Jesus, I'm still blowing black shit out of my nose.
Went shooting with an AR-15 today. I'd completed a full inventory of my .223 ammo a few days previously and was running the leftover bits (two of these, five of those) through the gun when I cranked a round of M856 tracer that had snuck into the pile because the orange identifying paint had worn off the tip. The stuff costs about 75 cents a round, so I normally hoard it. The bullet spattered on a big rock at the 300 yard line and tossed brilliant bits of hot material all over. Pretty. The reason I was able to catch the show was because the gun I was using had a twist rate too slow to stabilize the long projectile, and it veered to the left, maybe missing my 200-yd DCM target entirely. If it had gone straight, my view would've been blocked.
I finished a few rounds later, and started trucking my stuff over to the combat pit on the next range. When I came back to pull down my targets I noticed white smoke downrange. Figuring out what had happened, I darted to my car and grabbed four canteens (be prepared!) and raced down. The left-hand side berm already sported a burning ring nine or ten feet in diameter in the dense brown grass and weeds. I dumped the water and started stomping. What made it a bitch is that the berm was at a STEEP angle (obviously, since it's meant to stop stray bullets), so a careless hop would've meant pitching over. As soon as one side was out I jumped to the other . . . and the first side would flare right back up again, and the steady wind whipped the sparks further. And the ring was spreading.
So I ran back to the firing line and headed over to the General Purpose range where two fellas were shooting. By the time I got there I was wheezing REAL hard. Then we all ran back to the rifle range, carrying buckets of sand. Well, I thought I had sand, but mine turned out to be glue. By now the fire had gone all the way up the berm and started spreading down the other side towards a line of trees. After the sand went the samaritans ripped up small striplings and used those to smother the flames. Took me a minute to catch on -- I was batting at them with a shovel and not having much luck.
The two gents did the bulk of the work. I was seeing spots. We got the thing stopped. They then went back to shooting. I stood watch, and had to smack out a few little outbreaks and bash down all the potential trouble spots.
Two hours later, it started raining heavily.
Now see, if I'd had my wits about me when the shit first hit I would've chugged back to the 200 yard line, ripped one of my oversized target cardboards from its frame, and used that to smother the flames. But because my exercise regimen has long consisted of punching computer keys all day long and pounding hooch all night, I was too busy building up to a stroke/heart attack/heat prostration (it was a spectacularly hot and brutally humid North Carolina summer day that croaked some poor goob over at the Special Olympics in Greensboro) to pop on my thinking cap. Now I've got a pipin' fresh humiliation goading me to change that.
Just let me finish this beer first.