General

Try This: A Better Goal Setting Method

After talking about my goals, I realized I have never actually talked about my goal setting methodology.

Every person I know has, at some point, set a target for themselves. Most of them never get obtained.

What you are probably doing

If you are like most people in the professional world, you’ve been taught SMART goals. SMART, if you aren’t familiar, stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time bounded

To be clear, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with SMART goals. When implemented correctly, they make good guidelines. The trouble is that most people just don’t have enough practice on each of those components.

The thing glaringly lacking from SMART goals is an actual plan. A goal without a plan is just a wish.

As one former commander of mine used to put it, “You can wish in one hand and shit in the other; see which one fills up first.”

Writing Better Goals

With Winning in Mind, by Lanny Basham, is one of my favorite books. My method is derived from this, though a bit less rigid. The first step in a proper goal is to decide exactly what it is that we want to achieve and when. When we talk of specificity, you need to think about the end state and not the process.

For example, take these two goals:

  • Lose 20 pounds
  • Weigh 190 pounds or less

If the person who wrote these weighs 210 pounds today, what is the distinction between the goals? They both say the same thing, right? They just state different ways of looking at a target.

This is where psychology comes into play, along with how we think and talk about our goals. The successful person will always talk in terms of how they see themselves at the end. Those who don’t focus on the outcome tend to get lost.

The first person is more likely to say, “I’m trying to lose 20 pounds.” By constantly speaking in terms of “trying,” they subconsciously program their minds to never really reach the goal. They don’t see themselves as someone who weighs 190 pounds, but someone who is perpetually trying to lose 20 pounds. Think of smokers you have known who are “trying to quit,” and get close to the end goal only to revert and continue “trying.”

So, to recap, step one of choosing a specific goal is to choose the specific end state you envision.

Step two is deciding exactly how you will measure such a goal and under what conditions. To truly demonstrate progress, measurements must be done in a controlled and consistent manner. For example, “hitting the ring” doesn’t say a whole lot by itself. Am I shooting from a standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone position? Am I shooting outside in calm weather, or in cold/windy/rainy weather? How much time do I have to prepare for the shot? What kind of rifle will I be using?

Here is how I would incorporate that information into goals, starting with our weight loss example:

  • Standing on my bathroom scale in the morning after a shower and before breakfast, weigh 190 pounds or less
  • From sitting position outside in calm weather using my primary match rifle, place at least three out of five shots in the x-ring (bullseye) of a standard A-23 target from 50 yards.
  • From a fasted state within one hour of waking up, complete a 3.2 mile run over gentle hills in 24 minutes or less

Those three goals are all specific and include measurement conditions. I will know exactly when I have achieved my goal, and I can clearly chart progress towards that goal for feedback and review.

I haven’t mentioned time-bounding, achievability, and relevancy, though.

Achievability and Relevancy

Your goals should be challenging. Easy goals don’t motivate us the way that difficult goals do. Achieving difficult goals gives us a stronger dose of the positive neurotransmitters in our brains that make us feel good about ourselves. Failing to achieve goals does the opposite. Balance those two factors the best you can.

A common problem is that people often set goals in areas they don’t have a large amount of knowledge or experience. If you do not know a lot about a subject, it is easy to incorrectly estimate what a fair amount of time would be to give yourself, or how difficult a goal might be, or even if you’re tracking the right data points. I did this early on starting this blog, and received solid feedback from others that my goals were too aggressive.

For another example, most people use the number on the scale as the sole indicator of health. However, health and fitness experts generally agree that measuring the weight of a person is not nearly as good an indicator of health as using body fat percentage and strength capacity. If you take two women of roughly the same body type who both weigh 140 pounds, but one has a body fat percentage of 20% and the other a body fat percentage of 30%, the former may look like a toned swimsuit model and the other will look flabby. But they weigh the same amount.

Moreover, dropping 10% body fat in a short amount of time is also unhealthy and comes with a high risk of “rebound.” The difficulty and proper time programming must be accounted for. When you set a goal, do your homework!

What About Planning?

How much do you care about achieving your goal? What are you willing to give up reaching it? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just wanting it is enough. In his great book, Mastery, George Leonard talks about the concept of homeostasis. Whatever life patterns, social relationships, and obligations you have established to this point are going to fight against any effort you make to change something about your life. Change is hard, it makes others feel uncomfortable. So what are you going to give up?

Our fat loss goal is not going to happen by itself. It’s going to take eating right, exercising, and discipline. Are you willing to wake up earlier and feel more tired during the day so you can fit a workout in? Are you willing to put up with ribbing and teasing from friends about your new “clean” eating habits? Are you prepared for the increased time (and fiscal) commitment to buying and cooking your own food?

