Sweat slides down sergeant Lawson's face as he stares into the desert heat for signs of the enemy. Every nerve is on edge,a slight breeze of super heated Afghan air stirs his shirt sleeve. He sights down the scope of his fifty caliber rifle and whispers to his spotter "nine hundred thirty yards, wind ten, from our six.." "Confirmed Sargent" answers the voice at his left. He sees a slight movement in the scope of a man shifting in the sand. The spotter whispers" wind still ten ,temperature 110 , range nine hundred thirty even." Lawson adjusts his scope to allow for the heat, wind, and range. With practiced precision he breathes in, starts to let out the air and lightly touches the trigger. The rifle roars and he loses his sight picture for a split second. About the time he reacquires the target he sees the bullet impact the man. A red spray announces .comhis shot was good. The devastation of a fifty caliber round on human flesh is indescribable.Two Taliban soldiers break from the hillside and make a feeble attempt at escape. The enemy having no idea where the shot came from run straight at certain death. Two more echoes from the fifty at eight hundred ten yards and again at seven eighty and the threat is no more. Lawson and his spotter wait two days before leaving the area under cover of darkness. Patience is something that has kept them alive for years and hurrying has been the downfall of many of their targets. They once waited five days for a shot after wounding the enemy from nearly a mile away. The enemy felt the threat must have left after so long and paid dearly with their lives when they finally made their move to retreat.
Flash back ten years earlier and you will find the future sergeant slowly moving through the forest. In his hands is a homemade bow, a self bow made from a hickory sapling he learned to build bows from his granddad. His hunting prowess and skills he learned from his father, uncles, granddad and from good old trial and error. Nothing sharpens the senses like a lesson learned through the school of hard Knox. Lawson is no stranger to the hunt nor to the patience required of the hunter to be successful. By the time he joined the army his skills as a hunter were well refined. Eight years of combat, training, and finding out what it really means to become a warrior have made lawson a force to be reckoned with. He has eighteen confirmed kills some over a thousand yards. Yet his finest shot ever made if you ask him is one at ten yards on a elk while hunting with his dad. The bull went only twenty feet before expiring beside a clear creek. Lawson recalls that last hunt with his father before his passing later that winter and smiles at the memory.
Now here he sits beside his lovely wife trying to enjoy a meal at the local steakhouse. Three loud obnoxious young men who have been drinking at the bar stand and make a rude gesture toward Lawson and his wife. Both avert their eyes from the trouble makers and try to ignore the rude behavior. The leader of the group approaches the table on wobbly legs. He tells Lawson that he believes his lady should be eating with some real men. The waiter asks the men to leave and is rudely pushed aside. Lawson reacts without thinking, he catches the man across the throat with a stiff elbow and follows it up with another fist to the back of the head as the man goes down. The man stays down,followed closely by both his friends who try in vain to protect their fallen comrade. Lawson calmly returns to his seat and his wife sees for the first time in her life a glimpse of the man who defends her, her way of life and her country. She is frightened by what she sees behind those eyes, yet her love and commitment to him remains steadfast and she must admit she is proud this warrior belongs to her.
Outside Lawson is questioned by police and released along with his wife to return home. He never mentions the incident again and she never brings it up. He wonders as he boards the plane for his final tour with the army. Will she still be there when he returns, if he returns. Yes! She will always be there for him no matter how long or how tough. She will remain his closest friend, his ally, his reason for keeping up the good fight. And lord help any Taliban fighters who stand in the way of him returning to her. The shortest distance between two points is through a rifle scope and the quickest way to meet your maker is to stand between a soldier and his reason for fighting. He may be able to shoot farther and more accurate than most. But the boundaries of his love for her are endless and farther reaching than any other weapon in the American arsenal.
High country archer