We all stood around as they read off everyone’s score. Glen Doherty’s implausible 19 out of 20 had given him a personal tally of 95, which not only saved my ass but was also the day’s highest score. Except for one thing: As far-fetched as it sounded, another new guy in the class had shot a 95, too.

Which meant the day’s shooting was not over yet.

Someone had donated a beautiful SKS 7.62 semi-automatic rifle to the class. This thing was a work of art. A classic Soviet-made carbine (this was the service rifle that preceded the AK-47), and a piece any gun owner would be proud to have in his collection. Before our test that day the instructors had told us that whoever came out with the highest score would go home with that rifle. But you can’t exactly saw an SKS in half, so now Glen and the other guy were going to stage a shoot-off.

This time they would be on their own, no shooter-spotter teams. Each would have just a few minutes to do his own spotting, calculations, wind call, and the rest, then get one shot — and only one shot — at that lane’s target. They would take turns, starting at the closest distance and ending at 1,000 yards.

The rest of us huddled around the two, cheering on our favorite horse. I was the loudest voice in the Glen camp.

In the first lane, both shooters nailed their targets. And in the second, the third, and the fourth. To quietly watch the execution of perfection was an electric experience. These guys were both phenomenal shots.

On the fifth and final target, Glen sighted the thousand-yard distance and got himself ready, slowly squeezed the trigger… and missed. A groan went up in the crowd.

The other guy got down in the dirt, went through his preparations, squeezed — and also missed. Another groan went up, laced with laughter, cat-calls, and the usual volley of insults and obscenities. SEALs are not known to be overly tender with each other’s feelings.

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