There is a Story afoot . . .



A story has attacked me . . . not sure where it's from, but I have been posting chapters as they come out of my fingers. Yes, I am still posting on firearms training and my new topic of basic prepping - all links are to the right of the blog, newest posts first on the lists. Feel free to ignore the story posts - they usually start with a chapter number. But, feel free to read the story as well and comment on it - I like how it's turning out so far! Links to the various chapters are at the right under . . .

The Story

Bill

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review and Range Trip – With the Ruger Precision Rimfire

I’ve been enjoying poking my nose down the rabbit hole that is “precision shooting”.  I began with a DPMS LM308.  This year I sold that particular system and purchased a Ruger Precision Rifle in .308.  It’s a great gun.  With a VORTEX mildot scope it becomes and exceptional buy.  However, with “cheap” PMC X-TAC ammo running $.75 per round, not to mention match grade ammo running nearly double that . . . it’s a pricey platform to learn and practice all the little details of precision shooting on.

In response to this Ruger released their Ruger Precision Rimfire rifle as a trainer for the Precision Rifle series.  It allows you to learn, experience, practice, work out kinks at a much-reduced cost.  I am shooting Eley Club ammunition.  In lots of 500 rounds the cost is only $.15 per round.  I’ve made two detailed trips to the range after initially sighting in the rifle shooting 50 rounds each trip.  That has taken about 1-1/2 hours each trip, but I believe I got good work done.  And, that’s what this post is about . . . the weapon system, how it’s configured and what I worked on during this last trip.

Let me say up front that this post is meant for the “new and inexperienced shooter".  That is the focus of my blog.  However, I do share these posts on instructor groups as well so I can receive their feedback and share my approach as well.  Hopefully we all learn from the post and the responses.  Time will tell.




The Ruger Precision Rimfire is an 18”, 6.8 lb., bolt action rifle with a 15 round magazine provided (though it will accept standard Ruger 10/22 magazines).  It is built around the form factor of the Ruger Precision Rifle series including their adjustable trigger.  Mine came set for 2.5 lbs. of pull.  I mounted a sling swivel to the provided MAGPUL M-LOK handguard and then attached a Caldwell tripod.  I also mounted a Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 3-9 X 40 scope with BDC reticle. 

The standard range distance for this rifle/scope combination is 50 yards which means you’re looking for group sizes of ½ inch or less.  In a previous trip I tried a number of types of ammunition ranging from the Winchester “333 rounds per box” cheap stuff to my final selection – Eley Club 40 gr rounds.  That is the only round I fired on this trip.  Honestly, over that past 2-ish years I’ve been working on precision shooting I find that after 50 rounds down range my learning and evaluation diminishes so that’s what I’ve settled on for now.

What a good training rifle should do is to emulate, as close as possible, the final rifle you will be shooting.  The Ruger Precision Rimfire does this exceptionally well.  You can fully adjust the stock, the trigger pull, even the length of the bolt throw to emulate its “big brothers and sisters”. 

So, what the heck does one “work on” when attempting “precision rifle shooting”?  Here is my list and my thoughts as they are today . . . time and additional experience will probably change some of these things.

Weapon setup:  the mounting of the scope, bipod, the adjustment of the trigger pull, the setup of the adjustable stock, the type and use of a bag for additional stability and finally, zeroing the system are all initial items.  I’m pretty happy with everything right now.  The zero has held solid, the bag and bipod are working well . . . so all is well in this part of my world.

Ammunition selection:  I was aided by simply perusing the internet for recommendations for precision .22 caliber ammunition.  Ely bubbles out pretty damn quick as “the” vendor many folks use.  There was an exceptional test of 22 ammunition completed and posted by the folks on the accuratereloading.com website.  If you are looking for comparisons between the host of 22 ammunition available, take some time to look at their work.  You will note that there is little difference between the different Eley rounds and the Club version is much more economical than their match grade option.  As I said, I am happy with that particular choice.

Mounting the rifle and obtaining a consistent and stable sight picture through the scope:  Obviously this is one of a number of elements (in my opinion anyway) to placing an accurate and precise rounds down range.  It consists of a handful of components to do it well.  Loading the bipod – leaning slightly into the bipod to stabilize the front of the weapon and to help mitigate the recoil.  Next is the cheek weld on the comb on the stock.  Finding that spot on both your face and the comb that, when the two meet, your sight picture is exactly as you want it to be.  Next is using your support hand to grip the bag, placing it under to butt of the stock and squeezing it just the right amount to get the vertical placement of the reticle of the scope on your target.  And learning to do this particular process quickly and consistently.  Next is gripping the stock.  What works well for me to help with stability is that I DO NOT wrap my thumb across the back of the grip but rather simply lay is forward along the right side of the grip.  Placing the trigger finger is next, about 1/3 from finger tip to first joint works well for me.  This gets me ready for the actual shot . . . and must be “firmed up” prior to each and every round I send down range.

Next is trigger press:  For about half of the rounds – once past the “cold bore” stage – around 10-13 rounds - I used the “press slowly and be surprised by the shot” approach for half the remaining rounds and then I changed to the “deliberate press” that is simply firmly pressing the trigger to the rear in one quick, smooth press once I see the sight picture I wanted.  And making sure this DOES NOT turn into jerking the trigger.  Finally, follow through – hold the trigger to the rear, come back on target and then work the bolt for the next round.

