The Grey Man, Part 2…

By popular demand (e.g. yelling screaming and a bunch of emails)…

Part 2…

At 5pm all the competitors gathered in the clubhouse to hear the course of fire layout for the competition tomorrow.  Since most of the teams had shot together either at this match or others, there was the usual babble of noise, backslapping and insults flying back and forth.  The old man hit the coffee pot again and he and Jesse slipped into the back row of chairs and sat quietly, just watching the interplay.

An older gent walked to the front of the room and banged on the table for attention.  “All right gentlemen, shaddap, siddown and lets get this show on the road. I’m Kyle Edwards and I’m the RO for this little get together and I want to get all this info out now and make sure y’all don’t have any questions.  Everyone here is either military or law enforcement, so if you’re carrying that is not a problem.  The entire COF will be considered a hot range the entire time.  However, if you exhibit unsafe behavior, you will be DQ’ed immediately and without recourse.  All RSOs will be open carrying, will be in red shirts, and will be positioned at each station.”

Walking to the front row, he handed a stack of papers to the first man on the row, saying, “Take one and pass em down; here’s the layout of the course, it’s a seven klick course, fifteen stages, starting and ending here at the range.“

Walking back to the table, he clicked the computer and the COF popped up on the back wall.  He continued, “First and last stages are on the range here. Total target count is forty seven, with shot opportunities for both shooter and spotter depending on how you want to run your teams.

Pacing back and forth, Kyle continued, “In addition to the RSOs there will be two scoring persons at each position, they will be in white event shirts and WILL NOT, lemme say that again, WILL NOT tell you your scores on any stage.  That’s what your spotter is for.”

“When you come to the line tomorrow, you must have everything you will need to complete the entire COF, including weapons, what ever round count you need or want, water, batteries or anything else.  The first stage here will be a cold bore shot at 100 yards for each member of the team. You will then proceed onto the course out the left exit from the firing line.  You will be responsible for navigation to each stage, and once there you will get specific engagement parameters from the RSO at that point.  There will probably be a few spectators at some of the stages.  Now I’ll tell ya, this first stage is the ONLY stage that is an exact range; so it’s shooter beware, and ya better know your equipment.  Lasers are approved, since everybody and their brothers have one now, and the scoring is as follows.”

Picking up a paper off the table and clicking the computer to the next slide, Kyle read, “Anything less than 300 yards will have a one half MOA ten slash X ring, and four more one half MOA rings outside those.  Maximum score is ten points, going down by two points per ring.  Over three hundred yards, will have a one MOA ten slash X ring, and four more one MOA rings outside of those. If the spotter is shooting those sizes are doubled.  If you get movers or swingers, they will have a one MOA X ring and a two MOA ten ring, and those will also be doubled if the spotter takes those shots.  The final standings will be based on a combination of time to complete the course and scoring for the shots.”

The old man and Jesse looked over the COF paper that had finally made it to the back row. It was set up with compass courses and distances from stage to stage, overlayed on a topo map of the area, but no specific information on each stage. Tracing the route with his finger the old man chuckled, saying, “Well, we’re not gonna win this one honey, it’s up down and around, with some pretty steep climbs just prior to the stages, so we’re gonna get beat on the time. But maybe we can outshoot a few of these young bucks.”

Smiling, Kyle looked out over the room, “Now we DID bring y’alls favorite stage back from last year.”

And was interrupted by groans, and grumbling including one, “Fucking DOTS, gahdam,” from the shooters.

Kyle laughed, “Yes sir, it’s the dots again, stage seven, on top of the ridge, and you’ll draw for colors.  Now those are all one MOA targets, but you gotta get ten of them out of each target.“

Jesse leaned over to the old man, “Dots Papa?”

“I don’t know Jesse, but I’m guessing it’s not going to be a fun stage. Probably something like a dot torture target, but colored dots and something else thrown in. And if it’s on top of a ridge, wind’s going to play a part.”

Tracing the route again he laughed softly, “Damn that is almost a vertical climb to get to stage seven, THAT is gonna hurt.”

Concerned with the course and elevation changes, Jesse asked, “Papa, are you going to be okay doing these? I’m mean this is a lot of walking, climbing and all; and you’re not exactly young anymore.”

“Hell Jesse, this is no worse than a typical day on the ranch, and I’m not in that bad a shape.  This is all about heart rate, breath control, and knowing when to take a shot.” We’re not going to win, but I don’t believe we’ll be last either.”