If these factors bother you more than not reaching your goal, then you will fail.

Whatever your goal, are you willing to trade your life for it? If the answer is no, then stop here and go pick a new goal that you are willing to trade for. Failing to reach your goals will only put you in a spiral of frustration and failure, which will hurt any other goals you have.

Once you’ve got your goal, and put a fair deadline on it (and you really need to put a deadline on it), it’s time to plan for it.

First, list the things that might stop you from achieving your goal? Let’s look at few for our fat loss goal.

  • Time – required to exercise, cook, and eat slowly
  • Financial resources – It might cost more to buy and cook your own food
  • Social relationships – People may give you a hard time for trying to break out of the pigeonhole they put you in
  • Convenience – Bringing your own lunch to work is less convenient than eating out

Really take the time to sit down and think about this. List everything that might hold you back.

Now, what are you going to do about it? How are you going to compensate for those things that will hold you back?

  • Time – Wake up earlier, pick efficient workouts, eat small meals
  • Financial resources – Build a budget that involves less Starbucks or other niceties (Satellite Radio? Luxury cell phone plans? Good beer/wine habit? Comprehensive cable/satellite TV packages? If you aren’t willing to give those up, then this goal wasn’t important enough to you to begin with)
  • Social relationships – Pre-build list of comeback quips, form new supportive relationships, get others to join you
  • Convenience – Embrace it?

Lastly, how are you going to reach your goal? What is your plan? This will probably require you to create sub-goals and milestones. Follow this whole process again for each of those. How often are you going to exercise? What proportions of fats/proteins/carbohydrates are you going to eat? What is the deadline for each of your milestones?

Perhaps even more important, what is the next goal you want to achieve after you’ve reached this one? Always have another goal in sight. If you’ve reached your goal for body fat percentage, what about establishing a goal for strength? How about winning a competition?

Never stagnate. Never stop growing.

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.

General

Everyday Marksman is Back Online

Good day, everyone!

It’s been a bit of a journey, but the marksman family is finally settling into a new home and routine. The drive across the country took seven days, and unpacking into our new house is slow-going. One of the downsides of living in a more populated area is that you get significantly less square footage for your dollar, so we’ve got an ongoing effort to

RoadKit.png
The Everyday Marksman’s road trip kit while stopping along Route 66; full of “just in case stuff” for seven days

organize and eliminate things from our lives. We are also having to look at spending priorities. My new career ‘s gross compensation starts off at only slightly less than I was making as a military officer (which is expected, given the dramatic shift in industry I’m undertaking), but our expenses are significantly higher (health insurance, rent, etc.). It’s going to take a while to equalize and figure out how to allocate funds.

That said, I listened to several audiobooks and podcasts while on the road and thought a lot about my goals and the direction I want to take my training and writings. Chief among the books I listened to was the work of Jack Donovan in The Way of Men. It was recommended to me by another shooter and instructor I follow. While the the political and personal drama that surrounds the author is a bit of a turn off, and may very well taint his message among many, I do find his core philosophy to be of value. So much so that I’m working hard to incorporate much of it into my life.

What is that message? Essentially, it boils down to finding a core tribe, or “gang,” to belong to and making yourself a useful and important part of it. For a long time, I’ve felt relatively isolated among many of my peers. Surely, I had good friendly working relationships and a positive reputation with them, but I had very few who I would consider the kind of friend I could call at two o’clock in the morning with an emergency and know they would come through. If much of what I’ve read and listened to over the last two months is any indication, this is a very common problem these days.

I’ve also been spending a lot of time considering my weaknesses, both physically and emotionally, and how they have affected my professional, personal, and marksmanship lives. If I am to find and belong to a new tribe in a a new area, then I must demonstrate my worthiness of such a group. With that in mind, these are my new(ish) priorities for the coming year(s):

