General, Range Reports, Reviews

AAR: MVT Rifle Skills/Combat Team Tactics, 19-22 October 2017

Introduction

There is a list of rules for gunfighting attributed to Drill Sergeant Joe B. Frick. It is usually passed around the shooting community in jest, but some of the highlights include these nuggets:

  • Bring a gun. Preferably, bring at least two guns. Bring all of your friends who have guns
  • Only hits count. The only thing worse than a miss is a slow miss.
  • If your shooting stance is good, you’re probably not moving fast enough or using cover correctly.
  • Move away from your attacker and go to cover. Distance is your friend. (Bulletproof cover and diagonal or lateral movement are preferred.)
  • If you can choose what to bring to a gunfight, bring a semi or full-automatic long gun and a friend with a long gun.
  • If you are not shooting, you should be communicating, reloading, and running.

Most tactical training courses taken by civilian gun owners focus on quickly and accurately running a carbine. The curriculum usually includes the mechanics and care of the AR-15; fundamentals of marksmanship; malfunction clearance; and maybe some elements of shooting from behind cover. These are important skills to learn, of course, and I’ve always enjoyed the opportunities I’ve had to practice them.

However, these courses only cover some select individual skills. As the rules above indicate, there is more to learn. As I would discover during this four-day course, these other skills are vital- and there isn’t any other way to develop them other than getting out and doing it.

Why Small Team Tactics?

Some years ago, I read an article that talked about the mindset of typical tactical enthusiasts (as well as preppers). In short, these individuals could learn to become very proficient in individual shooting skills, and amass large stores of supplies, but they were still individuals. Eventually, we all need sleep. In the worst case scenarios, individuals will be overrun by mobs attacking when least expected.

At some point, we have to accept that there is safety in numbers, and we will need a team.

I grew up in South Florida. I’ve lived through several powerful hurricanes, including Andrew, Katrina, Wilma, and others. While going without power for two weeks following a storm, someone kicked in my neighbor’s door and stabbed them 17 times. It took hours for the police to respond. We’ve all seen what happened when Katrina hit New Orleans, or what happened recently in Houston. Puerto Rico is still in rough shape from the recent storm season. I’ve lived in places with blizzards, fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. My prior profession also gave me unique insight into the “what ifs” of the world. After that, you come to accept that there will be situations where the veil of civility drops and you are on your own. At least for a while.

If one of my underlying goals is to protect my family and community, or at least my “tribe”, then it stands that I should start learning how to fight alongside them.

This is what brought me to Max Velocity Tactical.

I’ve seen Max’s articles on and off for a long time. It was his old posts that first got me rethinking my battle belt configuration. Max shares a similar background to most of the well-known tactical trainers. However, he gained notoriety through the prepper market rather than the tactical. In a way, that makes a lot of people cautious about his courses and writings. There is a negative undercurrent of “militia training” surrounding civilians learning small unit tactics that doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. There is a definite stereotype associated with that idea, and most folks in the tactical market avoid it.

That said, in talking with him during breaks, Max has been distancing himself and his school from that image. He wants to attract a more professionally-minded tactical audience. This group invests in quality equipment, training, and fitness. They aren’t trying to be a bunch of Walter Mittys, just people developing skills. The message I noticed all during class was that this had nothing to do wth politics. In fact, I can’t recall any political comments on the part of the instructors whatsoever. Any discussion of motivation focused on teaching people a more complete tactical skillset. More still, a lot of discussion centered on how to improve the courses and training.

The courses he offers, as well as the supporting events, are part of an ecosystem known as TacGun. This philosophy focuses on developing well-rounded citizens who with not only the ability to shoot, but the ability to function as a team. That also includes demonstrating leadership and work towards the high level of physical fitness.

Those who prove aptitude in these courses sometimes get the opportunity to act as OPFOR when US Army ODA groups come train at the MVT facility. From talking to those who have had this chance, the lessons learned and camaraderie are striking. I, for one, think that would be an awesome opportunity for anyone interested in tactics.

The Training Facility

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A rubber training rifle and selection of “lost magazines” left behind on the ranges and never recovered
Max Velocity Tactical (MVT) is one of the few schools in the country that will teach small unit light infantry tactics to civilians.

Max, the owner and lead instructor, is a life-long infantry soldier who “grew up” in the British Parachute regiment. He also spent time with the British Special Forces Support group. He has six deployments as both an enlisted soldier and officer. Of note, he spent a tour selecting and training recruits for the Parachute Regiment. After leaving the military, he spent five years as a government contractor for both the US and UK in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The main training facility is about 40 miles west of Winchester, VA, occupying a 100 acre wooded section of the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia. It includes a variety of ranges for training a wide breadth of skills from CQB to Combat Patrolling. Dug in pits dot the terrain. These pits include PT-61 pop-up target systems, to which Max fixes 3-D “Ivan” targets.

The terrain in much of the facility is…unforgiving. Once off of the flat ranges, the hills and trails are punishing to those who have a poor level of fitness or have elected to carry too much stuff in their kit. The terrain on the ranges themselves is uneven, with hills, roots, soft soil, and other debris often making correct positions difficult to obtain. On more than a few drills, I found myself shooting into cover in front of me rather than the target due to height over bore issues with the optic. These are the things you don’t get on a groomed 25 yard range.

The Training Course

Rifle Skills/Combat Team Tactics is a combination of two different courses spread over four days. The first two days consists of Combat Rifle Skills. The first day of which is a review of the AR-15 platform, marksmanship fundamentals, zeroing, and basic rifle handling. The second day teaches malfunction drills, reinforces the lessons of day one, and begins to teach movement and cover techniques on a square range. CRS concludes with buddy pair movement and an assault through. Historically, the first day was optional. Students could elect to start on day two, if they thought their skills were up to snuff. However, that will be changing next year. Students will be required to attend both days of CRS prior to Team Tactics. This could all be done in one four-day chunk, or on separate weekends within six months of one another.