Kyle held up a card and waved it at the room, “Here is your time card, you will be required to keep this with you at all times tomorrow, and here’s how we will run this.  On command, you will punch the clock to start stage one, do your shots and proceed to the next stage. At each stage you will clock in and hand your card to the RSO.  He or she will brief you on the engagement and when you have received the brief, you will clock back in and shoot the stage, then proceed.  If, as has happened before, we have more than one team on a stage at the same time; you will not be put back on the clock until the previous team has completed the stage, so the time waiting will not be held against you.   Remember, it’s cumulative time and score, so if you forget to clock in at each stage, you’ll be adding time that could cost ya.”

Kyle leaned against the table and looked out over the teams, “Now the last things before the BBQ is, we’re going to do a low light night shoot starting at 1900 as a bonus shoot, so participation is NOT mandatory; but we’ll have some fun with it.  The other thing is show time is 0800 tomorrow morning for check–in and breakfast; and we will have two presentations that you are welcome to attend on optics and long range shooting, and new technology rifles and bullets and their impact on long range shooting.  These are being sponsored by American Snipers dot org, and y’all might find them informative. Now the food’s out back, go eat!”

At that point, the room erupted into noise and movement as folks headed for the doors to get in line for the BBQ. The old man and Jesse hung back, and didn’t take part in any of the byplay going on.  Matt walked over, and Jesse asked, “What is the dot thing he was talking about?”

Matt shuddered, “It’s… damn diabolical that’s what it is.  It’s about 100 dots on a board, but they are NOT all circles, they are various shapes, but all of em have dots IN them. And the colors are mixed all over the board, you get up there, draw a color and then each of you will have to hit five dots to clear the stage.  There is no ammo limit, but you DO have to hit all ten to clear the stage successfully.  Last year some folks ran out of ammo trying to clean that stage, and basically DQ’ed themselves, but they were allowed to finish.  Last year it was about a hundred ten yards, so just enough off that people were dropping shots low.”

“So, one minute of angle at one hundred-ish yards is roughly one inch, and you’re expected to hit five of five each?”

Matt replied, “Yep, first thing is range the target and then go high or low from there.  I’ve got incremental dope for 25 yard intervals all the way out to a thousand yards, since I screwed that last year.”

Jesse turned to the old man, “Papa, we don’t have anything but a hundred yard dope! What are we going to do?”

Grinning at her and Matt, he said slyly, “Why we’ll have to improvise, adapt and overcome.”

Matt burst out laughing and just pointed a finger at the old man, “You got me with that one!”

Chatting quietly they moved through the line and picked up plates of BBQ, the old man jerked his head, and he and Jesse went back to the truck, unlocking the tailgate, they sat on it and ate the BBQ and fixins.  After they’d finished, he looked at Jesse, “Well, do you want to try this night shoot hon?  Or do you want to blow it off and go back and get some sleep?”

“Papa, I don’t care, but if we ‘need’ bonus points, I’m all for it, and shooting tonight would give us an idea of what they might do to us on the stages.”

“Good point, but lets reserve judgment until we see what they’ve got up their sleeves.”

Getting up, Jesse grabbed the plates and headed back to the clubhouse, asking over her shoulder, “Coffee?”  The old man just nodded.

After a restroom break, Jesse hit the coffee pot, getting two cups and putting .50 cents in the can.  As she was turning away, Kyle smiled and held out his hand, “Miss, I’d just like to welcome you to this shoot, and I’m gonna apologize ahead of time for the language you’re gonna hear the next couple of days.  I’m kinda surprised y’all came all the way from Texas for this, but you won’t get the long distance award, cause that’s going to the team from England.”

Jesse smiled, “Well, I’m a ranch girl, so I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all that before, and I’ve probably USED most of them at one time or another. Papa decided he wanted to do one last shoot, so this is kinda his swan song, so to speak.  And before you ask, no he’s not my real papa, but he raised me from the time I was seven after my parents were killed.  So I call him Papa, since he’s really the only papa I’ve known most of my life. Here are my creds, and yes I really AM a deputy sheriff in Texas, albeit a reserve, but I do 40 hours a month of patrol or operations.”

Kyle handed the credentials back, abashed, “Well, I never doubted your creds, but some of the old farts around here were questioning how old you were, and whether you really were an LEO. I’ll straighten them out now.”

Jesse just looked at Kyle, “I’m twenty three, I went through the academy at twenty one, and was immediately brought on as a reserved when I graduated.  You gotta understand, our county is forty seven hundred square miles, and a population of a tad over fifteen thousand folks; and the total Sheriff’s department only has twenty full time officers on patrol, DPS has eleven, and we have ONE game warden.  When you figure a four to one ratio, that means any given time there are a total of five Sheriff’s department and one DPS on patrol in the entire county, so a bunch of us reserves are almost always available as backup or to take a call if it’s close to our place.  Otherwise it could take twenty or twenty five minutes for an officer to get from one side of the county to the other, and that’s running balls out since it’s almost sixty miles across the county.”

