שטח Shetach (Field Week) Shooting, Hiding, Fighting

Wow, what a week I have just had. I am so tired, sore, and dirty. This week was all about learning about being in the field and how to fire our M-16s. We were in the middle of nowhere east of Qesaria. I only knew where we were because I could see that big power plant in the distance. It was so hot this past week in Israel and there was no better place to spend it….haha. I’m just glad I decided to pack a fisherman’s hat and sunscreen. I really had a good time, minus the heat and being yelled at all the time. Plus I won a competition on the last night.

We set off for the Shetach on Monday morning. The bus ride was about two hours, aka nap time. When we stepped off the bus we started setting up our area near the shooting range. As soon as everything was unloaded, we headed to the shooting range across the street. I had no clue that we would start right off shooting as soon as we arrived and I didn’t expect that we would get to shoot so many bullets. We also started eating field rations. I actually got a special meal from the base wrapped in tinfoil, don’t know why but it was the last good food I ate the rest of the week. The field ration is a box of canned tuna, chocolate, olives, halva, peanuts, and Luf (Kosher Spam), plus a loaf of bread for each squad. I got special gluten free bread. It wasn’t too bad. My favorite was to put chocolate spread on my bread with peanuts and tuna all together. I didn’t mind Luf, but its not something I wanted to eat at every meal. We ate this same meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three days…um um good.

We went to the shooting range after lunch. Twelve soldiers at a time could be on the range. Before we got to shoot on our own, the commanders sat down with us and asked us the rules that we remembered and if we have shot a gun before, how we were feeling, and how to line up the target. Then they loaded the gun for us and gave it to us and told us to shoot five bullets. Then after the twelve people shot we ran down to our targets. My five shots were within 2.5cm of each other. The best of the first round of 40 soldiers. We then adjusted our sights and shot five more bullets, but we got to load it ourselves. It was thrilling to shoot an M16, but I have shot many guns in my life, so it wasn’t a huge shock for me. My commander was very impressed too and asked if I had experience with guns. The next few days on the range were great for me. We shot in all three positions (Standing, Kneeling, Lying) in the day and night. We practiced fixing jams as well. Oh, night shooting was pretty fun. I couldn’t see a thing through my sights, so I had to improvise. It was almost a full moon so there was light, but the targets were completely dark. I could see my sights when I lined them up with the back wall of white sand then move slowly to the right. When i couldn’t see the back wall I knew I was lined up with the target, and so I hit it every time. I also got to shoot at a balloon in front of the whole company. They picked 12 of the best overall soldiers to have a bonus shooting round. It was a great and I hit the balloon on the first shot. I think I was in the top 5 best shooters of my company. I also got another honor during the week for being a good soldier… raising the flag. It was nice to finally be feel appreciated. I wouldn’t say I sucked up or something. I just do what I’m told and don’t screw around in front of the commanders, plus I can shoot a gun better than most.

We also learned about moving though the field, formations, commands, camouflage, and such. On the last night we got to practice. The whole company was lead out in to the dark. The company commander (Mem Mem, M”M) and sergeant were a far way off on top of a large dirt mound with a green lightstick. The goal was to move though the brush and cactus, climb the hill, and take the lightstick. The M”M had a flashlight and if she or the sergeant spotted you, you had to go back to where you started. I very quickly went wide right and to the biggest of the bushes. I ran every time I saw them turning to look the other way or when they spotted someone. I got to the bottom of the hill very quickly. The hill though was light sand that was reflecting in the moonlight and it was very steep. I managed to get into the very prickly bush near the top right under the M”M and Sergeant. Then off to my left and right I saw people moving in very quickly. The guy right behind me got spotted and I froze. I had to make my move. Then I very quietly crawled through the bush getting full of pricklies, popped up and got the light stick! Oh Yea!!!! Everyone else started running right at us to see who just grabbed it. I was so excited and the Commander called out, “Tzvi is the first, Kol Hakavod!” and punched me on the chest. (For some reason, when ever you do something good or finish a training, the commanders like giving you a nice punch…) No one could believe that I got it and a good friend of mine was right there and just missed it, so he wasn’t too Happy. Most guys were happy that it was me though. They then got us into formation to announce my prize/bonus. Drum Roll…..”Everyone goes home on Friday, Tzvi goes home on Thursday.” Nice. I’m really glad it wasn’t a cake or something that I can’t eat.

One of the best parts of the week was Krav Maga Training. (Click for description). We met up with a teacher and started some simple running and workouts. We then learned just the basic moves of using our M-16 as hand-to-hand weapon, in cases when there isn’t time to load and shoot.  I can now really mess someone up with a bullet-less gun. We also learned the basics of punching and fighting.

Well thats about it for the past week. Not much else happened.

Next week:

This is going to be my last few days of basic training. I have a swearing in ceremony on Tuesday! My adopted family and Ulpan staff are coming so I’ll have pictures to post next week. So for now, Shabbat Shalom.

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