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    Warrior Industries Effective Carbine Handling - 2017-04-08/09 - Columbus, GA

    I apologize ahead of time for any vagueness, omissions, or mistakes in the AAR, as my notes are a bit incomplete, due to the fast pace and large amount of discussion that arouse organically during the course.

    This is my first formal purely rifle-oriented course, with prior long gun courses being a CSAT rifle/pistol course and a block of long gun instruction of with Dark Angel Medical (a total of 12 hours of formal instruction with long guns prior). I have also had extensive coursework in handguns, along with some coursework in edged weapons, combatives, and tactical medical, along with some OPFOR roleplaying against some local LE SWAT. Almost all the courses I have attended have been taught by nationally reputable instructors.

    For the brief portion of the class that required a handgun, I used an H&K P30LS with the Grayguns Reduced Reset Carry Perfection Package carried in condition 1, with X400 laser/light mounted with the DG-11 and zeroed for 25 yards using Speer Lawman 147 gr. Sight used was a Trijicon RMR RM06 mounted by L&M Precision, also zeroed for 25 yards, with a Dawson Precision suppressor height tritium front sights and Ameriglo suppressor height rear sight mounted behind the RMR. Installed on the OEM H&K threaded barrel was an HKParts Micro Comp. Lube was ALG Go-Juice, magazines were modified with Taylor Freelance Border Special +5 magazine extensions with the included Wolff springs (first generation baseplates loaded only up to +4). Round count at the start of the class was at 7243.

    I used two different carbine throughout the course, both AR-15s. The first carbine was used for all of TD1 and the first half of TD2. The upper was assembled by Defensive Creations (Centurion Arms 16" light-weight midlength barrel cut down to 14.5" by Weapon Outfitters, pinned MicroMOA Govnah with the ports cut to be 0.055”, 0.076”, and 0.086”, Vltor MUR-1S, V7 Enlightened Handguard 13.5, LMT Enhanced BCG, WOA gas tube, Surefire SF3P, AXTS Raptor), while I personally put together the lower (AXTS AX556 lower with mostly LWRC small parts, BCM intermediate RE, Vltor A5H2, Geissele SD-C, Magpul MOE-SL, IWC QD End Plate, BCM Mod 1 Grip, BAD ASS-ST, Sprinco Green Spring). Accessories on the rifle were as follows: Surefire M600 Ultra with an SR07 on an Arisaka Defense Offset Scout Mount M-LOK, Kahles K16i SM1 on a Geissele Super Precision Scope Mount 1.93”, Magpul MBUS Pro Offset BUIS, Magpul M-LOK QD sling mount, SOB QD Bitch sling, and Magpul Ladder Rail Panels on all unused 1913 rails. Round count at the start of the class was 1187 through the upper, 269 through the lower.

    The second carbine was used only for the second half of TD2. The upper was assembled by Defensive Creations (Centurion Arms 11.5" carbine barrel, pinned SLR GB7 with a BRT CustomTune HD gas port insert 0.063”, Vltor MUR-1S, Hodge Wedge Lock 10.75”, LMT Enhanced BCG, V7 Extreme Environment gas tube, Surefire SFMB-556, AXTS Freedom Bone), while I personally put together the lower (AXTS AX556 lower with mostly LWRC small parts, BCM intermediate RE, Vltor A5H2, Geissele SD-C, Magpul MOE-SL, IWC QD End Plate, BCM Mod 1 Grip, BAD ASS-ST, Sprinco Green Spring). Accessories on the rifle were as follows: Surefire M600 Ultra with an SR07 on a Unity Tactical M-LOK Compatible Fusion Adapter, Aimpoint T-2 on a GDI MT6-OSM with a TangoDown iO, EOTech G33, KAC Micro 200m-600m BUIS, Magpul M-LOK QD sling mount, SOB QD Bitch sling, and Magpul Ladder Rail Panels on all unused 1913 rails. Round count at the start of the class was 380.

    Lube was ALG Go-Juice, magazines used were Magpul PMAG MOEs, Magpul PMAG GEN M3s, and Lancer L5AWMs, with Magpuls mounted sideways; all magazines were 30 rounders. Suppressor used for both was a Surefire SOCOM556-RC, with a Warsport Suppressor Sock; all sights were for 100 yards using Winchester Western W3131, with the suppressor on.

    I ran the course with a shooting outfit that I plan on using for future centerfired biathlons. On TD1, I wore an XGO Phase 1 Performance LS Crew, Otte Gear Alpine pants, and Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX. On TD2, I wore an XGO Phase 1 Performance T-shirt, Beyond Rig ULT Pants, and Salomon Forces Speed Assaults. I used an Arc’teyrx LEAF H•150 riggers belt both days. The holster used was a modified Safariland 6004 with an Eleven 10 RIGID with a C-A-T Gen7 attached to the shroud. For load carriage, I used a BFG BELTminus, which had (going counter-clockwise) an Esstac single pistol KYWI, BFG TenSpeed single pistol, Esstac 5.56 single KYWI shorty, Esstac 5.56 single KYWI shorty with a BFG TenSpeed single M4 attached to it, and a Dark Angel Medical D.A.R.K. with a Benchmade 8 Hook, trauma shears, and SOFTT-W. PPE used were Oakley M-Frames 3.0, Arc’teryx LEAF Knee Caps, Outdoor Research Firemark Sensor (which were used only on the second half of each training day), Surefire EP7s with Shure Triple Flange tips, and MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X with gel earpads and OC Tactical headband.

    Ash Hess was the primary instructor. There were 9 students in the class, including an active duty Soldier, a retired Marine, and a retired Soldier; all students had been vetted, either having of shot with Ash before or else being a known quantity. Student handgun choices were a Beretta M9, H&K VP9 with a DeltaPoint Pro, my H&K P30LS, and the rest being highly modified Glocks with optics, including several Roland Specials, while Ash shot a P320. All students used AR-15s, with several running LPVOs, including an S&B Short Dot, Vortex Razor, Leupold MK6, and my Khales, while the rest used red dots, mostly Aimpoints with a few budget options thrown in. Ash mainly used a Liberty Hill Tactical 16” rifle with a Leupold MK6 1-6x20mm, throwing on a suppressor on occasion to reduce the blast. Most students ran war belts or just strictly off the belt, with the exception of the AD Soldier, who wore a plate carrier the entire time.