Hopefully this explains how sending 50 rounds down range can take an hour and a half to do.  It takes time to feel your way through each round, to insure you are doing what you want and . . . when you don’t . . . making notes to account for the “How the hell did that happen!?!?!?” rounds.  On the targets I’ll show these are called “flyers”.

So, for this trip, how did I do . . . and what did I learn.  Let’s start with sheet number one.  A few quick words about these specific targets.  I made these and I use them in my rifle instructor course for BSA rifle instructors.  They are typically shot using iron sights at 50 feet.  However, for a 9x scope, they work great for 50 yards.  And being a lazy critter, I can post two targets in one trip down range and conduct my entire trip without having to schlep down range.  The scope allows more than adequate spotting capabilities at 50 yards.  And, as you can see, rather that writing notes in a DOPE book, I can simply annotate the target and either take a photo of the target for my records or punch holes in it and put it in a range notebook.  I actually do both of these things.


A “cold bore shot” is that first round through the barrel.  It’s placement on the target will not be the same as with a warm barrel.  Most final adjustments made to the scope are after a number of rounds have been sent down range and warmed up the barrel.  That’s why there is typically a place where you can mark your cold bore shot in your DOPE book.  DOPE stands for Data Observed on Previous Engagement.  It is a history of your rounds through the specific weapon you are shooting.  It is particularly handy if you are developing you own loads, but it also lets you learn how your particular rifle shoots . . . and lets you catch issues as they crop up.  These may be mechanical ( say a loose scope ) or perhaps you’re beginning to jerk the trigger or developing flinch.  They are very good tools to help you as a precision shooter.

As I said, they let you know how your rifle performs.  How many times have you heard a shooter at the bench next to you pull out his rifle, send his first couple rounds down range and then say something like “Darn it!! I just zeroed this thing last week and look at it!  It’s nearly an inch off!!!  CRAP!!!”  And then they start cranking on the scope which devolves into “chasing the hole” as their barrel heats up.  I’ve seen this all too often.

You will note that on Sheet 1, target 1 the group is a bit high and only has 4 rounds on it.  Look a bit to the right and you will notice a single round on the left edge of target 2.  That was my first round of the day.  Heavy sigh . . . and while the round group is still ½ inch-ish.  You will notice that by the time I am through target 2, and half way through my 5 rounds on target 3, the groups are beginning to tighten and increasing in accuracy with typically having one flyer thrown in on too many of the 5 round groups. 

So, for true evaluation of how I am doing with mounting the weapon, bagging the rear, placing the reticle where I want it, watching my grip, working on trigger press and follow through, targets 4 and 5 on sheet 1 have value and all of sheet 2 has value.

On target 4 I am posting a ¼-inch group with one flyer and on target 5 I have a ¼ x ½-inch group that indicated by bag work sucked.  Notice the rounds are in a nice, vertical line indicating either I was remiss in the amount of pressure I applied to the bag for each round, or my breath management needs work particularly the pause at the bottom of the cycle.


Note that on target 1 of sheet 2 I have an OK group but it is on the “fat” side of ½ inch.  This is the last target where my trigger press was such that I slowly pressed the trigger waiting for the “surprise”.  This leads to a long-duration trigger press.  The longer it takes, the more things can “wiggle”.  Beginning with target 2 of sheet 2 I worked on a “deliberate” but smooth trigger press.  When I saw the sight picture I wanted, I paused my breath and just pressed the trigger.  Wasn’t concerned with “slow” and focused on “smooth”.  The groups definitely tightened up . . . but each target each had a “flyer”, one round that was uncharacteristically much farther away from the primary group.  This would indicate that for 1 out of the 4 rounds I “jerked” the trigger and did not “deliberately and smoothly” press the trigger.

So, what’s the bottom line for this particular trip?  First, the setup is solid.  The shot placement was precise and mostly accurate for the 50 rounds.  The ammunition is consistent.  The results here pretty well matched my initial sighting in and familiarization trip to the range.  Overall my technique is OK – I think – and yielded ½ inch-ish groups.  That said, it’s apparent the weapon is capable of ¼ inch groups or better.  And finally, the flyers simply show that each and every round is important and I need to focus on EVERY ROUND.

It was a good trip IMHO.  I confirmed that weapon setup.  I got to experience the move from cold bore shots to shots when the barrel is “up to temperature” and actually see the difference.  I was able to work on a couple different approaches to trigger press.  And, I have a list of things to work on for the next range trip.

So, thoughts for new and inexperienced shooter . . . and perhaps experienced shooters.  Take your time on the range.   Yep, it’s fun to make holes and make it go bang . . . but back to a favorite phrase of mine – “Practice with purpose”.  Define your range trip, have a plan, execute the plan and evaluate your work as you go.  Document your trip whether it be in your DOPE book or on the target that you keep or take photos of.  We all spend a fair amount of money on our toys . . . and it takes work to get the most out of them.


