I was just reading a thread in the REME forum regarding cleaning drills on the SA80 and it cast my mind back to that fateful day in training that theyactually handled your first real gun (rifle or weapon for the pedantic) Although I used .22 and .303 in the cadets, it was never "mine" as it was handed to me on the range and then taken off me straight after. I vividly remember though being at Winchester in 1988 and being given a butt number of an actual, real GUN, which (so they told me and I believed) was MINE. Even when doing drill with that big nasty pointy knife thing on the end, it was never a chore because you were 18 and you had a GUN I can recall sitting in SAA lessons, weeks before they were ever going to give us real ammunition, and being in seventh heaven with the smell of gun oil, the drill rounds, the Gucci "telescopic sniper sight". Cocking the weapon during the drills and seeing the drill round fly out and thinking "Oh please God, give me real bullets". Even the thought of that lesson now, which I can vividly remember, brings back warm and fuzzy feelings. Then there was the first time on the range. "Fcuk me, real ammo, I'm a hardened killer". The first rounds down the range, the sight of your first real brass ejecting quite a bit faster than it did during the previous drill round drills, the realisation that all of the Hollywood noises were so totally wrong and you were going to tell everyone that on your first leave home, but "quietly". But, I had better to come. Although Winchester was the AAC Basic training Depot, it was run by the LI, who used SA80 and so we were taught on it. However, it turned out in the last week that the AAC were only just being equipped with the SA80 and that the regiments stil used the SLR, so, famil was in order. The SLR seemed like a monster, the rounds were at least 3 times the size of the "mere" SA 80 and it seemed an honour that our Corps was allowed to keep such a weapon. First shot it "felt" like a real gun, it had a kick like a mule and sounded and looked like it meant the business.