    Class started at 0930 on TD1. Weather started fairly chilly at about 50 °F, with minimal cloud cover and wind, and reaching the mid-70s °F as the day progressed.

    We started out with a very quick safety brief, covering the four basic safety rules. We then ran a quick intro of ourselves, along with a quick description of our rifles.

    Ash then went over his own bio. He is a senior NCO in Army, though he is very close to ETSing. He has had multiple combat tours overseas, but has recently been involved at the Maneuver Center of Excellence’s DOTD, serving as a senior writer for small arms in the weapons and gunnery branch, and worked for many years to help write what has now become the new TC 3-22.9, Rifle and Carbine. In retirement, he plans on focusing on his new job of being the director of training for Warrior Industries (https://www.warriorindustriesllc.com).

    Ash then gave a short overview of the class itself. This class would be something of a hybrid course, as the students were all known to have decent knowledge and some competency of carbine usage; this would be a step up from a basic carbine course. The class would primarily cover the different positions of shooting, along with some exposure to other issues, such as target transitions and barricade use. This was also a brand new POI for civilian training, with this being a pilot class of sorts.

    Ash then started going over the zero. The zeroing process is nothing more than putting bullets in the exact same spot as where the optic is looking at, at a known distance. One should not ape the zero, nor the zeroing process, as used by the military, as they use a standardized weapon with standardized ammunition. The zero should be selected based on each individual’s weapon, ammunition, optic, and use. Ash argues that the reticle used should also play a significant role in choosing the zero; for example, in playing with the ballistic calculator, Ash had found that a 300 yard zero, using his gun, ammunition, and optic, the hash marks on the TMR-D lined up nicely with various known distances. With a red dot, a 300 yard zero would probably make far less sense, given that PID at 300 yards with an unmagnified optic is quite difficult, particularly in non-military applications. In selecting a zero, one should also learn the various holds for each distance; a zero for 200 yards would naturally mean that one must hold under for a 100 yard target for any .223 rifle.

    Next was a discussion of the shot process. To start out with, Ash prefers to think of each shot as an individual process. For example, when shooting a five shot group, do not think of it as a group, but isolate each individual shot as its own, ignoring the shots before and after. On the very basic level, there are four different stages to the shot process: position, aim, trigger control, follow-through. For position, find and build one that will maximize your stability, and do so in a fashion that is repeatable. Aiming is fairly self-explanatory, and should not be overcomplicated. Trigger control is most important in the half pound right before it breaks and sends a round down range; while important, it is easy to latch onto to trigger control too much and see it as being of overriding importance. Ash argues that given that a rifle weights roughly 7 to 12 lb (depending on configuration), with a full-sized adult behind it, the <5 lb trigger weight is not going to have a massive amount of impact. Finally, with follow-through, observe the target and see if there was the wanted effect on target. As a shooter’s skill grows, the shot process will grow in number of stages, as the shooter better understands the various details and minutiae that helps them shoot better.

    Ash then went over the cycle and function of guns, along with when that cycle is disrupted, creating malfunctions. Ash stated that he would not be going over malfunctions in class unless they occurred, to then which he’d go over that particular malfunction. He noted that in the roughly 3 million rounds he’d seen shot since 2012, he’d seen only roughly 30 malfunctions that weren’t an issue of faulty ammo or faulty guns. Thus, with quality firearms that have been properly maintained, malfunctions were quite unlikely to happen with quality ammunition.

    Ash prefers to start the cycle of the gun at feeding, rather than firing, unlike most people. According to him, the stages of the cycle are: feeding, chambering, locking, firing, unlocking, extraction, ejection. For example, if the bolt is out of battery, the trigger is mushy, and pulling it does not give a click, the locking stage was interrupted; a simple tap-rack would most likely fix it, but there are other conditions that can give similar feedback, e.g., a double feed, which is an interruption of the chambering phase, but also gives a mushy trigger, and which a tap-rack would only exacerbate. On the other hand, if one pulls the trigger and gets a definitive click, this is most likely an issue with firing, and a tap-rack can solve almost issue at this point. Thus, Ash argues that one should understand all the various malfunctions and their characteristics, instead of blinding mashing the forward assist or doing a rote tap-rack.

    We then finally started on physically doing the zero process. Ash prefers to zero on a B-8C repair center. He does feels that there is no need for a grid on a zero target, as one can simply measure the vertical and horizontal offset of the grouping and adjust the optic as needed that way. If one is able to master that, one can zero on almost any clean target, including cardboard and steel.

    Also of paramount importance is knowing the adjustments on one’s optic, and the corresponding relationship between milrad or MOA and the distance one is zeroing at. Various optics have different adjustments, with full, half, and one-third increments being common.

    We then started the actual zero process. Ash had us start with a five round group, just to check zero. Ash prefers to zero with five round groups until the group is satisfactory, then put up a B-8 and do a 10 round group, scoring at least a 90 to confirm zero. He also noted that many folks like to go prone to zero, even when there was a perfectly good bench, something that he found extremely silly. Even when on a bench, one should strive to build a solid position, and not just sit there.

    Ash then demoed using his gun. First he grabbed the gun by the delta ring using his reaction hand (what Ash likes to call his weak hand, a nomenclature that he goes into later), and pulls the trigger without any other support. He noted that there was minimal movement, even if his gun did have a brake. He then had a student put their finger on the back of the stock, exerting pressure; there was even less movement with the gun. With a student pressing their whole palm against the back of the stock, movement was even further reduced. This illustrated how little actual recoil there was with the rifle, and thus if the shooter is being pushed back, that is nothing more than poor form.

    Ash then demonstrated the difference in ammunition. Using a rifle zeroed using Norma 55 gr rounds, Ash tried some Tula 62 gr, some 77 gr plinking ammo, and some 55 gr plinking ammo, with the first two being shot on a bipod, and the 55 gr shot using a magpod. Ash noted he did not load a bipod, as this is difficult to get consistent pressure on, which can change the zero. At 36 yards, the 55 gr plinking ammo came in low, the Tula 62 gr was a less low, and the 77 gr was slightly high.