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Training - Brushing off the Rust


For those of us in the northern half of the US – in my case east central Iowa – the weather has started to warm.  Spring is late this year to be honest, with significant snowfall well into April.  And while I do my best, trips to the range diminish with the onset of temps in, and below, the single digits.  So, it’s time to brush the rust off and see where I am at the beginning of this year’s shooting and training season.

What I want to chat about is the “what” and a suggestion of “how” your rust brushing should be done.  Yes. . . I know everyone has their opinion, this is simply mine.

First things first – does your gun RUN?  What I mean by “gun” is your daily carry gun.  The one that, as you read this post, rests snuggly on your hip or at your 1 o’clock in a AIWB holster.  What I mean by “RUN” is that it should complete your entire drill set error free.  The course of fire you choose should wring this out and include multiple magazine changes as well.

Is your draw smooth and sure?  Our past winter was particularly chilly so a multi-layer system for me was common.  My draw stroke with an IWB holster under a Henley, under a Columbia cold weather system, with gloves on . . . takes a bit longer.  Not orders of magnitude longer . . . but longer.  On this range trip I was back to a single, untucked shirt.  Much better!  The process of smoothing things out revolves around multiple draws from the holster.  So, your course of fire should encourage just that – a sizable number of draws prior to engagement.

Marksmanship is in the mix as well.  Can you hit the threat or accurately place a precise shot?  Can you shoot a qualifying score – in my case not less than an 80%.  Of course, this means you need to define scoring before your first shot and not “adjust” things to make yourself feel better.  In my case I’m using my target of choice – the LETargets SEB target.  A good hit is within the High Center Mass box, Pelvic Girdle box, within the precision shapes or the Ocular cavity.  Within means within or touching the shape.  What is does not mean is – “anything within the silhouette is a hit”.

Next is round count.  How many rounds can be used to effectively evaluate where the heck you are shooting wise?  I have three training magazines.  My approach was to put 15 rounds in each magazine for a total of 45 rounds for each of three distances – a total of 135 rounds.  This also insured 9 magazine changes.

Finally, the course of fire.  I chose three distances – 5y, 10y and 15y. 

The first magazine was a single round engagement, high center mass for each draw.

The second magazine was an accelerated pair of on the pelvic girdle plus the remaining single round

The third magazine was all precision shots.
·        Draw and a single round engagement on the #1 shape.  The next draw was a single round engagement on the #2 shape.  And so on . . . through the #6 Shape.

·        Next was a draw and an accelerated pair on the #1 shape.  The next draw was an accelerated pair on the #2 shape.  And so on  . . . through the #4 Shape.

·        The final draw was a single round engagement on the Ocular Cavity.

·        Total round count – 45 rounds.

This process was repeated for stage 2 at 10 yards.  And, it was varied at stage three at 15 yards in that I scored the High Center Mass and Pelvic Girdle boxes separate from the precise shots.  The reasoning for this I that I considered it imperative that I “pass” on the boxes and see it as less than realistic to shoot an 80% on 7 different boxes that are 3 ½”-ish at 15 yards.  Again, the parameters are mine, you may well choose a higher expectation of yourself.

Once I had this defined, I shot the course of fire from three different targets at three different distances.  As I am wont to do, I took photos of each target.  HOWEVER – pro tip – check to make sure your images are actually recorded!  Sadly, I did not and I must not have been diligent in pressing the button on the screen firmly or whatever was needed.  The only target actually photographed was the one at 10y.  And, of course I had applied one target over the other.  Heavy sigh.  But, I did go back and take a photo of the summary at the top of each target for inclusion in this post.

There was one other change for the day that played in this process – the previous week  I had driven to Brownells and purchased a Wilson Combat Match Grade Barrel for my carry Glock 17.  I had run around 60 rounds through it previously, but this was it’s first go to evaluate reliability and accuracy in my weapon.  The obvious concern is that with much tighter tolerances, would there be problems with the gun not running as smoothly as I am used to.  The answer . . . it ran just fine, no feeding problems or ejection issues at all.

So bottom line, how did the day go?  On the 5 yard target I was down zero for a score of 100%

On the 10 yard target I was down 5 for a score of 89%

On the 15 yard target I was down 6 on the High Center Mass and Pelvic Girdle boxes for a score of 80%.  I did score the precision boxes as well . . . wasn’t pretty.  For 15 rounds I was down 11 . . . for a score of 27%.   Nope, I can not constantly shoot a 3 ½” group at 15 yards.  Honestly, this is also a place I don’t intend to spend a great deal of time on either.  The primary focus of my defensive practice will remain within the 7 yards range with some work done out to 10 yards.

So, if I did the math right for each distance there were three magazines, 45 rounds and 34 draws from concealment for a grand total of 135 round and 102 draws.  More than enough, IMNSHO, to brush off the rust and get me headed in the right direction.

Take some time, plan your first big range trip of the season, evaluate your skill set and see where your starting point is for this year.  Then post your approach and your result.  We can all learn from each other!




Saturday, March 24, 2018

Commentary – “Stop the Violence” . . . “March for our Lives” . . . What?????


A young fellow by the name of David Hogg has grabbed center stage after the vile act of evil that left 14 students and 3 teachers dead in Florida in February of this year.  His primary target is the NRA . . . an organization who has never had an NRA member as the primary shooter in a mass shooting (other than to stop it), never had a member involved in a school shooting, whose 125,000 instructors annually train 1 MILLION Americans in the safe use of their firearms. 

