Worst memory turns into best memory of basic training

Fort Jackson, summer of '74, The first day learning about and breaking down the M16A1 rifle. I had no prior experience with any weapon prior to BCT, and while watching the demonstration in a large training room, of the rifle breakdown, saw just how easy it was to open it up and close it with the pins - easy peasy. Well, wouldn't you know it, I connected it wrong, and a keen drill sergeant spotted it right away and made me stand up in front of all four platoons of that BCT Company and hold up my mistake for everyone to see, and be questioned like, "where you from boy?" It didn't matter what you answered with, it was just used to ridicule you and that state even more. Sit down, finally he barked, and I got to hear about that mistake for weeks from drill sergeants and fellow trainees - up until it was time to go to the rifle range for final qualifications. In which I had the best score, not in the platoon or company but the entire training battalion that cycle - hitting 96 out of 100 targets, even being asked if I wanted to consider sniper school after that performance. No, thanks, I said, I'll just wear this Expert Rifle Badge proudly and put to rest those putdowns about me being a dummy with a rifle. I saw country boys with lots of rifle experience barely able to qualify as Marksman, so I think what happened to me, having been so clueless with using a weapon, I put to use everything those drill sergeants taught me about how to shoot it properly, and never tuned out again about that weapon after the first-day debacle with it. I learned to hate and love drill sergeants for that.

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