Re: when and where was your !st encounter with the m1 garand
July or August 1959, USN Boot Camp San Diego. We only got the Garand for Qual firing. Being Navy our drill rifles were M1903A3s. As I remember they had the front sight blade removed. I can't remember if the rear sight was gone also. The bore had a wooden dowel plugging it.
As I said, drill rifles for learning the Manual of Arms, marching, etc.