Let me preface this by saying, this isn't going to be the class review I had hoped to write but will be more of a summary of events.
I had 2 cameras I planned on running the whole time. 1 Go-Pro mounted to my helmet to record the lectures and some action and 1 Contour+2 mounted to my rifle to record just the action.
I passed on the Go-Pro when I quickly realized I was the only one that would be wearing a bump helmet. A valuable lesson I learned in basic is not to draw attention to yourself. Being a red head... that was obviously impossible. So I set the helmet back in my car hoping to bring it out later after I've proven I'm not just a gear geek but can also operate with the best of them. This never happened.
No problem, I still have my Contour+2 running along the port side of the rifle.
Well.. no problem... until I realized there is ALOT of lecture time. Not bad lecture time, GREAT lecture time. Instruction coming from these two guys probably doesn't get much better.
Their banter was very comical and light while still emphasising the severity of our actions and the seriousness that comes with firearms.
Travis has stories of his time with Blackwater and the Marine Force Recon that can make anyone cringe, gasp in awe and laugh all at the same time. Never thought I would get a laugh out of dead checking a opfor.
Sunny and 67 degrees
Each day started with the safety brief. Something I wish I had better memorized because, though I know it, I still found myself mouthing the words trying to keep up like the person that refuses to sing Happy Birthday but still wants to be part of the party.
I would estimate that the next 4 hours all revolved around zeroing our rifles. Something we would also do everyday but being day one it was more important to get it right.
We started with a lecture asking what our sights were zeroed at and why. Though it's not a hard and fast rule Travis explained why he personally felt a 50 yard zero is best. It all has to do with the height over bore and the amount and ease of hitting a target with a combat effective shot at 25, 50, 100, 200 yards and beyond. Our range was restricted to 200 yards and his point was driven home what at range.
We broke for lunch at roughly 1:30pm and went back on the range and worked on taking quick shots at 5-10 yards, one shot at a time. Bringing your rifle from high ready to on target, one shot, then back on safe then down again. We repeated this process over and over eventually working up to 3-5 shots on target, then back on safe and down again.
This whole time Travis and Ron walked up and down the line of 19 shooters fine tuning the action. Travis would relate the actions to tactics, Ron would relate the actions to science and how understanding the science of what we are doing will help us shoot faster, farther and more accurately.
After other similar exercises we ended our day with a shootout... There is probably a name for this drill but it escapes me.
With 3 targets lined up you shoot 1 round in the first target, transition right then 2 rounds in the second target, transition right, 3 rounds in the 3rd target, transition left, 4 rounds in the 2nd target, transition left 5 rounds in the first target. 15 rounds total.
My time: 0:04.22, with first shot on target at about .58 seconds. Not great, but not bad.. enough for about 4th or 5th in the class.
Sunny and 64 degrees
Again we begin with our safety brief and a reminder of who the trained medics are as well as where the nearest hospital is and where the emergency vehicle sits with the keys in the ignition and medical bag in the back.
We spend about 1 hour zeroing our rifles again, proving that little changed and go all the way out to 200 yards to confirm accuracy. It was essentially the same as yesterday but it wasn't until we went to steel targets on the 3rd day did something really click.
I didn't take notes of what we did the middle of the 2nd day but from what I remember it was more of the same from day one with a long portion of the class going toward weapon malfunctions. With the addition of a couple additional exercises to focus on trigger control. This is where Ron Avery really shines as he seems to have a great understanding of the science of muscle motor control.
Back to the 3 target exercise again. This time I clocked a 0:03.17 with one miss... again my first shot at .58 seconds (I did have one miss the circle by about an inch), still combat effective but not in the circle. This was the fastest time of the class and I have officially pinned that achievement to the forefront of my mind =D Travis... one of the most accomplished Marine Force Recon soldiers in the world clocked a 0:02.77! That means if I could just speed up the time on my first shot I would be close to Travis's time! I didn't care about the one miss... I didn't care that it took me more than half a second to hit the first target... all I could think is that I almost matched Travis Haley's time! (with several asterisks).
yes, it was my best time ever, yes I technically had one miss, yes it was probably a slow day for Travis... but I was right there... right there with the best! Just over 3 seconds for 15 rounds on 3 different targets, not bad. I really hope Patriot Defense Systems (the company that hosted Travis) has it on video.
