Rabbit holes can be challenging. My current quest, as I’ve covered in a couple posts, is one of becoming a good long range shooter. This means that my goal is to shoot my AP4 to the level of its capabilities. It has proven to be capable of sub-MOA work and can reliably produce a group 1 MOA plus or minus 1/10. That’s my goal, to do this upon demand.
I also hate to look stupid or unskilled . . . I know you’re all shocked! So, as with all things I jump into (and believe me there’s a ton of topics that grab my attention from Astronomy to Wilderness Survival) I jump in with both feet, hit the books, hit the “classroom” and – in today’s world – I look for solid coursework on the Internet (think Udemy or Creativelive for example) or on DVD. In my review of Jim See’s long range shooting course I linked to MAGPUL DYNAMICS “The Art of The Precision Rifle” as one of my source materials for course preparation. If you are poking your nose down this particular rabbit hole and looking for some good foundational material, you could do much worse than this $38, 5-DVD, 10 hour set of coursework. Honestly, it’s a no brainer – send them your money, wait for the brown truck of happiness and enjoy!
So, I thought I’d take a bit of time and do a review of this set of coursework.
The primary players on for the majority of the video are Todd Hodnett, Chris Costa, Travis Haley, Steve Fisher, Mike Olivella and Caylen Wojcik. Todd Hodnett is the President of Accuracy 1st – a company specializing in training long range shooters (both civilian and military/LE) as well as selling products to assist the shooter.
At the time of filming Chris, Travis, Steve, Mike and Caylen were instructors for Magpul Dynamics. Magpul Dynamics has morphed into Magpul CORE and still offer the Long Range 1 course that seems to follow the first 2 DVDs of this material.
Caylen Wojcik continues to work for Magpul as their Director of Training for Long Range Shooting. Steve Fisher now acts as a Trainer/Business Consultant in his company Sentinel Concepts. Mike Olivella is currently a Trainer/Coach for SOLKOA Inc. in Florida. Chris Costa left Magpul in 2012 and founded Costa Ludus LLC specializing and weapons and tactics training. Finally, Travis Haley also left Magpul and founded Haley Strategic, offering a broad range of training and custom equipment.
The course work was divided into a five disc set, each focused on multiple topics. I’ll list the contents of each and then give you my thoughts on its individual content.
DISC1 – Course Part 1 (142 min)
- Rifle Setup
- Cold Bore vs Clean Bore
DISC 1 focused on the foundation – the rifle, its configuration, the equipment tacked on it (bipod, stock, scope, rear bags), zeroing the weapon, building your position behind the gun, loading the bipod, the various Reticles available and a ton of little bits and pieces of wisdom that Todd Hodnett has picked up over the years teaching this type of coursework. The range was setup through a valley in Texas. Targets ranged from a couple hundred yards to a mile. I’d say most the shooting was done between 400 yards and 1100 yards. DISC 1 is worth the price of admission along just for the amount of info presented regarding the weapon and the shooters position.
DISC 2 – Course Part 2 (133 min)
- Broken Scope Field Zero
- Accuracy 1st Wind Formula
- Wind Course Part 1
- Wind Course Part 2
- Wind Course Part 3
- Wind Course Wrap Up
- The One Mile Shot
- Wrap Up
The focus of this entire DVD was wind, wind, wind, wind, wind . . . While mild winds have little effect on a 100 yard shot, push that shot out to 300, 500, 800, 1000 yards and you bullet can easily be pushed left or right distances larger that the width of your entire target. By observing surrounding grasses, indicator flags, mirage an estimate of the wind speed and direction can be made. Then, either by experience, ballistics tables for your particular bullet and cartridge or through the use of a Ballistics Calculator a “hold” can be developed so the reticle can be used in such a way to allow the “hold” to account for the speed of the wind and its direction insuring that your bullet still strikes your intended target. Honestly, in watching the 3-part wind course and experiencing Jim See call the wind during his long range shooting course . . . this is much more an art form than a purely computational problem. I suspect I will be putting many more rounds down range before I am anywhere near comfortable with this particular stretch of the “rabbit hole”.
The distances they were shooting were pretty darn impressive. The weapons ran the gamut from a .338 to a .308 carbine. It was a pretty impressive 2 hour display.
DISC 3 – USMC Fundamentals (126 min)
- The Sniper
- The USMC Sniper
- LE Sniper
- Tools of the Military Sniper
- Data Books
- Quick Reference Drills
I wonder how many long range shooters visualize themselves as a sniper on over watch. The reality is that actually shooting is but a very, very small part of a sniper’s job. Much of it revolves around data gathering, acting as a spotter for artillery, mortar fire or close air support. And, on occasion they take out a designated target. That said, the shooting process, the preparation, the training, the mindset was well laid out and is certainly applicable for the civilian long range shooter. It was also noted that many of the requirements for a military sniper carry into the law enforcement community. In fact, given that law enforcement snipers operate in a community environment their requirement for precise shots is significantly higher.
Some time was also spent on Data Books. These are used as direct feedback to you, the shooter, to evaluate your level of training, your understanding of what exactly you are doing on the range and to provide solid data on the performance of your particular weapon. Secondarily, they provide good documentation that you are serious about your training.
DISC 4 – Gear (97 min)
- Bolt Action
- Ancillary Gear
- Rifle Optics
- Muzzle Accessories
- Support Equipment
This DVD drilled down much more comparing bolt action weapons to semi-automatic weapons. It covered rear bags, bipods, shooting sticks, tripods, hand held weather stations, rifle scopes and various reticles, muzzle breaks, suppressors and various support equipment. There is no shortage of gear you can spend money on. There was a lot of solid information, well thought-out discussion and ideas you might want to review before you head to the gun store.
DISC 5 – Bonus Features (93 minutes)
This disc filled in any remaining blanks that I could see. They covered cleaning, unconventional positions, long range trajectories and ways you can push yourself as a long range shooter.
Obviously, to get through the entire set of discs you are looking at 10 hours. The majority of the “meat” is contained in the first two discs, but that in no way implies that you should take a pass on the remaining three. I found real value in each disc, each lesson and each shooting example.
So, would I consider this a long range shooting course? No, not really. But for me, a data geek, it was nice to have some of the terminology, the basics and a general idea of a direction before I took Jim See’s long range course. None of the information conflicted with Jim’s approach. And, I did feel like it gave me a bit of a leg up since I’d never shot at the distances Jim asked of us.
“The Art of The Precision Rifle” is well worth your time and the $38 that Amazon is asking for the product.