Perhaps a few words from the “Student Warrior Unleashed”.  A word of caution, this video is NOT safe to play at work or in school, it is NOT “child safe”.  The language is profane in the extreme.  This . . . this is the spokesman for this new movement to Stop the Violence and March for our lives.

David Hogg . . . voice of the movement


His parents must be so proud.  His school must be so proud.  Honestly, I think the young fellow has simply lost his cookies and could use some professional help.  It might be residual PTSD, or even showmanship.  Who knows.  A certain lack of education – or understanding of his education in history shows as well.  Sorry David, you do not live in a Democracy.  Perhaps a bit more time on the books and less in front of the camera would help.

So where are these young folks headed?  Let’s talk a bit about the initial premise of the walkout – #StopTheViolence.  What, exactly, does that mean?  Should we stop killing each other as a society?  Who can argue against that?  There are probably tens of thousands of laws on the books – one going all the way back to 1,300 BC that says something like “Thou Shalt Not Kill!”  I am in full agreement, as is virtually everyone else, with the exception of that person who is intent on killing . . . and evil seldom listens to any voice but its own.

Perhaps we should attempt to put our student’s mind at ease and clarify that individuals shouldn’t kill students while in school and, perhaps we should emphasize that by making schools “Gun Free Zones”.  Of course, I’m being facetious because the majority of school zones are already “Gun Free Zones” as was the school in Florida.  The result?  The only person with a gun, on school property in this type of shooting is that person who is intent on killing . . . and evil seldom listens to any voice but its own.

Perhaps we can simply lay blame for the killings at someone’s doorstep – say the NRA?  Honestly, here I need to raise my voice in objection because, as the saying goes, “I Am The NRA”.  In fact I am a NRA Trainer for Pistols, Rifles, Shotguns, Personal Protection in the Home, Personal Protection Outside of the Home, Range Safety Officers and as a NRA Training Counselor I can also train new NRA Instructors.  I know for a fact that safe handling of a firearms is my primary concern.  The defense of the student, their family and those in their charge is my next primary mission.  To say that good training and the teaching of safe gun handling is the cause of an evil use of a firearm is vile in and of itself.

Who could have affected the outcome of the Florida School shooting?  Honestly, there were many people.  Let’s start with the Health and Human Services department that were well aware that the shooter was mentally unstable and violent.  They, in conjunction with the BCSO were involved with over 18 individual visits to the shooter’s home.  They could have intervened – and in fact had made the decision to intervene to have him committed against his will.  They did nothing.

The FBI could have done something.  On at least two separate occasions they were notified that the shooter had made direct threats against the school.  They did nothing.

Perhaps a law that allows law enforcement to take guns from mentally ill people that appear to be a danger to themselves and others?  Florida already has such a law on the books, yet the shooter was never reported by either HHS or the BCSO.  In fact, nationwide the reporting of violent felons and mentally ill patients  to the FBI NICS is dismal.  If the person is NOT IN THE SYSTEM, they cannot be identified.

How about comprehensive background checks?  Closing the “gun show loophole”?  The only problem?  You can’t buy a gun without a background check.  Go to a gunstore to buy a gun – they will run a background check.  Go to a gun show and buy a gun – they will run a background check.  Order a gun online from a dealer – they will ship it to your local gun dealer (NOT YOU) and – they will run a background check.  Are there some exceptions – yes.  Sell a gun to a friend within state lines – the individual state will regulate whether you need to do that through a gun dealer or whether you can simply complete the sale yourself.  But . . . and this is a big butt . . . for background checks to be effective, the states must turn in the data.  Those with severe mental health issues must have their data entered.  No data, no chance of stopping the shooter.  In the Florida case, if the shooter had been committed, if that information had been entered, if those charged with protecting their community had done their job – those 17 would be alive today.  Period.

How about getting violent students out of the school?  The Obama Administration let it be known that if too many students of a certain color were removed from schools, their funding could be lost.  It should come as no surprise that in the Florida school the rate of students being reported for violence and removed suddenly dropped. 

Guns are always options of last resort.  And that includes use of deadly force by police officers and School Resource Officers.  But, should that day arrive – wouldn’t it be nice if the SRO acted to engage the shooter rather than exiting the building, establishing a perimeter and then holding other responding officers outside the building for 27 minutes? 

Bottom line, all the people the students expected to protect them, failed them.  The school administration, the SRO, the BCSO, HHS and the FBI failed to act on solid information.  Students and teachers died.  And the solution is to look to these same people to protect them going forward?  Really??

There is another culprit of course.  And the final target of this new movement – GUNS.  Yes, those black, evil chunks of polymer and steel that somehow magically come alive and seek out people to kill.  If only we could eliminate guns – ASSAULT WEAPONS specifically – all would be well.  Of course, you have not been able to purchase a true “Assault Weapon” – meaning a fully automatic firearm, since 1934.  But let’s just ignore that and stick with just taking them because then we will be safe and the killing will stop.  Mother Jones recently released a comprehensive account of all mass shootings from 1982 to 2018.  There have been 98 of them.  There have been 819 deaths.  The use of either an AR (ArmaLite Rifle) or AK (Kalashnikov Rifle) occurred only 15 times.  Let me say that one more time – ARs or AKs were only used is 15 of the 98 mass shootings since 1982 or only 15% of the time.  So, the obvious solution is to ban ARs and AKs.

