General

Establish a New Rhythm

Breaking established patterns is a hard thing to do, and often very disruptive. The recent sweeping changes in nearly every aspect of my life have dramatically challenged even the most routine activities that I had grown accustomed to. A new career in a different industry (with very different expectations) means I need spend a lot more time “learning my craft” than I used to. Different work hours mean my daily battle rhythm doesn’t fit anymore. A tighter budget less ammunition to practice with, and living farther away from a suitable range means live practice sessions get fewer.

These are not insurmountable problems. Difficult, yes, but manageable.

To establish a new baseline, I need to set some priorities and goals. I did this way back in the beginning, and it’s time to revisit that process. In the last post, I mentioned that the four domains I will be focusing on for the coming years include physical capabilities, skillsets, tactical know-how, and mindset. The two of those most relevant to the topics I write about are skillsets and tactical know-how, so let’s focus on those. For accountability, I’m doing this publicly.

Skillset

Goal #1: From a standing position with the weapon on the ground, identify and correct any type of malfunction within five seconds of picking up the weapon.

  • Deadline: July 1st, 2017
  • Possible Constraints: I have had no formal instruction on malfunction clearing, though the information is out there and readily available. I do not need life ammunition for this goal, and I have a sufficient quantity of snap caps, dummy rounds, and spent brass on hand to make this a useful exercise. Malfunction practice does not require a large time commitment.
  • Countermeasures: Schedule adequate time into my day/week to practice this skill.
  • Process: This will follow a standard crawl-walk-run progression. I will practice “setting up” the malfunction to gain better understanding of what is happening, and then slowly clear the malfunction. Gradually, I will work towards the target time goal.

Goal #2: From any position, perform a speed reload within one second after recognition of need; perform a retention reload within two seconds of recognition of need.

  • Deadline: July 1st, 2017
  • Possible Constraints: I have limited instruction on rifle reload techniques, and they were last practiced nearly five years ago (before I had to install the dreaded bullet button and use low-capacity magazines). I have a sufficient quantity of magazines to practice with, and I do not need live ammunition to perform this practice. I do not expect this to require a large time commitment.
  • Countermeasures: Schedule adequate time into my day/week to practice this skill
  • Process: I already have a foundational knowledge of speed and retention reloads, so that skips me past the “crawl” phase, but I do need to practice from positions other than standing. This will be done slowly until the movement patterns are set, and then sped up to meet time goals.

Goal #3: From any position, acquire any other field position and obtain a correct natural point of aim within three seconds.

  • Deadline: July 1st, 2017
  • Possible Constraints:  I already have a solid knowledge of the traditional field positions, but do need to practice the more unconventional ones. Additionally, the main factors that might slow me down are strength/flexibility and speedy NPOA attainment. This exercise may require rethinking my equipment positioning to better facilitate smooth movement. Lastly, this will require more time.
  • Countermeasures: Schedule time, even if in small chunks, to practice this skill at least two days per week. I already incorporate strength training in my schedule at least two (usually three) days per week. I will also have to reincorporate NPOA practice back into my dry fire routines.
  • Process: In addition to the traditional shooting positions I’ve spent time covering, I also need to study and practice the unconventional positions. Once I have a foundational knowledge of these, I will practice slowly transitioning from one to another and obtaining a correct sight picture. I estimate that the transition part will be fast, it’s the NPOA component that will be slower.

Tactical Know-How

Goal #1: Graduate from at least one formal training course that includes weapon handling and small unit tactics.

  • Deadline: November 1st, 2017
  • Possible Constraints: Cost, both in course fees and ammunition requirements. Time off from work and away from family. Potential lack of suitable equipment (not likely).  I listed two rather distinct skill sets in this goal, so it may require two separate courses of instruction done at different times.
  • Countermeasures: I already have some funds set aside for training/education goals, so that really leaves the cost of ammunition (and travel) as the financial impediment. I need to try an set aside some funding each month to purchase the requisite ammunition. Regarding time off, If I can find a course that blends into a long weekend, that would be ideal. Otherwise, I will just have to eat the days off from work.
  • Process: I need to identify a suitable school and training course, identify the budget and gear requirements, register, and attend.

 

Goal #2: Locate, read, and practice at least one book on fieldcraft.

  • Deadline: July 1st, 2017
  • Possible Constraints: Time
  • Countermeasures: Audiobook or small reading sessions before bed spread over time.
  • Process: Do research, gather input, go read.

And that about wraps it up. Doing some quick research on the area, I fear I’m going to be disappointed with the availability of outdoor ranges in the Northern Virginia area. The range I was hoping to join, Peacemaker National Training Center (in West Virginia) is apparently not accepting new memberships until a pending civil lawsuit over noise complaints is worked out. The other outdoor range relatively close to me, the Fairfax Rod & Gun Club, requires two members to vouch for me, a $1500 – $3000 membership fee, and has a huge waiting list. Sadly, I think I was spoiled by living out west where I could join a club for $40 a year, no waiting lists, and good facilities.

Also of note, you may have seen that I’m switching up the layout here a bit. I thought it was time for a refresh after three years. I also started up an Instagram account, so go on over there and follow me. That will be where I put things that are just quick thoughts not long enough to warrant a full blog post.

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2 thoughts on “Establish a New Rhythm”

  1. I admire your commitment!

    Regarding speed reloads: to make that time frame, you’ll need an open-top mag pouch. Given the differences in what your arms are doing in different positions, you’ll want to practice with each hand (trigger hand reload in prone, support hand in standing, etc.) so have a speed pouch on each side of your body. One second is a mighty fast stroke.

    Fieldcraft: nothing beats going hunting. Nothing. Hunt squirrels with a .22 rifle, and hunt deer. Plus it’s wonderful fun. Being motionless out in the eastern hardwoods early in the morning when the leaves are changing into twenty different shades of red, gold, and orange, staring intently at every inch of tree bark you can see between the leaves looking for the tiniest patch of grey fur, listening for the faintest rustle of squirrel movement over the soft sighing of the wind, is a beautiful experience. And still-hunting (moving very slowly and soundlessly) whitetail will certainly teach you some things about seeing, listening, and movement. THAT is fieldcraft!

    Regarding practice: don’t underestimate the value of dry fire and dry practice!

    Good luck!

    1. Thanks, Pete! All of the pouches on my “main rig” are open topped with retention mechanisms, so that should help. I’ve been assembling the practice plan for how to work through each position.

      I can’t say how soon I’ll get around to hunting, but there are deer who wander around the wooded trails near my house. I’ve started a bit of a game to see how close I can get without spooking them. Though these guys seem like they’re pretty used to humans, so it’s probably not an accurate representation.

      Dry fire is definitely on the to do list, and is making up the bulk of my practice.

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