Besides lacking slings and piling swivels, the trainees have not got a "point of balance"--in one sense the point on the rifle at which it balances on the finger, in another sense a psychological point of balance in their lives. The poem is heavy with sexual implications: Men segregated from women tend to become obsessed with sex and to think of women as sexual objects rather than as persons. The absence of normal contacts between the sexes is one reason for the lack of a "point of balance" in the recruits' lives. Many words and phrases in the poem symbolically or connotatively suggest sexual "parts" or actions: "thumb, "bolt, " "breech," "rapidly backwards and forwards," "assaulting and fumbling," "cocking piece."