Let’s broaden our view and look at the FBI data for 2016.  There were 15,070 murders in the US.  Of those 374 were committed by rifles – all types included.  This amounts to 2%.  So, the obvious solution is to ban ARs and AKs.  Twice as many deaths were committed with hands and feet, should we start chopping them off?  Five times as many deaths were caused by knives, shall we ban all knives?  (Don’t laugh, this is happening in the UK).

While the anti-civil rights crowd dance on the graves of those 17 who lost their lives in the Florida school shooting, make no mistake – their “final solution” is to deny me and all law-abiding citizens of our 2nd Amendment Right to keep and bear arms.   The blood of the children and teachers simply acting as grease for their wheels. 

Perhaps a brief look at history to see how that’s worked out when severe gun control legislation was enacted (year given that the law was passed). 

Germany, 1938,  All non-citizens were prohibited from owning and possessing firearms.  Jews were not citizens.

Soviet Union, 1929.  Stalin is estimated to have killed 20 million of his own citizens

Communist China, 1935 and 1957, estimates are that Mao killed between 40 and 80 million of his own citizens.

Cambodia, 1956,  Pol Pot killed 2 million of his own citizens

This, this right here is the purpose of the 2nd Amendment.  It gives the citizens of the state the ability to defend themselves against a state out of control.  Do we have examples of our state killing its own citizens because of guns? 

Wounded Knee, December 29, 1890.  The government killed between 150 and 300 Lakota people, most were women and children when they wouldn’t turn over their guns.

Waco, Texas  February – April 1993, Branch Davidians,  After a siege the building complex was raided by the ATF because of suspect weapons stock piling.  81 people were burned to death.

As recently as 2014 there was an armed standoff between the BLM and the Bundy family in a dispute over grazing rights that had been granted for over 20 years.  The standoff eventually resulted in the killing of a rancher, Robert Finicum and a resulting $5 Million-dollar wrongful death suit.  All charges against the family were dropped this year.

So where does this leave us?  I believe it leaves us with a number of uncomfortable truths.

Violence will never “stop”.  It is a part of human nature.  Wishing it to be gone does not banish it or violence would have disappeared long ago.

Evil exists.  And I mean real, honest to God, gut wrenching evil.  Try this link and realize this is in your country, not some 3rd world backwater.

The person you see in the mirror every morning is your “first responder”.  If you are living every day knowing that all you need to do is call 911 and you are saved – please, wake up before it’s too late.  Get some first aid training, take some defensive fighting classes, become responsible for yourself rather than trusting your safety to someone else.  I noticed that many states are enacting rules saying you can not buy a gun – any gun -  until age 21.  Think of the young woman with a stalker and a piece of paper that she expects to protect her from violence.  What could possibly go wrong.

Harden schools.  The NRA released their NRA School Shield Program early in 2013 after Sandyhook.  Make sure your school follows the tenants contained in it.  Make sure they have an armed SRO on duty every day.  Allow those teachers that follow state and local laws to acquire their individual carry permit to carry on school property if they so choose.  The more trained folks in a school that are armed, the higher the possibility to stop a school shooter.

Finally, one of our founders had a simple warning for us:

Benjamin Franklin once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." 

I believe it is a thought we should all take to heart.





Some reference links:

March for our lives – “Fingers” and signs


Mass Shootings 1982 – 2018  (819 killed)


Article on local students during the walkout


Kellogg-Briand Pact was an agreement to outlaw war signed on August 27, 1928














Benjamin Franklin once said: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." 
















Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Just the Basics - Your AR “Patrol Rifle”


This is an “opinion” piece.  And, we all know what is said about opinions . . . everyone has one.  I want to offer mine on things you might want to consider for the rifle you choose to defend your home and family.  I use the phrase “Patrol Rifle” as a way of moving your mindset to a more serious place.  This isn’t a rifle you plink with.  It’s not to be taken to the range to “check zero” . . . and nothing else (though if I ask a shooter at our range what they are working on with their AR, THAT is the response I get 90% of the time).  It’s not for target shooting, precision shooting or just blasting away.  It has a very specific purpose . . . to defend the lives of the most important people in your life from those who intend to do them harm.  That is the purpose of a “Patrol Rifle”.

Last week I went to our local police department and spent half a day stripping, cleaning (if needed) and inspecting their 9 patrol rifles.  These are the weapons their officers carry in their squad cars.  I did this in my role as their armorer and to fulfill the state requirement that these firearms be inspected by an armor once a year.  It was an interesting experience.  It was easy to see which officers worked with their weapons regularly, which were diligent about maintenance and those who placed their patrol rifles at the bottom of their “to do” list.

That said, virtually all of them provided good examples of what I consider constitutes a “Patrol Rifle” and that is what I want to chat about in this post.  What is its purpose, how is it typically used and what gear would you find attached to the weapon.