I attended the RS day to help knock off some rust from my rifle handling. Four years of being stationed in California meant that I simply didn’t practice a lot of the carbine skills I picked up while living in Montana. The eccentricities of California firearms laws also meant I developed some awkward weapon handling habits.

The second two days, Combat Team Tactics (CTT), leaves the square range and takes place on Tactical Ranges 1 and 2. An outdoor classroom stands at the base of these ranges. CTT builds upon the foundations developed during CRS with a focus on communication, movement, cover, and safety. The end goal is to learn basic fire and movement drills as well as variations of breaking contact. It is these two days that showed me the things I didn’t know. It is one thing to read about these drills in a field manual, Ranger Handbook, or Max’s own manual, “Contact.” It’s another to understand the challenges associated with them.

The CTT course follows a crawl-walk-run method. Students are first provided a lecture and discussion of the drill about to be performed. Sometimes, when appropriate, there will be a demonstration. Then, students perform a rehearsal without weapons. Lastly, they perform the drill with live fire. Tactical Ranges 1 and 2 are essentially “Jungle Walks” where a team advances down a lane until they are “contacted” by pop up targets and the drill begins.

I want to point out that safety was always a paramount focus of the instructors. From the opening drills on a square range to the jungle walk lanes, the student to instructor ratio during live fire never exceeded 2:1. The instructors made sure that safety angles, muzzle discipline, and positioning were enforced at all times. I constantly heard the instructors taking note on whether or not students clicked their weapon safeties on while moving (they all did). On more than one occasion, an instructor would joke with me after a drill about, “What you didn’t see was me standing behind you with a large rock if you had raised your weapon at that moment.” Luckily, I always kept safety angles in mind.

Daily Recap

I wrote a recap of each training day as a way to keep track of the activities performed and lessons learned each day. In hindsight, I found the course material well organized, and effectively built upon itself with each iteration.

Day 1 (CRS)

Day 1 of the whole training event was the optional Rifle Skills day. The class opened with a safety briefing and clarification of expectations provided by Max. Through discussion, Max learned a bit about each student’s background and prior experience. It became clear that the four students (including myself) who arrived for the first RS day were all experienced rifle shooters. Two were multi-class returning alumni of Max’s other training courses, another was a retired USMC infantry officer who continues to do government security contracting work overseas.

The first day’s curriculum was adjusted in light of the students’ experience levels. We skipped over discussion of the AR-15’s history and maintenance, and moved to loading/unloading drills. The focus was on knowing the commands that would be issued on the range.

Once satisfied with load, reload, and unload, we moved on to zeroing and marksmanship. We didn’t spend much time talking about (or demonstrating) marksmanship fundamentals or positions. I would have liked a bit more here, but that’s because I’m a marksmanship nerd. We had a short discussion on preferred zero distances, point blank zero, and practical effects. Shooting positions were briefly covered. The gist of this portion of the course was to explain that there are many ways to skin a cat. It is more important to do what works for you (within reason) than obsess over minutiae of technique.

The rest of the day broke into various weapon handling drills, position transitions, and basic individual movement techniques. A large amount of emphasis was placed on communicating what was happening with you and your weapon. This would become very important later.

Day 2 (CRS)

For the second day of training, four more students arrived. One was an LEO, another was a fire fighter, and another was a father-son duo. Of the eight in attendance, we broke into buddy pairs that persisted through the rest of the course.

The second instructor, Scott, joined us on day 2. Scott is a retired First Sergeant who came up through Army LRSC and deployed everywhere from Gulf War 1 to Afghanistan.

Scott opened with discussing malfunctions, their causes, and how to fix them (as well as inducing them for training value). Corrective actions focused mainly on variations of tap-rack-bang, but also double feeds and bolt overrides. The importance of actually looking into the ejection port to identify the source of any stoppage was emphasized.

My habits from California’s bullet button and my ambidextrous charging handle caused me grief, as I had grown accustomed to using my firing hand to do a lot of things.

The rest of the day continued to build on the basics of individual and buddy pair movement. Other topics included throughout the day were tactical reloads and scanning. The instructors are not fans of the cursory quick scan left and right that has grown popular. Instead, they emphasized a good steady scan of the surrounding terrain (and ejection port of your own rifle). This would be reinforced in the following days on the tactical ranges.

The second day finished with basic fire and movement, with a buddy pair advancing in short successive bounds covering one another.

Day 3 (CTT)

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A view from the outdoor classroom. Pictured is the whiteboard used to discuss drills and examples of the “Ivan” targets used during the course (on the left). Behind the board is the start of Tac Range 2.
The third day started in the outdoor classroom at the base of Tac Ranges 1 and 2. It was chilly, in the high 30’s, and there was a fair bit of shivering during the morning lectures until we actually started moving. The first half of the day built upon the closing drills from Day 2.

Rather than a single buddy pair advancing up a square range behind plywood sheets for cover, the pair would advance up Tac Range 1. The range consisted of uneven wooded terrain on a steady uphill climb. The teams would fire and maneuver while suppressing a pair of pop-up targets. Again, this was demonstrated, rehearsed, and then done with live fire.

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Looking up the trail on Tac Range 1, unseen are the dug in target pits
Every time the drill grew in complexity, the course grew longer. We would “fight through” the first position, only to be contacted again by the next one further up the trail. This is where the importance of scanning began to grow. In the wooded terrain, it was not always obvious that the next “bad guy” had popped up unless you were carefully looking around. Getting “sucked into the target” was a recipe for failure.

Through it all, the instructors stuck right behind each pair. They ensured safety angles were never violated and muzzles were kept in safe directions.

Side note: these drills are the reason for the new fitness requirements (timed ruck and timed lunges) to attend training. Fighting up these hills is no joke, and people’s focus begins to drop off when they are tired. Even more so, if someone is unable to stand up from a kneeling or prone without waving their rifle in every direction, they are a safety hazard. 

