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    AAR Presscheck Consulting Designated Marksman Rifle - 2019-10-04/05 - Searsboro, IA

    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 tempo of the class and the large amount of discussion that arouse organically, along with poor weather.

    The Presscheck Consulting Designated Marksman Rifle course is designed to equip patrol and tactical officers with the skills to apply accurate rifle fire in critical situations at varying distances and from various positions.

    This 20 hour course stresses the importance of applying offset and holds at various distances and angles to ensure proper point of impact. Various techniques of supporting the rifle to mitigate recoil and stabilize the reticle for proper shot placement.

    This is my second formal purely rifle-oriented course, with prior long gun courses being a two day rifle course with Warrior Industries, a CSAT rifle/pistol course and a block of long gun instruction of with Dark Angel Medical. 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.

    I used a KAC SR-25 E2 CC M-LOK 16" upper with a SureFire SFMB-762-SR25 and a Radian Weapons Raptor-SD in NP3, paired with an LMT MARS-H lower that I had assembled myself, which had KAC Take Down & Pivot Pins with V7 detents and springs, a V7 Titanium Buffer Retainer with spring, Magpul UBR GEN2, Heavy Buffer XH Carbine Buffer with an Armalite EA1095, Geissele SD-C, BCM Mod 1 Grip, and Radian Weapons Talon. Accessories on the gun were SureFire M600-DF body with ModLite PLH and SureFire SR09, mounted with an Arisaka Defense Inline Scout Mount M-LOK, a Nightforce ATACR 1-8x24 F1 and Trijicon RMR RM06 Type 1 FDE mounted with a Spuhr SP-4024 and Spuhr A-0010 both zeroed for 100 yards with Speer Gold Dot 150 gr., Magpul Ladder Rail Panels on all unused 1913, Magpul MBUS Pro Offset sight set, Magpul M-LOK QD Sling Mount with a Sheriff of Baghdad QD Bitch sling, and a SureFire SOCOM762-RC with a Warsport Suppressor Sock. Lube used was ALG Go-Juice, magazines used were Magpul PMAG 25 M118 LR/SR GEN M3 Window in sand that were dyed roughly FDE, with Magpuls mounted sideways. Round count at the beginning of the class was 693 rounds.

    I ran the course toward comfort; on TD1, I wore an Otte Alpine Jacket when temperature dictated, with an Outdoor Research Astroman Short Sleeve Shirt, Arc'teryx LEAF Assault Pants LT with Crye Precision AirFlex Field knee pad inserts, and Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX. On TD2, due to weather, I wore an Outdoor Research Astroman Polo, Otte Alpine Pants, Arc'teyrx LEAF Alpha Jacket Gen1, Arc'teryx LEAF Alpha Bib Gen1, Outdoor Research Expedition Crocodiles, and an Outdoor Research Fieldcraft Jacket and Outdoor Research Convoy Sensor gloves when temperature dictated.

    For load carriage, on TD1 I used a Ronin Tactics Task Force with (going counterclockwise, from the 1200) Eleven 10 RIGID with a C-A-T Gen7 and case cover, an Esstac Midlength KYWI single, two First-Spear MultiMag with the 7.62 speed reload inserts, a Blue Force Gear Medium Dump Pouch, a CountyComm A&P Key Ring with a Omega Pacific D Screw-Lok holding a pair of Outdoor Research MGS Lightweight, Dark Angel Medical D.A.R.K. Slim with trauma shears, and SOFTT-W gen 3, a Safariland UBL Mid-ride with some padding and a Safariland MLS 18, with a modded SureFire Masterfire attaching via a Safariland MLS 15. On TD2, I did not use any load carriage at all, and just hand carried what as needed.

    PPE used were Oakley M-Frames 3.0, SureFire EP7s, and Safariland Liberator HPs with Hardcore Tactics NekoMimi headset covers. Miscellanous gear used was the Caldwell DeadShot Boxed Combo Front and Rear Bag and Caldwell TackDriver Bag, both filled with sand. The notes were taken on Rite in the Rain № 946T with either a Fisher AG7 or else Fisher TLP.

    Chuck Pressburg was the primary instructor. There were roughly 16 students in the class, with a fair number of LE, a few military, and the rest being civilian training enthusiasts. Student rifles were all AR-15s of some flavor besides my own AR-10, some with LPVOs, but also many 3-15 or the like. Many ran bipods, and one shooter with a tripod. Suppressors were seen on multiple rifles.

    Class started at 0755 on TD1. Weather started fairly chilly at about 45 F, with minimal cloud cover and wind, and reaching the mid-60s F as the day progressed.

    Class started out with Chuck giving an extremely brief bio on himself, where he stated he spent 26 years in the US Army, and how he had started teaching only in 2017. He spoke about how he felt compelled to teach in order to fill the gaps that he felt existed in the current training landscape, and was absolutely against trying to teach a typical Carbine 1 or Handgun 2 type course. For example, Chuck spoke about how Mike Pannone had a class dedicated specifically to AR malfunctions and how to clear them, and how that was a wonderful niche that Pannone had filled; on the flip side were the folks like Jeff Gonzales or the late Pat Rogers, which had very well regimented and polished classes, but the classes tended to be very wide in breadth but also very shallow due to that breadth.

    Chuck then talked a little about his expectations for the class; he compared it to how it might be considered something like a No-Fail Rifle class, where one learned what one's rifle and ammo combination actually did on the line, rather than trying to simply use applied ballistics to try and guess everything without any confirmation. Chuck noted that any of the applied ballistics theory or computers needed to account for a huge number of variables, whether it be weather, geography, bullet used, cartridge variations from lot to lot, etc., and that ultimately they were all probabilistic.

    The host then went over the medical plan. There was a single EMT-B in the class, who was designated the primary caretaker in case there were issues, with Chuck being the designated helper. Primary and a secondary emergency services contacters were designated, due to the poor cell reception in the range bay itself. The host also reminded the students that there would need to be brass policing at the end of the class.

    Chuck then spoke some more about the class. Given that he was still so new to the teaching game, he was very clear that this class would have an evolving POI. He also stressed that this was not a sniping course, where we would do field fire on an unknown distance range or trying to stretch our rifles out to 800 yards; he talked about how he felt that the name of the course was something a misnomer, as "designated marksman" had connotations in the civilian training community that this class was not designed to meet. Rather than trying to get us to be able to read wind and make range estimations and get a first round hit at 738 yards, the goal of this class was to give the students the tools to train to be able to make a good shot on a suspect that is 83 yards away that is only exposing half of their face from behind a vehicle, while the student themselves had just deployed their own rifle from the patrol vehicle. The primary target audience that Chuck was tailoring the course for was the mid-range LE engagement, where precision was paramount, but the distances may not be all that far.

    Chuck noted that a rifle with magnification did nothing to make someone shoot better, it would only help the shooter see better. A magnified optic give increased situational awareness over something like a red dot sight, and thus gives more information to the shooter, allowing better decision making. Chuck spoke about how performance on demand was all that truly mattered in these scenarios, including the speed one could get into a stable enough position, accounting for cant, etc.

    A recurring theme that Chuck brought up at this point was the concept that "nobody cares about your gun problems". What he meant by this was that it is almost always true, particularly in an LE context, that the leadership is strictly outcomes focused, and does not care about the process you took to get to the outcome for the most part, e.g., the leadership does not care about what zero you chose or what you were aiming at, but only cares about what you hit, whether it be the suspect or an innocent. Thus, what Chuck was trying to impart on us was the gift of self-awareness. Chuck argued that knowing when not to take the shot is one of the most important things that a shooter could learn.

    Chuck then went over the four rules of firearms safety. For the first rule, assume that all guns are loaded, Chuck did state that this would be broken in this class, as we would often run the rifles cold, due to the need to go up and down the line to inspect the targets; for most normal classes, such as a handgun or carbine, where the maximum distance would be 25 yards for most of the class, this would hold true, but for a 100 yard line, we would simply clear the rifles, leave them at the line, and then walk forward of them.

    For the second rule, finger off the trigger and guns on safe, Chuck noted how many of the DM rifles would have light aftermarket triggers; thus there would be no need to trigger prep. Rule three was the laser beam rule, which is to say, do not flag anyone. In reality, people put their finger on the trigger before being ready to shoot, and they flag each other; however, so long as the two don't happen at the same time, there is no way for someone to be hurt. Thus, one can always break one rule and be okay. This was brought up simply to illustrate the reality that the four rules allowed for some leeway in realworld situations, and not to say that it was okay to break a rule constantly.

    The last rule was the one concerning the backstop, and the one that Chuck argued was by far the most relevant one in the real world. Chuck noted that while many folks were familiar with the 12" minimum penetration in calibrated ballistics gel as specified by the FBI terminal ballistics protocol, there is also the issue of overpenetration, which is defined as being over 21" of penetration. Such penetration would exit the best backstop in most fights, the upper thoracic area of the target. This means not only choosing the appropriate ammunition (e.g., not using M118LR for CQB with 16" SR-25s, due to penetrating 28" to 31"), but also being cognizant of what is behind the target, as even appropriate FBI tested ammo still need a proper backstop to prevent liability. If one is not cognizant of the backstop around the target, the only other alternative is to simply never miss and always hit the target to prevent backstop issues. Chuck then related an anecdote that had been presented at the Southern California Hostage Rescue Symposium: during a barricaded suspect call, the suspect cranked off a .380 ACP indoors. The bullet penetrated the exterior wall of the building that the suspect was in, flew across the street, penetrated the exterior wall of the building that the sniper was in, and then buried itself in the floor next to the sniper. This handily illustrated how most modern construction residences in the USA simply cannot be counted on to be a reliable backstop.