    We had one student chose the 25 yard zero, one chose the 36 yards, two with the 100 yard, and the rest went with the 50 yard. I personally chose the 100 yard zero, having of read Jack Leuba’s “Zen of the 100 Meter Zero”, and liking to maintain the same zero over all of my different rifles. The reticle hash marks also came close to some fairly round distances. My first five round group was also right on target, which came as an amazement; while I had zeroed the gun for 100 yards previously with the same ammo, I had adjusted the cant of the optic the night before. Truly, this was something of a testament to the return to zero ability of the Geissele scope mount, when using proper torque values.

    Ash then looked at our targets and explained how he looked at only the shots that weren’t obvious fliers to make adjustments off of. Being that he was actively throwing out holes as part of the zeroing process, a three round group would not have sufficed. He also noted that many of us failed to actually build a proper bench shooting position, and encouraged us to actually build one up on the next run. Ash stated that once one was comfortable and skilled enough, and could call one’s shots consistently, one could make adjustments based off of a single shot if needed, though obviously confirmation at the end is always key. Ash noted that a 4 MOA standard on accuracy is enough to make hits on an E type target out at 500 yards.

    Besides the obvious issues of knowing one’s adjustments and having a proper position, Ash noted how confidence can play a key role. If one ends up shooting poorly the first shot or two, it can be easy to get into a spin out scenario, where there is a feedback loop that causes the shooter to shoot worse and worse as they become more and more agitated. Drawing from sports psychology, Ash states that we need to replace any kind of negative thoughts with positive or neutral thoughts, and dedicated the same amount of energy and attention to each shot. We then shot another five round group to confirm zero, or to adjust as need be.

    On this run, my zero shift slightly to the left, landing on the transition between the 9 and 10 ring. The only difference I implemented was building a stronger position; it is also possible that I did not have a consistent head position compared to the first time, which was something I continued to struggle with throughout the class, as I had barely shot with the Kahles (or any non-RDS optic, really) before the class.

    Due to the inability to go down range (we now had other range patrons on the long range), we then continued to zero by simply observing the target through a spotting scope, drawing the impact on a fresh B-8, and then adjusting based off of that. Afterwards, we then moved to the pistol bay.

    This was a departure from the original plan, which was to do the long range shooting all on TD1, but this now moved the 400 yard shooting to TD2.

    After setting up in the pistol bay, Ash went over the different positions of stability. The position of stability would depend on the position the shooter was in, whether it be prone, the various types of kneeling, standing, using a barricade, etc. For the most part, Ash keeps everything consistently in the same place, with the exception of the weak hand, or as Ash calls it, the reaction hand, which is named so because it reacts to the position and needs of the shooter. We then shot the first of the scored drills that would be used to determine the high and low shooter of the course. This drill was a 300 point aggregate, shot on a B-8: 10 rounds prone at 50 yards, 10 rounds kneeling at 25 yards, 10 rounds standing at 10 yards, with one minute at each position. Ash demoed the drill first, noting how he had a nice straight line with his prone to help minimize recoil and thus shifting of the reticle during shooting, speeding up follow-through. He noted the need to account for height over bore, and depending on our zero selection, the various holds.

    I shot poorly on both the kneeling and the standing. I could not find a steady position in the kneeling, and thus had a poor grouping, while I overestimated my hold over at the 10 yard standing, and thus put in a decent group that was all in the 8 ring. My overall score was 283 out of 300.

    Ash then did a walkback drill to better illustrate the issue of height over bore. Aiming directly at the center of a B-8, he shot 5 rounds at the target starting at 5 yards, and moved back in 5 yard increments, reaching the 25 yard line.

    At this point, 1220, we broke for lunch.

    During lunch, in which all the students stayed on the range, Ash went over his idea of what mindset is. Typical ideas about mindset, such as “setting your mind so that you can do the mission”, are a bit too high level for Ash. Instead, he simply defines mindset as consisting of three things: the ability to do something, the means to do something, and the will to do something. The ability to do something is predicated on everything that has occurred “left of bang”, which is to say, everything before the incident, which is mostly an issue of situational awareness and being able to recognize the situation; one cannot react very well if one is ambushed. The means is a question of whether or not one is properly equipped to handle the situation at hand; recognizing that one is about to be assaulted is of little use if one does not have the technique and/or weapons to defend one’s self. Finally, one must be willing to do the planned course of action. This may be rather easy when it comes to some things, such as self-defense, defense of one’s family, etc., but other scenarios become much murkier, such as those involving defense of strangers. Regardless, all three elements must be present to maximize the chances of success in an encounter.

    We resumed class at 1330.

    Ash then had us go over various possible positions, and the most stable position for us as individuals in each position. Ash notes that while the prone is the most stable position outside of the bench, it is actually very rarely used in modern combat, due to issues of mobility, kit, terrain, etc.; instead, it is mostly a zeroing position.

    As for the standing position, the body should be perpendicular to the target, as this helps with recoil; the issue of plate coverage is merely a fringe benefit, and not the main impetus. While being bladed can help with overall stability, it reduces recoil management, as it tends to rock the body with the abdomen as the fulcrum, and also makes movement more difficult. The shoulder should be over the hips, as this helps with both recoil management and boosts mobility. As for how far out to grab the handguard, Ash suggests putting the buttstock of the gun directly in the center of the chest, and then grabbing the handguard as far out as possible. This gives a good position that doesn’t hyperextend the arm when the buttstock is actually in the shoulder pocket.

    Moving onto the kneel, Ash notes that often the first shots of a surprise engagement goes high on both sides; this is due to shooters driving the gun up too high during the initial snap up from the low ready. Thus, kneeling creates an elevation change that makes the rounds fly even higher over you. Ash notes that a rapid high kneel is good for mobility, but that a low kneel is more comfortable and offers more stability. For the high kneel, Ash tends to keep everything facing the target still, but with a low kneel, he will blade; as previously noted, this blading will decrease recoil control, but will increase comfort and accuracy overall.

    In the prone, the rifle should be straight in line with the body, thus creating the most amount of mass behind it, thus allowing for better recoil control. The supported prone, in which the rifle has contact beyond with just the shooter’s hands, affords more accuracy, but is often not an option in a combat context, due to lack of clearance with kit, grass being in the way, etc.

    On occasion, one can also use the squat. This is essentially a middle point between standing and kneeling, offering more stability than the former, and more mobility than the latter.

