Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just A Shot In The Dark

 It's been a while since I had a good "that's not training" rant. Low and behold, this morning Everyday No Days Off had an article about a former Spetsnaz instructor shooting his fellow instructor at a range in Texas. Three times(!).

Without wishing to get personal, I'd like to beat this issue to death. The problem here is the total lack of target identification. From what I grasp of the story, students were led through a low-light or no-light shoot house to engage targets without the use of NODs or lights. While one can see the utility in training for the worst of all scenarios, one should also recognize the importance of knowing what you are shooting and why.

One of the neat things the Army started doing during the train-up for my last tour was asking everyone who fired a weapon during a CQB range "what did you shoot and why did you shoot?". The core of defensive (or offensive!) shooting is knowing what you are about to destroy. Is it the target you put up an hour ago, or is it your co-instructor standing in front of the target? Is it a burglar or your teenage son sneaking back in from a party? You HAVE to know the answer to those questions before you fire. Period!

There is a new fad with younger trainers wherein common sense safety measures are overlooked because "safety is for pussies". Well, after surviving a number of complex ambushes, I am a huge pussy. I will not fire at shadows, noises, or into an unsafe backstop. If I cannot positively identify what my bullet is about to enter, I won't shoot.

No matter how high-speed your instructor may have been, you shouldn't shoot blind. If you feel a drill or an action is unsafe, then use your judgement and decline to do it. Firearms training is inherently dangerous. Probably more dangerous than golf or bowling even. There's no reason to make it any more dangerous by doing ridiculous drills.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Random Range Reflections

I've been thinking rather a lot about the range day last weekend, and I think I have gleaned a few more nuggets of wisdom on the subject of precision rifle shooting. And while shooting at a 5" target at 200 yards isn't really all that precise, the fundamentals remain the same.

The first thing I've realized is that the semi-auto precision rifle is clearly the way to go. If you're going to spend a few thousand dollars on a precision rig, the bolt gun really doesn't have many advantages left. Thirty years ago, it might have been true that semi-autos weren't as accurate as a bolt action. Today, the difference is so slim that you have to be a very gifted shooter to see much advantage in the bolt gun. Additionally, the SASS allows you to send your next round without breaking down your shooting position to operate the action. That is a pretty huge deal.

Second, a brake makes a huge difference. My Savage 10FCP, despite weighing around 20lbs, would jump an inch or two to the left on every shot. This is less than optimal and eventually leads me to flinch, even though felt recoil is pretty minimal. Also, having a barrel threaded for a brake isn't terribly expensive, and decent brakes are everywhere. For a minimal investment, you can get dramatically improved performance from you and your rifle.

Third, spend money on good optics, and good barrels. Save money on triggers. While a good trigger pull is important, it ultimately isn't what makes or breaks a precision rifle. That's down to a quality barrel and a clear, durable optic. Rings make a difference too. I went through three sets of cheap aluminium rings before buying 'Merican steel rings from Warne. Now all I use are Warne steel rings, and they've all been great.

That's all for now. Hopefully I can wring out my AR15 next weekend, and if I have time, I'll get to the match with the Hi-Power tomorrow.