    As previously stated, for safety during the class, we would clear the gun, lock the bolt back, and then place the gun in a position where the open ejection port would be easily observed. This was simply because we had to be constantly moving up and down the line for over 100 yards; in a standard carbine course that would be between 7 to 25 yards, Chuck argued that keeping the carbine hot was far more practical, as it would save time, as one should be competent enough to be safe with a loaded rifle if one was to be in a carbine class in the first place. If someone couldn't handle that level of gunhandling, then they probably shouldn't be given a long gun in the first place, as if they couldn't be safe on a flat range with no real stress, then they definitely would not be safe in a high stress situation in the real world.

    Chuck then started to speak a bit more in-depth about what he had planned for the class; he noted that due to this being a totally new POI, he would be discounting future classes for any of the students present in the current class, as a way to make up for the lack of polish for the class. he then asked the students what the difference between carbine, designated marksman, semi-auto sniper, and sniper were; essentially, when would one want to grab an SDM-R, SPR, or SAM-R versus other guns. One of the students posed the idea of rural LE using such rifles to gain more distance during engagements, or to use it against barricaded suspects at longer ranges. The question was then, why not use snipers for such scenarios? The problem with snipers was simply that they are a far rarer resource, as they have to focus on not only marksmanship, but also fieldcraft and the finer points of reconnaissance (Chuck spoke about being graded on field sketches when he was learning to be a sniper, an art that has since been supplanted due to the proliferation of digital cameras); the heavy investment in time and money to train snipers means that they will necessarily be much rarer.

    Essentially, a designated marksman gives local assets more options, as they are far easier to train up, and are thus far more numerous and therefore more likely to be on scene already or at least to get there sooner. However, LE is deeply regional, so there are sometimes definite differences in what might be the line between a designated marksman and a sniper, e.g., the Texas policy that dictates that anything greater than 5 magnification would be considered a sniper optic, and thus necessitate the requisite training.

    Chuck then noted how the lines between carbine, DMRs, and snipers were starting to become much fuzzier. The jump between the CSASS and a Mk12 really wasn't that great, nor was the jump from a 16" AR-15 carbine with an ATACR 1-8 to a Mk12 that big, either. The SPR suddenly wasn't so special in today's world, compared to when it had first come on scene in the early 2000s. The mid-range semi-precision role could be taken on by many different combinations today.

    In speaking on 7.6251mm vs. 5.5645mm, the main consideration was increased terminal ballistics and less susceptibility to environmental factors, but at the expense of weight, and possibly platform reliability. The Mk11 was known to be far more temperamental and less tolerant of poor firing positions compared to the Mk12. Chuck spoke about how in operational environments, the Mk11 have been known to short stroke when it wasn't in a stable firing position, as the lack of a shooter behind the stock (e.g., during blind fire or when short stocking) would rob the necessary momentum needed to properly cycle the gun. Using an AR-15 also gave more ammo interchangeability in a team environment, while its superior handling characteristics over an AR-10 type gives you better performance when you're forced to go do CQB with what you had brought.

    Chuck has found that the 12.5" AR-15 is arguably the sweet spot for a GP carbine. In his previous career, he had to qualify at 500 meters on a LaRue target using an 10.4" HK416 and an EOTech, so the 12.5" with its higher muzzle velocity was definitely better at defeating environmental factors. He has tried several 1-8 optics, including the Swarovski Z8i and the Nightforce ATACR, and found none of them to be as good for his use as the various SFP 1-6 (e.g., Kahles K16i or Vortex Razor HD); this was because at 1, the FFP optics simply couldn't compete with eyebox, and with most LPVOs, they are used as a heavy, expensive Aimpoint T-2 for 90% of the time. In exploring LPVOs, Chuck took a Vortex Razor HD to a Pat Rogers carbine course, which is heavily focused on 25 yards and in, and was able to take top shooter against a field of RDSes and HWSes.

    Thus, Chuck isn't totally convinced on the viability of the current field of 1-8 FFP optics simply due to their performance at 1; while one could counter that such scopes would be used more for their longer range, and their 1 wouldn't be used much, but instead with an offset RDS, the counter argument to that is the question of why even use a 1-8, when one could then get a whole lot more glass, like 3.5-15 or the like without much weigh or bulk penalty. For example, using two fairly similar AR-15s, Chuck had placed the Swarovski Z8i on one, while another had a Leupold Mark 5HD 3.6-18 and an offset Leupold DeltaPoint Pro, and the weight difference was only about a pound, despite one rifle having double the magnification.

    In terms of optics, FOV is a very important metric to look at. Magnification being equal, more FOV is always better, as it means more information.

    As for focal planes, FFP can be used much more easily for range estimation and wind calls, at the cost of performance at 1; in terms of magnification, 6 is about the top end where SFP is the clear winner, while 8 top end is where arguments can be made for FFP or SFP. Chuck noted that wind calls/movers can be a real issue where FFP optics have an advantage; an example that someone had told him about was the idea that one may have the optic backed down to mid-range magnification for great FOV while doing observation, and a target may suddenly come up for a short period of time, precluding the ability to crank the magnification up, and instead forcing you to take the shot in an intermediate magnification, and with an FFP, one can much more easily memorize what the wind call/lead would be compared to an SFP.

    Chuck stressed that all scoped guns should have some sort of backup sighting system, not necessarily for the main optic going down, but simply for use in unexpected situations up close; Chuck relayed an anecdote where a sniper had an enemy suddenly scale a wall the sniper was right next to, and had to shoot the enemy at point blank range using a mini-RDS mounted to the 1200 of the primary optic.

    Chuck then went over sling set up. He noted that the 2 point quick adjustable as created by Kyle Lamb was specifically so that one would be able to quickly adjust the sling tension as needed for sling supported shooting. Sling placement also mattered, as it would change the range of motion with the rifle while slung along with the amount of tension that the sling could provide. With the sling placed near the front and rear of the receiver (i.e., by the slip ring and the receiver extension), there is great range of motion. When the sling is kept up front, near the end of the handguard, one will have to loosen the sling to achieve the same range of motion, which means it'll be looser when slung, with reduced muzzle control, and sits lower in general, making it more susceptible to burning one's legs if running a can or simply bashing into it during movement. However, with the sling up front, one can get more mechanical advantage with the sling for supported shooting; thus, one solution is to simply have two QD cups, one near the slip ring while the other is pushed as far up front as possible.

    On DM dedicated guns, Chuck will go as far as to run the QD cup up front on the 0600 to allow maximum sling support, as he can better use his off-hand in that position to provide tension. Chuck noted that due to his background in competitive air gun and .22 LR shooting as a kid, he was quite familiar and comfortable with sling supported shooting.

    Chuck noted that when running the sling at the RE, there can be greater resistance to motion due to friction, as compared to running the sling outboard on the stock, and also that tension can be better achieved at the stock. The question becomes if one is running the sling on a carbine versus a DMR, which can dictate what sling position is best.

    On bipods, Chuck noted that he had very rarely seen any short bipod be used operationally, simply due to ground clutter. Instead, he was a fan of simply using magazine supported shooting, noting that the Boonie Packer RediMag was great for this; while magazine couplers could also do a good job at this, he had found that the extra weight could cause issues, such as wearing out the magazine's mag catch, given that the aluminum was softer than the steel of the rifle's mag catch (enough that it could cause feed issues as the magazine sat too low). Mag-Pods are also excellent for this role, particularly with the imminent release of a model for the PMAG GEN M3. That being said, Chuck acknowledged that magazine supported shooting could definitely cause issues; during a class, while using .300 BLK subsonic, he ran into magazine supported shooting causing issues due to the upward pressure exerted, while the gassing of the subsonic rounds were much less, thus leading to tolerance stacking that pushed the gun out of its operational window. With quality magazines and rifles, shooting robust milspec 5.5645mm, magazine supported shooting would never cause issues in any normal circumstance, but under edge cases, it may very well be possible (e.g., unlubed gun, worn out magazines, etc.).

    On tripods, Chuck suggested the use of something like a Hog Saddle.

    For barricade supports, Chuck would use anything to try and help, whether it be a light, QD sling, bipod, or actual barricade stop. He would usually mount any dedicated stop a little bit behind the end of the handguard instead of flush with the end, thus creating a lip that allowed a more consistent purchase, as the lip would add an additional reference point and prevent the shooter from accidentally resting on the barrel when the rifle moved under recoil.

    For the placement of backup RDSes, Chuck stated that it is dependent on gun set-up. While a 1200 RDS would sidestep the issue of switching shoulders, or needing to clear a MAWL, it would have significant height over bore to compensate for. For clearing a MAWL, he did find that the new Arisaka Defense offset mount to do the trick, along with the new Badger Ordnance C1 scope mounts.

    For any kind of gun yoga (i.e., any kind of shooting that would involve some sort of barricade or other unorthodox position) at range, eyebox and consistency of head positioning behind the glass matters. While parallax issues may be minimal close in, they are quickly manifested once longer ranges are demanded, particularly when precision is required. Chuck noted that beyond just generally having a more forgiving eyebox, SFP optics generally have reticles are that easier to see without illumination at all magnification rates, which makes them be a bit more forgiving when one doesnt have a perfect head position behind the glass and the illumination is compromised; the scope shadowing is certainly an issue at longer ranges, but just like parallax, its effects are much less when manifested at very short ranges.