The Patrol Rifle is a “close in” weapon, typically the engagement distance is not significantly farther that those encountered with your handgun.  It may be across the room distance, down the hall distance, length of the house distance . . . but I suspect not much farther than that.  The “zero” I recommend is a 50/200 yard zero.  Zero your patrol rifle at 50 yards and it will also be zeroed at 200 yards while shooting about 1 inch high at 100 yards and 2 inches low at 10 yards.  The 50/200 zero will cover virtually all the ground necessary for a typical home defense need.  I might add that this also covers the typical range for a law enforcement officer’s engagement as well.  The actual need for a civilian homeowner to engage a lethal threat out to 200 yards is, for all practical purposes, nil.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend some time at that distance . . . but you will be much better served spending your time at 50 yards or less and the majority of your time at 10 yards or less. 

The rifle should be equipped with the basics . . . 16” barrel, front and rear iron sights, a holographic optic, adjustable stock, flashlight and easily adjustable sling.  That’s it . . . the end . . . nothing more.  Here is an image of my “patrol rifle” that I carry in my Jeep. 

I started with a DPMS 556 Oracle.  I know DPMS takes its share of complaints, but this particular rifle has been through many multi-day, 1,000+ round count courses – all without a weapon related failure.  Fat fingers failure – yes.  Head up butt failure – yes.  But no weapon related failures. 

It has also been through a 2-day basic armorer course where it was completely, COMPLETELY disassembled and reassembled – followed by a 2-day range course.  Again, no problems.  Bottom line, this is my “carry gun” and I trust it to protect my family.  This was my foundation. 

Feeding the patrol rifle are Magpul P-mags.  In it’s carry case I have three loaded magazines, downloaded by 2 rounds.  I have found these magazines to be incredibly reliable though I do take the precaution of keeping my carry magazines separate from my range magazines.

For basic iron sights I like the Magpul MBUS front and rear popup sights.  I have no problems using them through the EOTech holographic sight should its batteries crap out.  I’ve been very happy with this pair of sights.  They have remained rock solid, provide a solid sight picture and can be kept “stored” in the down position and be released with a simple touch of a button.  I have zeroed this particular pair a couple years ago and it has held zero just fine.

My EOTech optic has been around for more than a few years . . . yet it remains rock solid and I’m happy with it.  As with all similar optics it allows rapid target acquisition and rapid first-round hits.  Honestly, I like this particular optic since it uses AA batteries and I always have a fresh set available.  I realize the new kids on the block claim 4000+ hours out of their batteries, and that many shooters simply dim the dot and never turn it off . . . I simply don’t take that approach.  To each their own.

A weapon mounted light on a carbine is simply a must.  It DOES NOT replace the need for a handheld flashlight in your pocket but trying to identify a threat at distance while holding your patrol rifle and a handheld flashlight is just not practical.  I like the Streamlight TR-1.  It’s reliable, my generation light has 300 lumens and it is at my fingertip if I need it.  

Finally, there is the sling . . . and yes you need one.  Should you need to transition from your patrol rifle to your handgun, you don’t want to be in a position to have to juggle both or have to drop your rifle.  The trick is to find a comfortable sling that you can easily adjust.  The Bravo Company Viking Tactics wide padded is SIMPLY THE BEST!  It’s comfortable when worn all day and very easily adjustable.  A simple tug of the strap or release cord make rapid adjustment easy.

More stuff???  Well, there’s lots and lots of additional pieces of gear you can add.  Laser sights, IR Illuminators, bipods to name just a very few . . . I would suggest you do your best to pass on the temptation.  Keep it simple, keep it clean and spend the range time you need to be able to use your Patrol Rifle to defend yourself, your family or those in your charge.

Links


DPMS ORACLE 556


Magpul Pmags


Magpul MBUS Sights


Bravo Company Viking Tactics Sling


Streamlight TR1 Weapon Mounted Light


EOTech 512 Holographic Sight













Friday, December 29, 2017

Just the Basics – Standards


Periodically the training community likes to climb down the rabbit hole of “Standards”.  This usually degenerates into just plain raw speed of shooting some of the more popular drills . . . “Bill Drill”, “Dot Torture”, the new “Super Drill”, the “El Presidente” to name just a few.  And honestly, for those preaching these drills and posting blazing speed and great accuracy . . . these are solid drills that challenge folks that send thousands of rounds down range and spend hundreds of hours per year on the range.  It’s a challenge they need and one they gladly accept.  However, I fear that the new and inexperienced shooter rolling through various and sundry YouTube videos may see these and think that that’s the “Standard” for him.  It’s not.  So, where to begin, where to begin.

Let’s take a quick look at gun ownership.  A recent Pew Research Study concluded that of surveyed adults only 30% of them own firearms.  Of those, only 70% own a handgun.  Honestly, for most of us in the defensive firearm community, that is “our” group of people, the 70% of gun owners that actually own a handgun.  That said, “our” group gets smaller still.

The number of “adults” 18 and over is approximately 250 Million.  I am going to estimate that the over 21 crowd will come in at around 225 Million.  This would imply that 67.5 Million gun owners in the US and that of those 47.25 Million are hand gun owners.  THIS is “our” primary population base, these 47.25 Million handgun owners.

In October of 2017 the Washington Post drilled down into this group.  They found that of the 47.25 (my estimate) gun owners their survey found that 9 Million of them carried a defensive handgun once a month while 3 Million carried every day. 

