The Guys #3

Working in the Butts
One day Wong told us his father had a job for us, he would pay us 6 shillings and threepence for 5 hours work. Bunny said that was pretty good because his brother only paid him one shilling for helping with the paper run 3 times a week.

We all went around to Wong’s house early on Saturday morning to find out what the job was. Wong’s father (who was an army Captain) said the army was holding a rifle target shooting competition that day and our job was to work in the rifle range butts.

Only Wong knew what a Rifle Range Butt was and he explained that our job was to pull down the target, mark where the bullet went through it, lift the target up so the shooter could see through his binoculars what part of the target he had hit. The target was then lowered and we had to stick a little patch over the bullet hole. “Easy” said Skaiffe, but Lance was a bit worried, he thought he might not be strong enough to lift the target but Wong said it had a counterbalance on it so you could actually lift the whole target with your little finger. Lance still looked worried, I think he was worried about all those bullets flying around, but Wong, who knew everything about bullets and army stuff, said that the butts were sort of underground.

All Bunny wanted to know was what we would have for lunch because Wong’s father said the army kitchen (he called it the mess) was going to give us all a lunch pack of sandwiches and lemonade. Bunny kept saying his mouth was really watering badly.

We went to the rifle range in a jeep, this was the first time I had been an army jeep, it was a pretty bumpy ride. The rifle range had a row of flag poles running down to the far end with red flags flying, “This was to warn people that real bullets would be flying” said Wong. At the shooting end of the range lots of soldiers were cleaning their rifles, telling jokes and smoking cigarettes. The targets looked really small because they were so far away.

We were driven along a really bumpy dirt road beside the rifle range and eventually we arrived at the butts. The butts were partly underground and were made of thick concrete. We all walked down into the butts and a soldier showed us how to pull down the target, stick a marker in the bullet hole and then patch the hole, it was pretty easy really, he then told us which target was ours. The soldier had a phone called a field telephone I think and when it eventually rang he said the first platoon was ready to start firing. I didn’t even know they had started shooting, all I could hear was a sort of “Phut” sound as the bullet went through the target. It turned out to be an easy job and Skaife said he would rather be at the other end of the rifle range and we all agreed.

At lunch time we had all the sandwiches, except for Lance, he dropped his down the pit that that the target frame goes into when the target is lowered so he had to share with us, Lance always said the best thing about being with The Guys was the way we always shared stuff with him.

After lunch a different platoon started shooting at the targets and Skaife said whoever was shooting at his target must have been the worst shot in the army because there were no holes in his target. After an hour of this Skaife decided to play a trick. Whenever a shot was fired he would pull the target down and make a hole in the middle of the bullseye with a pencil, mark the hole, send the target up then pull the target down and patch the pencil hole. Skaife did this for the rest of the day and we all thought it was really funny, especially Bunny who nearly wet himself, Wong was worried that his father would find out.

Eventually the competition ended and the jeep arrived to take us back to Wong’s place where we had left our bikes (except Skaife, he was poor and couldn’t afford a bike). As we passed all the soldiers we noticed that one of them had a gold meddle hanging around his neck and he was holding a big trophy, he had a number 14 on his back… number 14 was Skaif’s target!

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