    Chuck then spoke about ballistics and zeros. He noted how the 200 yard/meter zero had the flattest trajectory out to 300 out of all the common zeros, and argued that the 100 meter zero was very much a product of trying to game certain evaluations, as they were set at 100 meters. Chuck argued that having a flatter zero made range estimation less of an issue, which was important due to the fact that range estimation is a fairly difficult art, even if shooting holds themselves were not.

    Chuck drew an exaggerated diagram of how ballistics worked, showing how the barrel canted up while the optic was parallel to the ground, and how line of sight was straight out while the trajectory of the round arced up then down. He stated that the further the zero was for, the higher the peak of the trajectory would be; this peak is called maximum ordinate, or max ord (e.g., a 300 meter zero has a larger max ord than a 200 yard zero). Chuck noted that the 100 yard/meter zero differed from most zeros in that its max ord was the POA/POI; most other zeros would cross the line of sight twice, and thus have both hold overs and hold unders (e.g., a 200 meter zero would first cross the LOS at around 50 meters, depending on the gun and ammo, continue above the LOS for a while, before dropping down and crossing it again at 200 meters).

    Chuck stated unequivocally that one must confirm at the distance one wishes to zero for; zeroing at 50 will get one in the ballpark at 200, but will never be dead on, it will always need adjustment; even with a perfect rifle, perfect ammo, and perfect shooter, 50 does not ballistically match at 200, so with human inconsistencies masked at closer ranges, the zero at 200 will definitely be off. The same relationship exists for 25/300 (which has a max ord at around 175). Chuck noted how from 0 to 300, a 200 zero will have a spread of roughly 7 inches, which is more than enough to hold on a human torso and get hits through the entire range.

    Chuck then went on to talk about how with scopes, the ability to dial offsets zero choice to a certain extent, as one can now adjust the POA/POI on demand, and return to zero easily, or to simply use the different reticle markings to adjust as needed. The choice in zero now becomes somewhat of an academic choice, as one can simply recalculate the meaning behind different reticles markings, and make decisions on holding or dialing.

    Chuck does argue that zeroing your scope to the same as your RDS or HWS has the advantage of having similar holds, thus reducing the cognitive load a bit, and allowing you to utilize roughly the same holds for different optics.

    We then moved out of the pure classroom section, and onto the range; we were on the 500 yard range, and set our gear up at the 100 yard line.

    Once we were set up on the 100 yard line, we then went to the targets and started setting up. Chuck spoke passionately about why his targets were set up differently from many instructors. For example, instead of the standard paper and staple combination, Chuck had provided us with tagboard B-8s and spray glue, as this combination was far less susceptible to environmental factors (rain and wind) and also tended to have cleaner holes, making scoring easier; for him, paper was acceptable indoors, but only tagboard would be accepted outdoors. Chuck went over his method of spraying on the glue, noting that one should be 12" to 18" from the surface, that pressure needed to be applied smoothly when pasting on the target (going from the middle on out, to reduce wrinkles, which in turn reduces ambiguity on scoring), and one needed to be cognizant of wind direction, and try to body block if possible to reduce overspray. He then went on to fold the sides of the target that poked over the edge of the backers, in order to reduce amount of wind that could get behind the target and cause it to separate from the backer. Chuck argued that the additional monetary cost of using tagboard and glue over paper and staples was worthwhile usually, as this meant less downtime due to targets tearing off in the wind, more consistent scoring, etc. Chuck then provided every single student with a bag containing a stack of tagboard B-8 center repairs, a Sharpie, black tape, brown tape, and white tape (or pasties for any of those), along with a fresh can of spray glue (Chuck personally prefers 3M Super 77, but unfortunately, the store ran out of those and many of us ended up with Loctite 100, which was somewhat inferior); this would minimize downtime, along with giving us no excuses on if there were target issues, as we would have no one to blame but ourselves if our targets were damaged by the wind (e.g., being blown off, tearing, not aligned straight up and down, etc.). We were told that we would be putting up center repairs after almost every string of fire.

    Chuck argued that this use of better materials was part of a culture of excellence, to demand perfection from the students, and to remove any possible excuse and/or impediment for poor performance. This goes even as far as how to account for shots on the target; instead of circling, drawing a line through, or drawing an X on a hole that wasn't being taped, Chuck prefers to put the Sharpie's tip inside the hole, to mark the entire inner circumference of the hole with black ink; this means that another shot that lands right next to that marked hole could be accounted for, even if it was a double, thus eliminating doubt and reinforcing accountability. When taping, one should strive to use the least amount of tape possible, not to conserve tape due to financial considerations, but to minimize obstructing the marking son the target and to minimize the possibility to interference from a new shot. Chuck even went over how he liked to glue on the B-8 center repairs; he notes that there are alignment lines on both the B-8 and the center repairs, and how those can be used to help align the target; it was of paramount importance to try and line up the circles on the center repair with the main target, once again to enforce ease of scoring and thus accountability. Using the alignment lines, one can spray on a square of adhesive, then glue on the target, making sure to use even pressure (once again to reduce wrinkling) and to get all the corners glued down (again to minimize how wind might affect how the target looks or gets scored).

    This attention to detail on how the targets were set up, and how we would reface the targets after almost every string, was new to me in a class, and I absolutely loved it. This stressing of shot accountability was something I personally deeply believe in, because it allowed zero room for excuses or ambiguity; as Chuck had said, a repair center, even in tagboard at 0.07 USD, is far cheaper than any single round we might fire. I have been to classes where targets were left up way too long, thus it became purely manipulation practice, which can be done without wasting ammunition.

    We then started our first shots of the day at 100 yards to zero/reconfirm, a 10 shot group.

    I was about 3 mils low and 6 mils to the left, which was not unexpected, as my rifle was zeroed at 100 yards with my self-defense ammo, Gold Dot 150 gr. in very different conditions (much hotter ambient temperatures), while I was shooting the class with Magtech First Defense Sniper 308D 168 gr., which averages 1 to 1.5 MOA at 100. I shot with a front rest, but no rear rest or sling tension.

    I had attempted to use my Lancer L7AWM 25, but it failed to chamber a round upon releasing the bolt; this was an issue I had run into before, where the combination of a dirty gun, high spring tension from the magazine, and the steel feed lips having a higher coefficient of friction, meant that it would not chamber a round when running the bolt manually (they work fine when the gun has been freshly lubed). Lancer has talked about these problems before, saying that they utilize heavier spring tension for better performance in full auto guns, and have suggested running heavier buffers/RE springs, which I already was, and/or cutting a coil off the end of the magazine spring. I just simply went with using PMAGs for the rest of the class.

    After refacing targets, during the walk back to the firing line, Chuck spoke on scope height. He noted that the 1.93" height that was so popular these days had zero ballistic purpose originally, and that the height was simply the minimum that was needed for an S&B Short Dot 1-4 to clear a PEQ-2. He noted how a higher mount, while good for keeping a heads-up position that was beneficial for stand-up shooting, could cause issues in the prone, as it was more of a chinweld and needed more muscling of the neck to get into the proper position while in the prone, which was poor ergonomics. The chinweld also could cause vertical stringing in the shot group, due to a less consistent head position vertically.

    Chuck spoke that he usually uses 5 shots, but the 10 shot initial group would be good just to double check that everything on the rifle was operating correctly and that nothing was going to be shaken loose. Going forward, we would use 5 shot groups for the most part, as Chuck had found that it was about the number of shots that one could keep focus and stay on the gun without any major movement that would affect the consistency of the firing position one started in.

    On the topic of suppressors, Chuck noted that they could end up being an issue in some contexts, as the mirage from the suppressors under heavy firing schedules could reduce precision, and under such a situation, the reduction in visual and acoustic signature is most likely a moot point, given the volume of fire. In such a scenario, it would be highly advisable to know and be able adjust the optic (or at least know the holds) for both suppressed and unsuppressed use; however, this is mostly likely a strictly military context, and would almost be inconceivable in an LE role.

    We then shot the 5 shot group.

    I was about 3 mils to the right at this point.

    As we refaced targets, Chuck quickly went over the issue of spray glue cans clogging up under use, and suggested wiping the nozzle tips against the edge of the cardboard targets to try and unclog them; when clogged, the spray pattern often becomes unpredictable, along with some of the glue being wasted.

    Chuck then also spoke about the use of brakes on the line, which some students had found to be distracting their shooting, due to other students to their left or right using them and breaking their concentration. One will have to prep the trigger, get a good sight picture, and wait for their braked neighbor to fire; there should be a minor lull in the cadence to allow for one to make their own shot with minimal interference.

    On BDC reticles, Chuck noted that the reticles rarely actually match what they're suppose to be, whether it be due to different ammo, barrels lengths, etc. Instead, simply use the BDC hashes as just another point of reference, and build DOPE as needed. For example, Chuck noted how the BDC on the Elcan M145 was simply an average of 5.5645mm and 7.6251mm holds, which rendered it fairly off for both rounds if using the prescribed distances to the corresponding hash marks.

    We then shot another 5 shot group.

    I was 1 mil low at this point.

    Chuck spoke about shooting in the prone. In classic sling supported shooting, one would angle the body at about 45 for maximum skeletal and muscular support, with the shooting side leg kicked out to minimize the amount of input from the chest while widening the base of the body. However, many of these things are specific to maximizing stability while keeping the rifle totally off the ground, and become moot once we allow for bipods or magazine supported shooting.

