All About NS: Part Three
Batch Info: Program Latihan Khidmat Negara: Kumpulan 1, Siri 4/2007, Kem Puncak Permai, Bau.
Uh, yeah. So there was going to be a part three after all. Read on if you will.
First time with triggers
Probably the most anticipated activity throughout NS was the newly introduced Weaponry Module which involves a two day Colt M16 course.
The first day was all indoor theory. Active infantry were assigned to guide us through the whole course, arriving the day before in army trucks laden with weapon creates and equipment. Imagine the excitement. XD
We were taught on first, the safety tips. What can I say, it’s safety-first after all. The Colt M16 has a safety pin which when switched, deactivates the gun, rendering it useless or in other words, safe. We were also taught on inspecting the weapon, whether it’s loaded or not, on how to hold and aim the weapon, and how to peek through the viewfinder. All in preparation for the big day tomorrow. XD
Next day, we woke up at 5.15am and went out in 3 buses for the first batch headed for the Sempadi Shooting Range in Lundu. The place was more like an opening in the mountains, a wide, misty space with large number signs 1 through 12 in the distance.
We were to shoot 100 metres away from the targets, 10 of us shooting at once. Thus were divided into details of 10 the day before. During the demo done by our guides, we heard the weapons fire for the first time. Although awed by its firepower, it was not as loud as expected. Firecrackers fared better. XD But every bang was accompanied by an echo through the mountain ranges which was pretty cool. XD
I was assigned to the 3rd shootout of the 12th detail. Which means I would be manning the 3rd shootout post, aiming at the 3rd target when the 12th detail moves into position. Each post were manned by a guide. There was a ponco spread out on the ground and a sandbag for the weapon to rest on. We then wear on a pair of large headphone-like ear protectors and lay face down and were handed the loaded Colt M16 which weighed about 2.6Kgs.
In position, I held the gun firmly to my shoulder blade and squinted through the viewfinder. I felt nervous for some time, holding a weapon containing live bullets in which when I squeeze a trigger, I could take a life. I thought about that for a moment and shrugged. Such awesome firepower in my hands. XD
That was before my guide signaled for me to ‘fire at will’. I tried my very best to align the crosshairs with the tiny bullseye a hundred metres away and that was no easy task. And so what the hell, some dude already started firing.
I squeezed the trigger softly and with a tiny click, triggered a mechanical chain reaction that caused a second click two miliseconds later, where others hear as a loud bang followed by a shockwave. The Colt M16 recoiled a little and went a little off course and the smell of gunpowder began to fill my nostrils. I stared at the target through the crosshair blankly for a few seconds before regaining my concentration. First bullet off. XD
We fired another 9 bullets, making a total of 10. And that was only for testing. We had to get up and run a hundred metres towards our target boards and count the holes. Surprisingly, one of my bullets strayed onto a bullseye. XD The other 8 were scattered around the board and one missed the board totally. So it was a score of 9/10. Not bad eh? XD
We headed back to our posts and prepared to fire the remaining 20 bullets which were now counted for marks. All motivated, I fired the first shot and the others followed. It started to get pretty tiring trying to minimise the gun’s recoiling and stabilising it while readjusting the crosshair. But for what I know, I just kept shooting, trying my best to stay focused on the target in the middle of the crosshair.
Pretty soon it was all over and we gathered back at the tents waiting for the results. At the end of the day, I got the second highest score of the day of 63 marks along with Han Chun. XD Accuracy was 19 hits out of 20. Now that’s really not bad. XD Okay enough bragging. The highest overall score was 82, proudly held by a girl from Delta. I was around the 13th place which sucked, ‘cos the certificates were awarded only up to the 10th place. Argh.
Anyway, it was a pretty good experience. Not to mention a rare one. Kudos to NS for the chance! XD
The second most awaited activity will then be the Latihan Wirajaya. It involves spending the night camping in the forest. We headed into the forests complete with all the basic camping gears, poncos, mess tins, bottles and a haversack to carry the load. In one single file, we conquered the surrounding forest and reaching a camp site after around 30 minutes.
