Manual of Arms

I found it after searching in the 1940 Bluejackets Manual in my maritime collection. It’s not something that I refer to very often. However, I have it on hand when I need to look up obscurities, which was one of those times. I had made some stupid comments that upset my wife, and wincing, I mentioned that I should do the 99-count manual of arms 99 times. She had no idea what I was talking about but appreciated that I was apologizing.

Later on, I thought about my comment. The Manual of Arms was something we trained on in Navy Boot Camp. It was also the favorite punishment assignment if you goofed up. Report to the gymnasium and join the other critters in a rather grueling 99s times repetition of the manual of arms; no options for other assignments. Just do it.
You did this with your trusty 1903 Springfield rifle. You had its serial number blazoned into memory because if a petty officer asked you for it and you gave the wrong number, you’d do the entire thing over 99 more times. If you dropped it, you slept with it in your bunk. Ugh.

So, why did this come to mind as a punishment for an intemperate comment? Because I was assigned to this duty so often. Yes, it is true. I was less than an adept sailor. All my superiors concurred that Carreras was a real drifty shit screw-up. He didn’t mean it. He couldn’t keep his mouth from spouting out some unwelcome opinion about why the Navy sucked. It mattered not the least that his assessment could be described as accurate about the chow, how poorly the uniforms fit or other things. But you weren’t allowed to say that with the hearing of “those that matter.” After a while, I could do the manual of arms and think placidly about other things. If they had the music on, it was almost pleasant.

Anyway, I’m standing in the kitchen feeling penitent about my comments; I grab a broom and start the Manual of Arms, “Come to ready first count…come to ready second count…come to the ready third count, and so on. I did about ten reps when I realized I wasn’t in the shape I was in my teens. But I can see some definite advantages to this as an aerobic exercise. So why don’t you try it – “down and forward…forward and up…up and shoulders…side pushes”, and on through side twists. It’s a perfect complete physical workout.

I think I’ll start an exercise class; the uniform is bell-bottom dungarees, a chambray work shirt, a sailor’s gob hat, and an old broom handle (1903 Springfield is optional, except for the Second Amendment enthusiasts).
OK, let’s all try it in order now. If you can’t remember the serial number on your broom, you’ll start over! On the first count!

Let’s see. A Tik Tok video. A longer follow-up Youtube video on how to do it. And, of course, a follow-up Amazon book. I might make something of my Navy experiences after all. What a surprise that’d be to my Recruit Commanding Officer.

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