

So, Tony hadn't even used the sight. He eyeballed the target and the gun tube, and hit a target over 2,000 meters away with a single shot. This would be about like shooting a rifle and hitting a bullseye 100 meters away- without using the sights, changing this event from incredible to miraculous.


Tam said...

I'd rather be lucky than good, any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

I can find a good guy no matter which way I turn, but I'm picking the lucky guy for my team first. ;)

J.R.Shirley said...

Heh. I want to be good, but lucky don't hurt none. :-D

Matt G said...

Watching Ashley Emerson make first round hits on distant target offhand with various pistols and rifles, we'd regularly remark on his "lucky shots."

...and how it's funny how those that are inherently talented and practice a lot seem to be "lucky" a whole lot of the time...

J.R.Shirley said...

Matt, let me see if I can explain this very simply. The next day, as some of the @DA were talking about it, I said I had never seen a shot like that in three years of active duty.

Brad looked over, and said he hadn't seen a shot like that in twenty years around mortars!