Rainy and 60 degrees
Once again, we begin our class with the safety brief and reminder of the medics and emergency vehicle.
Once again we work on zeroing our rifles. I think the point taken from doing this was not only to emphasise how our trigger control and accuracy have improved from the previous two days but to also drive home how the bullet reacts at different ranges. And with the steel targets you got more immediate feedback.
He presented a picture of hits on a target at different ranges with the same zero and BLAM it all made sense. If I can find the image someplace I will be sure to share it. After we zeroed we went to steel targets and worked our way back to the 200 yard range where we were able to engage our steel targets from different emplacements. From a tree, behind a barrier, inside a building, alongside a building, etc.
It wasn't until we went to steel targets that I really figured out how my bullet reacted to distance. I was aiming too high assuming the bullet dropped!! I aimed at what would have been the groin and "PING" hit... I double checked myself, aiming center mass and I would miss high... again at the groin "PING" hit! PING, PING, PING, PING, PING! All five shots all consistently on target at 200 yards.
Now we're getting somewhere.
Back up to 25 yards....We worked on movement while shooting and reloading while moving... both more difficult than I anticipated. I worked hard on fast reloads during dry fire in my basement, but add the mud and movement and it became 1000 times more difficult (obviously).
After several more exercises we had a small 2 team competition. Starting lined up at arms length in 2 rows (1 row per team) the first shooter had to take 2 shots standing, 2 shots kneeling and 2 shots prone then run to the back of the line and line up again. The next person would, from their exact point (not moving forward) would then take the same 6 shots... not advancing until there were 2 successful hits per position. We continued this until the final person took the final 6 shots at the 100 yard mark. A fun exercise to say the least and thankfull both teams were very even. I was the last person to shoot on my team and truthfully I lost this round for the team. It took me 5 shots to hit the 100 yard steel and 3 shots prone.... (we had a hill in the way and I had to lift my rifle off the deck, thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it)
We repeated the exercise.
We then picked teams again, and I felt like I was at the elementary school dodge ball field hoping I wouldn't be the last picked because of my failure in the earlier match.
Ron Avery stood up for me and recommended the team captain pick me in round 4... I was happy because Ron I think saw something in my shots and ignored the misses I had earlier (or forgot about them).
This test we had to run from the 100 yard mark and shot the target prone 2 times, ran to the 50 yard mark and shot the target 2 times kneeling, then ran to a barricade at about 25 yards and shot the target 2 more times again while leaning around an object. Then sprinted back to the line. The next shooter was not allowed to go prone until after the runner past the line. This was a great exercise in what we learned thus far and included some heart pounding running. I have not run that fast with a rifle in a long time and it showed, I flagged just about everyone as I ran past... I'm a tool.
The day ended with a summary of the class, each student took a moment to thank both Travis and Ron for the lessons learned and gave some input on how they think this class helped.
I professed my man-crush on Travis which helped relax the guys after a (no joke) heartwarming speech from one of the classmates.
I will supply any photos or videos once they become available.
Lessons Learned (in no particular order):
Travis has some AMAZING stories.
Ron Avery has goofy glasses
Every aspect of my weapons manipulations has improved 10 fold.
I can quickly fix 99% of my weapon malfunctions and get back on target in seconds confidently
Slings can kill people (Travis has an interesting story about how a friend of his was shot and killed because of his sling)
Breaking your tunnel vision after an engagement is very important and it looks cool.
DON'T wear all multicam unless it is part of your uniform.
I have a lot more confidence that my Aimpoint T-1 can help me hit a target at 200+ yards effectively every shot. Before I balked at a red dot being worthwhile out that far.
4 hours of a video camera staring at the wooden base of a rifle rack isn't as exciting as you might think!
Additionally 2 hours of a black screen while you listen to the sound of me shooting while keeping the lense cap on is equally as boring.
$600.00 in cameras and I got about 30 seconds of usable video =D
In short, Travis and Ron improved every aspect of my rifle manipulation and usage.
This is the only picture from the class so far:
Edited by DStevenson, 06 May 2013 - 02:55 PM.