Dad served in the Air Force in the late 1950s, and his basic training rifle qualification was with a M1 Carbine. The flip up sight was a problem for him. Every time he fired the recoil would hit the sight against the brim of his cap, knocking the sight out of alignment. Hindsight tells him he should have turned his cap around, but he still qualified. He said the group was ok, if off center.
Dad did a good deal of his service in New Mexico, working on F-100 Super Sabers as an Airman mechanic. One of his fun jobs was to inspect, pre-flight, the turbine blades. This involves crawling into that big intake hole at the front of the plane, and crawling so far into the plane that your feet disappear. Needless to say, this can cause some consternation. What if someone starts up the engine, ignorant that you are in there, and chopping you up into Julien Fries right before flash-grilling you? Simple solution. Bring a flashlight (to see) and a claw hammer. Put the claw hammer in the blades while you inspect and leave it there until just before you crawl back out, and you are safe as houses. But that story isn’t so gun related.
Here’s one that sort of is. Landing gear tires are inflated to very high PSI, and the wheel isn’t like the wheel on a tire. It’s essentially 2 disks held together with bolts. If you don’t bleed off the pressure and loosen those bolts you could eat a big metal disk. When demonstrating this danger to new mechanics they set up a manikin in front of a landing gear wheel and tire and remove most of the bolts and ramp up the pressure until the bolts fail. The manikin gets a bust in the chops and the new wrench jockeys learn a valuable lesson. unless, you ramp up the pressure a bit too fast and can’t stop it. Then you get a heavy metal disk pulverizing a manikin and sailing a mile and a half across the New Mexican desert, like a death Frisbee. Now, if only you could aim those disks…
One job, when working on airplane, is to let the ordnance guys render all the things that go “Boom!” safe before letting the mechanics out. This covers the obvious things like bombs and rockets and missiles, but other things as well. Like the 3 inch shell under the ejection seat. The old style ejection seats didn’t use a little rocket, they used the propellant for what was normally artillery. It wasn’t very friendly to the pilot when he ejected, often severely injuring his back and other things, but the alternative (crashing and dying) was less appealing. Well, the ordinance guys are SUPPOSED to take care of this deadly hazard. And my dad’s crew assumed they did. Dad was working on something low on airplane, and a buddy was straddling the top, above the cockpit. This buddy’s job was to take out the seat. Well, it didn’t slid out so he pulled it a bit harder. It was still stuck so he pulled on it yet harder and…
And everyone’s eyes went to the hangar roof, expecting to see a man sized hole up there. There wasn’t, fortunately. The ordinance guys had disarmed the 3 inch shell, but they had overlooked the little charge that starts the parachute deployment. This small charge was what went off when the seat came free. My dad’s buddy was white as a sheet and everyone was too polite to see if his pants were damp or… ‘heavy.’ But other than the scare he has unharmed. I guess the first rule applies: All Ejection Seats are Always Loaded…
Being stationed in New Mexico in the middle of nowhere, there was nothing much for an impoverished young man to do for distraction. But there were lots of jack rabbits that were considered pests by the local ranchers, and there was a bounty on each dead rabbit brought in.
This is where my father’s gun stories come from.
Him and the buddies would go out with lever action .22s in an old pickup truck, a gunner at each window and 3 in the back, blazing away. Dad sold off the rifle because he didn't know how he'd be able to hitch-hike home from New Mexico with it. I wonder if it was a Marlin Model 39?
Also in New Mexico, Dad got to shoot an old style cowboy revolver. .45 Colt. At a pawn shop he almost bought a .22 pistol, it MAY have been a Colt Woodsman, but the magazine didn't insert well. A buddy went back and just found the grips screwed on too tightly, so Dad missed out. Ah well. Water under the bridge.
Here is the same story, straight from the horses mouth:
"Never have shot a pistol at fixed paper targets, I don't have a feel as to extent of difficulty. My very limited experience was shooting at tin cans and a few jack rabbits in New Mexico. One was a very big 45 six shooter and the other was a 22. I almost bought a 22 with included two clips (I believe held 9 each) and holster that had pouch for the extra clip. When I looked at it at the pawn shop the clip would not slide out very well. So I decided not to buy it. My friend decided he would look at it and found it was just that the grips were screwed on too tight and he bought it. Oh well. I did buy a lever action 22 rifle, but left it in New Mexico with the people that I would go out hunting for jack rabbits. Couldn't figure a good way to transport it home."