    Ash then demoed a coaching session for us, in which he tried to show us what to look for when coaching a fellow shooter’s prone position. Picking on the AD Soldier utilizing the plate carrier, he noted that it was difficult for the student to get into a supported prone because of his k it. He also suggested that the student use some sling tension to help steady the rifle, and repositioned the reaction hand index finger to point out, instead of curling around the rifle; this would help lock the tendons of the arm, helping stabilize the arm. After taking a shot, Ash noted that the recoil could be seen ending at the student’s hips, rather than his feet, and repositioned his legs some, to help get the entire weight of the body behind the gun. The reaction hand is used purely for keeping the gun from moving. The key to accuracy is consistency, and one should be able to build the same position every time, for all different positions. He also stressed that the sights dictate the cadence, and thus a more stable position would have the sights move less, leading to a more rapid cadence. We then worked on observing each other and trying to coach each other through the various positions.

    In my case, my prone was okay; however, my awful kneeling needed a fair bit of help from Ash. First was simply steadying the gun. Instead of a conventional thumb up, finger down grip, Ash had me try a reverse C-clamp near where the handguard met the receiver, with my arms turned in, so that my arm was placed very close to the magazine and magwell as it rested on the knee. He also had me have my head come down, leading with my cheek, onto the stock, rather than just putting it on and hunting for the reticle, as I was having some issue getting my head far back enough for proper eye relief. This turned out to be a huge improvement in terms of stability. At this point, we also had an issue with a student gun doing multiple rounds per trigger pull.

    Ash then spoke about how to adjust one’s natural point of aim, once we had built up our positions. When kneeling, to move on the lateral axis, roll forward onto the foot that’s up front, and then shift the back foot, thus pivoting on the front foot; elevation can be changed by moving the front leg in or out. In the prone, pivot along the belt line, while moving the toes closer or further from the body as needed for elevation change.

    Ash then took the time to talk about triggers, given the issue with the student gun. The student was using a stock Troy rifle with what was supposedly a stock GI trigger, and had not done any internal work with it, and had never had any issues with it previously, though he did have a distinctive way of shooting, as he would completely come off the trigger. One of the students was a gunsmith, and had a look at it, and could see no obvious problems. Either way, it was a heavy, stock GI trigger, which Ash argues can make it difficult to learn proper trigger control, since one spends so much time fighting it. Such heavy triggers can help lead to trigger pinning, which in turn, while not being too much weight, can still lead to pressure that will throw off the accuracy of the gun. This also makes it much more difficult to shoot the gun at speed.

    Ash dislikes the typical terms of “trigger press” or “trigger squeeze”, which conjure up differing ideas of what one should do with the trigger. Instead, he simply describes as being like clicking a mouse; one presses down and lets go, and should be putting in too much pressure, and shouldn’t have one’s figure fly off the button, either. This is also why he personally prefers single-stage triggers.

    On the topic of breathing, Ash notes that some instructors advocate specifically watching one’s breathing during shooting. Yet, the body will naturally slow down its breathing when one is concentrating hard on a single task. If the body subconsciously already slows the breathing down, why dedicate the conscious mind to do the same thing?

    For vertical stringing that occurs, Ash notes that this can be due to jamming the trigger down, and thus pull the gun down, instead of simply pulling the trigger back. Horizontal stringing can occur due to inconsistent pressure with the firing grip hand; Ash suggests keeping it consistent to what a firm handshake should be, and not death gripping it. For the alignment of the sights, Ash considers a sight to be properly aligned with the eye when there is no noticeable scope shadow. He dislikes the concept of “sight alignment” and “sight picture”, feeling it complicates a process that can simply be called “aiming”.

    Ultimately, consistency is the key factor behind accuracy, and this consistency can be built upon by expanding one’s shot process, covering more and more pieces. We then reran the 300 point aggregate from earlier, again for scoring.

    I did much better this time, as did all the other students, scoring 297 out of 300.

    Ash then went over the Acceleration Drill, which helps illustrate the issue of sights dictating cadence. This is a 30 round drill, in which the shooter starts at the 15 yard line, shooting the upper A-zone on a VTAC target, and starts shooting slowly, speeding up the cadence as much as possible, and slowing down when starting to miss. Ash also noted how time can be made up by simply snapping the gun up faster from the low ready.

    I threw out 5 round, 4 of which were right below the upper A-zone, while one was noticeably low.

    Ash then notes the importance of an aggressive stance in these kind of stand-up drills, and how fighting the gun can be counterproductive, due to excessive driving of the gun. He also told us about his 500 grain rule: generally, he wants to put 500 grains worth of bullets into a person to make sure they are dead, which means for a 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem rifle, that’s roughly 7 to 10 bullets. Of course, ultimately, stationary drills are not terribly realistic, as folks tend to move in a gunfight; thus, while good for learning the basics, one will eventually have to move beyond that.

    Thus, Ash spoke about the Rolling in Hot drill. This is a 30 round drill, in which the shooter starts at the 30 yard line, then closes the distance with the target, with a par time of 17.5 seconds, hitting the upper A-zone on a VTAC target. Thus, the shooter must balance the speed of the shooting cadence and the distance to the target, while still accounting for the change in offset as the distance changes. This drill would not be run today, but would be run tomorrow.

    We then moved on to ready positions. Ash had us do multiple ready-ups, practicing both the low ready and the high ready at 7 yards, with 1 second par times for the former and 1.5 second par times for the latter. In his case, the low ready had the shooter pointing the muzzle of the gun at the base of the target, with the shooter looking over the sights at the target. With the high ready, the muzzle is in the eye line, and the stock is below the shoulder pocket.

    Despite high ready often being maligned by Army units, Ash argues that there is often a use for it. For example, the high ready is a safer position if one is in a multi-story structure, and there are units below, but not above. Or, in a CQB context, it’s easier to drive the gun down than up; the old argument of simply pulling back when a combatant tries to force your muzzle down doesn’t work if one is in a stack. Beyond that, high ready is often used in hunting, or patrolling in thick vegetation, where it is easier to avoid brush and bring the gun into action.

    The ready-ups were quite physically exhausting for me, given my overall weak upper body strength, compounded by having a suppressor hanging off the end of the gun. That being said, I was able to make time, usually, and still get okay shots in.