The rule was originally two persons in a tent. But then we were assigned to erect our tents on a pretty steep slope which made lying down very uncomfortable. So we ripped everything off and found a pretty large flat area and built another tent — this time, a large one enough to fit 6 dudes, built with equipment from 6 people. XD
Our ambitious project finally paid off when the largest tent was erected. And it looked soo fine. XD Jason, Joshua, Ah Pin, MC, Anthony, Shaun and me shared the tent. There were activities such as treasure hunting and a ‘sights and sounds of the forest’ session to fill the time, other than that, we spent more of the time decorating our tents and digging holes as rubbish bins or toilets. We also spent a lot of time getting a camp fire into life.
Next morning we took the tents apart and headed back to camp, all exhausted.
The last hours.
The very last event during our 70 days in NS was the Malam Ngiling Tikai or literally, ‘the closing night’ in Iban. Held the day before we leave our camp life, it was scheduled to be jam packed full of performances all night from 8pm to 12.30am in the morning. Almost everyone took part in the performances. I tagged along with sign-language performance group as with during the previous open day. This time, we performed the song, Shining Friends.
After a short BBQ dinner. The performances took off. We spent our last few hours together preciously, taking photos, exchanging emails, contacts, numbers, you name it. The night drew to a close with a slideshow presentation throughout the days in NS. The hall lights were dimmed and everyone were left with privacy.
The emotions were overwhelming. Couldn’t bear took at all those pictures, thinking of everything we have been through together, in a place were race and origin doesn’t matter. And they just have to accompany the slideshow with melancholic songs. Tears rolled as I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my dearly camp mates.
When the slideshow finally ended and the lights turned back on, we sort of chuckled in tears seeing each others’ reddish eyes and wet cheeks. Alvin was mumbling in tears that never before he had cried in front of so many dudes. Arm in arms we stood, savouring the final hours together. Deep hugs were exchanged with constant reminders to stay in touch.
Wrapping it up.
Sigh..it’s been two months now. Still miss everyone and everything back there. It has been such a rich experience. I’m sure everyone who had been through NS are naturally full supporters of the programme.
NS has really opened my eyes to the variety of people, cultures and languages our country has. I got to learn about different lifestyles, different cultures, interesting stories, experiences, languages and so much more. There really is much more to Malaysia than just your neighborhood.
If you’d ask me, I’d say that NS has definitely change my viewpoint on the country and its people as a whole. I mean, especially during the rafting competition. I was there, giving out my very best to row the raft forward as fast as I could, hoping to contribute to the momentum and drive us to victory. Then I looked around, everyone was perspiring to give out their best to win, and there was Malays, Chinese, Iban, Bidayuhs, and all sorts on that same raft. Fighting together, for victory.
Coincidence? No. It’s just what our country needs to be.
On a much more personal side, I guessed I have been more sociable and independent throughout my stay here. Of course, it’s not for me to say about what I’ve improved, but there definately are improvements. Sadly though, not much on the height department.
Anyway, I’ll leave the rest to photos.
and last but not least:
the Delta company. One that I feel proud to be part of. Despite the occasional letdowns in disciplinary issues. The Delta’s have arguably the best spirit in camp. Winners of the overall sports, best individual shooter, the prestigious marching competition and prize-holders of almost every other catergory, we were also the company with the most merit marks. If it hadn’t been for our large number of demerits, we would have been the best overall company. And that, is more than enough to be proud of for we had aspired together for a come-back and so we succeeded!
That said, kudos and thank you to everyone.
Engraved you all are, in my memories of NS.
Credits: everyone, for making NS so much more fun particularly, Jason, Joshua, Zac, Yan Pin, Anthony, MC, Shaun, Min Yang, Harry, Kenny, James, Nizam, Iqram, Adi, Richard, Joseph, Cikgu Ani, Cikgu Entawan, Cikgu Johan, Cikgu Hasran, Cikgu Sani, and everyone else. Also, to Zac, Joshua, Jason, Cherry, Alleem and Cikgu Hasran for the photos.