3 Million carried every day.  These folks, the roughly 6.3% of the handgun owners in the US, carry every day.  It is these folks that I would like to have meet a “Foundational Standard”.  As for the remaining 44.25 million handgun owners . . . that choose not to carry daily . . . honestly, that’s THEIR choice.  As defensive firearms instructors we can encourage, nudge, push them to carry, but unless they mentally come to a conclusion that “TODAY” could be “their day” . . . we will have little to no effect on these folks.  We can share stories, news articles, the “good guy with a gun” stories . . . but the final decision to actually carry is on their shoulders.  So be it!

However, what about these 3 Million people that carry a defensive firearm on a daily basis.  Let’s talk about “standards”.

I believe there are five primary areas that need to be included in evaluating a defensive shooter.  And this builds the foundation of my “standard”.  They are basic handgun nomenclature and knowledge, an understanding of supporting equipment (holsters, belts, footwear, and flashlights), a minimal understanding of what describes a “good shoot” and the foundational elements of defensive shooting and the shooter’s mindset.

There always other ways to combine these areas of concerns, for example Gunsite use what they call the “Combat Triad” consisting of Marksmanship, Gun Handling and Combat Mindset.

Regardless of how you combine things, these are items which can be quantified, evaluated and tested.  Let’s drill down a bit more.

Basic Handgun Nomenclature and Knowledge

It’s difficult to communicate effectively if we don’t speak the same “language”.  Words like Single Action Revolver, Double Action Revolver, Single Action Semi-Automatic Pistol, Double Action/Single Action Semi-Automatic Pistol, Double Action Only Semi-Automatic Pistol, magazine, cartridge, ball ammunition, defensive ammunition . . . it’s a long list and a generally well understood list in the defensive shooting community.  But, for the new or inexperienced defensive shooter it may well sound like Greek.  There is tremendous value in taking the time to, at the VERY least, make sure they understand the individual firearm they are going to use as their defensive carry handgun.

This would imply that they understand the individual components and how they work together.  Exactly what type of handgun it is and how dos it functions.  How to field strip it and clean it.  How all additional items like safeties, de-cockers and “California Ready” modifications work (ex.  You can’t fire the firearm unless a magazine is fully seated).  How to execute a reload of the firearm.  And, how to clear the typical ammunition malfunctions as well as firearm malfunctions.

In other words, your student should be able to pick up their defensive handgun and fully describe it to you, tell you how it works, show you how to field strip it, demonstrate how to load it and clear it and describe the types of malfunctions – both ammunition and firearm – they may encounter and how to clear them.

I view this as a minimum standard.

Understanding of Supporting Equipment

While the papers frequently have articles of folks who have thrown a handgun in the bottom of their purse or simple stuffed one in their pockets (without the benefit of a holster or trigger guard) that subsequently shoot someone else or shoot themselves in the butt, these antics should be HUGE RED FLAG AREAS as we are presenting information to our students.  Time spent describing and demonstrating/showing good holster choices, good belt choices, a good magazine carrier choices is time very well spent.  It is all too easy for us to focus simply on the defensive handgun and then simply take a pass on the equipment that will allow this new shooter to safely carry their defensive handgun securely and consistently.

I view this as a minimum standard.

Minimum Understanding of a “Good Shoot”

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV or Netflix.  But there are foundational elements that should be discussed in general.  Those would be Ability, Opportunity, Jeopardy and Preclusion.  Why did the individual that you shot have the Ability and Opportunity to attack you in such a way that you felt you were in Immediate Jeopardy of loss of life or grave bodily injury to the Preclusion of any other choice other than the use of your defensive handgun.  If, as an instructor, these words are foreign to you . . . it’s time for some additional training.  I would suggest Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 course.  My point here being that a new defensive shooter is exposed to a bunch of crap out there . . . from former VP Joe Biden’s thoughts about firing a shotgun in the air or through a door to scare an attacker to dragging an intruder that was shot from the lawn into their home to “make” it a “good shoot”.  Understanding these basics– AOJP - needs to be a part of the “standard” a defensive shooter is measured against.

I view this as a minimum standard.

Foundational Elements of Defensive Shooting

There is a whole host of foundational material here.  Accessing their defensive handgun, Stance, Grip, Sight Alignment, Sight Picture, Trigger Press, Reacting to a threat, Moving off the line of fire.  Here an instructor must evaluate each individual student by observation.  Each element is important.  The melding of all these elements is an evolution.  During a set of coursework these things can be introduced but for real integration into the shooter’s life, it takes time, range time, dry fire time and rounds down range.  This too is something to be stressed during training.  Their learning does not end when the coursework is over.  That is the BEGINNING, not the end.  I see far too many permit holders that, once their coursework is over and they have their permit, they seldom touch their handgun.  It’s as though the “magic” of gun ownership will protect them.   For me personally, I stress that the absolute MINIMUM round count per year should be 1,000 rounds.  And I view that as a maintenance level, not a level that will promote growth.  Add to that taking some type of coursework each and every year and new shooter can grow into an effective defensive shooter.

I view this as a minimum standard.

