Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Notes from class...

I took my carbine down to Tennessee to have the guys at CCA dial the new-to-me Aimpoint in before class. Joe got both the glass and the backup irons sighted in at fifty yards. Without thinking about it, I demonstrated the quick-change barrel feature on the MGI upper to a friend right after that. "Gee and gosh!" I thought to myself, "I hope that didn't screw up my zero for class!" Nope. The barrel held zero through being removed and reinstalled, just as advertised. Love it!

The class is "carbine & pistol", which means doing transition drills from shoulder gun to sidearm and vice-versa. One drill today involved engaging the target directly in front of you with body shots from your sidearm, holstering, and taking a head shot on the target of the shooter to your immediate right on the firing line with your carbine.

Observe the ballet of errors:

I'm using the Para LTC9, right? And mixed in the ammo can I'm using are a couple hundred rounds of CorBon 115gr 9mm that uses a stubby little Sierra JHP bullet with a blunt nose. For some reason, due to its short OAL and blunt prow, this is a load that the Para absolutely hates, and I figure I'll just burn as much of it up in this class as possible. I engage the target in front of me with one shot and malf! The slide doesn't return to battery because the short little round has nosed firmly into the feed ramp. I give the slide a pro forma yank, which just jams the round in tighter. Crud.

Now, this is all happening a lot faster than I'm typing this, and guns are blazing away on either side as I lock the side to the rear and rip out the mag in the gun, flinging it to the deck. My hand drops down, at first to the carbine mag in my hip pocket, but I realize my error before doing something monumentally stupid, like trying to stuff a 30-round carbine stick into my pistol, and my hand gathers up the correct mag. I feed the gun, run the slide and put two more into my target.

Now, I'm holstering the pistol just as everybody is finishing with their carbines so, in a hurry, I bring up my heater, park the red dot smack between the eyes of the target to my right, and stroke the trigger twice...


While the red fiber optic front on the Para and the glowing red dot of the carbine's optic look a lot alike parked on the target, in all the excitement I'd forgotten something I damn well knew: At the range we were shooting, the carbine's dot needed to be placed just over 2" above where I wanted to hit. This wouldn't have been the end of the world if these had just been plain ol' straight-up silhouettes, but by this time, Louis has the targets tilted and turned every which way, and this target was tilted to my left about 45 degrees, like a dude leaning out from behind cover, and that red dot between the running lights translated into a pair of .223" holes in the blank paper just below his right ear.

So, a pretty good illustration of my brain fade under stress.

And this is why we go to gun school.


Fred said...

Yup, always better to have that happen on a range.

Sounds like a neat drill though.

Anonymous said...

Yep. :) What does LA have you do with your carbine when shooting the handgun?

Al T.

Tam said...


"What does LA have you do with your carbine when shooting the handgun?"

Let it hang, safety on. Hold it steady with your off hand if you want.

I was using an old Specter single-point, and steadying the gun with my weak hand while moving, and shooting the short gun two-handed if, for some unknown reason, I had to go to backup while stationary.

Everybody was using some sort of "patrol" or "tactical" or "single point", except Shootin' Buddy, who was just using the old black nylon carry strap and slinging it African style.

Moriarty said...

Some time back I had a similar experience with an AR. I snapped off a shot from the back of a tractor into a raccoon about 20 feet away. In the excitement, I aimed center mass. The round bowled him over. Having seen what M193 ball did to a coyote and a large skunk from the same barrel, I thought, "Well, that's that."

As I dismounted, he got up and took off on a dead run, clearly gut shot and leaving a generous blood trail. I couldn't line up another shot in a safe direction so I followed him back to our old (c. 1920s) hay barn.

The blood trail went into a manger... and abruptly ended. It was twilight so I got out my cheap Chinese LED flashlight and started tearing the place apart. No luck. After several minutes of searching, I happened to look up at a stanchion near where the trail stopped.

He'd climbed into the hayloft directly overhead.

I found an old "OEM" ladder and started up after him into the loft. Right about then, I had what I consider to be one of the more intelligent thoughts of my life:

It's dusk. I'm chasing a wounded raccoon into his lair. This whole place is one giant tinderbox of hay bales and dust. I have an AR in one hand, a flashlight in the other, and I'm standing on a ladder that's nearly twice as old as I am... There's just nothing about this says it's going to end well.

Wounded or not, I had to let him go. I found his mummified remains later in the main bay of the barn.

AR Sight offset: Lesson learned.

Keads said...