    Once the rifle is allowed to touch the ground, one should try to get as much body behind the centerline of the gun as possible, similar to how machine guns would be employed. With legs somewhat spread, one can use one's toes to push the body forward and load the gun. The shoulder should be fully engaged to allow getting into the glass as fast as possible after recoil, as self-spotting is an important skill to have, even in a military context, as spotters are often now tasked with pulling rear security. One of the techniques that Chuck had learned, particularly for gas guns, was to flare the strong side elbow out and get the shoulder in-line with the stock as much as possible. Under 400 yards, due to time of flight, self-spotting starts becoming fairly difficult, and recoil management becomes paramount for getting back into the glass as fast as possible. This is particularly important when a target will be visible only momentarily and one has to take a SWAG; getting back under the glass quickly not only allows for possible follow-up shots, but more feedback about the initial guess and thus for a possible correction. Chuck relayed how on Top Shot (the TV show), a USAF CPE instructor was able to make a cold 1000 yard shot with a Barrett .50 BMG using a single shot in 47 seconds, taking the time to do the calculations and figure out the proper hold. The 3 gun shooter that came next simply took a spoiler shot, adjusted using the Christmas tree in the reticle, and then scored a second round hit at 1000 in 19 seconds. In the context of that scenario, the 3 gunner was able to do much better; Chuck used this anecdote to stress that the totality of the circumstances can change what the proper course of action is. In some situations, a spoiler shot may not be allowed, whether it be due to civilian considerations or not wanting to alert the target, but in others, it is perfectly acceptable, so one needs to always be cognizant of all angles in a scenario.

    We then did 10 single shots at 100, starting from the standing, and then getting into the prone, using a shot timer as the go command.

    The shots were between 5 and 10 seconds for all the students. Upon inspection, all of my hits were in the black, scoring a 97 total, with 3 shots in the 9.

    Chuck noted that some of the students had rushed their shots and not made good hits, despite the fact that there was no par time given, nor what acceptable target; the mere use of the shot timer had gotten people to start rushing their shots. Chuck then spoke about how during practice, he would try to get an 80% hit rate within the designated target area; this meant that he was actively trying to push himself and find at what speed he would come apart. He did not want to drop any lower than 80%, as practice makes permanent, and going at light speed but only getting, say, 50% acceptable hits was ingraining bad habits, regardless of whether or not he is consciously aware of the issues. In evaluations or real life engagements, he would strive for 90%, unless it was what he termed a "no-fail" shot, such as shooting a hostage taker, then he would accept nothing less than 100%.

    To Chuck, a tactical shooter will be slower than a competition shooter, due to the fact that the tactical shooter tends to have a much higher level of shot liability; a competition shooter that is forced to get all A zone hits in a match on pain of a several financial penalty would be much slower than they normally would be, even if their typical speed would only see a few Cs and no Ds, simply due to the need to confirm the sight picture. Competition shooters will often gamble on their shots, simply due to the lower stakes of their misses, as the scenario (i.e., the game) does not penalize misses significantly, while a fast run can greatly boost one's score. Chuck stressed that this was not an attack on competition, and that competition shooters often were much faster than most tactical shooters in various gun handling actions that simply come from maximizing human efficiencies, and could and should be copied by tactical shooters. The ideal armed professional should have the efficient movements of a competitor, but the shot accountability of a tactical shooter.

    Chuck then told us that he gave us the times for our shots in order to see how we would react under perceived pressure. He was trying to get us to see what we would do when we are not given direction; this was part of the gift of self-awareness he was trying to impart upon us.

    Chuck talked about the need to work around one's medical problems when needed when shooting; for example, we had a shooter using a tripod due to neck and back issues preventing sustained use of the prone.

    Going back to human efficiencies, Chuck spoke about "doing nothing fast", which is to say, do the things that don't matter to the decision cycle and pulling of the trigger quickly, such as getting into position, mounting the gun, etc. The key is to be able to do all of those things quickly to maximize the amount of time we have to get a good sight picture and trigger press; any time spent on anything outside of those will often chew up the time allowed to actually engage the target. For drills that have a par time, but are scored based on accuracy, the par time is there to enforce efficiency, not to force the shooter to go as fast as possible.

    Chuck then went over how to get into prone quickly. The most efficient way is generally to simply reverse the actions of getting out of prone: starting with the muzzle up for control, drop down with the off-hand bracing the ground, kick out the legs, then settle in, moving the hips as needed while in the prone to change the natural point of aim. However, this set of motions can be difficult to carry out for older folks, due to the athleticism and flexibility needed to pull it off. However, do not let age keep you from trying to find the most efficient way to get into position.

    We then repeated 10 single shots at 100, starting from the standing, then getting into the prone, using a shot timer as the go command.

    In terms of target scoring, the point of using a B-8 was to allow for easy comparison between one's peers and one's self; having a unique target can hinder the ease of performance comparison. For the purposes of this class, all line breaks gets the shooter into the higher scoring ring.

    I got a 98-4X; my natural POI was a bit off, as I found myself looking at the wrong target several times during the initial look through the glass, and would have to muscle my way to the right target.

    Chuck stated that going to prone is considered a major movement, and that a designated marksman usually would have to be much more dynamic than a sniper, as there is so much more movement involved as a designated marksman.

    At this point, 1230, we broke for lunch.

    Lunch was eaten on site, whatever you had brought.

    During lunch, Chuck talked about some of his thoughts on the importance of terminal ballistics. In LE, suspects will generally give up; unlike in a military context, often the suspect will make a conscious decision to stop resisting, which is why many times suspects will end up in the hospital ICU after an OIS, rather than in the morgue. The fact that many times OISes end in a psychological stop rather than a physiological stop means that we often have a skewed idea of the efficacy of a shooting, as we forget that that while it may have been a successful fight for the LEO, ultimately the suspect's decisions played a very important role in the ending of that fight. The problem with that is that there will always be committed opponents out there that will not be psychologically stopped, and will have to be physiologically incapacitated rapidly in order to win the fight.

    Chuck notes how in the vast majority of OISes, even successful ones, LEOs will often shoot at an excessively rapid cadence, clearly not utilizing their sights, instead thinking that simply pulling the trigger will somehow create a force field to protect them. Paradoxically, people will try to get on the trigger as fast as possible when the suspect is close, forgoing accuracy to go for volume, when the argument can be made that close in is exactly when accuracy matters most, because one will have the least amount of time to stop an assailant. The idea of simply throwing out rounds as fast as possible is deeply dependent on a psychological stop, as one must be quite accurate to get rapid incapacitation; 6 good A-zone hits on an IPSC could give you three lung shots, a busted spleen, a blown-up liver, and a shot to the stomach, and that will often kill the target within the next couple of minutes, but in a close-in fight, a couple of minutes is more than enough for the suspect to also kill you. Chuck spoke about how Jared Reston, a fellow trainer, had refused to give up the fight, despite being shot in the jaw, weak arm, and several times in the chest (saved by the vest there), and was able to come out victorious in his fight; as Chuck put it, somewhere out there in each jurisdiction, was a criminal version of Jared. The will to fight is not something inherent to just the good guys, and can be found for any alignment.

    The only way to instantly stop a threat is a CNS hit, particularly in the cerebellum. Beyond that, depriving the CNS of oxygen is the only other way to rapidly incapacitate someone, whether it be stopping the pump (i.e., destroying the heart) or else interrupting the flow of the blood to the brain (i.e., severing the aorta in the thoracic to prevent sufficient blood flow/pressure to supply fresh blood to the brain). Still, full destruction of the circulatory system can still give the suspect a full 10 seconds of conscious resistance, which can be a very long time in a fight, though as Chuck noted, the suspect will most likely have steady degradation of motor abilities during that time (he likened it to being choked out, where one might be conscious still near the end, but able to put up minimal resistance).

    As a side bar, Chuck also brought up an incident where a CA LEO (who had been in the USMC prior to that) was forced to take a shot with a Remington 700 at just 28 yards, while on 8, with basically minimal time to set-up. The LEO had the foresight to stage his patrol rifle while en route to the call (for an armed man acting threateningly in his own yard); upon reaching the scene, and seeing multiple officers with their patrol rifles out already, he was able to think on the fly and switch to pulling out the sniper rifle, to provide a capability that the patrol rifles could not. He had not realized how close the suspect was, but upon rounding the corner and seeing the suspect, was able to immediately get into position behind a curb, getting out of the line of fire of his fellow officers, while getting behind the rifle. Almost immediately, a fellow officer opened fire on the suspect due to the actions of the suspect, and the officer was able to immediately get behind the glass, which he had deliberately set at the lowest power, and take a killing shot without getting lost in the glass. On the subject of what to set an optic at during storage, generally one should keep it at the lowest setting; if one needs to shoot immediately upon deployment, odds are that the engagement is at close range, as that is the most likely scenario where immediate engagement is warranted, and the lowest possible magnification will give the shooter the best chance to not get lost in the glass and to get a good sight picture. Conversely, if high magnification is needed for a shot, it is almost certainly something at long range and thus allows for some time to set up properly.