In all, these drills were exhausting but extremely fun. I tracked my heart rate through them, and it routinely hit 160-170- even just walking back up the hill to fetch spent magazines. My partner, the perpetually cigar-puffing retired Marine, spoke fondly of the drills. He also admitted that the terrain was humbling.

The back half of the day focused on breaking contact.

Demo, rehearse, perform.

Good stuff.

Day 4

The hardest thing you will ever do in combat is extract a casualty under fire. The second hardest will be to locate the enemy. – MVT Instructors

The final day took place on Tac Range 2, which follows along a curved wooded creek bed. The drills remained the same, but the terrain grew more complicated. This is where the quote above became a factor. Finding targets to shoot at became downright difficult at a times. It was easy to focus on the ones you already knew about, and if the team wasn’t communicating as they spotted more, then we had problems. I often found myself shooting at the same few target because the cover I was behind blocked my left field of view. Had I moved my head a few inches to the right, I would have seen them and engaged.

I came to appreciate my Elcan and ACOG. They are fantastic at this sort of thing. The magnified optics helped peer into the background and hunt for targets. The illuminated reticles helped draw the eye to the aiming point. Since multiple shooters were involved, speed was less important than hits and communication. This is an important takeaway for me.

I don’t want to give too much away, but these were fantastic drills.

Parting Thoughts

This was an excellent training event. I was much more satisfied with the second two days (CTT), but I understand the need to bring everyone up to a basic foundation in the first two days. If anything, I would like to have had more practice on unconventional shooting positions. Staircase barriers were already present on the square range, so it wouldn’t take much effort to cut holes in them (like the VTAC barricades) and teach those lessons. Not super important, but it would be useful to have if there is extra time with a quick-learning class.

The next logical course for me to do is Combat Patrol. That course takes the team tactics drills and expands them into planning and conducting patrols. Beyond that, I am very interested in trying my hand at the Force on Force Team Tactics event. In FoF, students split into competing squads and drill against one another using UTM bolts and rounds. However, my funding does have limits.

I would highly recommend this course for anyone looking to grow beyond just being able to shoot quickly on a square range. Learning to communicate and coordinate with others during a firefight is a skill that isn’t going to be taught by reading a manual or watching a DVD. Until more trainers get past whatever it is that stops them from teaching it to open enrollment courses, Max has a pretty solid lock on this material.

Personal Lessons Learned

  • It’s not about me. Once you start bringing your friends to the fight, it has a whole lot less to do with your individual speed/skill and a lot more to do with coordinating and communicating with those around you. Marksmanship absolutely matters, as only hits count, but a lot of the fancy whiz-bang stuff people attach to their weapons becomes a whole lot less important when you are keeping your rate of fire controlled and avoiding shooting from the standing as much as possible.
  • Communicate, coordinate, communicate- but do it quickly. I had a discussion with Scott at the end of the whole course, and the basic feedback was that my weapon handling and maneuver mechanics were pretty good, but I was simply slow to communicate. This slowed down momentum. I think my careful communication style stems from my prior military background, which required high a lot of verbal coordination and positive “echos” of commands. Still, they would prefer that a team do it correctly a bit slower than attempt to fly through and become a mess. Remembering to communicate and coordinate constantly while also trying to put shots on target is very difficult, and it simply can’t be learned from reading.
  • Lack of practice is killer when combined with even a little stress. Even though I set goals for myself for some weapon handling skills, I hadn’t actually been practicing prior to class. On the very first reload on Day 1, I ended up pulling out two pistol mags before finally grabbing the rifle mag I needed. Oops.
  • The fitter you are, the better you will be able to keep your head in the game. If you’re already sucking wind after a short walk, and then make contact, you are far less effective and may even become a safety hazard.
  • Do the drills to practice the skills, but don’t let them make you stupid. Two moments stick out to me regarding this. The first happened on day three. During the first two days of square range training, the react to contact drill included firing and then taking a kneeling position to simulate getting into cover. On the jungle walk, I went stupid and actually took a knee in the open on the trail rather than darting to the side behind actual cover. The second moment involved correcting a stoppage (reload) and then taking a shot at the last known target’s location (even though it was no longer visible). I did that because the drills we had practiced for the prior two days involving stoppages ended when the rifle was fired and shown to be “back in.”
  • The more you practice correct marksmanship fundamentals, including positions, the better able you are able to improvise when conditions are less than ideal. After we left the square range, I don’t think I ever adopted a fully correct kneeling position again. The terrain just didn’t allow for it. However, I have practiced enough with understanding NPOA and bone-on-bone to make it work anyway. The target was still hit.
  • You don’t need to “hug cover.” I was corrected several times for trying to bound too far ahead of my partner and the other buddy pair. In my mind, I was simply trying to get up to the next reasonable piece of cover, be it a wide enough tree or bundle of fallen logs. The reality was that I didn’t have to be next to it for the cover to do its job. As long as it was between me and them, it was working. By bounding too far ahead, I put safety angles at risk and potentially forced my partner to have to move again. Short aggressive bounds are better.

