Life “Downrange” at the Unit Compound

“One time you, one time me” was my favorite description of life “downrange” on the Unit compound. There really wasn’t much “down” to being “downrange,” as the range was so close to the team rooms you could literally run to it, a thing I did many times myself.

“One time you, one time me,” meant to say that one day you might be the top shooter, and the next day it might be me because the competition was so fierce and so close.

Weapons and ammunition were kept right in the team rooms and accessible 24/7 to any badged operator. I always imagined that that concept would remain in place until the first mass shooting at a Sunday morning Applebee’s — but not on my watch! I reckoned that if that did happen, some galoot in the command staff would put rigor in place that would make it slightly more inconvenient to affect the next mass shooting.

The Culture of the Unit

Another worthy saying was: “Don’t bleed in the shark tank.” The Unit was a shark tank, for sure. The meaning there is subject to modest bifurcation: on the one hand, it warned against showing weakness that could be exploited by the sharks. Its other meaning is that if you didn’t take criticism well — had thin skin — then you were going to have a rough time in the Unit.

But even in Delta, yet another saying applied: “Assholes we shall always have among us.” These were men like Brian M. who could not stand being stifled by the constraints of the “one time you, one time me” concept. It had to be “All the time me, and never you!” In Brian’s defense, that is the pinnacle of moxie for the Unit standards. Nobody disputed his ability, but the totality of his absence of humility made him so unbearable as to be the quintessential butt of everyone’s jokes.

I loved the guy, but mostly because he was not in my team room every day. I frankly don’t know how his team could stand him. It actually got this bad:

“Good morning.”

“Oh, shut the f**k up, Brian, you piece of shit, braggart!”