By Tank Hoover
A few days ago, I went to see my dentist, Dave, a knife loving, gun-toting friend I met while patrolling his neighborhood as a rookie cop. It was time for my bi-annual cleaning and check-up. After the scraping, cleaning, and polishing of my pearlies, Dave did a series of x-rays of my teeth, gums, and roots to get a baseline on things, as opposed to regular bitewing x-rays. One set revealed an object down by the roots of my lower left molars. Dave was perplexed. It was definitely a foreign object.
A light bulb goes off, and I remember an incident happening five or six years ago, when I was helping the current rookie class at the outdoor range. It gets interesting, the perfect string of events leading to the perfect storm.
It was toward the end of the academy training, and we were doing a shoot and scoot, run and gun drill, where an instructor would run behind a rookie, engage five steel targets of different shapes and colors, with the Instructor yelling what sequence the targets should be shot. There are five or six stations with different obstacles to shoot around. It gets the heart pumping, simulating stress, with an accelerated heart rate. It forces the rookies to think before shooting, keeping track of ammo count, making use of available cover while shooting and reloading. Great stuff and a lot of fun! We shoot frangible ammo when engaging steel targets, so the bullet disintegrates on impact with the steel, avoiding any ricochets. Here’s where it gets interesting.
We normally use two instructors during this drill, one to shadow the shooter, yell commands, and oversee any safety issues, and the other to stay with the non-shooters as they load their magazines. As one rookie finishes the course, the instructors switch roles, as the next shooter takes their turn. The instructor I was working with had to leave for some reason or other after lunch. I had to run things by myself. No biggie, or so I thought.
Takin’ A Break
During lunch, it’s not uncommon for senior officers to drop by to get their bi-annual qualification out of the way as an instructor runs them through the course. Jacketed ammo is used, as the frangible stuff is more expensive. So during lunch, several veteran officers stop by, pull out a case of jacketed ammo, load up, shoot, qualify and leave.
Lunch is over, I’m anxious to start the run and gun drill and tell the rookies to load up so I can start running them through their paces. Rookies being rookies, they start loading what’s on the table. Heck! We shot this red box stuff all week, might as well load it.
Here’s where I — yes I — screwed up! I owned it! I should have checked the damn table to make sure only green box, expensive, frangible ammo was on the table. Oops.
So the rooks have their magazines loaded, and are chomping at the bit to get started. I run a couple rookies through, and subconsciously think I hear something periodically whiz by my head! Another clue! I should have stopped and investigated. Running these kids through the course gets my heart rate up and I’m as excited as they are during the drills. Something doesn’t seem right? Stop! Check it out! You can’t be too cautious with live fire drills!
The next rookie to go through, I finally figured it out! It was as if something struck me in the head! It did! “You big dummy! Check their ammo!” I thought to myself, as my chin stung and blood ran down the front of my shirt. “Cease fire.”
We solve the caper. I had a buddy remove the copper jacket from the side of my chin with his Leatherman tool! Yes, they are handy. I was no worse for the wear, put a band-aid on and had the rookies empty their mags of any jacketed ammo so we could finish up. I explained and apologized to them for what happened. A lesson was learned that day and I think they got it. I told them the hard part was skillfully catching that bullet jacket in my chin during the drill to make my point — might as well test them on gullibility! Lord knows their FTO, shift mates and the public will, throughout their careers.
So I tell Dentist Dave my story and he says, ”That’s it!” So for the past five or six years, I was a foul-mouthed fella who shot his mouth off without even knowing it. I have an appointment scheduled to have my mouth de-coppered. Mouth mining? Just wanted to share this story in the hopes of you learning something while entertaining you at the same time — at my expense.
I knew there was a reason I preferred my cast bullets.
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