    Ash also spoke about target selection, as he did call several shots to the elbow and pelvis of the VTAC target. A successful shot to the pelvic girdle can break the pelvis, thus limiting the mobility of the target; even if it doesn’t, it is likely to cause the target to lean forward, reducing the profile of their armor. On the elbow, it might be all that’s available, and can be helpful in keeping the target from being to fire back, even if they are not killed.

    Ash then showed us the One-to-Five drill, which was designed to help with both lateral transitions and split times. With three targets, pick one side to be the first target. On the beep, shoot T1 once, transition to T2 and shoot that twice, transition to T3 and shoot that three times, then transition back to T2 and shoot that four times, and then back to T1 and shoot that five times. Ash noted that when keeping the target lateral distance the same, moving close to the target actually makes the drill harder; while the targets become larger, so does the gap between each target, forcing a larger transition. Of key is to lead with the eyes, and have the sights follow; simply following the sights all the way will lead to a slower transition overall.

    Speaking on transitions, Ash also noted how having a steady cadence between both the same target splits and the transitions can be useful, as it can help mask how many targets you have engaged when in actual fight. Also, in relation to the new Interim Battle Rifle scuttlebutt, Ash demoed the drill with both his AR-15 and a SCAR-17S, both with muzzle brakes and full-sized Aimpoints (a CompM4 on the AR-15, and CompM4s on the SCAR-17S). The AR-15 comfortably faster than the SCAR-17S; though the SCAR-17S also made it within the 5 second par time, Ash stated that he felt almost out of control trying to shoot that at speed. In using his 500 grain rule, he would still have to shoot a target 3 to 4 times to get the desired effect, all while carrying a heavier rifle, less rounds, and slower splits.

    Ash then spoke a bit about the use of cover/barricades. Humans are able to move in all directions not just horizontally or vertically; we are not rooks on a chessboard. Thus, instead of just stepping left or stepping right to clear a barricade, Ash suggested that we also tried stepping forward at a 45° when trying to clear a barricade, which should present much less of a target. Ash had us practice this freeform for about a magazine worth, and told us explicitly to not switch shoulders for this drill, when shooting off the opposite side cover. Each piece of barricade had three targets, one to the left, one to the right, and one directly in front. We were to engage two targets, either singles or doubles as we grew more confident.

    I was still rather tired from the ready-ups, so I was a bit slow in snapping my gun up in each instance. I had exposure to the idea of a diagonal step rather than a lateral step to clear cover, particularly when standing far back from cover, as I had been taught that crowding cover should be avoided if possible, though doing so is not a cardinal sin.

    Finally, we all ran the One-to-Five drill twice. On the first run, Ash wanted us to try and match our splits with our transitions as best as possible, while on the second run, he wanted us to snap from target to target as fast as possible.

    I was able to match my transition with my splits fairly well, unlikely some of the other students, though at the expense of having a fairly slow run. On the second run, there was a definite gap between the transitions to each target. I had to fight hard to not overshoot targets, given how muzzle heavy my carbine was.

    Ash then quickly went over what was planned for TD2, which included finishing the known distance shooting at the long range, reshooting the aggregates, more positional work, barricades, the incorporation of movement, and some speed work.

    Class ended at this point, at 1630.

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    Class started at 0830 on TD2. Weather was a bit warmer, starting at the mid 50s °F, with no cloud cover and minimal wind, and reaching the low 80s °F as the day progressed.

    We started the class by going over Strelok, a ballistic calculator app, which Ash had recommend for us as part of the gear list. He went over some of the basic functions of the app, recommending us to use it as a way to get some starting points on holds at various distances. He noted that the G1 ballistic coefficient is usually printed on the box, while a velocity is generally, too. While the velocity may not be correct, it is a good place to start, and can be refined within the app, with the truing function within, thus allowing one to get decent information even without a chronometer. The rest of the information needed is generally just data that one should know about their rifle, such as the zero selected, the clicks per adjustment on the optic, the reticle, etc. For height over bore, Ash suggests measuring from the bottom of the ejection port to the center of the optic, as the bottom of the ejection port is almost exactly in line with the center of the bore. Some version of the app go as to have the ability to adjust for wind. What Ash likes to do, once he has everything mapped out, is to simply take a screenshot of the generated image, and then set it as the lockscreen on his phone, so that he does not have to fiddle with unlocking it during shooting.

    I had been able to play with the app a bit, prior to the class, but I had no idea about the truing function. Some of the other students has merely downloaded the app, and were thus more scrambling around to try and figure out how to use it.

    Ash then went over barricade shooting. He noted that one of the big talking points that many folks like to argue about kneeling behind a barricade is how folks will focus on the need to keep the inside leg (relative to the barricade) being the one that’s up, while the outside leg is the one that’s down, in order to minimize the possibility of being hit in the femoral. Ash against that, noting that one is more resistant to being bumped out of cover on accident by a teammate or whatever if the outside leg is up, and it is also easier to retreat back into cover with the outside leg up.

    When squatting behind the barricade, Ash suggests squaring up to it, in order to maximize recoil management. When standing, one can consider moving the foot around in order to use one’s body to help stabilize the barricade itself. Again, square up as much as possible, as this makes one harder to bump out of cover, and also gives the shooter more flexibility to pivot the gun laterally to engage different targets as need be.

    Using a 14.5” rifle with a red dot and Tula, Ash then demonstrated how knowledge of one’s holds, combined with a stable shooting platform, can still engage targets out to hundreds of yards, hitting the E-type at 400 yards repeatedly after he found the proper hold.

    Ash then quickly went over what the KD competition was going to be: 100 yards must be done standing, or standing with a barricade. 200 yards can be done with any position that was done at the 100, or one can also go kneeling supported. 300 and 400 yards can be done with any of the previous positions, along with prone. All targets were 13” hexagonal steel plates, with the exception of the 400 yard, which was a steel E-type silhouette; Ash originally had planned for LPVOs to have to stay on the plates even out to 400 yards, with the red dots catching a break, but then changed his mind. A total of four minutes would be allotted to the entire course of fire, with 10 rounds at each position.

    Ash then had us practice on the bench, telling us to spend 10 rounds on each target.

