Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Target Shooting at Sea

One of the things that was occasionally done was to inflate something very large, like a weather balloon, and drop it over the side. It could then be used as a target at longer ranges.

So one day, a ship I was riding on did that. I was riding it to conduct and observe some tests.[1] Since the ship was independently transiting, I didn't have much to do, so I went topside to watch the shooting.

One of the weapons that the sailors were shooting at the balloon was a M-79 "Bloopergun".

They were firing blue rounds.[2] The balloon was off the starboard side at maybe 300 yards or so and the ship was steaming around the balloon in sort of a lazy circle. Most of the sailors were missing to the left of the balloon.

I said something to one of my fellow shipriders along the lines of: "That thing is a big as a barn and they can't hit it."

The gunner's mate senior chief must have overheard me, for he spun around, fixed me with his patented Goat Locker Stare and said: "Maybe you'd like to give it a try, Ma'am."

"Thank you, Senior Chief, I'd like that." So I went over there and he gave me a fifteen second checkout on the controls of the M-79. I checked to make sure that the windage adjustment was centered, then I shouldered the weapon, aimed and fired.

The dummy warhead splashed right in front of the balloon. The senior chief's jaw dropped and he said something along the lines of: "Goddammit, Lieutenant, how'd you do that?"

"Easy," I said, as I handed the Bloopergun back to him. "The balloon isn't moving, the ship is. So you gotta lag the target, not lead it."

Don't ask me about recoil, I don't remember it kicking that much. What I should have done, though, was to ask for the cartridge case as a souvenir, and I didn't do that.
[1] Never you mind what kind of tests. If I were to tell you, I really would have to kill you.
[2] The projectiles were inert.


Jimh. said...

Ah, c'mon, Comrade! You can tell us! We'll keep it to ourselves!!!

kaigun said...

I got to pop off a few rounds on a M-79 once on my first ship. The recoil was minimal as I remember. I don't know if my last ship still had any M-79s. We did have a Mk 19 auto grenade launcher mounted just aft of the bridge wing.

Comrade Misfit said...

I'm not kidding about that, by the way. The confidentiality agreement I signed with the government permits them to go after me if I blab about classified materials. I agreed that they can use any means necessary, "legal or otherwise."

You can speculate on what "or otherwise" means.

Anonymous said...

Good one!