  • Physical capabilities: For a lot of reasons, I am placing my own physical fitness and capability at the top of my priority list. Without the military standing over my shoulder and forcing me to maintain at least a minimum level of fitness, it would be easy to let this one drop off. I want to be stronger and more capable so that I can better take care of my family and set an example for my son. I want to be more reliable when it comes to moving over distance with a load on my back so that we can do more when we get to the other side. I want to be harder to kill in a fight. I would be lying if I didn’t say the political tension and grim outlook of the country isn’t weighing on my mind. Physical preparedness is hugely important.
  • Skillset: To this point, I have focused primarily on the raw fundamentals of marksmanship. To be fair, that is the name of this blog and was my impetus for starting it in the first place. But I’ve come to consider that there are other equally important elements that coincide with being a well-rounded armed citizen. I’ve often written that my view of an Everyday Marksman is one who is engaged with their communities and looking out for the the safety and security of them and theirs. Message boards are full of armchair warriors who think that they will make it by sitting on their front porch (or roof) and guarding their stash from three hundred yards. That is simply not a realistic scenario. For me, it’s about fighting and surviving. I want to increase my skillsets in those other areas that help with the surviving portion. I do not plan on changing the focus of this blog onto these subjects, but they are a priority for me in the coming years.
  • Tactical Know-how: As I laid out in my old “about me” section, I may have been a military officer, but my specialty had nothing to do with small arms tactics and planning. In fact, in 10 years, I never even qualified with a weapon. My specialty was in nuclear weapons and strategic warfare planning. While those skills are useful in a grand campaign sense, I want to learn more about applying my marksmanship skills in a useful tactical manner beyond a square range. That means training, research, and practice. I do plan on writing about what I learn, though such training will not be a regular thing since its cost (in both tuition, travel, and ammunition) bumps up against my more limited financial resources.
  • Mindset: All the the practice and technical knowledge in the world is scarcely helpful if I don’t have the ability to apply it at the right time in the right way. Another book I listened to while on the road, Van Horne & Riley’s Left of Bang, was an outstanding discussion of the type of awareness mindset that is sorely lacking these days. I’ve been working as a civilian for only three weeks, and I’ve already been jarred by the general lack of thought given towards “what if” scenarios. I want to consciously foster a mindset that is actively engaged in my surroundings, and prepared to prevail against any threat.

Aside from living an overall more engaged and masterful lifestyle, my underlying motivation for these things is to be the kind of man that others seek out in times of hardship. Strength, Courage, Mastery, & Honor are the tenants of Donovan’s work, and I sincerely believe they provide a strong foundation to work from.

So where does that leave me in the near future?

Shortly before I left California, I got a screaming deal on some new load bearing gear that allows me to have multiple configurations. My old heavy battle belt setup has migrated to a lighter configuration combined with the MVT chest rig I received late last year. The other configuration is a more traditional H Harness setup from First Spear. I am super excited to see what it can do and will be writing about it here.

IMG_1150
A small representative sample of my estranged magazines

In addition, I am happy to be reunited with my box of standard capacity magazines. They were in exile while I lived in California. Now that I’ve moved back to freedom, they have been brought back into service. Oddly enough, I’ve now been without them for longer than I’ve been with them. On an interesting personal note, when I pulled the mags out of the storage box and looked at some of the decoration I had spray painted on them before moving to Cali, I was reminded how much my own mindset and approach to shooting has evolved. The decoration, which was minimal in its own right, was from a time where shooting was more about fun and image than any real practical skill.

I am proud of that evolution, and I will endeavor to keep it going.

General

Staying Motivated With Small Improvements

In any endeavor, you need to keep some perspective on the difficulty of the challenge. Be it marksmanship, fitness, financial, or any other challenge, you need to set appropriate goals and track relevant metrics to gauge yourself on progress.

It’s been a month since I announced I was going to do the GoRuck Tough in August. I started the GoRuck training plan two weeks ago. And while I’ve never really been in bad shape, I can’t honestly say I’ve been in particularly good shape, either. From day to day, I notice the little changes in how well I complete the workout. More so, I notice improvements in work capacity and endurance at my unit’s official physical training sessions. These things motivate me and let me know that I’m making progress.

As I look back at my marksmanship endeavors, I notice the evolution of my progress tracking. However, I also notice a lack of accountability and real performance standard. A score from a shooting position is something, and certainly better than what I had before, but it’s rather limiting. When I think back to my original goals when I started this blog, they were much more challenging. I no longer have them posted mostly because I never succeeded in developing a way to test my progress in achieving them.

Ultimately, that is the most important part. You are what you measure. If you measure the things that matter to you and your goals, you will have more success and stay motivated. If you measure things that are tangental, or irrelevant, then you will be frustrated and unsuccessful. That in applies in all things.

General

Something to Train For: GoRuck Tough

After a prolonged period without my computer (logic board failure), I am happy to be able to write again.

I have written a few times about the importance of fitness as it relates to marksmanship (here and here). I have also theorized about what kind of “load” I might carry in an imaginary “grid down” situation. I have made some tweaks to that equipment since September, but the overall weight was about 55 lbs.