Notes on Gear

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My “Gear Bomb” of kit prior to packing it up at the end of the course. The bright tape helped prevent losing any magazines in the thick piles of fallen foliage
  • Rifle #1 went down 2/3 of the way through day one with short stroking issues. I have been unable to determine what the root cause was, so I am chalking it up to poor lubrication for now. The TR24 1-4x optic on it worked great for that application, though. However, the rear ocular focus didn’t want to stay put. Until fully diagnosed, this rifle is being moved to backup status.
  • Rifle #2, the LW BCM with Elcan Specter OS4x functioned flawlessly. The light weight was awesome when humping it up and down the trails, and the Elcan was perfect for target ID and engagement. The illumination setting (I used max brightness almost the entire time) was perfect for the shaded wooded terrain. It stood out just enough to draw the eye, but not so much that it was distracting. This rifle has been promoted to primary status.
  • Rifle #3, the 20″ Musket with UBR 2.0 and TA-110, worked great for the afternoon that I used it. The LED ACOG was superb, as expected. However, the extra weight of the entire set up was definitely noticed. The stubby foregrip was very useful for carrying the rifle in the patrol position without inducing wrist strain. All things being equal, I wouldn’t mind having to hump the musket around longer term- but I definitely preferred the lighter weight of rifle #2.
  • The medium battle belt was perfect. Two changes I made right before class was to swap out the HSGI Bleeder pouch for the Chinook MED TMK and I mounted a dump pouch at the center rear. Thankfully, I did not need the med kit, and the dump pouch just wasn’t useful except for gathering mags after drills. I won’t be keeping it there. The medium battle belt made a great layering item for controlling profile. I will have to write more about this.
  • When it comes to hats, short soft brims work better than long stiff ones. I wore a patrol cap for the first couple days, and switched to a short brim boonie hat for the second two. The patrol cap, an Outdoor Research Radar Pocket Cap in Multicam was certainly convenient. I could fold it up and stuff it in a pocket, and it didn’t interfere with my electronic ear pro at all. The boonie, a Tyr Tactical Huron short brim boonie, interfered far less with sight picture through magnified optics. Once I figured out how to make it work with my ear pro, I much preferred the boonie hat.
  • The MVT chest rig I picked up last year did its job well. It was low profile enough to not get in the way of any positions, or become a snag hazard, yet it worked well for reloading. Not being split front, it was a little bit of a chore to get on and off, but was otherwise nearly unnoticeable.
  • I wore my Vertx smock for all four days. While it sometimes grew pretty warm when in the sun, its pocket space was indispensable. On the first two days with the square range, I carried extra magazines inside the pockets (where mag sleeves were sewn in), and replenished my belt from them as needed. At no point did it interfere with movement, and I could easily see it being a trusted piece of kit.
  • I felt like quality eye pro made a big difference in the class as far as vision went. I used a pair of Revision Sawflys through the entire thing, swapping from tinted to clear lenses for the second two days.
  • I didn’t think it would matter, but I happened to wear a pair of TAD Force-10 pants for the whole course, which proved great. Not only were they durable and allowed freedom of movement, but I never realized they had magazine sleeves sewn into the cargo pockets. In all, between the pants and the smock, I could discretely carry eight 30-round magazines in purpose-made pockets.
  • I tested two slings during the course, the FTW multipurpose and my long-standing BFG Padded VCAS. Both worked well, but I ultimately liked using the VCAS more.

Conclusion

This was an awesome way to spend four days and enough money to make my wife a little mad at me. Aside from the training aspect itself, I appreciated the opportunity to vet some of the gear I’ve acquired over the years. To be honest, it all worked pretty well. I suppose that is another mark in the column for buy something good up front and it won’t fail you later.

Thanks for reading!

 

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General

48 Hours Out; Pre-Training Inspection

 

I will have a more complete AAR of the training event in a couple weeks, after I’ve had time to process it. For now, being 48 hours out, I wanted to go over the items I’m taking along.

This is a four day training course at Max Velocity Tactical (MVT). The first day is Rifle Skills, which covers the bases of techniques needed for the following three days. The first day’s content includes:

  • Safety
  • Marksmanship Fundamentals
  • Grouping & Zeroing
  • Weapon Manipulation: malfunctions and stoppages
  • Shooting positions
  • Support side shooting
  • Facing movements / ‘ready ups’
  • Controlled pairs /hammer pairs / stream fire.

The next three days are the Combat Team Tactics course. This is class is designed to teach basic tactical combat rifle and team skills from individual up to pairs and team level. It is part of a training progression that MVT offers, with the next steps including combat patrol, CQB, and even force-on-force training using UTM rounds.

The content for CTT includes:

  • Safety and active muzzle awareness
  • Rifle Manipulation
  • Stoppage Drills
  • Combat Shooting
  • Controlled Pairs, Hammer Pairs, Stream Fire
  • Combat mindset and stress effects
  • Reaction to Contact Drills: RTR & Burst Movement
  • Intro to Patrol Movement
  • Use of Cover
  • Taking & Breaking Cover
  • Observation & Target Identification
  • Buddy Team Fire & Movement
  • Pairs & Team Break Contact Drills
  • Use of the Flank to Assault
  • Introduction to the Squad Hasty Attack

On Attending Tactical Training

This blog has always had an emphasis on marksmanship, and that has been my focus for the last three and a half years. A lot of that emphasis was due to the circumstances of living in California. Prior to that, when I lived in Montana, I spent a lot more time with action shooting (AKA 3-Gun and 2-Gun). While my focus has been on the practical application of marksmanship, I have always been a staunch supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. That includes all aspects of owning firearms, including self defense.

I’ve mentioned before that I am a firm believer in the concept of banding together in times of crisis to protect yourself, your tribe, and your community. If anything, the recent spate of natural disasters should demonstrate the necessity of this position. When things get really bad, someone else coming to help you is not a guarantee (or even really likely).

Attending this kind of training moves me closer to that vision, of being better able to protect my family, friends, and community.

In the end, this is about being a well-rounded gun owner and citizen.

