It was the middle of winter in early 1966 when I was grunting through my eighth and last week of basic at Fort Hood, Texas. Our platoon was awakened at dawn and informed we were spending the morning qualifying on the M-14 (M-16s weren't issued yet).
In my mind, this was do-or-die time since I wasn't the most athletic, agile and skilled trainee in my platoon for the first seven weeks. I knew that if I failed, there was always the chance I could be "recycled," the most dreaded word uttered during the ordeal.
We marched out to the pop-up target shooting range in the base boonies, and were ordered to find a foxhole and jump into it. The weapon issued to me for the day had a noticeably bent barrel requiring major sight alignment and compensation. To add to the "fun", the qualification range was shrouded in a layer of fog that covered the field like a thick white blanket.
When the timed shooting commenced, I nervously took aim and waited for the pop-up targets to pop up. Imagine my amazement when I couldn't see any of them. My DI, who was standing over me with his trusty clipboard, yelled (he never spoke in any other tone): "Just shoot, Goldberg, just shoot!" To this day, I have no clue whether I hit any of the targets. All I know is that his last words to me after the shooting was over were: "I hope I don't have to be in the same foxhole with you when we get to 'Nam."
The good news is: I received a marksman medal (don't ask me how), I didn't go to 'Nam, and the only weapon I used during my three years in the Army was a typewriter.