That weight by itself honestly doesn’t seem like much, especially compared to the massive loads the military is often known for carrying. However, it is harder that it seems. Since writing that post, I’ve read quite a bit both professionally and personally on the realities of carrying loads in combat situations. Eventually, I went out and attempted it for myself with normal clothes and a backpack loaded with 30 lbs of weight. I found that while the weight is workable for a leisurely stroll around the block, things actually get much more difficult as the miles add up and the pace is kept brisk.

All the cool gizmos in the world don’t amount to a hill of beans if you can’t actually get yourself into position to use them (or, if you get there, you’re too gassed to be functional).

In an effort to “put my money where my mouth is,” I signed up for a GoRuck Tough challenge later on this summer. The challenge will last between 10-12 hours and cover 15-20 miles. It involves a lot of physical challenges and a huge dose of mental toughness to push through and succeed. Unlike the other physical challenge events like Spartan Races and Tough Mudders, the GoRuck event is not a race. It is a team event where you rely on those around you, and they rely on you, to get everyone to the other side.

With the money committed, and a team of friends (who are also participating) to keep me honest, I have no choice but to challenge myself to develop new skills and push my own fitness levels higher.

What are you doing this year to challenge yourself?

General

Relative Importance of Capability

I recently came across a Facebook post by The Ballistic Edge, a company that specializes in precision rifle training. The post simply had a diagram of various sized circles set into three sets of shooting distances, and the relative importance of various elements of shooting when it came to hitting target at those distances.

12795231_1202095339818527_6402640631367775746_o

This graphic represents their opinion, but it more or less correlates with my observations (particularly with the first category of 0-500 yard shooting, since I have very little experience with 1,000 yard and beyond shooting).

Notice that regardless of the distance, the three most important elements are marksmanship, wind calling, and a solid zero. Further down the line in importance are ballistic solutions (computers), dispersion (barrel precision), scope error (expensive optics), and ammunition (fancy match ammo).

Interestingly, my observation is that most people getting involved in shooting spend the most time and money focusing on these later elements rather than the first three. At practical marksmanship ranges, particularly those within 500 yards, you are better served by simply going out and shooting. I’ve said repeatedly that all the specialized equipment in the world really only applies to people who have already mastered the first three elements of marksmanship, wind calls, and their zero.

Also of note is that once you cross the 1,000 yard threshold, wind calling becomes the most important element, and all the other components become of about equal importance to one another. This is an example of long range marksmanship being about the system that supports hitting those targets at those long ranges.

So what am I implying by posting this? I am simply saying that most of us, in most circumstances, are better served by buying quality ammunition (not necessarily match grade), and shooting whatever weapon system we have on hand until we master the first three elements. It only benefits us to spend exorbitant amounts on other things when we have mastered these.

General

A Year in Review (Almost)

Obviously, I have not written much in the last month. My life became…hectic. Between professional obligations and family emergencies, shooting and practice just wasn’t terribly high on my priority list. But, as it were, the year is slowly coming to an end and I thought it would be a good time to take a look back over the previous year and look at how I’ve been doing, and start thinking about my plans for the coming year.

Goal Evaluation

I started the year with three goals:

  • Starting from a standing low ready position. In fewer than 20 seconds, regardless of weather or terrain conditions, place a first round hit on any stationary eight-inch target at any range up to 200 meters from any unsupported field position using a rifle equipped with iron sights or telescopic sight, match ammunition, and a rifle sling
  • Starting from a standing low ready position. In fewer than 10 seconds, regardless of weather or terrain conditions, place a first round hit on any stationary six-inch target at any range up to 300 meters from any supported position in any weather condition using a rifle equipped with a telescopic sight and match ammunition.
  • Win at least two of the monthly rifle competitions held at my local gun club

The first major problem I ran into this year was that I had no readily available way to test the first two goals and know when I had achieved them. The range shoot at only goes up to 100 meters, and does not offer any readily available means to practice supported shooting. This has meant that I’ve spent almost all of my time shooting at reduced size targets at closer ranges. While this is certainly good practice for the fundamentals, it lets me cheat my way out of really having to establish a good BZO or dealing with windage issues.

Additionally, I never did establish a steady flow of quality ammunition. Almost all of my shooting is done with rather inexpensive 55gr 5.56 that I can buy locally in small batches. I’d like to think that getting to the level that I have using this rather inexpensive ammunition means that I would do very well with high quality match ammo. Maybe well enough to say that I’ve met my goals. But I don’t know, because I haven’t really tried it.