    The 100 yard and 200 yard shots were not difficult. I had to do some minor adjustments on the 300 yard, as it did not match up directly with what Strelok showed, though I later noticed that I had the wrong ammo punched in, Federal XM193 instead of Winchester Q3131, though the differences were still minimal, and was probably simply something I needed to true my rifle for. I also misread the Strelok output, trying to use the 500 yard hold on the 400 yard target for several rounds.

    Ash noted that most of us failed to properly go through our shot process. Thus, for the next practice round, he wanted us to pair up, with one student shooting while the other coached, with the shooter verbalizing each step of their shot process. Ash stated that we should be focusing on the shots, not the hits, as the latter becomes a distraction. A solid position built reduces recoil, which in turn helps the sights stay on target. He demoed his shot process, explaining each step; still, he had issues hitting some of the targets at 300 and 400, most likely due to the change in POI that the addition of a suppressor introduced to his rifle, something he added to reduce the blast of the brake under the cover. Ash noted that magnification does not help one shoot better, but merely to see better, and that magnification will generally simply magnify one’s mistakes.

    For me, I had failed to build a proper position. This time, I did, and continued to utilize sling tension to help stabilize the shots.

    Moving back to the barricades, Ash gave us one live practice run with the different positions to try out the KD drill, at least out to the 300 yard. He noted that recent research has found that the higher one’s position was (e.g., standing is higher than kneeling), the higher one’s POI tended to be. Unfortunately, the shift in POI thus far appeared to be inconsistent, changing from shooter to shooter.

    I was able to hit the targets at 100 with ease, while 200 required focus. At 300, I tended to shoot to the right of the target, but hit it the majority of the time. It was also far more difficult than I anticipated, as the bench gave far more stability compared to simply shooting off the barricade.

    We then shot the KD drill for points, though we were interrupted throughout in order to allow the range to go cold, to allow other patrons to paste up their targets.

    I tried to game the drill by going to the prone instead of kneeling at the 300 yard target, but that ended up obscuring part of the target due to terrain, and I ended up with zero hits on the 300 yard. I also ended up taking up too much time overall, and having to rush my 400 yard target shots. Overall, I scored much more poorly than I anticipated, 22 out of 40.

    We then moved to a pistol bay, where we stayed for the rest of the day. After doing so, we broke for lunch, at 1200.

    We resumed class at 1245. At this point, I retired my first rifle, the 14.5” with the LPVO, for my 11.5” with a red dot and magnifier.

    Ash stated that the drills we would be running for the rest of the day would have more emphasis on speed and movement, and that all the drills could also be run with handguns, and that if we wished, we could use a pistol transition to finish a drill instead of trying to reload the rifle. However, pistols in general have poor lethality and ability to rapidly incapacitate, while also being more difficult to shoot, so we should make our decision wisely.

    Ash then went over the next drill, which was the Half & Half drill, which originated from Viking Tactics. At 20 yards, the shooters would have a 10 second par time. At 10 yards, there would be a 5 second par time. At 5 yards, a 2.5 second par time. Target used was the A zone of an IPSC target. Ash noted that with the issue of reactions and putting the gun on target, a one second cadence would not suffice for the 20 yard line, and that we’d have to go faster than that, though not by much. Ash tended to use “thousand” as a good way to gauge about a second, while “and” was good for half-second cadence.

    Here, I had my first and only malfunction, in which I had a casing get stuck during the 20 yard line. The round fired, but the BCG failed to reciprocate. A tap-rack solved this issue, though the charging handle was noticeably difficult to pull. No obvious issues with the casing was seen. For the drill itself, I made time overall, though I threw a few shots out; I had a total score of 296 out of 300.

    We then went over forward movement. Ash again stressed that one should keep one’s shoulders slightly over their hips for best mobility, and that there is no need for the duck walk that some folks will use. Once again, it is important to remember that sights dictate the cadence. Ash had us all unload and show clear, and then had us walk toward the target with empty guns, while trying to keep the red dot in the A-zone, so that we could better learn our movement speed. This was self-practiced for several minutes, though Ash continually stressed for us to be honest about our sight placement during movement.

    Though the red dot made head positioning more forgiving, and the shorter barrel made the suppressor feel less heavy, it was still a fairly tiresome drill.

    Ash then demoed the Rolling in Hot drill, which was discussed on TD1. Starting with their back to the target at the 30 yard line, the shooter turns and then closes the distance with the target, with a par time of 17.5 seconds, hitting the upper A-zone on a VTAC target a total of 30 times. Ash ended up moving too fast, and had a few rounds left over by the time he reached the target; this also plays into shooting too slow.

    Ash then broke us up into pairs or triplets, and had us practice shooting on the move from various yardages, making sure that we were not walking in front of each other.

    On one of my first runs, we had some staggering, so Ash had to stop us and reiterated the importance of matching step with both your left and right. Overall, I had a difficult time fighting the wobble zone presented, and had to focus very hard to keep from just blasting rounds at random down range.

    Given that we were still novices to SotM, Ash bumped the par time up all the way to 25 seconds on the Rolling in Hot drill for us, and then had us run it individually.

    I was definitely fairly heavy on the rounds at close range, having too big of a wobble zone to confidently engage the target while moving at the further distances. Ash noted that I also did not have too much of a difference in movement speed as I closed the distance to the target. However, I was able to make time and kept almost all of my shots in the A-zone, with only a few dropped into the C-zone.

    We then moved onto the issue of lateral movement. In order to better explain the importance of learning lateral movement, Ash discussed with us some of the basic principles behind room clearing.

    To start with, generally, one will want to stack on the door handle side if the door opens outwards, while one would want to stack on the hinge side if the door opens inwards. This is because one wants to shorten the path to go through the door once it is opened as fast as possible. This makes crossing the door a necessity, in order to keep from fouling up the stack upon entry, which negates the old parroted line of “never crossing a door in CQB”. Upon entering the room, one would clear the corner assigned, then collapse toward the center while moving to one’s assigned point of domination. This would naturally necessitate lateral SotM toward any targets that are toward the center of the room.

