Saturday, November 24, 2018

Training - Precision Rifle - How the heck am I doing

It was a great day today . . . mid-40s, clear, sun, little wind after lunch . . . what to do, what to do??

Range trip, of course!  A small handful of other guys had the same idea.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time of late with my Ruger Precision 22LR so I though I’d bring out the bigger guys – my backup AR configured for long range work and my Ruger Precision .308.  I brought 60 rounds per rifle.  Typically I’ve been keeping rifle trips to 50 rounds each.  I have a rifle instructor target I use for my students that has 5ea, 3-inch targets on it.  This lets me shoot 5 rounds groups, chuck out the flyer and see how my 80% group looks.  I like this process.  And, the 50 round limit is typically a good stopping point from a focus/concentration POV as well.  I obviously pushed it today with two different rifles, but the difference between the two is great enough that it really helped me to re-focus when I moved from the .223 to the .308.  Regardless, it’s how I laid out the trip.

I began with the .223 backup AR.  I have a Nikon Prostaf 5 mounted on it and a Timney 4lb, single stage trigger installed with a bipod.  Nothing tricky.  Honestly though, I have a hard time shooting this rifle well.  On my first 5-target, target – my average group size was 1.9 inches.  My second was 2.25 inches.  Initially the zero was nearly 4 inches high.  Admittedly I don’t baby this rifle with special, padded case but even after adjusting zero the groups feel a bit open.  The other piece of the puzzle is the ammo I’m using – PMC Bronze .223 55gr.  The only other group size test I found, the best the shooter could do was 5.1-inch group.  And, being a cheap bastard, I’m not about to buy match grade for this particular rifle . . . so I take comfort in having an average group size for 10 targets of 2.075 inches rather than 5 inches.  So, why does this even matter??  How can I evaluate my group size given the purpose of the rifle?  Let’s chat about that before moving on to the .308.

My POV for virtually all my range work is the defense of myself, my family or folks in my charge.  It’s also to work my way through crap sessions, poor performance, a variety of rifles . . . and find ways to get better so I can become a better instructor for everyone I work with from Boy Scouts to local LEOs.  If I can’t find ways to improve, to evaluate my mistakes, to find and smooth the sticky points for myself, how the heck can I help folks I help train??

From a defensive POV, if I can engage a threat with “combat effective hits” – hits that will affect their ability to do me harm, I’m headed in the right direction.  A 2-inch group at 100yards becomes a 4-inch group at 200 yards, a 6-inch group at 300 yards, an 8-inch group at 400 yards and a 10-inch group at 500 yards.  Given that most “real work” in defensive situations is conducted at 200 yards or less, a 4-inch group placed “high center mass” will significantly degrade a threat’s ability to do me and mine harm.   That said, there is certainly a bunch of room for improvement while still providing confirmation that I am well prepared to engage a threat within that 200-yard range.

The Ruger Precision Rifle in .308 performed as I expected.  There was no need to adjust the zero though we’ll talk a bit about that on the “aggregate” target (a compilation of all 50 rounds plotted on a single target).  The average group size here dropped to 1.85 inches for 10 targets.  I may well need to adjust the zero down and left about an inch each, but not until my group size consistently drops to the 1MOA range.  With this rifle my “sticky” points are proper use of the bipod and rear bag to create a rock-solid sight picture each and every time.  And, recoil mitigation though I must say the RPR shoots much softer than other .308s I’ve used. 

Again, if I look to the reason I put this rifle in my “line-up” – defense of myself, my family and folks in my charge, I’m confident I can place combat effective rounds on a threat within the typical 200-yard range and get hits out to 500 yards should the need arise. 

Past that, Precision Rifle Shooting has really taken off in our area thanks largely to the efforts of Jim See.  This rifle, with a good scope, is a great entry level gun for right at $3,000.  I took Jim’s precision rifle course with my AP4 which I sold to help with the purchase of the RPR.  He runs a great course and I strongly recommend it when he comes to your area if PRS is an area of interest for you.

