It was Summer 2012, and I was in the Crewman Qualification Training (CQT) phase of the SWCC training pipeline.

Part of CQT included going to Camp Pendleton, CA, to partake in two weeks of weapons training; the first week was dedicated to small arms and the second week to heavy weapons.

The first week went pretty much, as expected, delivering a generous share of beat downs complemented with a healthy dose of sprints up a miniature “mountain,” often with full kits on, in the 100-degree heat. If nothing else, it built character — not like we really needed to build much more “character” at that point.

For the second week, we moved to a heavy weapons range: .50 caliber rounds have a tendency of destroying small arms ranges.