Wow! I just ran into the blunt nose Hornady .355 90GR XTP not wanting to load in my Combat Commander last weekend. Just as you say, adjusting the OAL I found out tonight makes a world of difference.

Glad you are having fun, and don't worry, I would much rather be a "pulsating mass of suck and fail" on the range than real world.

Anonymous said...

"What does LA have you do with your carbine when shooting the handgun?"

I suck it back in when I'm on my own, but for class Louis wants me to scramble carry (Clint Smith's term, I'm not sure what Louis calls it if anything) it.

Since I use the two point carry strap, during a transition I:

1. safe the weapon, if possible,
2. grab the forearm upside down and turn the pistol grip out (toward target), sling scramble carry,
3. draw the pistol.

For most of the class, I have it African (fitting for a YFA class, no?), or if we are on a break I loop my head through I carry it cavalry to reduce fatigue over time.

Shootin' Buddy

Ancient Woodsman said...

Are you complaining, or bragging?

A bad day on the range is still better than a good day at work.

Sounds like you had fun.

Anonymous said...

Lost so often in the prattle over hardware, gear, and tactics is just how game-changing is the effect of pressure and stress.

As you said, that is the purpose of school...make your responses so mechanical and automatic as to override the conscious thought that can affect your actions.

And imagine the multiplying factor of stress if that silhouette leaning out from cover is trying to do to you what you're trying to do to him. Training can't replicate that, but it sure can't, too :)


Warrior Knitter said...

LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! gun school!

Glad you're enjoying yours and look forward to more "war" stories from class.

Homer said...

.....Which gets me to thinking even more about Jerry M's 2-sight setup on his AR racegun. It seems goofy to rotate the rifle 45 to the left, and it reeks of just too specialized, but the concept does seem to work. I see some experimentation with it in my future.

global village idiot said...

You've reminded me of a story...

In December 2004 I and my Postal detachment were training-up at Camp Atterbury, Indiana for an Iraq deployment. After our train-up was done we had to wait for a few weeks before shipping out. One week we helped out doling equipment at an issue facility about 10 miles or so off-post. We'd driven there in the two 15-passenger vans we were given by the Post Motor Pool.

After any such workday, the last thing you do is clean up. So there I was, merrily going about my business of mopping and when I finish, I go to the parking lot, only to find both our vans had gone. If it weren't for the generosity of some Soldiers who'd just happened by, I'd either have had to walk back on-post down a busy highway at night while wearing cammies (which I didn't relish, it being dark and QUITE cold) or wait until who-knows-when for someone to discover my absence. There were no phones in the barracks and cell service was horrible at the time (it's since improved vastly).

So I get back about two hours later than everyone else and go right up to my squad leader who asks me somewhat crossly where I've been all this time. I reply to him, "That's a good question - where have I been?" The realization that he'd left me dawned on him and the look on his face was priceless.

I could have got upset at being ditched but I wasn't. There were all the NCOs of my detachment apologizing to me, passing the hat to order Chinese-take-out and beer from the Enlisted Club since I'd missed dinner, and basically flagellating themselves for their shortsightedness. I accepted the pot stickers and beer but told them that I thought it was a VERY good thing that it happened. Training is where we're supposed to make our mistakes and, I said, I guaran-freakin-tee this one will NEVER happen downrange.

Sure enough, it didn't. Personnel accountability was something we never had a problem with downrange, but it might not have been that way if they hadn't made that mistake back stateside.

So go make as many mistakes in training as you can. Better you should flush them out in the open there than on the two-way range.


Bubblehead Les. said...

It is SOOO FRAKKIN' GREAT to hear an HONEST account of screwing up during Training rather than all the crap out there on "THIS is the only way to get it done, and see how perfectly I do it"! Eagerly awaiting further reports.

Anonymous said...

"Which gets me to thinking even more about Jerry M's 2-sight setup on his AR racegun. It seems goofy to rotate the rifle 45 to the left, and it reeks of just too specialized, but the concept does seem to work. I see some experimentation with it in my future."

It's a good concept and works pretty well IRL. Especially if you need good magnification, it's a lot simpler and easier to run a good magnified optic and then run an Aimpoint at an angle for the close in stuff, as having a "do all" scope is a pretty tall goal...the reduced size and excellent durability of the Aimpoint Micro make it a natural for this role when paired with the LaRue or Daniel Defense offset mounts.

global village idiot said...

Les, anyone who fancies him-or-herself a decent shooter ought to know that we don't learn from our successes. Even the Army is letting go of "by the book" and embracing "What we're training here is not THE way, but only A way."