Kyle didn’t reply, and Jesse continued, “Any ‘other’ questions Mr. RO?”

Kyle just shook his head, “No Ma’am, not a one. Somehow I think you’re going to surprise some folks tomorrow.”

Jesse carried the coffee back to the truck and handed one of the cups to the old man.  They sat and drank the coffee as others started filtering into the parking lot and getting gun cases from the various vehicles.  Jesse looked over, “Well Papa?”

Throwing the rest of the coffee on the ground the old man got up, rolled his shoulders and said, “Let’s go see if we can do this hon.”

They grabbed the rifle cases, and Jesse threw the binoculars and range finder into the shoulder bag, and they walked back up to the range.  It looked like every team was there, and there were rifles of every possible configuration sitting on the benches. They added theirs to the end of the bench, and filtered to the back of the group.

“Thunk, thunk, y’all hear me?” Kyle asked over the range PA, “Okay, you’ll be shooting in order of team entry. Here’s the scenario, you’re responding to a call, and have to stop short of the scene.  The caller states there are four unknowns with guns, and his wife and daughter are being held hostage by two of them, the others have fired at him from out of the darkness. They are holding them just over the berm.  You’ve got to cover fifty yards, with two unknowns holding two hostages at something estimated at around one hundred yard range.  There are two other unknowns somewhere in that fifty yard stretch that you can engage with either pistol or rifle, your choice.”

“If you’re not on the line, please remain behind the back bench, and feel free to sit in the bleachers. Oh yeah, and we will not post the times for tonight’s shoot until the dinner tomorrow night, in case we need them for tie breakers.”

Team after team rolled through the scenario until it was the old man and Jesse’s turn.  They picked up their rifles and walked over to the car sitting on the line.  The old man looked at Jesse, “You’ve got the left, I’ll take the right, two yard offset going down range.”  Jesse nodded.

The RSO introduced himself, “Hi, I’m John and I’ll be your RO for this run.  If you want to load your rifles please don’t put a round in the chamber.  Place them in the trunk so you can get to them quickly, and set what ever else you need where you can get to it.  Eyes and ears ahead of time, go strap into the seats, and when you’re ready, I’ll hit the timer. In two to four seconds you’ll get the beep, and then it’s on you.  I’ll be following you to catch the rounds fired, and record your total time.  Please don’t muzzle me or each other as you go down range.  Any questions?”

The old man and Jesse looked at each other and shook their heads.  Walking around the car they got in and buckled up.  John stepped to the window, “Shooters ready?”

In the stands, Matt and Aaron both reached for their watches, ready to hit the timers.  They knew from timing their runs, and most of the others, they were in pretty good shape, and were confident they’d both gotten at least 10 rings if not x’s on the targets and they had cleared the poppers fairly quickly.

The old man nodded, John hit the timer, and three seconds later the beep sounded.  They both cleared the car, Jesse pulled the trunk open and grabbed her shoulder bag, threw it over her shoulder and picked up her rifle as the old man cleared the back of the car.  He grabbed his rifle and they started jogging down range with John following.

Jesse offset to the left to keep from muzzling the old man and scanned ahead and left.  There definitely wasn’t a lot of light and after about twenty-five yards she began to get nervous about when the unknowns were going to show.  Suddenly the poppers erupted from the ground ahead and to the left and right of the line. Both Jesse and the old man drew and fired without breaking stride. The boom of the .45 and crack of the .357 sounding almost simultaneously.

Re-holstering on the run and they continued jogging to the shooter box.  Both went down prone, the old man scanning for the targets and calling, “Two up left one is a tighter shot, target right.  I’ll take it; you take the right one, target left.” Jesse responded, “Left target 109 yards, right target 118 yards. Going to the gun.”

“Up, on the right Papa.”

“On three- One, two, three…”  Two cracks sounded almost simultaneously again, and John hit the timer.

In the stands, Matt and Aaron hit their timers on their watches, and just looked at each other.  They had just been trounced by almost ten seconds.

“Damn, how’d they do that Matt,” Aaron asked?

Shaking his head Matt replied, “Well they didn’t have to stop and fumble with the holsters like we did, and they didn’t waste any time. They just went out and got it done.

The RO stepped up to the old man and Jesse, “Unload and show clear on the rifles please, keep your pistols holstered, flashlight coming on,” John said.  The old man and Jesse got up, unloaded and showed clear chambers to John.

