Homage (Part 3 of 6)


SEALs I served with- There were always guys that could beat me at rifle and pistol, and there still are I’m sure. I learned a lot from those guys, they know who they are. Some will get out and maybe get into this line of work I’m in; others will retire to some spot and farm for a living in obscurity. I’ve been lucky and the boys have had me back a few times this past year to hone them before they go. I am truly honored they think of me for training, I look forward to more. I am amazed at how well they shoot carbine, it’s sick. Shooting athletes is what they are. You’re fucked if they’re coming.

Recognition must go to the BUD/S and sniper instructors of the 1990’s. Those guys formed the nucleus of performers that would go to Afghanistan and Iraq. If these wars are ever written about, you’ll see the almost mind boggling performance of these men. A SEAL sniper with 160 + kills, 10 man teams that changed entire battle fronts, etc. etc. “Long Live The Brotherhood”

Special Forces brothers – Again, they know who they are. In particular the guys from 3rd SFG and the snipes from SOTTIC/Range 37 who’ve opened my eyes to new sniper stuff. Some of our SF brethren have done the same unbelievable battlefield feats and sometimes more. Again, one day hopefully everybody will know.

It all boils down to one simple task; shooting well under stress – performing.

I could write a story a day for a year of the military guys that helped me shoot better, but that would take forever. Funny enough, all the stories have the same features. I chose this one because it was my first instance of having to perform under pressure.

Pooster the Rooster –
was a CWO 3 or 4 when I first met him in 1996. I was a new guy at ST-8 with maybe a year under my belt and he had just transferred in and was overall in charge of ordnance. He had spent a large amount of his career at ST-6 as a sniper and he and his modified M-14 (more on that later) had participated in Grenada at the Governor’s mansion among other things. He was a distinguished marksman with rifle, and still shot competitively every so often.

I very much wanted to go to sniper school and at the time there were only maybe 3 or 4 slots per Team available, so there was usually a shoot off of sorts to get in. Pooster decided that he would take all the guys who wanted to go and get us ready to see who would go. At the time, upon arrival at sniper school you had to pass the Navy qual 3 out of 5 times or you got sent back. Easy, right? Well, we do it at 200 yds, not 25 simulated, and pass meant that you had to shoot expert 3 times in a row! That’s 170 or above, and you had to do it with an iron sighted, completely stock, Colt, Model 727 carbine with A059 – Green Tip, no mag on the deck either- off the elbows old style with a sling. The qual target for that test is the 200 yd “5V”. The difficulty in the test was that the bull was only 12”, and the “4” ring was, I think, maybe 4” thick. So almost everything had to be in the black by the time you got to standing or there was mathematically no way to get 170. Remember to that there were 2 rapid fire strings and this made for some real nervous and excited frogmen.

So Pooster took us out to various ranges around the beach for 2 weeks teaching us the fundamentals of marksmanship and showing us the trade secrets of a competitive rifle shooter. Because he was a Warrant and could do whatever the fuck he wanted, he dictated times, vehicles, etc. I noticed the first week that every time it was a real nice day he would break us early, around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. On one of those days he told me to ride with him instead of taking one of the gov trucks back with the boys. I figured that was not good and I was gonna hear the same old thing about being too young, blah, blah, blah (I was still 19 about to turn 20).

Instead Pooster drove to a golf course. “We’ve got time for nine. Do you golf?” “No”, I said. On the first hole he asked me how far I thought it was to the green. “Maybe 150” I said. “Close enough for a hit, its 175” he said. Throughout the 9 holes I naked eye range estimated various objects and learned about mirage and basic wind direction. This outing happened a few more times on various courses around the beach.

During the last few days of the last week, we shot the qual a lot of times to get used to it. Pooster never shot his own rifle, but would routinely ask me where I held, how is my zero, how good are your eyes, all these questions about my gun and how I’m shooting it. On the next to last day, we shot 2 quals for score. I won the first with a 193 and got myself a slot to sniper school. Pooster asked for my rifle (which he had never shot), ran the qual again and shot it with the guys who needed to shoot again…… he scored a 199.

He also gave me his match M-14 (sans scope) to shoot during the NRA rifle quals we were required to do. Sweetest shooting gun in the fleet, no shit. There were guys from NMU who had heard about that gun and wanted it bad. I knocked out a few 650s with it.

Pooster was one of the first Warrant Officer 5s in the Navy, and for good reason. I saw him again years later in Afghanistan. Me and my team hit an IED and lost one of our guys, as we were getting out of the area Pooster and his boys met us on the road after they heard our call and helped us greatly. He taught me that you have to be able to perform all the time with anything.