METT-T

If you recall, planning should focus on the principles of METT-T. This is how I am looking at things:

  • Mission: To learn effective rifle fighting and small team tactics for use in emergency situations and to grow as a gun owner and armed citizen advocate. This implies time spent manipulating weapons, maneuvering in and out of various shooting positions, traversing over unknown terrain under load, and retaining information. Possible constraints include lack of prior experience and moderate level of fitness.
  • Enemy: The enemy is time, focus, and complacency. There is a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time, which will strain knowledge retention. Focus and complacency can lead to negligent weapons handling and/or a wrongful assumption that “I’ve got this.”
  • Troops Available: This is primarily about me, but I know roughly how many other students will be attending. I do not know their backgrounds, relative skill levels, or dispositions. Everyone will be well rested. For myself, I have a relatively good grasp of marksmanship fundamentals, which will help me focus on the more tactical portion of the training. I am highly motivated, and physically up for the task.
  • Terrain: The course is taking place in a portion of the country known for difficult terrain. There will be lots of elevation gain/loss during traversal. Lines of sight are restricted by heavy forest. As of this writing, the weather is forecast to be a low of about 50 degrees each night, and a high in the upper-mid 70’s each day. Days are expected to be sunny and without precipitation.
  • Time: Time is not unlimited for this event. There is definitely a curriculum to work through, and a set amount of time to accomplish it. I do not know the itinerary at this point, so there isn’t much I can say here.

The Gear List

MVT presents this gear list for the course:

  • *Fighting Rifle: a semi-automatic battle rifle utilizing detachable magazines of minimum 20 round capacity. AR/AK type platforms are an example of a suitable rifle. The safety must be operable with the firing hand, by finger or thumb, without removing the hand from the pistol grip.
  • Rifle spare parts/spare rifle/optics are useful in case of failures.
  • *The safety selector on your rifle must be easily manipulated with the firing hand.
  • *Rifle magazines (20 or 30 rounds standard capacity): minimum eight.

(Magazine Tip: unique tape on your magazines will help you find and identify them if you drop them on the range).

(Magazine tip: bring as many magazines as you can, pre-loaded, to avoid wasting time loading mags between drills. You will require 4 empty magazines, with loose ammunition, for the first day of the CTT class)

  • *Eye protection
  • *Ear protection: Howard Leight Impact Sport/Pro electronic ear protection, or a similar product, is recommended. These will cancel out the harmful sounds of weapons firing, while allowing you to hear commands. They are excellent for tactical training, and safety.
  • *Load/ammo carrying gear: ‘Load-Out’ i.e. battle belt/plate carrier/tactical vest
  • *Water source: canteen/ camelbak/ water bottles
  • *Bug repellant

That’s the minimum list. My own list from reading AARs from people attending training, both at MVT and elsewhere, includes some more items. Here’s the breakdown.

The Weapon(s) and Ammo

I plan to run this course primarily with my original AR, the 16″ Recce (otherwise known as Ascalon). I’ve swapped back and forth with optics, but I believe I’ve settled on mounting the TR-24 for this. Since I don’t quite know what to expect, the 1-4x variable offers the most versatility between close and ranged targets. It’s a bit funny that I’ve come nearly full circle on this rifle, as it has had all manner optic from the variable, to 2.5-10, to RDS, fixed 4x/3,5x, and now back to the original low power variable.

I am bringing two backup rifles. The first is the 16″ LW KISS, equipped with the Elcan SpecterOS 4x. The second is the musket, equipped with the TA-110. I don’t expect to need them, but at least they (and their optics) will be there.

All weapons have had their optics mounted, dismounted, swapped around, and mounted again. That means they all require zeroing again. I’m hoping to squeeze in the two backups on the same day as the primary.

Strictly speaking, a pistol is not required for this training event. So, I do not plan on bringing one. I realize there is benefit to wear-testing holsters and carry methods to see if it would work, but I can do that on my own time or at some future course.

As far as magazines, I’m bringing 16 PMAG 30s, two PMAG 20s, and a PMAG 10. I don’t think there will be much use for the 20s and 10s beyond initial zeroing, but you never know. I wrapped the bottom of the mags with some blue painters tape, and then wrapped a strip of blaze orange 100 mph tape (to help with finding any dropped mags during various drills). The painters tape will help keep the mag body free of the 100 mph tape residue.

For this event, I picked up 1000 rounds of Magtech 62gr FMJ as well as an additional 500 rounds of American Eagle 55gr.

Load Carriage

I plan to run this event primarily from my medium battle belt. I don’t typically use it, but I’ve added a dump pouch to the rear to help with misc items during training. This belt is supplemented by the MVT chest rig I received late last year.

I will have a backup H-Harness set up just in case. It’s a First Spear Patrolling Harness, which is very similar to the DF-LCS V2 issued to USAF security forces. It’s definitely a touch of the old school, but this style of light infantry training is pretty much exactly what it was designed for. The First Spear harness was effectively designed by the same person (who use to work at Eagle Industries), but with more modern methods (laser-cut webbing, tubes attachments, etc.) I don’t know if it will get any actual use, but I may try to work it in and see how it does.

Clothing

  • There’s not much to put here. I’ll be carting along one beater pair of my old Air Force ABU pants, a pair of TAD Recon AC pants, and TAD Force 10 RS pants. All three are slightly different cuts and styles, so I’ll get a chance to see what works and what doesn’t.
  • For boots, I plan on sticking with my Salomon Jungle Ultras. I will have a pair of Danner Tachyons as backup.
  • Shirts are just a mix of moisture wicking ones I’ve got left over from my time in the Air Force. I will layer as necessary, but plan on having the outermost layer be my Vertx Smock. That enables me to carry a couple more mags in the pockets without having to use the chest rig.
  • For rain gear, I’ll be toting along my issued USAF gore tex jacket as an outermost layer for the really bad stuff (unlikely), and a packable inner jacket that can be worn under the smock if necessary.
  • It’s going to be sunny, so i’ll have hats. I’ve got a mixture of patrol cap style and boonie hats. Situation dependent.
  • It’s cheesy, but I’m bringing two shemaghs. They’ve been great in the past on sunny days for helping keep my neck from burning.

