GLOCK n’ Load!

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant, retired, R. Lee Ermey should…

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant, retired, R. Lee Ermey should be no stranger to the readers of these pages. One of Hollywood’s best-known character actors, “the Gunny,” as he is known to fans worldwide, applied his actual experience in the Marines toward creating memorable performances in more than 100 film and television projects.

From his original, screen-searing turn as the drill instructor in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, (“What is your major malfunction?!”) to Sheriff Hoyt in the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre films to providing the voice to a plastic green army man in the animated Toy Story movies to public appearances for our wounded warriors, the Golden Globe-nominated Ermey gives his all to each mission.

New Mission
Now, after taking us into the world of the U.S. military for eight seasons of the TV series Mail Call on the History Channel, the Gunny returns to the small screen with his new History Channel show Lock N’ Load With R. Lee Ermey. Each episode will trace the evolution of the weapons that made battlefield history, from the earliest examples up to current state-of-the-art weaponry to what the future holds for our troopers. Unlike other shows, it will be the Gunny himself that gets “hands on” with the heavy metal.

In “The History of Tanks” episode, for example, Gunny got a chance to get behind the wheel of the first armored tank, built nearly 100 years ago, and cranked it up to its top speed of 4½ miles per hour (m.p.h.). “Sometimes I would have sworn I was hitting closer to 5 miles an hour,” the Gunny joked, before he ended up behind the wheel of our current main battle tank, the Abrams M1A1.

Lock N’ Load took the viewer right inside the Abrams with the Gunny. “We were out at Twenty-nine Palms (the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Southern California) and I got to load the big gun. I got to aim the big gun. I got to shoot the big gun. I got to drive the Abrams flat out—45 m.p.h. an hour across the desert, full speed through water and over obstacles. Hell, I caught air with a seventy-ton tank!”

A Pleasant Visit
I caught up with the Gunny and his Lock N’ Load crew out at Wes Thompson’s Lake Piru, CA shooting ranges, where the Steel Challenge is held each year. Ermey was filming an episode of Lock N’ Load on the history of combat handguns, highlighting GLOCK pistols, including the fully automatic GLOCK 18 C in 9×19.

When I arrived, he was getting a little help from Team GLOCK’s rising young superstar, Jessie Abbate, 2009 Steel Challenge and USSA Pro-Am Championship Ladies Limited and Open Champion, a girl with a smile to match her winning ways. In seven short years, the perky Jessie has gone from a beginning shooter to top-ranked professional, earning eight Ladies National and eight Ladies World Champion shooting titles, as well as other regional champion titles, in four different shooting disciplines. In the summer of 2006, she joined Team GLOCK and became a representative to the shooting industry. Jessie trains with her husband Billy, a former professional shooter and one of the first competitors in the nation to earn the Grand Master classification.

Despite her competition schedule, Jessie is a part-time college student and an avid hunter who has harvested trophy whitetails with both bow and rifle, and also has taken several different species of African big game. In fact, for her honeymoon, she enjoyed a “huntingmoon” in the bush of Tanzania going after Cape Buffalo, one of Africa’s “Big Five” most dangerous game! But, like the Gunny and millions more, the sun rises and sets on Jessie’s GLOCK pistols.

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