Well, it seems I’ve covered a “Fall Shooting Evaluation” of my carry gun - a Glock 17, my newly won gun - a Glock 19, my defensive carbine – a DPMS Oracle in .223. It seems only logical that I run a range trip to evaluate my shooting capability with one of my two precision rifles – a “build” with a no-name lower, a Bushmaster upper, a DMPS trigger group that has been upgraded with a Timney single stage trigger, a no-name adjustable stock, Blue Force sling, Harris Bipod, Nikon Prostaff scope with a BDC reticle and an attached level. It’s been the gun I’ve been using to learn/tweak/and work on my mechanics while also being able to work on my precision as well. It’s been a good tool.
It’s also been sitting in it’s case for a bit too long – 6 months or more. So here’s the drill . . . family member held hostage, a cold bore headshot is my only option and this is the gun I have in my hand. I gotta “go to work”.
Let’s expand on the scenario a bit more. I’ve provided links below to studies of SWAT sniper engagements over the last decade or more. First – there have been VERY FEW. And, the average distance for a precision shot? 50 Yards. Yep, that’s it – 50 yards. So while everyone is so very fond of shooting at 100 yards and much more . . . the “real work” is actually accomplished at a much closer distance. Rob Pincus talks about “possible”, “plausible” and “probable”. It’s possible you might need to take a 300 yard defensive shot, it’s much more plausible the distance would be within 100 yards and it is most probable the distance would be at the 50 yard distance. So where do you spend your time? If you’re like most shooters the “cool factor” of ringing steel at 500 yards is pretty darn high – and takes a lot of work. The real work of hammering round after round into the ocular cavity on a LEtargets SEB SWAT target doesn’t really seem rise to the level of a 500 yard shot. My advice – if your precision rifle is one of your defensive components – start spending time at 50 yards.
So, I grabbed 4 boxes of range ammo (80 rounds), grabbed my carbine and headed to the range yet again. This is been more range trips that I have done in quite some time but the results have been interesting and the focus has been on evaluation of just where the heck I am currently as a shooter. I think it’s been good time spent.
So here’s the course of fire I came up with . . .
First 5 rounds are all cold bore shots to the ocular cavity
Next 15 rounds down the left side of the target – 5 on the “1”, 5 on the “3” and 5 on the “5”.
Following 15 rounds down the right side of the target – 5 on the “2”, 5 on the “4” and 5 on the “6”.
Next 5 on the high center mass box, rate of fire is 1 round per second.
The final 5 rounds are on the pelvic girdle box – rate of fire is 1 round per half-second.
Total round count – 45 rounds. My result – down zero. Pretty darn happy with that honestly, particularly with the 5 cold bore rounds to the ocular cavity. Solid hits certainly helps to raise the confidence level should such a requirement be thrown at me.
I finished with 10 rounds left so I stepped over to the 100 yard range . . . with a steel plate at the target line. Who can resist – right? I went 10/10 - I'll take it!
There are a number of elements that help yield precice hits at greater distances. A firearm capable of a minimum level of accuracy – say 1MOA. A crisp and very repeatable trigger, a good optic – good, it doesn’t need to be a $3,500 optic. The Nikon Prostaff with the BDC reticle I have cost around $150 and got me through a precision shooting course out to 500 yards without any problem. A scope level helps and become more meaningful as distance increases. A solid bipod that you can consistently load and keep on target through multiple round engagements. And, lastly, dependable and consistent ammunition. What I shot today was cheap ball ammo, 55 grain PMC. More that good enough for good training work.
The last component is simply time behind the gun. Precision shooting on the part of the shooter becomes a balance of breath management, smooth trigger press, disengaging from the weapon as much as possible and using solid bagging techniques . . . and, as I said before, time behind the gun. I’ve done a number of posts on long range shooting. There is value in them, take some time and read through them. All of the info will help you make a critical and very precise shot that you will need to make to save your family member. There are no short cuts, you just plain need to do the work.
I’ve also done a rather extensive post on “Head Shots” too. There is so very much more than just “shooting the bastard in the head”.
So here’s your challenge. If a precision rifle is part of your defensive suite – to the range, set up an appropriate target and fire the first 5 rounds at the “head”. See how you do. There is also value of a course of fire similar to what I have laid out here as well. If you never evaluate yourself . . . never test yourself . . . should the worst happen, it will be too late to “tune” up your shooting.
No shortcuts – hit the range, do the work, expect the best . . . every range trip.
Here are some articles regarding SWAP Sniper shots and their distance. They're certainly worth your time to read.