Protective Gear

  • Ear pro is a set of Howard Leights and some foamie ear plugs. I’ll bring along a spare set of Peltors, but the ones I’ve got have not worked right in a long time (the microphone/speakers don’t power up).
  • My eyewear is the same set of Revision Sawflys I’ve been using for years. I’ll bring a backup set of glasses as well.
  • I’ve been warned that there is a lot of getting up and down from kneeling, and that knee pads are recommended. The easiest route would have been foam inserts for pants, but only one pair of my pants can accept them. I’ll be taking a set of Alta Superflex pads.
  • For gloves, I plan to stick with my PIG FDT Alphas, with a set of Mechanix as backup.

Misc Supporting Gear

In addition to the load carriage equipment, which I’ve previously discussed, there is some extra support gear I’ll have.

  • I’m bringing two slings, the BFG Padded Vickers, and FTW multipurpose.
  • SORD shooting mat for the first day, where I expect a good bit of being on the ground.
  • GoRuck GR1 for extra “stuff.”
  • Folding stool, because sitting is nice.
  • Rite in the Rain notebook(s) for taking notes.
  • Leatherman MUT
  • Flashlight
  • Spool of paracord
  • Spool of #36 bank line
  • Canteen x 2
  • Source 3L water bladder

And Here we Go

This is a much different experience than the Appleseed I did a couple years back. I look forward to reporting back with an AAR.

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

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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.

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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.

Range Reports

Notes for Training Others

I don’t bill myself as a firearms instructor by any means. I do love learning and practicing marksmanship, and I am a very capable instructor (and have credentials to back it up), but I’ve never formally put the two together. That said, I do get asked to take people out and teach them how to shoot. This was the case last week, when a coworker wanted me to help them improve their pistol skills in preparation for deployment. I made it clear up front that I specialize more in rifle shooting, but would be happy to help them in any way I could.

In this particular case, it turned out that I had a lot to offer them. They were, more or less, uninitiated into the fundamentals of marksmanship. The bits I have learned over the years from my own competition history and practice were more than enough to “firehose” this person with more information than they could really process in a 90 minute range session. They made significant progress, but I could tell that this person wanted more. What follows are some of my takeaways for both future training sessions and for others who might be informally teaching friends or family.

Notes for Myself

The number one issue this person had is a significant flinch. His shots were centered on the paper from left to right, but coming in very low at only 7 yards. I brought three pistols with me to represent various types of actions (a 1911 for single action only, my Beretta for DA/SA, and the FNS-9 for a striker). I noticed that each time I presented a new pistol, the first couple shots were fairly good, but would steadily march down the target as the shooter learned to anticipate the shot. On two occasions, the shooter attempted to fire from slide lock (they didn’t detect that they were out of ammunition) and I noted a significant anticipatory flinch.

The best ways I know how to deal with flinching is dry fire, which we didn’t have time for, and a ball-and-dummy drill whereby I randomly add snap caps into the magazine. This latter drill will make flinching very obvious to both the instructor and to the student when the student unknowingly squeezes the trigger on a dummy round . Unfortunately, I failed to bring snap caps with me, even though I looked at them and considered bringing them. The best I ended up being able to do was teaching trigger control by balancing a quarter on the Beretta’s barrel and having the student practice dry firing without the quarter falling.

I also failed to bring a holster with me, which prevented any instruction on firing from a draw. In the short time we had, I didn’t think there would be enough room to practice those techniques. Still, it would have made for a more complete training session.

General Notes on Teaching Others

If my many years as an Air Force instructor have taught me anything, it’s that all lessons have three primary elements: an objective, a plan, and a measurement. The objective is written first, as it is difficult to teach anything unless you know what it is you should be teaching. Measurements and tests are created next. These measurements should demonstrate successful completion of the objective. Lesson plans, the real meat of the instruction, are created last.

From the outside, this may appear backwards. Most of the time, people create objectives first, build the lessons, and then create the measurements from material taught in the lesson. This makes sense to the uninitiated because it follows the order of presentation. However, this pattern creates a high risk of lesson material wandering off-topic. Furthermore, it often results in measurements that cherry-pick bits of information from the lesson that may or may not be relevant to completing the actual objective. I’ve taken many courses built this way, and it’s always a frustrating experience because the information seems too broad, the questions too random, and the material not really supporting the measurement or objective. Creating the measurements before the lesson keeps information focused on what is really needed for success. If you find the lesson wandering too far outside the scope of the measurement and objective, then you need to either eliminate the information, adjust your measurement/objective to include it, or create a new objective to measure. This last bit, identifying and constructing supporting objectives, is an art of itself and well outside the scope of this blog.

As far as objectives go, they have three parts: Condition, behavior, and standard. The condition states the circumstances under which the objective is carried out. If academic, it will state whether the test is to be taken open-book or without reference. If practical, it will state the materials provided for the measurement. The behavior identifies what the student will perform. The behavior uses direct action words that can be measured like recall, execute, identify, build, and score. The standard details the required level of performance. For academic objectives, it might be a minimum test score. For practical objectives, it might be a threshold on the number of mistakes or successful completion of the behavior within a set timing standard.

A poor objective might only have the behavior element and read something like this:

  • Place five shots within the 10 ring of the target

Better objectives look like these, which were some of my personal shooting goals:

  • Given a duty belt, holster, and loaded handgun from the standing position; place ten shots from a Beretta 92A1 within an eight inch circle at 25 meters within 15 seconds from the draw.
  • Using factory ammunition, AR-15 rifle, magnified optic, and shooting sling; place 10 shots within a 3 MOA circle at any range up to three hundred yards from prone position within 60 seconds

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about just setting up the lesson via good objectives and measurements. Prior planning is just that important. This process does not necessarily need to be formally written every time, as you probably don’t do this for a living. But at least having a general framework mapped out will help you be more organized when you improvise.

