Back in the days of yore, late '70s, it was unusual to obtain the rounds for live firing. Even the opportunity to fire sub-calibre was scarce. So it was a great surprise, and much to my delight, that I was selected to be one of the two No.1s that would have the chance to fire two rounds each at Otterburn.
It was a blazing hot day in the middle of a blazing hot summer (no, it wasn't 1976 - it was just blazing hot, not drought). Someone had decided that we couldn't just drive to the firing point, blat the four rounds, then go back for tea and biccies. No, we had to crawl about a mile to the firing point "to give you some idea of the difficulties of moving with an 84 in a tactical situation."
Worse, we couldn't just take the 84 and the ammo, we had to take the complete kit including the canvas case (remember? It had the inch-thick bit of plywood in the bottom and the clips to hold the 84 in place), then unpack everything at the firing point while in the prone position.
Those were the days when you had to wear pullovers on ranges, as well as the lined combats, regardless of the weather. Top that with a steel lid that insisted on obeying gravity and '58 pattern webbing with shovel attached.
Within half a mile, the trouser knees and jacket elbows were in shreds. By the time we reached the firing point, we'd emptied our water bottles and blood was flowing freely from forearms, elbows, thighs, knees and toes. Noses were broken due to the rim of the steel pot. But what the hell? At least we had the chance to do something that many people hadn't done in their entire military careers.
Unfasten the bag. Undo the clips. Fit the bipod. 84 to shoulder, ensuring legs were out of the backblast area.
"Load!""Loaded""On!" "Clear""Firing...." *
It appears that the range was too dry to allow firing of the 84. The bloody DS staff knew this before we'd started our mega crawl.
..... and that was the closest I ever came to firing the bloody thing.
*It was a long time ago, so forgive if the commands aren't quite right.