Friday, 12 June 2009
More on my time in the RNZAF
About four days after enlisting in the RNZAF, our recruit course was marched to the armoury to pick up our Self-Loading Rifle L1A1, a variant of the FN FAL (although I didn't know this until I read it on the wikipedia page) then we marched back to the barracks. I remember it seemed a long way back (in reality it was probably about a kilometre) due, to the rifle being heavy, (about four and a half kgs), and quite long (over a metre in length) which made it rather awkward to march with. About half way through the march, we were allowed to "slope arms" (rest the rifle against our shoulder) which made it marginally more bearable. When we arrived back, what a relief, to able to put it down and rest our aching right arm.
Over the next 12 weeks we became quite familiar with the SLR, cleaning it, firing it, cleaning it, marching with it, practising loading the magazine (with blank ammo), learning to do drill with it, cleaning it, we did nearly everything but sleep with it. When we didn't have our rifles they were kept in a locked rack in our barracks. We would quite often come back to our barracks and find the instructors having a "snap inspection" of our rifles, too bad if your rifle was dirty, although to be fair the instructors usually just told us to go and clean the rifle again.
I also remember marching to the rifle range, (which was about 1.5 kilometres away), for range practise, where we learned to fire at the targets. When we arrived there, we were divided into different groups, some to load the magazines, some to pick up the brass (spent cartridge cases) and a firing group. As someone who had never fired a weapon before it was an intimidating experience, and although I never really enjoyed range practise, I did end up with a reasonable shooting score.
The stupid thing was that after spending the better part of twelve weeks learning how to use and fire a rifle, I never used one again for over twelve years because, being female we were not allowed to carry a rifle on parade, therefore, there was no requirement to remain conversant with the use of a rifle. But when the regulations were changed, we were expected to remember how to use, carry and fire a rifle without any refresher training!!!!! although I can only remember just the one parade that I actually did with a rifle and it was a Steyr which was a bit lighter and shorter than an SLR.