Now that we’ve got an idea how to prepare a lesson, I want to talk about content. My general pattern when I take others to the range to teach them looks like this:

Objectives:

  1. Without reference, recall the four basic safety rules of firearms handling without error
  2. Given an unloaded handgun, demonstrate safe firearm handling practices without error
  3. Given unlimited time, a loaded 10 round magazine, handgun, and starting from a low ready; place at least 7 out of 10 shots in a 4 inch circle from 7 yards
  4. Given unlimited time, 10 rounds of loose ammunition, an empty magazine, and handgun; load and fire pistol at a four inch circle from 25 yards with at least 50% of shots falling within the circle and all shots on the paper

The Plan:

  • Brief small talk to ‘break the ice;’ tell a story or joke relating to the day
  • Discuss the day’s objective(s) to prepare the student to learn
  • Safety briefing including Cooper’s four rules, proper wear of shooting glasses, demonstration of ear protection
    • Have student recite rules from memory (objective 1)
  • Basic nomenclature and demonstration of the weapons to be fired
  • Dry fire practice to familiarize student with weapon operation
    • Have student perform demonstration of basic operation (objective 2)
  • Discussion of marksmanship fundamentals
    • Position and grip
    • Sight Picture
    • Breathing
    • Trigger Control and Squeeze
  • Have student practice each element with dry fire
    • Correct any obvious mistakes or safety violations
    • Offer helpful advice for minor mistakes, but don’t appear to nag
  • With live ammunition, demonstrate how incorrect execution of fundamentals affects shot placement and recoil control
  • Have student practice with live ammunition (correct blatant mistakes on the spot)
    • Debrief student after each magazine (every 5-10 shots for me), have student self-diagnose as much as possible in order to keep them engaged and paying attention
    • Discuss what went well
    • Discuss how to improve the things that did not go well
  • After sufficient practice, post a new target and perform measurement
    • Debrief the measurement (objectives 3 and 4)
  • Repeat as needed for more learning points, objectives, and measurements
  • Review fundamentals and discuss how great shooting is merely the great application of fundamentals and poor shooting is the poor execution of fundamentals; it’s the Indian and not the Arrow
  • Ask student to recount what they’ve learned and any positive experiences of the day

That seems like a long list, but it can actually go pretty fast once you get used to it. The above pattern is geared towards those with very little shooting experience, and is designed to illustrate that shooting is a very safe and enjoyable practice when done correctly. Obviously, you can tailor the message to the student if they have more experience and you are teaching them a particular skill.

Teaching others to shoot is an awesome opportunity to both introduce new people to the sport and improve upon your own skills in the process. Prior planning and preparation, even if informal, will dramatically improve the quality experience for everyone involved. The individual I took to the range last week came away not only with a higher level of ability than when they started, but also a much greater appreciation for what they didn’t know. I gave them a glimpse down the rabbit hole and showed them a wide world they might not have previously considered. Even if they don’t become avid shooters themselves, they come away appreciating how much work goes into becoming a great marksman.

That appreciation can be turned into action.

General

Your Gear Buying Philosophy is Probably Wrong, Here’s Why

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As a community, we often lose sight of the important stuff. One of the reasons I started this blog was the realization that I was spending far more time purchasing gear than I was actually working on becoming a better marksman. Since then, I’ve slightly returned to more gear buying than practicing, but for an entirely different purpose and under a very different philosophy. I’ll get to that later.

John Buol Jr. recently put up an article about the Lie Against Competition shooting. He relays a story from a police department that I found illuminating:

Not long ago, I supervised a standoff situation where our officers were placed in positions to engage a dangerous suspect. Several officers were armed with M4s. Bystanders were thickly mixed-in! Range to suspect was between 10 and 30m. Happily, our situation was resolved without our officers having to shoot.

As a precaution, I asked all officers to report, with their red-dot-equipped M4s, to the range the following week. I set-up a situation with paper targets that exactly duplicated the situation with which were confronted a week earlier.

Given generous time, stable, braced firing positions, and stationary targets, not one of our officers was able to deliver required shots, even after several attempts! When asked about sight settings and zeros, most officers were not prepared to answer definitively. Some didn’t even understand the question! An examination of the M4s present revealed that, in most cases, the red dot and the back-up iron sights did not agree. Some were not even close!

Similarly, Ned Christensen of Michiguns posted a thread on M4Carbine.net whereby he shows some of the “Sub Awesome” sling setups that he comes across while training law enforcement. The point of the thread is not to make fun of anyone, but to show that even the “pros” are not necessarily doing things right, either. John Buol Jr. shares that he has seen this repeatedly in the military as well, as have I. The underlying message of these articles is that competition has a valuable place in training, since you will simply not see these kinds of issues concerning zero distances and equipment configuration among competitive shooters. It’s a valid point, but not what I’m driving at.

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Identifying the Problem

All the Gucci gear in the world will not amount to a hill of beans if the person wielding it is not competent in the fundamentals. I sincerely believe that 95% of gun owners are better served by purchasing a basic (but quality) weapon and investing the rest of their time and money into training and focused practice. Hardware is not a substitute for software, even if the gun-owning community tries to prove otherwise every day.

Consider my thoughts on barrel selection as an example of how this gets out of hand. It’s probably the most popular post on this blog, which means there are a lot of people searching for information about what the “best” barrel is. In the real world, barrel configuration just isn’t that important. I was recently in a discussion with someone who absolutely believed that they needed a heavier SOCOM profile barrel for their first AR because it was the most “combat ready” of all the configurations out there. This individual could not speak to why the SOCOM profile was developed, and what made it particularly more worthy than any of the other profiles that have existed in the last 50 years (hint: it’s not), but he just knew it was what he needed.

Different types of barrel profiles and materials only matter when comparing two equally skilled shooters doing the same activity. It’s one thing to take two career door-kickers from an elite military unit and compare who performs at clearing a building using a 10.5″ barrel versus a 20″ barrel. But simply owning the “high speed” configuration doesn’t automatically make Average Joe perform like a career door-kicker. In fact, Average Joe may actually be hindering his growth as a shooter by limiting his future potential.

