Sgt. 1st Class Chris Chavira cradled the XM25 air burst grenade launcher, trained the crosshairs on the shadowy figure in the distance, adjusted his trajectory and squeezed the trigger.
Hydroplane racing isn't the only action on tap this weekend during the annual Tri-City Water Follies extravaganza -- plenty of attractions abound for race-goers to beat the heat while taking a break from the hydroplane heats.
Clustered around the Veterans Memorial in Columbia Park are a collection of interactive trailers belonging to branches of the military.
The Air National Guard Mobile Experience offers video game-like technical training simulators that feature missions such as tactical air control party, maintenance challenges, medical challenges and security force management.
"We're taking participants on a journey of what it's like to be in the Air National Guard," said Nikki Verheye, an Air National Guard Mobile Experience crew member.
The Mobile Experience, which also features an interactive photo booth, is open to all ages, but children younger than age 13 need to be accompanied by an adult.
The Army National Guard is offering tours of an M1A1 Abrams tank used in 73 combat missions in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Jason Ryan said spectators can try their hand at loading tank rounds -- load a round in less than six seconds and win a free T-shirt.
Just a few paces away is the Army trailer, where pieces of modern military equipment like night-vision goggles, body armor and tactical gear are on display.
Like the Air National Guard's setup, the Army trailer features a video game-esque simulator where the user holds a mock XM25 air burst grenade launcher and must calculate distance and trajectory before firing at targets.
"Families are coming through here a lot," Chavira said. "We just had a couple moms come through here whose sons were deployed, and they wanted to see what they were using over there."
The Air Force trailer is fronted by a modified Ford Mustang with a customized interior resembling an F-16 fighter jet. The Mustang is outfitted with a 5.1-liter V8 engine and can reportedly clock more than 170 mph.
Inside the trailer, participants can watch special operations videos, see how the Mustang was tricked out and play an interactive airmen challenge game.
Once Water Follies kicks into full gear today and Sunday, many more family-friendly activities also will be available along the Kennewick side of the Columbia River.
The Kennewick Kids Zone, positioned just north of the Playground of Dreams, will feature inflatable bounce houses, face painting and arts and crafts activities.
Big Top the Clown and Walter Chimal will be featured from 9 to 10 a.m. today and Sunday. Spider-Man is to make an appearance today between 1 and 3 p.m.
A laser tag course by Red Dot Paint Ball will be set up across from the bleachers in Columbia Park.
Autograph sessions with hydroplane drivers are planned today at noon at the Centennial Stage behind the Lampson Pits, as well as with airshow pilots at 2:30 p.m. near the Veterans Memorial.
-- Drew Foster: 509-582-1513; email@example.com