Special operators have an inherently difficult, demanding, and dangerous job. As a result, they are afforded many luxuries that regular troops are not—a minor consolation prize for them. Some of those perks might even seem small and insignificant to a casual observer.

For example, anyone who has spent time at a rifle range outside of Special Operations Forces (SOF), you know how regimented and strict things are. And for good reason, because most riflemen aren’t ready to have the leash of supervision taken off. Safety measures are in place because they need to be there, or someone could get killed. Operators also have safety measures in place, but they often have the chance for a lot of the fluff to be removed.

In Iraq, the recon company at the base I was stationed at invited me and a few other guys to shoot with them at the range. I showed up with every bit of gear I had for fear that I would be asked to produce some of it at any given time. To my surprise, we were instructed to shed our Kevlar helmets, and we actually had fun instead of just going through the motions of a table two shooting drill.

Once we finished with the standard shooting drills, the platoon sergeant started breaking everyone into fire teams for a competition. Each fire-team member had a small corresponding sticker on their team’s target. The goal was for each shooter to hit his sticker and roll out so the next shooter could do the same. The first team to hit all of their stickers won.

Although we non-recon guys got knocked out first, it wasn’t by much, for the record. It was pretty eye-opening to see how proficient those guys were, though, and how much they enjoyed what they did. From an outsider’s perspective, it was a breath of fresh air to have a little freedom and be treated like an adult.

Here is an in-depth look at various Force Recon training activities.