Rifle 101 and 102 - August 27, 2016
On a warm August day in the Georgia heat, we had a great group come out and do some rifle training at Fair Weather Farms in Monroe. We began the course with classroom discussion and instruction covering a variety of topics:
- Brief history of the AR-15
- Identification of parts and components
- Terminology, vocabulary, and application of terms
- Line of sight, mechanical offset
- Fundamentals of Shooting
- Questions and Answers
This section took about 2.5 hours, and then we headed to the range for the remainder of the day. Using our Rubber Dummies as our targets, we began our drills with controlled pairs on two targets each. With a specific focus on shot cadence and transitioning between targets, we made sure that everyone was warmed up and ready to build on each exercise with additional levels of complexity.
I'm a firm believer in repetition, and I will always add on to each exercise that we are practicing with additional complex tasks to push the skill sets of everyone involved. This allows us to push the more advanced students the next levels of performance without leaving the less advanced students behind and neglected. In our courses, it's not about being faster and better than the guy next to you... It's about being better than you were on the last repetition. This is the focus of all of our exercises.
The first level of complexity that we added was to introduce movement into our controlled pairs on multiple targets. We began with shooting on the approach as the two groups alternated and practiced keeping their feet, eyes, and hands engaged in a rhythm that would allow them to maintain a good shot cadence while scoring hits on the move. After everyone seemed okay with this exercise, we changed the direction of movement and performed the same task while on the retreat.
Next we moved into manipulations of the rifle as we introduced mandatory reloads into the drill while on the move. With the more advanced shooters, we would push their comfort level by forcing them to perform the slide-lock reloads faster and while moving at a quicker pace. As everyone seemed to be more and more competent, we moved into more advanced manipulations by inducing malfunctions. Using an item known as "the Paw," made and patented by Curt Carpenter of Light Horse Tactical, we were able to force a malfunction in the participants rifle at any time. This makes the student identify the malfunction which has occurred, decide the corrective action that they will take, and perform the necessary tasks to get the gun back into operation. I think all of the participants would agree that this added a very large degree of complexity to each and every task that we were performing.
To further push the skill levels of each participant, we introduced the shot timer into the exercise. There is something about that "beep" and knowing that you are being quantifiably measured which adds a level of stress which is difficult to describe. It's a fantastic way for us to induce stress and see how each participant reacts to the multiple complexities of each exercise.
As the students skills improved, we added in the modified VTAC boards into the mix of exercises. These boards are designed to force the shooter into awkward positions. We ran exercises requiring two hits from each "window" and then from either a prone or urban prone position under the boards. It was a great addition to the curriculum and one that each participant seemed to get a lot of exposure from. Coupled with the complexity of induced malfunctions and the stress of a shot timer, we were able to push the skill limit of each participant and demand that their level of proficiency would be elevated by the end of the day. I don't think anyone left disappointed...
Lastly, we wanted to work with a vehicle and understand the use of Cover vs. Concealment when shooting around cars. Using a fresh car that was in good condition for training, we went through multiple demonstrations of shooting through the vehicle at various angles. We want to clarify some common questions and clear up any common misconceptions that have spawned from Hollywood... For instance:
- Will car doors stop bullets?
- Will the glass of a car stop a bullet?
- What happens when you shoot the gas tank of a car?
- What happens when you shoot the tires of a car?
- Which parts of the car provide cover vs. the others which provide concealment?
Lastly, we wanted to make sure that each participant had ample opportunity to get some range time on the vehicle, so we placed two rubber dummies in the car and let the participants go to work. Somehow, I don't think the car is in any kind of usable condition any more...
All in all, it was a fantastic day of training and one that provided a healthy balance of challenge and enjoyment. We look forward to having everyone back out for future training events.