My biggest shooting flub came during train-up for our last rotation in 2008. I volunteered to be the MG gunner on a convoy. Nothing but blanks but I learned about tunnel-vision on this convoy. A valid target presented himself about 150 yards but, because the muzzle of my MG wasn't trained right on him but rather in the middle of my sector, I couldn't see him even though my TC was literally screaming at me and pointing directly to him.

Afterward I saw very plainly that he was standing in the middle of an open field with no concealment, sticking out like a turd on a tablecloth; but at the time, he may as well have had a Romulan Cloaking Device for all I could make out of him. It taught me very well how to scan a sector and not get so fixated on only the front of the muzzle. You can practice good "muzzle awareness" without having to look directly at it all the time.

This is what training is for. I can tell you my story; I could even show you a Youtube clip of it if anyone had had the presence of mind to film the event. But these things are mental and quite personal - you won't know the issues you'll need to address until you're shown them.


WV: ableada - The only lady in the local chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star who actually KNOWS her ritual work.

Noah D said...

"slinging it African style."


Tam said...

Noah D,

Muzzle down on the weak-side shoulder.

Steve Skubinna said...

African is the way to carry, if you aren't using one of the many tactical slings. It protects the muzzle, keeps the rifle as much out of the way as you can get it and still be able to reach it, and you can go to ready nearly as fast (with some practice) are you can with a tactical sling.

Back in Basic in '75, before tactical slings even existed, nearly every one of us figured that one out on our own, without the Drill Sergeants having to explain it to us. It was interesting to note, after a couple of tactical marches, how nearly everyone was slinging African carry. It was about two more decades before I learned it actually had a name.

Steve Skubinna said...

Although I do have to admit, "Slingin' it African style" sounds pretty damn cool.

Weer'd Beard said...

Just curious, but wouldn't a malf during a string of fire be exactly when you'd want to transition to your alternate weapon?

Anonymous said...

When I was a green boot in the Navy, I was griping to a Chief Petty Officer about the seemingly endless drills. He imparted to me these timeless words of wisdom: "Amateurs train until they can do it right; professionals train until they can't do it wrong."

cap'n chumbucket

Owen said...

Why were you messing with clearing your pistol when you had a perfectly good rifle just hanging there?

Anonymous said...

I set my rifles up and carry like Shooting Buddy. The rifle tends to be in the same place every time.

I did put a Vickers Sling on one but use it like a standard web sling.

When we shoot rifle stages at matches, you see lots of brain fade over off set on close targets. The other problem is folks aiming over or around cover with the rifle barrel still behind it. I'll warn them if I'm the SO but I have seem some startled shooters when they get some back spatter.

If you add in the gamer compensator you can tear up a barricade pretty quickly.

Mixing ammo types...good at setting up failure drills


Will said...

If you ever need to shoot thru a chainlink/mesh style fence, stick the muzzle into the fence first. If you don't, odds are very good you will hit the fence. Tends to leave marks on the barrel, though.

jumpthestack said...

I do a lot of dry fire with my AR at close range. I would actually probably have the opposite problem, in the heat of the moment, I'd hold 2 inches high even at the range the carbine was zeroed for.

Anonymous said...

Tam and Shootin' Buddy, thanks - wondered what LA's take was - I like the Thunder Ranch version and it looks like the principal's the same.

Jumpthestack, that should mean you'd be 2 inches high at 50 yards... I'm just sayin.....

Al T.

Paul said...

I keep it simple.

AR Bushie 'M4' with iron sights and Glock 26 with Strait Eight Hinnies and NY-1 trigger.

AR has Ashly rear ghost ring sigted dead on at 200 with 55gr FMJ. Glock with WW +P+ 127gr JHPs. And I know just where each gun shoots at various ranges.

And I don't use a sling. The ONLY way I transition is the underarm carry. Keeps it simple.

Munitions & Miscellania said...

I always testfire my guns with the ammo that I plan to use in class to insure function.

Not to be smug, but I can't see going to a class with ammo that you know does not work reliably in your gun. It increases the liklihood of malfunctions which gets in your way of completing the drills and exercizes during class. I would save that ammo for informal shooting sessions.

I've been to various courses where invariably there is one person whose guns are having problems because of some issue for example cheap ammo or ammo il-suited for the gun.

Tam said...

"Not to be smug..."

No fear on that count.

Don't worry, I didn't hold up the class just to clear a Type I malf.

Tam said...


"And I don't use a sling. The ONLY way I transition is the underarm carry. Keeps it simple."

So, if you need to use both hands, you just drop your carbine on the deck?

I'll stick with my sling, thanks.