    Chuck argued that many of the response people have to getting shot are due to them understanding that they have been shot, and internalizing some of what the media and society has impressed upon them as being the proper response to being shot, i.e., drop down and give up, even if hit in a location that wouldn't induce an immediate physiological stop. Chuck notes that when hunting, an animal like a deer has no idea about how to act when shot, so unless it's an actual physiological stop, the animal will often run off until it actually dies. Chuck spoke about watching training videos of his father's agency's trainees, where many officers would simply drop down to the ground as if incapacitated upon just hearing a blank go off in a training exercise, with zero feedback as to whether or not the shot was aimed at them or considered a hit.

    Chuck stressed that once your marksmanship fails you, you have nothing left, as there is nothing left on the continuum of force once lethal force has been utilized. He stressed again that the closer to the suspect one is, the more precise one will need to be, and that going fast is simply banking on a psychological stop.

    We resumed class at 1320, with the goal of learning to read our wobble and to call the shots. Using the 4 spotting scopes that students had brought, ran through groups of 4, shooting 5 shots each at 100, starting at the prone, each shot on Chuck's command, and trying to call out our hits after each shot (e.g., 0400 in the 10 ring). Chuck stated that being able to call one's own shots is a huge capability, as it means that one has self-awareness of one's shooting mechanics, and can also help drive decisions, such as knowing that a make-up shot is needed or if it was a solid hit on target.

    Most of my calls were right in line with the actual impacts. I attribute that to the fact that I have pretty good trigger control when under slow fire conditions, and generally have a good awareness of which way the gun is swaying during the shot process. I also was using sling tension and my off-hand to help maximize the tension.

    Chuck postulates that the difficulty in calling one's shots is that people simply don't remember the split second the shot occurs, almost like a mental variant of a flinch, as there is an explosion happening right in one's face, and the mind tries to blank it out, like a traumatic incident. With practice, one can slowly minimize the amount of time lost before and after the shot, and perhaps eventually not lose any perceived time at all.

    We then attempted 10 shot groups as fast as we could keep them in the black at 100, starting in the prone. For this drill, we would need to reset the sight picture as quickly as possible, which meant that recoil control would be paramount to get back behind the glass as fast as possible. Chuck cautioned us against accepting a wobble zone as wide as the target itself, as there are many other factors involved besides the swaying of the rifle, such as intrinsic accuracy of the gun/ammo combination, environmental factors (e.g., wind), shooter induced movement, etc.

    Chuck also spoke about how getting to that last 10% of shooting is all up to one's own self-awareness, as at that level of performance, it is essentially impossible to externally observe with the human eye what the issues are keeping the shooter from peak performance.

    I was the last shooter to finish my string of 10 shots, as there was a decent amount of sway that I was fighting, since it was purely stabilized on sling tension and a magazine support. However, I was able to keep all of my shots in the black.

    Chuck then talked about how many of us were going far too slow, as we had all of our shots in the black; given that this was practice for trying to push ourselves to improve, we should be throwing one or two shots outside of the target as we attempted to get ourselves to the ragged edge.

    We then repeated the drill.

    I was once again the slowest, but only by a very small margin this time. I did not use sling tension this time in my attempt to get shots off as fast as possible. The sway was definitely more pronounced, and I did not have proper natural POA, as I was consistently two targets to the right when resetting the rifle. I ended up with 3 shots outside the black, though within the 7 or 8 ring.

    Yet again, we had many shooters get all hits, which proved that they were too concerned with accuracy, and not enough with speed. Chuck stressed how this was not a good thing, because it meant that such shooters had difficulty changing gears to suit the scenario at hand. Still one has to be able to read the wobble; if the reticle stayed mostly in the black, those should be pretty good odds, and one should just send it if speed is an important component. One must be able to read the relationship between the optic and the target. A shooter that is fast in and out of position, knows their reticle and DOPE, and could read their wobble, is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

    We then moved on the subject of cant. As this was not a sniper class, Chuck was not concerned about the type of cant that bubble levelers on 1913 or scope mounts would be used to zero out; as real as those concerns were, for our purposes, they would generally be of minimal consequence. Instead, we would be focusing on positional cant, such as those seen on VTAC barricades. While cant at very close range is of minimal concern, its impact grows dramatically as range is increased.

    Chuck spoke about the different stages of a bullet: internal ballistics (from the primer igniting to the bullet leaving the crown), external ballistics (the crown to the first object that the bullet strikes besides air), and terminal ballistics (the first object that the bullet strikes on forward; not necessarily the intended target, a windshield could start terminal ballistics).

    Chuck had us turn the rifle 90 inward from the strong side (i.e., scope to the centerline, magazine pointed to your strong side), and fire 5 shots from the prone at 100. While super awkward for the vast majority of the shooters, Chuck reiterated that "no one cares about your gun problems", or in this case, what your POA is. Thus, we needed to build data on our own specific POA/POI for canted rifles; the huge number in differences in rifles means that everyone's DOPE will be fairly different, due to different bullets, muzzle velocity, height over bore, etc.

    My shots, when POA was on the X of the B-8, was all in the 4 ring at 0730, in a fairly tight cluster. I had laid my handguard on the bag, and adjusted my head behind the rifle, laying prone, without any real mass behind the stock, allowing the rifle to recoil freely.

    Chuck's quick and dirty hold for cant was to hold in the direction of where the magazine was pointed, and to hold high, at least for anything 90 and under. Chuck drew out a diagram of the ballistics to illustrate why the bullets impacted where they did given a POA; essentially, it is a product of height over bore (introducing the need to hold toward the magazine) and the zeroed max ord being removed (introducing the need to hold high); after 90 is pushed passed, the bullets will slowly start moving back toward the center until 180, though the need to hold high will still be there. Realistically, Chuck says that it is good enough to learn the holds at 90 and 45 for the left and right side; at 45, using the same POA as 90 and 0, the 45 will be roughly directly between the 90 and the 0.

    Chuck noted that the cant issue may be less of a concern for many LEOs, due to the issue of priority of life (which is to say civilian > LEO > suspect). If one is trying to shoot canted, that generally means that one is trying to maximize cover; if there are civilian lives at risk, priority of life would dictate that a LEO should be trying to save as many civilians as possible, and that means ending the fight as soon as possible, which in turn means that one may need to simply take the risk of exposing one's self for a more accurate shot, rather than try to fuddle around with trying to figure out the holds for a canted shot while civilian lives are lost.

    Chuck stressed that he was not here to teach us how to shoot canted, that there were other classes for that, but that he was trying to illustrate the effects of shooting canted.

    We then turned our rifles 90 from the weak side (i.e., 270 from the strong side, so that the magazine was pointed to the weak side), and repeated it on the same target. Chuck noted that one must have enough room between the ejection port and the deck to fit an entire empty brass casing, to prevent the ejected brass from jamming up the gun. In these positions, Chuck also noted that they will show the problems with trying to use a muzzle brake in a combat scenario outside of being a suppressor mount, as it can throw up dust, dirt, or vegetation, obscuring your target and/or giving away your position; someone in the class had ended up blowing off a zipper on a bag during the run.

    For whatever reason, Chuck finds that often moving the gun to the weak side canted does not produce a mirrored shot placement compared to the strong side; he doesn't have any real ideas as to why that is, outside of the fact that the weak side might have different shooting mechanics due to even further lack of familiarity by the shooter.

    I was one of the few shooters that, for whatever reason, had mirrored groups. Again, I rested my handguard on my bag, but this time, I utilized the Brokeback position, getting on my knees, assuming a bit of a fetal position, and craning my neck down.

    The purpose of shooting canted to was to segue into the use of offset sights. Chuck noted how in an erector or screw in an optic or sight is pushing or pulling something within the optic to change the zero; generally, when tightening, the sight will push the sight in (either pushing the zero up or to the right, depending on which adjustment is being used) or pull it out (either pushing the zero down or to the left). Backup sights are fairly easy to zero as long as they are level to the barrel; this means that if using an offset sight, the cant must be consistent.

    A 1200 mounted back-up sight has the advantage of being fairly easy to zero, and can be used ambidextrously; the down side is that it has significant height over bore generally, and due to the lack of a solid cheekweld, it can be hard to find the dot on the mini-RDSes. Standard off-set sights have a more traditional HOB that makes them easier to use when on the strong side, though they are very difficult to use on the weak side. The most difficult option to zero are the ones that are mounted to the optic or scope rings, and keep the optic level to the ground, but kick it out to the left or right of the barrel, to clear the erectors, as their adjustments end up being diagonal when they are centered above the barrel.

    About a third of the class did not have any usable back-up sighting system, so they were to shoot from the prone at 100 at their lowest magnification to see what kind of shift, if any, they would experience; Chuck noted that it's almost certainly the case that any shift is due to differences in visual perception rather than any issues with the tracking of the optic. Chuck also noted that for those that were running standard irons, without having QD mounts, were only fooling themselves into thinking their BUIS had any real use, as almost nobody carries around the requisite tools to detach their non-QD mounts.

    Chuck also noted how sun position can affect the POA of irons; when the black has worn off of the edges of the sights, or if they are simply smooth and shiny, the eye can perceive the sun glancing off the sights as being empty space, thus perceiving the sights to be of different dimensions than they actually are, and thus throw the POA off. For example, the sun may mask the top of the front sight post, and thus the shooter will perceive the front sight to be shorter than it actually is, and thus throw the shot high.

    For those of us with back-up sighting systems, we shot 5 rounds at 100 from the prone. This was done a total of three times to confirm our zero, refacing the target after each string.