I also original started out wanting to gain proficiency with two rifles: Ascalon and Gungnir. My range has banned the use of any cartridge larger than 5.56 due to “safety reasons,” which means I haven’t fired a single shot of .308 all year. My desire to try and compete in an EIC match earlier this year drove me to purchase another upper, the 20” government “Musket.” The musket upper on the A5-equipped lower has quickly worked its way into becoming one of my favorite configurations to shoot. I dare say that it will probably be my favorite rifle in the coming year (more on that later on).

The third goal I started with, to win two of the monthly rifle competitions, never happened because I never made it to a match. Mostly due to poor planning on my part, the timing just never worked out and I simply didn’t care enough.

Lessons Learned

The primary driver when I started this journey was to develop a high level of proficiency using my rifles “as is” without diving further into the world of gear hoarding. Early on, for instance, I was reluctant to purchase a new sling when it became apparent that the sling I was using was not going to work well for the style of shooting I was doing. I compensated by using equipment that I already owned, but had all but forgotten about. That sling, the Turner, served me well through most of the year- especially at Appleseed.

I would say that my mentality has shifted. Now, rather than avoid purchasing new equipment, I try to understand where exactly my shortfalls are based upon my needs. In other words, I let my mission drive the gear rather than my imagination. I think this will stick with me for a long time. I don’t need to go out and purchase new stuff just for the sake of having it. Rather, I should purchase things because I have an actual need for it.

Secondly, I’ve learned that there is no one right answer for how to shoot. When I first started attempting to shoot accurately from a standing position, I was absolutely sure that the traditional NRA high power style with the hand awkwardly planted under the magazine well (or next to it) was the best way to shoot. I even went so far as to say that RS’s approach on his blog was not sufficient. I humbly submit that I ate crow on that one. I failed to account for individual styling, as well as differences in equipment. I have found that, using a sling, I shoot exactly how RS does in his post over at Art of the Rifle. The only real way to know what works for you is to go shoot and figure it out. Todd Hodnett, of Accuracy 1st, rightly said that the bullet impact doesn’t lie. People can argue with you all day that your technique is wrong, or that your equipment is inferior, but they can’t argue with where the bullet hits. Where the bullet hits is truth.

Third. Towards the latter half of the year, I became a bit over excited about my newfound love for traditional iron sights. I think I was perhaps a bit too overzealous in pushing the point. Shawn, of Loose Rounds, rightly pointed out that iron sights have their place but technology has moved past that. Good shooting with irons could mean great shooting with good optics. Good shooting, and good fundamentals, make the shooter. Adding better technology, and added capability, only improves upon that already solid base.

I made the argument that the military is attempting to use gear to substitute for training. While I still think this is true, it doesn’t mean that new gear is a bad thing.

Lastly, I’ve seen and read a lot of good stuff this year that confirms my original goal and thinking. Most people’s rifles are far more capable than the people shooting them. Jeff Cooper famously said that an outstanding shooter is able to shoot up to the ability of their equipment. I think most people who go around saying that things can only be done with stainless match barrels or super high magnification are really just making up for their own lack of practice.

Going Forward 

The caliber restrictions on my shooting range do not appear as though they will be loosened in the next year, which means shooting anything larger than my ARs is out. That means I will be sticking with Ascalon and the Musket for the coming year. In all likelihood, they will continue to share the same lower. I could easily build out a second stripped lower in order to have two complete rifles, but that would mean having to purchase a new lower here in California. Thus far I have managed to keep myself off of any “long gun” registries in the state, and I’d like to keep it that way for privacy/political reasons.

Speaking of the musket, I think it’s time to move past iron sights. Since the rifle has become one of my favorites to shoot, I feel as though it’s time to “finish it out.” I’d like to mount a Daniel Defense Omega 12 rail and get the barrel free floated (this lets me keep the current delta ring assembly in case I ever decide to go back, otherwise I’d probably be looking at a Centurion C4 or even a slick-sided rail). I will also be mounting an optic. I was all but committed to a TA11H, but the Elcan SpecterOS 4x has my attention, since it matches or betters the TA11 for all of my needs but one (I don’t like ARMS mounts). I’ve only gotten to the range with Ascalon once since I remounted the TR24 in place of the Vortex 2.5-10×32, but I think the TR24 is going to be staying for the time being. I simply don’t shoot out to the ranges I used to that made the higher magnification desirable.

In the pursuit of rifle marksmanship this year, I have neglected pistol shooting. For both personal and professional reasons, I want to spend more time on pistols next year. My Beretta 92A1 is the go-to pistol for home protection at night, so it’s only right that I maintain strong proficiency with handguns. Also, being a military officer, I believe that it’s desirable to be proficient with pistol shooting since it’s what I will most likely be issued during a deployment.

I will be working out some goals for the coming year, and will post about them soon.