Soon our Navy SEAL sniper class had its first graded test on the .308. 

As shooter/spotter pairs we shared a combined grade, so we knew we would sink or swim together. Glen and I scored in the 90s on that first test, but by that time we were both feeling completely frazzled and harried. 

Still, we knew we had developed into a solid shooting pair, and we seemed to handle the stress better than many of the other guys. During that first paired shooting evolution, we could see the tension level in some of the other pairs simmering; by the time of that test, a few of them went through complete meltdowns. 

Typically what happened was that the spotter would make a bad call or, even worse, not make a call at all and leave his shooter partner hanging. One or two of these scenarios and the honeymoon would be way beyond over. We saw guys actually throw down and get into a knock-down, drag-out fistfight because a buddy had fucked up multiple calls. Needless to say, this constituted a guaranteed ticket home. 

Pretty soon it dawned on us that the steadily escalating stress we were seeing was no accident. Not only was it intentional, it was being carefully orchestrated. Our instructors were constantly watching, pushing, and testing us to see who could handle the stress and who could not. 

One day, while I was spotting, Glen took a shot that I could clearly see had struck the target — but our instructor marked it as a miss. 

“What?!” Glen exclaimed, and I knew what he was about to say next: “That’s total bullshit!” 

“Don’t worry,” I told him, “you’re fine. It was a hit.”