    I had only visually cowitnessed my RMR at the 1200, by using a visible laser and cowitnessing it to the ATACR at 100, then cowitnessing the RMR to the visible laser; I had used a licence plate for its high reflective properties to do this at my home range during the day. This turned out to work beautifully, as I was able to get an excellent group in the 10 ring at the 1200. I tried to adjust the RMR 1 click lower, but that threw my group way too low on the second string. I put the RMR back up one click on the third string, and was able to score a 50-4X.

    Chuck noted that for those that use offset optics, they could simply use the RDS instead of trying to use the canted primary optic for canted shots.

    We then went over target transitions. Traditionally, this was done by pairing up shooters that were right next to each other on the line and having them shoot each other's targets. However, this is usually such a small transition that it becomes difficult to see whether the shooter is transitioning with their eyes still looking through the optic, or if they are actually transitioning with their eyes first then bringing the rifle on target. It also does not have an accuracy accountability, as one cannot distinguish between one's own hits and one's partner's hits.

    Due to the limited space and time, Chuck had us put a second B-8 under the first B-8; we would pair up with our neighbor on the line, but we would each have our own B-8s on each target. While this would not be a great test of transitioning, due to the short transition, it would still hold us to accountable for our own shots. Chuck also noted that depending on how good our original position was, we could either muscle the shot in, or actually move to shift our natural POA. Chuck argued that transitions in this context could easily be viewed as shooting at a mover, with the target moving between each shot, rather than viewing it as two static targets being engaged; something like a Texas star could also be argued as such.

    For the next drill, starting at the prone at 100, we were to engage the two targets with 10 rounds total, going back and forth after each shot.

    I was relatively slow, as usual, but was able to keep all my shots in the black. My poor natural POA upon getting into the prone meant that I was overswinging when transitioning to the right target.

    Once again, Chuck witnessed many shooters going too slow. He stressed the need to push one's self to 80% in training to see what we could do and get away with. He stated that we need to find our own coping mechanisms to minimize sway, overshooting the target, etc.; if there is a specific technique that he wants to teach, he will force it.

    We repeated the drill again after refacing targets.

    I was much faster this time, being more accepting of my wobble, and was able to keep 8 in the black out of 10.

    On this second run, there was a student that had 50-5X on one target, but had 37-1X on the other, with 1X, 1 in the 10, 1 in the 9, and 1 in the 8, with lateral stringing all on the side facing the target with 50-5X. Chuck said that this was due to the fact that one target was in the shooter's natural POA, while the other was being muscled over; however, the shooter was relaxing before their shot was finished on the target they had muscled over to, thus inducing the lateral stringing on the side that their natural POA was at (the last shot was probably thrown completely off target). Thus, when muscling to a target, one must hold and follow it through.

    We then tried that same drill once more, except this time one-handed, with a 90 cant from the strong side (magazine facing the strong side). This was to help illustrate the use of the reticle for holds. Chuck noted how many people, himself included, found it far easier to use an EOTech reticle for shooting movers, due to the 65 MOA ring that could be used as an index point, rather than having to lead with a dot and aim into empty space.

    I attempted to compensate for my drop, and under-compensated, sending most of my shots still low left, though within the confines of the B-8 center repair target this time.

    Chuck then talked about how real life is always far more dynamic and chaotic than the flat range. Thus, one should take the opportunity when possible to gather DOPE at set ranges, in order to master the different holds at different ranges. This helps the shooter to figure out just exactly what they are capable of, and to find the limits of performance.

    For tomorrow, we would do multi-position and do some further distances, along with wider transitions. Again, this class would not cover wind, nor range estimation. Chuck's plan for dealing with wind and/or distance was to compensate via a SWAG if needed, but to always keep on the target itself until proven otherwise, as a hedge of sorts, as this allows for a wide range of possible environmental factors and still probably hit the target. One will often have to think and make calculated risks in the field.

    Class ended at this point, at 1710.

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    Class started at 0750 on TD2. Weather started fairly chilly at about 40 F, intermittent rain throughout the morning, and reaching the low 60s F as the day progressed, with the sky clearing up in the late afternoon.

    We started out with policing yesterday’s brass at the 100 yard line, to minimize the amount of time we’d have to do that later in the rain.

    Chuck mentioned about how microterrain may be used to relieve issues with neck tension; for example, using a small rise in the ground to rest one’s pack or magazine on, helping force the rifle a bit higher than one’s body. One could even put a pack under one’s chest to help bring it up, not only adding to stability, but also further relieving further stress on one’s body.

    That being said, Chuck once again stressed that the keys to prevailing in an engagement was aggression and efficiency in getting into a stabilizing position.

    While we waited for a break in the rain, Chuck spoke about choice of eye pro. All eye pro will affect the sight picture, as it is one more barrier that the photons from the target will have to overcome. Optics that magnify take in the emission of the photons from the target, but in order to magnify, there is refracting and bending of the light. This can potentially lead to a poor decision in crosshair placement, amplified by all the different factors that stack up. A 3” gun, shooting 5” ammo, with a 3” shooter behind the trigger can have some serious accuracy issues; while the factors can cancel each other out, they can also just as easily be additive. Other than the movement of the muzzle, everything else in the shooting process is all controlled by the shooter’s visual perception and reaction to the image.

    Chuck spoke about how Oakley would do a demo that would highlight the alteration of light, by shining a visible laser, and then placing a competitor’s lens in front of the laser, and show how the laser’s point of impact would shift; this would have the same effect for a shooter using optically inferior eye pro, thus inducing poor crosshair placement. Due to the design of most eye pro, the least optical distortion occurs when one has the optic centered in front of the eye pro. Chuck also spoke about how many pro masks would have the same issue; pro masks with large, curved single piece lenses that afford excellent field of view often would induce optical distortion, enough that it could even be an issue at CQB ranges. The distortion issue also was why many snipers will not use eye pro when shooting.

    Parallax with magnified optics could be approached like DOPE, where one would have to shoot and see how much the shift is at closer ranges when the shooter wasn’t perfectly centered behind the optic.

    Chuck gave a quick plug for Rudy Project, speaking about how their scratch resistance was second to none, despite achieving parity with Oakely when it came to optical distortion.

    On ocular adjustments, Chuck’s rule is simple: if either the target is fuzzy or the reticle is fuzzy, it needs adjustment until both are in focus. The diopter measurements that the diopters are in are the same as those in corrective lenses, and one could feasibly adjust an optic to compensate for near-sightedness/far-sightedness to mitigate the need to use corrective lenses when trying to shoot precision (thus removing one set of lenses that will cause distortion). One should set up the ocular adjustments first, then move on to parallax adjustment (should one’s optic have parallax adjustment). To do so, one should first get something close in focus, then adjust to also get something far beyond the target in focus, before finally adjusting so that the target is in focus.

    On tint, one should wear untinted lenses whenever feasible, as tint by definition removes information. It can also make CQB difficult, as one transitions from a light environment to a dark environment. Chuck talked about how there was no tinted lenses allowed during CQB training, which again tied into the idea of allowing zero excuses for people, thus not having the issue of given undeserved second chances, which in turn may end up allowing the straggler to bring everyone down. For Chuck, he instead simply learned to swap out the lenses on his eye pro when needed while on mission.

    The lenses also need some sort of hydrophobic/anti-fog treatment; streaks of water on the lenses would distort the image, while fogging would flat out reduce the image in general. For anti-fog, Chuck recommended the use of the paste formulation of Cat Crap if possible (the liquid being less effective); while nothing would forever prevent fogging, treated lenses would generally extend the time of unfogged lenses by noticeable amounts of time, and would also allow for the lens to clear up much faster as conditions change. Chuck also noted that the reason that he preferred using the Crye AirFrame to the Ops-Core FAST was that the ventilation slit on the AirFrame increased the amount of time it took to fog over Chuck’s eye pro and/or NODs. In some scenarios, one will be forced to make the decision of whether to continue to fogged up eye pro (thus operating under reduced information) or else to forgo the eye pro (thus risking one’s eyes).

    A trick for LEOs that Chuck had seen would be to zip tie a pair of shades in a case to the light bar; as an officer exits the vehicle, they would leave the sunglasses they had on inside the air conditioned car and swap out to the ones that were sitting in a case outside.

    When monopoding with a magazine, Chuck stressed the use of the sling, using the flexing of the shoulders to tighten up the sling, or perhaps wrapping the sling around the magazine to further induce tension. The off-hand would then be used to further stabilize the gun, with the position of the hand being dependent on the gun, accessories on the gun, and the shooter themselves.

    On magazines themselves, Chuck strongly preferred the Gen3 PMAGs, stating that the Gen1 and Gen2 PMAGs would generally only work reliably for about 5000 rounds; the colored magazines were particularly suspect, as the dyes introduced weakened the magazines. Unfortunately, this also meant that the MagPod was not an option if using Gen3 PMAGs, as they currently do not produce something for the Gen3s, although it was very recently announced that they were bringing such a product to market.

    At this point, with a break in the rain, we did a 5 shot group at 200 yards on B-8 targets, aiming at the center of the target, to get DOPE for our guns.

    Like everyone else on the line, my groups printed slightly low, as we were all using a 100 yard zero.

    We then repeated this, but this time being allowed to hold for elevation if we wished.

    I had previously used Strelok to calculate the drop for the hash marks on my reticle (albeit using different ammo and in much hotter weather), and used that to hold for 200 yards; my data proved to be dead on.

