Rested but sore from all the fun last night, Lorrie, Vicky, Ching Lee, Marcy and I met Jake in the super hangar at 9. Jenny needed to finish up the project she had been working on for the task force at home. Jake was positioning the bullet stops end to end, tight together. I liked the final product they had built. Jake and Bob had improved on my hand-drawn blueprint.
When he had them in position, the girls and I stapled targets on the oak lumber. By the time we finished, Bob had called my cell to tell me that he and his foreman were in the restaurant.
We met Bob and his guys for coffee, and then went to the armory to get one of the Barrett M107 rifles, a field box of ammo and hearing protection. I was sure everyone would want to shoot at least a couple rounds.
Jake carried the rifle, Bob the ammo can (I was glad of it) and put it in the back of the Suburban along with the thin exercise mat to lie on. That dog-gone thing weighed 30 pounds and the ammo can was just as much.
The half-way sliding partition was 600 feet from the end doors or 200 yards. 200 yards was a good distance to see how the bullet stops held up.
The Barrett M107 was the rifle of choice by the Coast Guard for knocking out the engines of drug-runner boats. The 50 caliber round would go through the cast iron and aluminum engines like sliced butter, instantly destroying them. It could also penetrate a brick wall.
It was semi-automatic that allowed precise control from the Coast Guard choppers – one shot per trigger pull – unlike the belt-fed 50 cal that shots a dozen rounds per trigger pull, even if you were fast on the trigger. Those dozen rounds could lead to a lot of collateral damage from a bouncing chopper and gun mount.
The M107 was a favorite for snipers and used by many countries. It was also one of the weapons that the current administration had sent to the Mexican drug cartels in the Fast and Furious fiasco.
With proper training a sniper could make a kill shot at 1500 yards with ease.
After we lugged everything we needed from the Suburban, I started setting up to shoot. I put the mat on the floor by the divider and then handed everyone a pair of those disposable ear plugs and then a pair of industrial clamshell type hearing muffs. The reason for all the hearing protection was the M107 was one loud mother out in the open and I expected it to be worse in the closed-in hangar.
I pulled the 10 round clip from the gun and opened the ammo box. I handed Jake a round to look at and pass around to give everyone an idea what this bad-boy could do while I loaded the clip with the expensive rounds. Buying them in bulk and wholesale, they were $6.95 a round, not something that you went out in the back yard and shot a hundred rounds for shits and giggle.
With me lying on the mat, the tripod adjusted and the rifle pulled tight to my shoulder, I squeezed the trigger. Damn, that thing still had a kick even though it was supposed to be recoilless. Even with the double hearing protection it was loud. I shot two more rounds then let Vicky be next and then everyone else. I loaded another clip, flinching every time the gun fired.
We rode to the bullet stops to see if any bullets had gone through the first plate. With a light I looked at the back of the plate. It looked good – nothing had come through – but the heavy oak lumber on the front was taking a beating. It would have to be changed out often and we would have to be diligent positioning the target in different spots each time. The bullet stops passed the test.
I was confident that the bullet stops would handle anything that we shot at it in our normal course of training. It would be rare for the 50 cal to be used in any of the training courses. I just wanted it to test the stops. The 308 sniper rifle, M4 and M16 was my weapon of choice for the Rapid Response Team and what they needed to train with.
The Miller farm was adjacent to the airport. We drove out into the field behind the super hangar and then to the right in the field of wheat the farmer had planted as a cover crop. The property was offset from ours somewhat. It was a good thing. It allowed use of the access road to the fuel farm and maintenance building to get to the area where I wanted the training area put.
I wanted it as far away from the runway flight paths as I could get it. That turned out to be almost a mile. The site would also be blocked by woods from the highway – another good thing. A high razor-wire topped chain-link fence would be needed just to keep out any hunters who might accidentally wander in the woods – even though it was posted – or just plain nosey people.
As we were driving, Bob said, “I looked at the blueprints last night and the engineers are making the materials list today. There are a couple changes they wanted to add. One of them is a rail on the roof of the two story buildings that would meet OSHA specs. I know you are planning war games, but if someone falls off the roof OSHA won’t take that into consideration at all,” he said.
“Also, there were no stairs to get from the first to the second floor or to the roof. We added steel stairs to both and a cheap set of basement doors for roof access,” Bob said.
“Monday morning Hogan’s trucking will start bringing crush and rock to make a road to the site. They have a hundred trucks that have been sitting idle since Christmas when the blacktop plants closed down. It will be 8 inches thick, ten feet wide and right on the property line. I will have a roller pack it tight – with the weather changing so much it will be muck if we don’t,” Bob said as we were walking around the prospective site
“At the moment the ground is frozen 10 inches thick – it’s enough to hold the concrete trucks – but the afternoon sun will thaw the top enough to make a mess. The excavator and dozer will be here by seven to dig the footers for the four concrete block buildings. The dozer will level it off first then the excavator will dig the footers. My plan is to pour the footers and floor pad in one pour,” Bob added then continued.
“The dozer will also level a place to pour the second floor pads and roof pads. I am hoping to have all that done by Monday before it gets dark. I will change the partitions on the blueprint by a foot. That way the second floor and roof pad can be poured in equal pieces and would be easier to handle.”
“I have a big portable generator coming and the rental company is bringing a dozen Salamander heaters and light towers. My plan is to cover the concrete with plastic and blow in the heat under plastic to cure it faster and keep it from freezing overnight for a couple days. We will use the same system as the block goes up,” Bob said.
“The Lumber will also be coming on Monday to build the wooden buildings that you requested. I have every carpenter and block layer I can find coming on Tuesday; there are a lot of them out there who are looking for work. On a hunch, I took a look at the weather it’s predicted to turn bad in a week or so. If I can get them to work 12 hour days, I will get the tow company to bring my office trailer here so the guys will have a place to warm up at lunchtime and have some hot coffee,” Bob replied. “Buddy is coming at lunch time; he is going to help me stake it out.” Bob concluded.
I needed no more than five acres for this project – now I wondered what I was going to do with the rest of the property for the next ten years of the lease. Jason had rented the entire farm for security reasons. It gave us the right to keep everybody away. The wheat could be cut and no till beans planted; at least that would return some of the cost this year.
A few minutes before we finished our discussion with Bob, Jenny called saying that she was finished her project for the task force and that she was riding with Jason and Lisa on the way to the site and Dad was with them. Jason had the signed leases from the farmer.
“Ratz Miller wants to know if you want to buy his farm equipment too. I looked at it most of it is less than 5 years old. I will check out his price but I think it is a good one,” Jason said.
“Well, I am not a farmer, I do not want to be one any time soon, and further more I don’t know nothing about it,” I replied.
To my amazement my Dad spoke up, “Hey, you remember Grand Pop’s old farm – I grew up there. Farming has not changed, just the equipment and methods have, I am sure I can learn to run the equipment for you,” he said.
“Besides, we do have an ulterior motive, Jason and I want to put in a couple goose blinds and plant sunflowers to use it for dove hunting. There might also be deer that come out of the woods into the field,” Dad replied.
I just shook my head and laughed, “Ok you two, check it out, but I am not driving a grain truck for you either. Don’t even think of it,” I replied as a chorus of laughs broke out behind us.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Joe H.