    While some folks teach a sideways shuffle to move laterally with the gun, Ash finds that to be slow and unnatural; the typical time a distraction device buys is about 1 to 3 seconds, which isn’t enough time for a whole team to shuffle into a room. Instead, he suggests simply turning the trunk of the body. While this is fairly easy when the threat is on the weak side (thus the wall is on the strong side), it becomes problematic to turn that much when the threat is on the strong side, as that much twisting can end up forcing the shooter to walk diagonally instead of hugging the wall, potentially blocking line of sight/fire for the shooter’s teammates. To combat this, Ash suggests canting the carbine, which allows the waist more freedom to turn without pushing the legs to walk diagonally. Ash also notes that one could theoretically simply draw the handgun and shoot one-handed, but this is generally a poor choice, given how much harder it would be shoot accurately one-handed with a handgun while walking, let alone the hit in terminal ballistics.

    Ash set up a series of targets downrange, and then had us walk laterally, engaging each one, in a conga-line-esque set-up, where each shooter would enter the line once the shooter in front of them got far enough. This was run both from right-to-left and from left-to-right, with Ash calling out whether to do singles, doubles, or triples on the target. Towards the end, he also had us try switching shoulders as needed to keep the target on the reaction hand side.

    I definitely had issues walking offline, even while canting the gun. I also had a tough time finding the dot when switching shoulders, an issue which I hadn’t had before when doing so, though I was usually in a static position and not moving and bobbing about. I ran out of rifle ammo at one point and did a handgun transition, though it was an ugly one, as I had forgotten to chamber a round.

    Ash then discussed the Chaos drill, which is an excellent tool for learning transitions. Here, there are five IPSC targets, 10 yards from the line, T1 through T5. On the timer, the shooter engages the targets in the following order: T1, T2, T1, T3, T1, T4, T1, T5, T1, T4, T1, T3, T1, T2, T1. Thus, the shooter has a large number of transitions, and also must keep track of the targets they are shooting. Again, leading with the eyes and following the sights is paramount if one ones a decent time on this drill.

    Definitely a great drill for transitions, I was able to keep all my rounds on target as best I could tell, though my speed was mediocre.

    Ash then went over a modified version of the 22422 drill. On the most basic level, there are three targets, T1, T2, and T3. The shooter engages T1 with a double, transitions to T2 and engages with a double, transitions to T3 and puts in four rounds, then transitions back to T2 with a double, and then back to T1 with a double. Ash notes that there is always the argument of when there is multiple targets, whether one should focus on one target until it is definitively down, or if one should “spread the love”; Ash states he really doesn’t have an answer for that, and that there probably isn’t one, as each scenario is unique.

    Ash’s twist is that this would be done while shooting on the move, doing a room entry. We had target stands and barricades set up to simulate a room entry. Ash stated that we should enter the room at a 45°, before hitting the (imaginary) wall and proceeding down it to close in on the target. The 45° has two purposes, the first of which is that standing too close to the wall blocks vision of what’s inside the door until one clears the door. The second is the issue of combatants having of learned that teams will often stack up against the wall, and thus have started planted IEDs against the wall. Ash had us run it with a right side entry and left side entry, on two different stations.

    When I did it the first time, I failed to follow the wall, and ended up drifting into the middle of the room as I advanced. Ash noted that this could easily cause issues with your teammates. I also ran out of ammo on this drill, and had to do a handgun transition, which promptly also ran out of ammo before I could finish the drill; I did not have a spare handgun mag at the time, so I simply closed distance and muzzle struck the target. Other students also ran out of ammo at some juncture during the drill, and Ash stressed that they shouldn’t stop moving, even if out of ammo; one can at least go hands on, or get out of the way of their teammates, if they remain in motion.

    Ash then had us shoot two 300 point aggregates, using B-8s. On the first one, the shooter starts prone at 50 yards, and has 30 seconds. Then, they move up to the 20 yard line, and starting standing, and moves to kneeling, with 20 seconds. Finally, they move up to the 10 yard line, and shoots standing, with 10 seconds.

    I did okay in the prone, but royally screwed up the kneeling, as I ended up sitting at first, and had to readjust, leading to me getting off only seven shots instead of ten, hurting my score substantially. I also left the magnifier on at 10 yards, which proved to do nothing but slow me down. Ultimately, I scored a 266 out of 300.

    On the second 300 point aggregate, the shooter starts standing at the 5 yard line, and has 2.5 seconds. Then, they move back to the 10 yard line, and from the standing, have five seconds to get into the kneeling before firing. Finally, the shooter moves back to the 15 yard line and has 10 seconds.

    Once again, the kneeling hurt my score, as I was unable to get into a stable position fast enough and ended up with a poor score. The 15 yard line shoot was also taxing, and I could not master my wobble. I ended with a score of 278 out of 300.

    We then set up a 10 yard B-8, and practiced ready-ups for score: 15 from the low ready, with a 1 second par time, and 15 from the high ready, with a 1.5 second par time. Ash talked a bit more about the high ready, noting how many of the top three gunners utilize this ready position instead of a low ready. While somewhat slower, the high ready mounts the gun more consistently, unlike the low ready, which makes it easy to overshoot the target.

    My arms weren’t as bad off as they were in yesterday’s ready-ups, since I was using the SBR instead of the 14.5”, but it was still very tiring, and I ended up sacrificing accuracy for speed, in order to make the times. I ended up with a 271 out of 300.

    During this time, one of the shooters had an ND during the high ready portion, sending the round over the berm. Ash allowed us to finish up the drill, and then stopped to talk about what had happened. According to the shooter, they simply failed to safe the weapon properly while coming off target, and ended up pulling the trigger unconsciously while tucking the stock back; the shooter was immediately aware of their ND. Ash notes that with enough training, everyone will make a mistake, and sometimes that is an ND; that is simply the reality of training with firearms. He also notes that the terminal velocity of most small arm bullets is 380 to 400 FPS when launched straight up, and that while that can still do damage, it’s still greatly reduced from an actual bullet’s speed. Thankfully, while the round was launched over the berm of the bay, it was still well within the surface danger zone of the range itself.

    Ash then expounded how this is very different from standing down range on purpose. While most of us would trust Ash to be able to shoot a target and not us if we were standing next to a target, that does not meant that there can’t be failures in the gun, or some unforeseen accident that forces Ash off target. For example, Ash recalled a time where he was shooting someone else’s rifle, and it ended up ejecting the muzzle device, due to improper installation. The muzzle device was recovered, and showed that it took a bullet, which means that the bullet fragments were almost certainly off target. There is a world of difference between making a mistake in training and purposefully breaking basic firearms rules.