The scorer putted by on his ATV as the old man and Jesse walked back to the line.  John was looking at his timer and shaking his head, of all the teams he’d RSO’ed tonight, this team was the fastest at 32.2 seconds by at least a 10 second margin.  Now the question was how good were the shots they took?  As they walked back, John took a can of white spray paint out of a pant pocket, and went to the poppers to spray the hit.  Jesse looked at the old man’s popper, “Head shot? Or was that an accident Papa,” she said with a grin.

The old man smiled, “Of course, am I going to see a body shot on yours?”

“Nah, right eye Papa.”

They walked to the other popper, and sure enough Jesse’s shot was close enough to be called a right eye shot.  John just shook his head and sprayed the target.  They walked back to the line in silence, and thanked John for RO’ing for them. They went straight to the truck, put the rifles away and headed to the hotel.

John was surprised they didn’t ask about their scores, but then again, they weren’t the ‘normal’ team that was here.  He went over to the scoring table, showed the lady the timer, and she whistled. John cocked his head and looked at her, “What was that for Merle?”

“Well, they’re second fastest, and based on their shots, they’re actually leading.  How good were the hits on the poppers?”

“Merle, they were jogging, and I don’t think either one even broke stride, two head shots, and they just kept on trucking.  How good were the shots?”

“X and a ten ring John.”

“Damn, and she’s shooting a lever gun Merle!”

To be Continued…


The Grey Man, Part 2… — 32 Comments

  1. This one is starting to read like Fenimore Cooper, not that that’s a bad thing. 😉

  2. And?

    Dang, this is the one thing I hate about serials. The waiting.


  3. I’ll have to look up some of the acronyms, but I’m following along with Quick Draw McGarw and his lil misses. Waiting on more.

  4. Who told you you could stop Sailor?
    Hit the desk and don’t stop till I tell you to!
    Do you read me Mister?

  5. Thanks NFO , Keep them coming as you can .. Damn good story telling .

  6. Very nice handling of the “papa” issue. Now, get busy and get ‘er done. Your audience awaits.

  7. Very well done……eagerly awaiting the next installment.

    Are we there yet?

    Are we there yet?

  8. Bob/Michael- Thanks!

    BGM- writing as fast as I can…

    Alan/Spike/Bill- Thanks!

    CP- Sorry about that, I ‘thought’ I had most of them explained…

    Gerry- Aye Aye sir… 🙂

    FD/Rev- Thanks!

    DaddyH- Thanks and yes sir…

    DB/ACz- Thank you

    WSF/Rick- Working on it…

    Ben- Thanks!

    Len- Do I have to pull this car over??? 😀

  9. Dang, Jim. You hit me right in the gut when you mentioned Jesse’s parents deaths. That opened some old memories that I had closed off many t/years ago, as I lost my mother at age 8, & was raised by my father’s parents. Had to shed a few tears for her, which was cathartic for me as well, and gave me a greater appreciation for her and her “Papa”.

    BZ, and anxiously awaiting more.

  10. A-N-T-C-I-P-A-T-I-O-N It’s driving me crazy!!!

  11. Have you ever thought of a career as a writer???? PLEASE!

  12. I had the pleasure of sharing this story and the Challenge Coin prelude with my daughter this evening. She’s been out of the Navy for about 6 months and is also an avid shooter. She powered through all 3 episodes on her i-Phone after dinner and is DEMANDING more…..along with a polite request to learn more about Jesse. 🙂

    I passed her along to LawDog and Ambulance Driver to keep her busy, but very shortly I’m going to have an impatient ex-sonar tech with a gun who needs her next fix.

    I’ll gladly make a donation to the liquor cabinet if it will increase the literary output…….

  13. Alan- Thanks!

    XSM3- Didn’t intend to trip memories, thanks.

    Ev- Working on it.

    Rick- Can’t leave my day job… just sayin…

    Brighid- Thursday

    Len- Tell her I said yes dear, and standby one… 🙂 I need a 36 hour day, if you could do that???

    Timm- Thanks!

  14. This is really getting to be fun. Keep it coming when you can!

  15. It’s ok Jim. I wasn’t complaining, just startled at how severe my reaction was. Apparently Katherine Truman’s book “FEELINGS BURIED ALIVE NEVER DIE” was right.

    As they say in Iceland, “eke svetna”, which literaly means don’t perspire, or as we Navy types say, don’t sweat it.

    Since I’m a new poster here, you are probably wondering what xS3mdrvr means. Try ex Space Shuttle Simulator driver.
    I really wanted to be a Navy helicopter pilot, but became an ET instead, which opened up a 35+yr aerospace career, which included 5yrs on the Space Shuttle Simulator project.
    Not too bad a trade-off.