    We then tried 5 rounds at 300 yards on B-8 targets, holding the center of the target. Chuck noted that we had some wind coming from almost directly behind us, slightly from the right; while most folks only worry about the lateral component of wind, Chuck spoke about how winds directly from behind or in front can cause serious shifts in elevation.

    Like everyone else, the drop at 300 yards was much more pronounced.

    We then repeated the 300 yard shots, this time holding if we wished.

    Once again, my holds held true.

    Chuck quickly went over the concept of quartering a target. When zeroing, one should not simply strive for “close enough”, but to tune the optic as finely as allowed by the optic’s adjustments. Thus, one should quarter the target, which is to say, to divide the target into four quadrants, evenly splitting it between the middle on both the x and the y axis; if there is a noticeable difference in number of hits between the four quadrants, then the gun should not be considered zero. Chuck also spoke about how one should try to shoot at shorter ranges (i.e., 300 yards or in) when trying to refine raw precision, as this would minimize the amount of environmental influences that are generally considered outside of raw mechanical precision (e.g., wind).

    We then moved over to the range next to the long range, which was a 100 yard range, and we proceeded to place a number of steel targets at the 100 yard line (reduced sized B/C torsos, 8” circles, 6” circles, and 4” squares), evenly spaced. As Chuck argued, the differing target sizes are excellent training tools to help shooters learn throttle control (an MGM reduced size B/C target with the hostage head swinger being another great option). One will need to make decisions on body position, cant, stance, etc. When transitioning from a bigger target to a smaller target, one may need to change stance a bit and further refine sight picture, or it may be small enough that it necessitates a full change in position, and use of a sling or barricade. When needing a barricade, hard corners are friends.

    People have a raw visual reaction time of around 0.15 seconds to a quarter second; once decisions are introduced, this will stretch much longer, and decision will have to be made whenever liability is involved. Thus, to help make up for this lost time, a shooter must make everything besides the final action of firing faster (e.g., getting into position, getting behind the scope, etc.). Making up for lost time via fast shooting invariable leads to subpar shooting.

    We then went over the basics of steel safety. While frangible rounds comes apart very well when hitting a hard surface, and can allow you to shoot at steel as close as 3 yards, it remains a lethal round. And despite the construction of the frangible, it is still mandatory to use eye pro and long sleeves. Still, due to the far lower percentage of ricochet and splashback, using frangible on steel allows for far more training time on steel, though one will always get bit when training with steel, it is simply a matter of time. Frangible is generally ballistically accurately enough to hit a 6” target at 200 yards.

    When practicing, one will need to practice with both high magnification and low magnification for the same size targets at the same range. When shooting in an unstable position, magnification is often the enemy, as it amplifies the perceived wobble, which in turn creates shooter induced movement of the muzzle, as the shooter attempts to time the shot. A realworld example of this is how Barrett M82s were mounted with EOTechs when deployed against vehicles while inside rotary wing aircraft, or the use of the offset RDS for movers 100 yards and in. Lower magnification also gives more FOV.

    Chuck demoed the use of the RDS on the steel, transitioning from target to target.

    As Chuck noted, his old unit used to do ~60% of firearms training on handguns, despite <1% of their engagements ever using a handgun. This is simply because competency with a rifle 200 yards and in is not particularly difficult to generate and maintain. On the other hand, competency at 700 yards and beyond with a long gun can cost significant time and effort.

    We then did standing ready-ups off of a timer at 100 on the reduced sized B/C IPSCs, with two shooters at a time, working from the ends of the line toward the middle, each shooter engaging until they each hit the target.

    I had been dreading this part of the class, as I had a very muzzle heavy rifle, while not being particularly well-built. I was definitely one of the slowest people in the class on this, though I scored a first round hit.

    This was then repeated with an 8” plate.

    I was faster this time, as I had more confidence that my shot would land despite the wobble.

    We then did one mag of freestyle shooting at the steel, playing with stance, body position, hand position, sling work, etc.

    I had a single FTF on the last round; upon ejection, it was immediately obvious why the round did not feed, as it was experiencing extremely noticeable bullet setback.

    We broke for lunch at 1145.

    Class resumed at 1220. We started with Chuck talking about wide target transitions while in the prone. Chuck selected an array of 6 consecutive targets, each about 10 yards apart, and had us engage all 6, starting from the outside and working our way to the center (i.e., order the targets were arranged physically was 1, 3, 5, 6, 4, 2 in terms of shooting order).

    I was able to intuit that one should have one’s natural point of aim toward the middle of the array, to minimize the amount of muscling needed to engage both sides of the array, which Chuck spoke about after the string of fire. I did have some issues with overswinging the target and needing to hunt for the right one.

    We then had a course of fire where the shooter would start facing down range, Chuck would call out what targets to engage, turn on the buzzer, get into the prone, and engage.

    I was given a Mozambique on a reduced sized B/C target, then two of the 8” circles. I was able to make all hits.

    This was repeated on a different section of the target array.

    I do not remember the exact targets I was assigned, but I had great difficulty finding the reduced sized B/C, due to the steel being darkened by the other hits and thus blending into the background, and the water spots on my eye pro. I should have checked to see the position of all targets first before getting into prone, and stopped hunting through my optic (which I had cranked up to about 4) and simply looked with my eyes.

    Chuck then went over positional shooting, using some of the traditional NRA competition positions (Chuck had cut his teeth shooting bulls eye growing up). The traditional NRA standing position has some niche uses outside of competition, such as when there are no barricades to use and microterrain precludes the use of lower positions, such as in a rural era. In general, the key to positional shooting is to maximize the use of structural support over use of the muscles. When standing, one can kick the hip out to create a shelf for the off-hand; the sling is also another important component. One will have to play with off-hand position to determine what the best placement will be, due to differing physiques and rifles; common grips include the reverse c-clamp near the slip ring, the fist under the handguard, and the pool cue. If done properly, one can consistently make 300 yard B/C zone hits off-hand; however, standing is extremely technique heavy, and needs extensive practice to master. This is also where flinching can often be seen. Chuck argues that if there is an acceptable backstop, and a wobble zone that stays within the overall target, one should simply shoot with proper trigger control, rather than trying to force the timing.

    The closer a position is to the ground, the more stable it usually is. That being said, there are some positions that offer little shooting support. While something like a double knee kneel does offer a reduced profile, it has little difference in performance compared to simply standing. With something like the NRA kneeling position, competitors will often use a pillow between the back leg and the ground; without the pillow, some folks will simply sit on the back foot, though not all shooters are physiologically able to do that. The tricep should be on the knee, while the elbow is just forward of the knee; one can also use sling tension to further improve the stability. One should strive to avoid bone on bone. If one is unable to sit on the foot, one will need to be cognizant of the position of the rifle, making sure that as much rifle as possible is over the body, to reduce the amount of muscling needed.

    When done properly, sitting can be almost as stable as the prone. One is usually sitting bladed to the target, so one will need to be aware of natural point of aim as one sits down. The best way to adjust elevation to move the legs forward or back, while changing windage must be accomplished by move the entire body; muscling while sitting and kneeling are particularly bad compared to prone. It is fairly difficult to change natural point of aim in sitting, compared to other positions; the fastest way is to simply push one’s buttocks off the ground using the hands (maintaining a sitting position), shift to the desired position, and then drop down.

    Chuck notes that different shooting positions will require different lengths of sling to maintain proper sling tension. Shooter can mark their sling with different colored paint to indicate the different lengths for each position, if they have a suitable quick adjust two point sling.

    As Chuck had said the previous day, magazine supported shooting can on occasion cause issues when on the edge of tolerances. To shoot prone without a magazine, sling tension is paramount. In sling supported prone, one blades the legs toward the weak side, cock the strong side leg up to compensate, and have the sling wrapped around the hand to help with the tension. Due to the fact that one is resting on the elbows, sling supported prone can be unstable when done on hard surfaces. In sling supported prone, one also needs to have the position absolutely locked in, or else it provides only minimal support.

    We started with standing off-hand, 10 rounds at the B-8 at 100 yards slow fire.

    I scored a 76 with 3 6s, 2 7s, 2 8s, 2 9s, and a 10. I was quite bladed, and used heavy sling tension, had my weak side elbow tucked into my rib cage, and used the weak hand palm under the magazine as a shelf for it to rest on. The muzzle heavy nature of my rifle made this a particularly difficult course of fire.

    Chuck spoke about recording these scores and practicing the course of fire, comparing one’s scores with past performance as one tries different things. We then went to the kneeling. Chuck stated that for kneeling, one should get in position, get on target, close one’s eyes and relax a little, then open back the eyes, seeing if one was on target; if not, one’s natural point of aim was off, and the position needed adjustment, whether it be foot placement, where the foot was pointing, etc. After finding natural point of aim, then figure out where one’s feet were placed and oriented while standing, and keep that in mind and practice; figuring out natural point of aim and practicing it can be done unloaded and cost zero ammo. Kneeling also gets one over the ground clutter quite well usually.

    I found kneeling to be far easier than standing; I was one of the folks able to sit on the back foot, though like most, I found it uncomfortable, particularly given my pre-existing ankle injury. I was able to score a 90, with 2 Xs, 2 10s, 3 9s, 2 8s, and 1 7.

    We then practiced sitting, where much of what was spoken about kneeling would also apply, in terms of finding natural point of aim and maintaining it.

    I actually found sitting to be less stable than kneeling, probably due to my muzzle heavy gun, and my scores bore this out, an 88 with 4 10s, 2 9s, 2 8s, and 2 7s, with vertical stringing being evident.