    Speaking on malfunctions, Ash asked us how many malfunctions we had. Overall, as a class, we had around 10 malfunctions, most of which were attributable to Ash using Tula ammo through his gun. Ash noted that once that issue was removed, the two or three malfunctions out of the thousands of rounds already expended, which seems like fairly good reliability.

    We then moved on to a shot-reload-shot drill. Ash had us put on a 4 second par time, and then whittled it down to 3.5, then 3.

    I was not able to make any of the par times, even though I was able to speed up each time. I would fumble the mag or miss the bolt release.

    Ash used this point to talk about the importance of handgun transitions, or possibly lack thereof, depending on one’s skill. The handgun transition should be used if one can draw and get a headshot faster than one can reload. The problem arises here is that many folks are poor pistol shots, so it becomes a question of where it is viable to actually do a handgun transition versus doing a speed reload of the rifle. To illustrate this, Ash had us do the one pistol drill of the day, a 10 round B-8 at 25 yards with a 20 second par time. Like the rifle drills, Ash noted that fast manipulations give more time to aim; in this case, a fast draw would give more time to shoot.

    I did much more poorly than I anticipated, due to forgetting to chamber a round, and also forgetting to put my muffs on, which startled me and wasted time overall; thankfully, I did have plugs in already. I was able to score an 87 out of 100, in the end, which was quite disappointing.

    Ash noted that with our differing scores, we would have different thresholds to where a rifle speed reload would outweigh a pistol transition.

    Finally, we got to the last set of drills, which Ash allowed for us to shoot freeform, as a bit of a SPENDEX. On one side of the range, we had three targets that Ash had us do a reverse One-to-Five drill, while on the other, Ash had us set up a different drill. In this one, the shooter engages the head of T1, the chest of T2, the head of T3, then the chest of T3, the head of T2, and the chest of T1.

    The reverse One-to-Five was a fun little drill, while the other drill was far more challenging, having to transition not only laterally, but vertically.

    Instruction ended at 1700. After packing up, we had a hot-wash in which Ash asked for feedback, both good and bad, and also passed out awards for the high shooter and low shooter. Afterwards, we policed the range. I was on the road by 1800.

    The high shooter was the AD Soldier, and what made it doubly impressive was that he did the whole class with his plate carrier on. I was somewhat disappointed in my shooting, but it wasn’t unexpected.


    Perhaps it’s simply my lack of instruction on carbine, but this has been one of the most educational classes I’ve taken in a long time. Some of the points were very specific to me, such as Ash’s adjustments to my kneeling, the idea of consistently mounting the gun by rolling the cheek down each time, etc. I especially liked the idea of using a B-8 target as the primary target to shoot, instead of simply gunning for the A-zone of an IPSC. The B-8 allows for one to easily score, thus giving great feedback, while also allowing the shooter to adjust on the fly the difficulty of the drill, by stipulating different scores. This makes for learning the offset of a rifle far easier, I would think, rather than looking at an A-zone and just taking that as good enough. This class also exposed some fairly obvious deficiencies, as it forced me out of my comfort zone; even with handguns, I was never a fan of SotM, let alone with carbine. The moving forced me to be much more careful with my head position in order to keep the sights in my sight, let alone trying to keep the whole gun steady enough to shoot accurately.

    Given that this was a brand new POI, there were some rough edges on the class, along with some minor issues with the range. For example, on TD1, there was the issue of not being able to complete the long range portion of the class as planned, due to range patrons coming in; it would have been nice to have been able to secure that portion of the range for a half day or so, though obviously that could prove difficult. The issue of the Strelok on TD2 seemed a bit off; Ash had noted that usually he used a tablet so that everyone could better see what to do, but I figured that that could be something that a video could be done on, and have the students watch as a prerequisite for the class. Some of the ordering could also be improved, such as placing the handgun transition before the shot-reload-shot, in order to reinforce the importance of a speed reload for most folks. I would also have preferred to have scored, or put up fresh B-8s, a little more often on TD2, as some of the drills were shot simply to practice manipulations, such as the shot-reload-shot, or the lateral shooting conga line, though obviously the latter would the problematic, given how the drill was set up in the first place.

    Gearwise, the main issue I had was simply the weight of the can wearing me out. While I could have taken it off, I was stubborn, and plus I hadn’t zeroed for it without the can. Nor did I want to subject my fellow students to my brutal brake that was on my SBR; we had another student in the class that had a very obnoxious one, enough so that we asked that he put his suppressor back on. Thankfully, I did not have any issues with gas in my face, and that proved to validation of the gas port insert being enough to tame the gas on my 11.5”, without having to resort to an actual adjustable gas block. I did find my Firemark Sensors to be lacking dexterity and tactile sensation, compared to my old Firemarks; I hope to break those in and perhaps get better performance out of them, there were several times where I fumbled putting the safety back on. Beyond that, the only real issue was simply lack of familiarity with my Kahles, which I suspect time will solve. The battery did die on me during a string of fire, which proved problematic due to the fact that we were shooting B-8s, but I was able to complete the course of fire. A minor issue I had was that I managed to carbon weld my suppressor onto my 11.5”, which necessitated it being shot off for removal, as I was able to undo the locking ring, but we were unable to pull it off directly.

    Overall, 788 rounds of rifle were expended and 10 rounds of pistol. All pistol ammo was Speer Lawman 147 gr., while on the rifle side, 404 rounds of Asym Precision Bulk Factory Reloads 55 gr. (.223 Rem) was put through the 11.5”, and 236 rounds of Asym Precision Bulk Factory Reloads 55 gr. (.223 Rem), 18 rounds of Monarch Brass Case 55 gr. (.223 Rem), and 130 rounds of Winchester Western W3131 (5.56 NATO) were put through the 14.5”. The lone malfunction occurred with the Asym Precision in the 14.5”.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by GOST View Post
    Alamo5000 is gonna so pissed to see a post longer than any of his.
    I am working on my brevity thank you very much

    It goes two ways with me... the more I learn the more brief I can be... or the more I learn the more I can explain. Or it can go the other way around, but I am just saying that I'm working on it. HAHAA! LOL!!!

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    Nice write up. Enjoyed reading it.

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