In the firearms community, we have developed this obsession with weapon capability. Instead, we should be focused on our own personal capabilities.

  • If you are unable to hold your rifle steady enough in field conditions to hit a target, is the solution for you to spend thousands of dollars on new gear to help you see the target better? No, it is not. You should be spending hundreds of dollars on some training and practice ammunition.
  • If you have never been trained to tactically clear a building, but think you might need to, then you are better spending money on seeking that training and putting in the practice with what you have. You are not well served by spending the money on NFA hardware when you don’t even really know how to use it right (or what its limitations are).
  • If you plan on getting involved in three gun, immediately purchasing $5K in “gaming hardware” is not in your interest. Instead, show up to a match with what you already own and learn how to push your current equipment to its limits. Burn out your barrel in the process and then figure out what will better serve your needs and techniques.

These things sound perfectly reasonable, but many of us don’t follow it. Our behavior as a shooting community still trends towards the things we shouldn’t be doing.

Why is this? My guess is that we inherently understand two things: First, it is difficult to admit where our skills are weak. Either because we lack enough experience to determine what we need to work on, or because we view admitting fault as weakness, we don’t talk about it. Secondly, we recognize that actually investing the time and money into improving ourselves is harder than buying “stuff.” It’s not as if the temptation isn’t always there. In the first hour after starting to write this post, I’ve received three emails from companies telling me that I need to purchase stuff from them to trick out my gear and “give me an edge.”

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How do we fix it?

This is a difficult challenge to overcome. It goes back to the death of mastery in our culture. Collectively, we want the easy fix so that we can go on experiencing a continuous series of “climaxes” when it comes to shooting. We reject the idea of riding the plateau. We don’t want to put in the work, because have been led to believe that work is for suckers.

Suggesting that everyone get involved in training and competition is certainly one path, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a realistic one. Not everyone lives where it is easy for them to do. For instance, my living in California means that the opportunity to use my ARs in any real training is extraordinarily limited and there just isn’t much of a competition scene. Sure, I could compete/train in another state- but then I have to factor in not only the cost of traveling, but also the cost of a different set of equipment (non-neutered rifles, 30 rd magazines, etc.) I’m not saying this is insurmountable, but it reduces the likelihood of participation for much of the population.

If I had my way, we would be establishing a culture that puts more emphasis on simply being good marksmen. Our language would shift away from what kind of gear we own to how we practice with it and, more importantly, what we are capable of doing without it. We would spend more time teaching others how to perform well, rather than telling them what they should buy.

At some point, we all need to realize that the idea of the “best” gear is fleeting. For example, I’ve been following the military’s strategic pivot to the Pacific theater, and I’m seeing some pretty interesting trends. We, as well as the Brits, have been renewing our emphasis on jungle warfare and I’ve been reading training reports and looking at pictures of the guys who are doing this training. Many of the advancements in gear and optics we’ve seen over the last 15 years of desert warfare are being reversed. Chest rigs are getting ditched in favor of belt rigs. Optics are being removed in favor of irons because the environments simply aren’t conducive to magnification, electronics, or really anything that has lenses. All of the things we decided were “the way to do things now” aren’t necessarily true anymore.

Do you know what hasn’t changed? The importance of knowing your own capabilities, working within them, and working to improve them. The one constant in all this evolution is the importance of the user.

When I said in the beginning that my gear buying philosophy has changed, I wasn’t lying. Whereas I used to buy “stuff” because I thought that’s what I was supposed to want (and the internet told me so), I now buy things based upon my needs. I don’t look to expand a particular weapon’s capability, I look to support mine. I realize that this distinction may not look significant from the outside, but it is a distinction. It’s taken me a lot of time and potentially wasted money to get here, and I want to help prevent others from making the same mistakes.

Don’t get me wrong, I still want some things just because. There isn’t a practical need for the new rifle I’ve been working on, it’s just something I would like to have. But I’m not telling myself that if only I had a lightweight 18″ rifle-gassed iron sight rifle, I could finally be comfortable carrying a rifle in the field and still be able to land hits at targets past 300 yards.

Where are your priorities? Do you desire to “look the part” and buy things to make it happen? Or do you buy things based upon careful analysis of your capabilities and analyze the most appropriate way to fill any gaps?

 

General

Looking into Formal Training

I’ve been seriously considering signing up for some more formalized training. I’ve learned a lot on my own by experimenting, but there just isn’t really a substitute for having a knowledgable coach looking over your shoulder and helping you with the little things. Since I don’t know anyone who I would place into such a category personally, I’m going to have to look elsewhere. There are two options before me, and I may just do both of them if finances allow.

There is an Appleseed shoot in August about an hour from where I live. The commute there and back for two days isn’t that big of a deal, as I’m already used to waking up at early hours (thanks, Air Force!). I already happened to have requested the required days off from work, and the $60 entry fee (plus ammo) is very affordable. I think this would offer great exposure to exactly the kind of shooting I’ve been doing.

Additionally, I noticed that rifles only is going to hold their five day Precision Rifle 1 & 2 combo course in the Sacramento area in October. If I really wanted to bear down into the brass tacks of precision shooting with extremely knowledgable and capable instructors, this would be the event. But, at $1550 registration, plus 500 rounds of .308, plus hotel and food, this would be stretching my ability to pay. I have to carefully consider the cost/benefit here. I’m not a sniper in some high speed military or LE unit. Such a course would really end up being little more than [expensive] fun. I have to wonder if I took all of that money and applied it to ammunition or a few performance upgrades to Gungnir (bedding job, barrel work, magazine, optic, etc.), would it be better spent?

In other news, Rifleslinger put up a target for his uses that I think I’m going to appropriate for mine. Its size and scoring system actually work out very well for my stated accuracy requirements. It also allows me an easy, and objective, way to score my shooting for any given range session.