The first time I laid my hands on the M16 (History of M16 On Gunivore.com) I was 17 years old. I was never too much into weapons, but I had nothing to do that day. It was summer, and I was bored, and my father asked me if I wanted to tag along with him and his buddies.
Normally, I wouldn’t have said yes. But then he said those magic words: “maybe Darrel will let you shoot his M16”. Like I said, I was never really into weapons, but on a whim I decided that that might be very cool. It was.
We arrived at the outdoor range, which was made up to look like a desert area. Obviously, I had seen a lot of shooting, etc., in movies, but this was nothing like that, and I mean that in the best possible way.
The television and movie screen cannot transfer that sense of tension and excitement that passes through you when you first pick an assault rifle. I don’t know if this is true to other kinds of weapons, but I felt a tingle at the base of my spine when I picked that AR-15 up.
Darrel taught me how to aim, how to get in touch with all contact points, and how to stabilize myself. I shot ten or so rounds, and it was awesome. That first one which you sling down the range, when you don’t know how the recoil is going to hit you or when the bullet is going to be free of the chamber – I mean wow, what a feeling. It is seriously one of the most exhilarating activities out there which doesn’t include another person (nudge nudge).
Darrel taught me a bit about the AR-15 while he was cleaning it, afterwards. I don’t remember too much of his exact words, but I recall him telling me that the plans for the M16 nearly ended up in the trash because the U.S. wasn’t at war at the time that the creators of the rifle were thinking it up. Talk about bad timing, huh? But no fear! On average, the U.S. has had a major war once a generation, at least. The Vietnam war was what really pushed the M16 forward, and made it so very popular. Colt did the same thing with the civilian AR-15, earlier.
I watched Darrel clean his rifle, and I asked my father why he doesn’t shoot one as well. He has been carrying a Glock 19 for as long as I can remember, and he said he was satisfied with it. He didn’t feel the need to buy or carry any other weapon. I found out later that he kept a small .38 Special (that he got from his father) in his bedroom bureau.
But anyway, back to the AR-15. Shooting it wasn’t some era-defining moment in my life or anything, but I remember it clear enough, so I suppose it made some kind of a long-lasting impression. The scent of sweat and gunpowder is another thing which television and movie screens have yet to transfer properly to a viewing audience.