The engineer in me also had to come out and play a bit.  I found an interesting site on “Group Size Analysis”.  One of the areas they looked at was a simulation of rounds on a target and how the number for rounds shot affected the group size.  More rounds, the larger the over all group size.  Anyway I integrated this in my evaluation of my range trip by plotting all 50 rounds for the .308 on a single target.  The overall group size for this target was 3-1/8th inches.  As you can see, there is strong evidence for moving 3/10ths down and 3/10ths left (MILS) but I’m going to wait a bit yet to make sure it’s not entirely me.  But, I found the plot interesting.  One particular value I think most shooters would find in doing this once in awhile is that, as you plot each round, it leads you to think about what the heck happened there?  I know you can sense and see a “flyer” but this will take you back to that instant.  It will give you one more chance to ask “what the hell???” and give you something more to work on when you hit the range the next time.

Bottom line, please don’t just go and make holes.  Document your trip.  Take some time to review it, think about it, see where you need improvement, see what’s working OK, continually evaluate your position, trigger press, how you mount the rifle, what your follow through is like, your breath management . . . all the little things that you need to master to become the shooter you want to be.

Now . . . go hit the range!  Enjoy!!


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Training – Final Zero and a New Skills Test

 The rabbit hole of precision shooting continues . . .

Today was the final zero on the Ruger Precision 22LR.  I have right at 200 rounds through it, things have remained stable, so I did an initial cold bore shot (about 2 inches high) followed by 4 more rounds on the first target.  As you can see by the photo it was a fairly open group.  I followed with another 5 rounds on target 2.  The group dropped to around ½”.  I adjusted down ¾ MOA and shot two more 5-round groups that held ½” within the center of each target.

Bottom line, I think this particular rifle is “dialed in” as well as I know how to do it.  From this point on, the accuracy and precision falls squarely on my shoulders and my precision shooting ability.  And that, in deed, is the purpose of range trips going forward with this particular rifle.  It revolves around all the fundamentals – mounting the rifle to my shoulder, use of a rear shooting bag, use of a bipod, clearly placing the scope reticle on the target, working on my grip and making sure it doesn’t affect the POA, working on placing my cheek on the comb and again making sure it doesn’t affect the POA, placing my finger on the trigger, a smooth trigger press straight to the rear and running the bolt smoothly so as to not greatly affect the sight picture.  It’s always the “details” . . . the small things that make the difference in your final result.

Past that, how do you evaluate that “final result” . . . your ability to shoot accurately and precisely.  For the zeroing process that this range trip began with, a traditional bullseye styled target served sell.  But, past that, there is a broad range of different types of targets available – from steel to paper.  Today I ran across a simple 23 round test of accuracy and precision that is contained on a single 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper.

The very first dot is a “cold bore” shot.  Virtually every rifle’s POI will change as a barrel heats up.  It’s important that you, the shooter, know how your specific rifle shoots for its cold bore shot.  One thing I noticed here is that it’s first 5 rounds are much more scattered that I would really expect.  That said, after that it settles right down.  Once I completed its final zero I moved on to the above precision shooting target.  It’s designed to be used at 100 yards but with the RP22LR, I used our 50-yard range.  The cold bore shot was followed by 10 dots, I shot all 10 strong side.  Next was a 3 round headshot and then two boxes, 3 rounds each.  Final, 3 hostage shots.  I dropped 4 of the 23 for an 83%.  I’ll take it for a first pass. 

So what should your targets help you with?  I believe they should be appropriate to what you are working on.  For me, I view my long guns as part of my defensive capabilities.  This new target fills a broad range of “squares” – from allowing me to see how my rifle acts for its cold bore shot, how accurately I can hit my target, how well I can execute a head shot, how accurately I can engage a target quickly and finally, how I can execute a hostage shot.  All in all, this target does a pretty good job of allowing me to evaluate a fairly broad range of skills.

In under all of this is also the value of simply spending time on the range with one of my firearms.  To be able to “run the gun”, time on the range is a must.  I’ve said this a number of times but let me repeat it one more time.  For those firearms you intend to depend on to defend yourself and your family – from carry gun to “patrol rifle” to precision rifle – buy 1,000 rounds for each in January and then spend 100 rounds every month to keep up your skill set.  This would be between 3-4 hours per month working with your firearms.  That’s enough to maintain a skillset.  I view it as a minimum.

Bottom line . . . grab your gun, hit the range, have fun and learn something!

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 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.



Magpul Pmags

Magpul MBUS Sights

Bravo Company Viking Tactics Sling

Streamlight TR1 Weapon Mounted Light

EOTech 512 Holographic Sight