    We broke at this time to allow a student to check their rifle out and fire a few groups to see if his poor scores were due to his own shooting or if there was something wrong with the rifle. Chuck stated this is important for the learning experience, as a student that cannot trust their rifle to be accurate will not get much value out of the training, as they will constantly be questioning if they were making mistakes or if it was just their rifle having issues.

    We then had a competition between all the students. We were to shoot 20 shots at B-8 targets at 100 yards, with 5 rounds in each position: standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone. There was a 120 second part time and use of the NRA scoring system (no points for complete misses or anything outside the 5 ring, line breaks count up).

    I failed to utilize sling tension, as I was too preoccupied with getting into position and spent too much time on the standing. I was able to fully utilize my time, though, finishing right at the 120 second mark, so I at least had my head about me for that. My final score was 149, with 1 5, 5 6s, 6 7s, 3 8s, 2 9s, and 3 Xs. The class high score was 182.

    Generally, barricade work is the most practical use of supported shooting. That being said, as a general rule, simply placing a rifle on hard cover does not help any on recoil management. There needs to be some sort of protrusion that a shooter can use in order to get a bite onto the cover, whether it be a hand stop, dedicated barricade stop, slings, VFG, WML, etc. One can see the variety of such things on PRS gas guns, along with the use of conformal socks to help with barricade work, to minimize the amount of hard surfaces on hard surfaces. When using training barricades (e.g., VTAC barricades), they should be mounted in a way that allows for loading of the rifle against it, without the barricade falling.

    A trick that can be used is to use the firing side knee to be used to support the firing arm, to further stabilize the gun, though one must be cognizant of where the cover ends and not expose one’s self too much. By kneeling, one can further stabilize the gun, and thus engage longer range targets. The reticle of one’s optic will be the determinator of whether such a position needs to be used.

    If at all possible, work as far from the barricade as possible, rather than sucking up to it, as this allows for much better situational awareness and also gives one more space to work in general. When utilizing a barricade in a team environment, one must be cognizant of muzzle placement, as it is very easy to sweep a partner; pushing the muzzle past the barricade can make this much easier. Likewise, when moving from a barricade, check to see where your teammates are, to make sure you don’t cross their field of fire or bound into their path of movement.

    When working a barricade with firing ports, the square ports can be practiced with a canted gun. On a barricade on a very low port in a canted position (e.g., Brokeback firing strong side for a right handed shooter on the bottom ports on a VTAC), be cognizant of how close the ejection port is to the ground, and create enough clearance to make sure that the empty brass can eject without issue; Chuck usually tries to have at least a fist’s worth of clearance. Another technique for working very low ports is to splay out from the prone, which can be easier for shooters with back issues. Urban prone (i.e., laying sideways, parallel to the barricade) works very well if there is a curb or other properly conformal hard cover, but is often quite exposed if there isn’t.

    On slings, Chuck sees necklacing is mostly a gaming technique, as it does not provide any support, unlike a quick adjust 2 point. By having the sling attached to the outboard side of the stock, a shooter will have greater range of motion before they start choking themselves with the sling when manipulating the rifle. Chuck has not found the free running tail of the VTAC sling to be an issue, while he has found the lack of adjustment on the VCAS to be more of an issue.

    The fastest way to get the rifle to the support side is to simply bump shoulders, and this can work very well if precision is not needed. However, it will never be as supported as actually switching hands. When switching hands, Chuck has his firing hand go to the magwell, push the rifle out, place the stock in the weak side pocket, bring the weak hand to the grip, push the firing hand to the handguard. One can also collapse the stock to make the transition easier, something that may need to happen if wearing kit up front; one may also need to practice swimming out the sling if the sling is generally too tight to allow for a transition.

    As an example about the need to learn off-shoulder shooting, Chuck relayed an anecdote about Operation Gothic Serpent, where a Ranger was attempting to move to a crash site. There was a technical in moving parallel to the force, and the Ranger was unable to figure out how to shoot off the weak shoulder, and ended up having to sprint across the alley ways under fire, before engaging the technical.

    We then dragged out two VTAC-esque barricades (they were not the same template as the standard VTAC, being a bit squatter, with some variations in the ports) engaged the steel targets at 100 yards with one mag of free form shooting, switching positions from right shoulder to left, standing to kneeling, and bracing off barricades or the support posts of the cover over the firing line.

    We then ran a variant of the Scrambler. There are multiple stations on the line, utilizing the barricades, posts holding up the awning, etc., each one with a shooter, and a specified position and target. Clear the shooting position, and then move to the next position. If there is still a shooter there, tag them, and they are out. The goal is to be the last shooter left on the line. During movement, a shooter must be cognizant of muzzle position, and should be using either Sul or else muzzle up. After the first run, was down to three shooters, Chuck instituted a sudden death to select the winner (same position and target, based off of time), then ran a losers bracket, instituted sudden death, then had the winners of each bracket shoot off against each other similar to sudden death.

    I was able to clear about three stations both times, getting tagged out on one of the kneeling positions at the very end of the line.

    The shooting portion of the class then ended at 1610, after which brass was policed, targets were put away, and the range cleaned up in general. Chuck stated that this was almost certainly the only "designated marksman" class he would hold, though he would incorporate the lessons he had learned teaching this class into his main rifle class. He noted that this was definitely not a sniper-type class, as there was very little field fire, and was specifically about precision at midrange. Given that this course had what he considered a very rough POI, he offered all shooters 50% off their choice of any future course, or the opportunity to attend the upcoming No Fail Pistol (which was on the next two days) for free.

    Chuck noted that his No Fail Pistol course had change substantially over time, despite having of taught it for only about a year. Classes with rigid POIs, while much easier to teach, allow for a more polished presentation, and less stressful on the instructor, do not lend themselves to being good fits for every class, as each class will have a unique student population. Chuck sees his teaching and sharing of his experiences as his way of giving back to the community; still, he struggles with social media and self-promotion, and asked the students to help spread the word.

    Chuck then went into a very powerful speech that he gives at the end of every class, concerning his struggles with substance abuse (alcoholism in his case), including very personal details, and how he was able to finally achieve sobriety through the help of his sponsor, Tom Spooner, and the rehab organization that Spooner helped found, Warrior's Heart (https://www.warriorsheart.com/).

    Chuck's talk about his personal struggles was deeply affecting to me, and it clearly highlighted how he was dedicated to helping others in any way that he could; it showed how his dedication to sharing his experiences in order to help others extended far beyond just the mechanics of shooting.

    After that, Chuck then showed us a few things that he had in the works.

    Class formally ended at 1730.

    This class was, despite Chuck's claim of having a rough POI, very educational for me, as my skills with the rifle are far below that of my pistol shooting. The positional shooting was something that I rarely had any practice in, besides in a few previous courses, as most of the rifle shooting I do outside of classes do not demand a very high level of accuracy or else is simply done at a bench. The usage of the sling to help with stability was reinforced, and I gained much confidence in my ability to put rounds on target even with a noticeable wobble. I also absolutely loved how we refaced targets after essentially every run, and how every single student was provided the proper equipment to do so, something that I wish that every instructor would do.

    Most of the weak points of the class for me was tied either with the weather or else with the range, both of which were out of Chuck's control. Due to the weather, TD2 definitely had a rougher feeling, as we were often forced to wait on the weather, though Chuck did an admirable job in trying to fill the dead time with lecture. The fact that we had to use a 500 yard range meant that there was some noticeable down time as we moved from the shooting line back to the staging area, given the hundreds of yards we'd have to walk back and forth on. I was also not the biggest fan of the free fire portions of the class, as I prefer a bit more hand holding, as I feel that I'm at a point where I'm still not necessarily able to properly figure out exactly what is right and what is wrong within just a mag or two, though this is obviously a personal preference and something that I have had other highly acclaimed instructors also do.

    Gearwise, the only issues I had during the class was with the Lancer L7AWM 25 not chambering and my Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX soaking through on TD2. I already spoke about the former on TD1, while on the latter, this was not the first time I had this issue; testing showed that it was simply a failure of the Gore-Tex liner at the toebox, as these shoes have seen substantial miles in rough conditions in the backcountry with SuperFeet Copper insoles, which I was not aware could cause damage to the liner. After the class, I also found that a combination of the rain and lack of lube had led to some minor corrosion on my rifle (I did not immediately clean my rifle after the course, and instead let it sit in the case for a couple days until I had returned home); there was some minor rust on the ejection port and ejection port sprint, along with some sort of pitting/corrosion on my BCG and charging handle. The NP3 coating on the Raptor-SD somehow became pitted/separated, with the bare aluminum underneath being exposed; Radian replaced the charging handle free of charge after a quick and painless RMA process, while I was able to scrub off the corrosion on my BCG, which was hard chromed. I will also say that the use of a full-sized suppressor made my gun predictably cumbersome, but I was happy overall with my ability to fight through the muzzle-heaviness of it.

    Overall, 287 rounds of Magtech First Defense Sniper 308D (168 gr SMK) were expended, with a single malfunction due to excessive bullet setback.

  3. #3
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    Thank you. One of the best AARs Ive read and actually finished. I appreciate the time and effort you put into this. Excellent work.

  4. #4
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    Wall of text, took me a couple readings to finish, but super good. Makes me want to learn that type of shooting and set up a rifle for it. Makes some good points. A lot of them.

    Thanks!
    -One Nation, Under God

    -"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot." ~ Michael Althsuler

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