Shooter Mindset

Mindset is, to me, one of the most difficult things to change with a new defensive shooting student.  I view my success rate by the number of students that actually change their life style to incorporate the daily carry of their defensive handgun.  If they don’t carry – that option to defend their lives, the lives of their family or those in their charge is greatly diminished.  While many come to class after the latest news program about a mass shooting, home break-in, local murder . . . once the coursework and range time is over and they are back in their daily flow, it is all too easy to fall back into the “that can’t happen here” or “that surely won’t happen to me” mindset.  Buying a gun, buying a sturdy holster and belt, changing clothing to provide for better concealment, taking time each month to visit the range to maintain basic proficiency, finding coursework to take the next year . . . THAT becomes hard.  Leaving the gun in the safe become easy.

One of the best lectures that married Col Cooper’s color code and his ideas on mindset was played for us as part of the Gunsite carbine course I took this past summer.  Here is the link, it’s well worth the half hour to watch it.


I view this as a minimum standard.

So, where does all of this leave us?  If you are an instructor . . . or a student . . . is there a “drill” that will do a reasonable job of wringing out the skill set of a defensive shooter?  Will it evaluate their equipment, their ability to “run their gun”, their ability to move, their marksmanship?  Will it evaluate this over a range of distances that the defensive shooter would typically encounter during his use of his handgun?  Personally I believe there is one that does a very reasonable job . . . that would be the OLD FBI course of fire.  It has been adopted by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and it is used to evaluate the vast majority of officers in the state of Iowa.  Let’s take a look at it.

Target:          FBI “Q”

Ammunition:            50 Rounds

Qualifying Score:   80%  (2 Points Per Hit)  90% for Instructors


Stage 1

Starting Point:         25 Yard Line

Time Allotted:          45 Seconds

Start with a fully loaded weapon.  On command the shooter draws and fires 3 rounds prone barricade position, 3 rounds strong side kneeling barricade position and 3 rounds strong side standing barricade position.  Upon completion, the shooter will conduct a tactical reload and holster a fully loaded weapon. 


Stage 2

Starting Point:         25 Yard Line

Time Allotted:          2 Rounds Standing (2-Strings)

                                  3 Rounds Kneeling (1st – 15 seconds on Movement String / 2nd 8                                              Seconds on Stationary String)

On command the shooter moves to the 15 yard line, draws and fires 2 rounds standing and 3 rounds kneeling in 15 seconds.  The shooter will scan and holster in between strings.  The shooter will start from the standing position and on the second command the shooter will fire 2 rounds standing and 3 rounds kneeling in 8 seconds.  Scan and holster upon completion.


Stage 3

Starting Point:         15 Yard Line

Time Allotted:          15 seconds

On command the shooter moves to the 7 yard line and fires 12 rounds in 15 seconds, to include a mandatory combat reload.  The shooter then arranges to have 5 rounds in the weapon and all remaining rounds in the magazine in their magazine pouch.


Stage 4

Starting Point:         7 Yard Line

Time Allotted:          15 Seconds

On command, the shooter moves to the 5 yard line, draws and fires 5 rounds strong hand only, combat reload, transfers the weapon to the support hand and fires 5 rounds support hand only.  Upon completion, holster weapon with strong hand.


Stage 5

Starting Point:         Arm’s Length from Target

Time Allotted:          3 Rounds in 3 Seconds (3-Strings)

On command the shooter takes a half step rearward and fires 3 rounds strong hand only from the Close Quarter Retention Position (with support hand in a defensive position) in 3 se3conds and then scans and holsters.  On command the shooter will then reposition at arm’s length.  Repeat two more times.  Then holster an empty weapon.

So let’s see if this “drill” evaluates things I want to look at in a defensive shooter.  Reliability of their firearm – Yep, at least for 50 consecutive rounds.  Clearing malfunctions – yep, they need to be cleared as the shooter moves through the drill.  Other equipment – yep, crappy holsters and belts show up pretty quick as does poorly positioned equipment.  Foot wear can also be evaluated.  General gun handling – yep, you get a reasonably good idea of the shooters ability to draw from concealment quickly and safely as well as establishing their grip as well as shooting single handed and doing both combat reloads and a tactical reload.  Ability to move safely – yep.  Moving between the different firing lines allows the instructor to evaluate their general ability to do so safely.  Marksmanship over a range of distances – yep.  The shooter engages the threat from 25, 15, 7 yards and arm’s length.  With this course of fire and a standard FBI Q target a hit within the outline of the silhouette.  Minimum qualification is 80% and shooters are typically given 3 opportunities to qualify.  For instructors the minimum score is 90% again with 3 opportunities to qualify. 

If you are looking for a solid “drill” that evaluates a shooter over a broad portion of their overall shooting skill set, I believe this particular course of fire does a very good job.  And, if you are looking for a “standard” to judge yourself against, this is a very balanced place to start.

“Standards” . . . do they matter?  It depends.  While being able to score a 50 on the Dot Torture drill certainly does a good job of evaluating a shooters fine motor skills and their ability to focus and be diligent about doing all the shooting portions of a skill set well, it leaves large portions of a defensive skill set untested.  The same argument could be made for many of the other drill favorites. 

But, if you are truly interested in testing an entire skill set as well as equipment, take a look at this particular drill.  I think it does a solid job.