Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The ingredients of gun school...

In an effort to warm myself up in the depths of winter, here's a photo from a sunny day in August:

That's your three basic ingredients of gun school right there:
  1. Sunscreen. This is so you will not be cindered and start sprouting tumors on Day One from being out in the sun all day. Do not say to yourself things like "It's October. What do I need sunscreen for?" When you're standing out in his rays all day, Mr. Sun will burn you as happily in October as he will in July.
  2. Water. Lots of water. And drink that stuff. It's hard to learn stuff when you're lying flat on your back, everything's fuzzy around the edges, and everyone's voice sounds like it's echoing down a tunnel. Besides you really can't learn anything when all anybody says to you is "Are you okay? Hello? Quick! Call 911!"
  3. Ammo and mags. Lots and lots of ammo and mags. Check with the course requirements or contact the instructor for a recommended minimum. The more mags you bring the less time you'll spend loading, and you'll still spend enough time jamming rounds into mags that your thumb will be sore for a day or two afterward.
I forgot my sunscreen and didn't drink enough water at Blackwater and darned near made a heat casualty out of myself. I didn't get everything I could have out of day three because I was just flat hanging on my chinstrap. Don't be like me. Hydrate and stuff.

Ammunition and mag requirements vary from instructor to instructor, and by the type of class you're taking. At Louis Awerbuck's three-day carbine/pistol course, I burned up something like 450 rounds of carbine ammunition and maybe 200 for the pistol, whereas the 2-day Aim Fast Hit Fast course with Todd Green used up nearly every bit of a thousand rounds of .45ACP.

Magazine requirements are usually more vague, and will vary based on how much time you want to spend stuffing rounds in magazines. Todd helpfully suggests to bring enough magazines to AFHF to allow you to bring fifty rounds up to the firing line. On the other end of the spectrum, I've watched a guy taking Handgun I with only the two mags that came with his Walther PPS. It seems like literally every second he wasn't shooting, he was pulling loose rounds from his pockets and thumbing them into magazines; it's gotta be hard to listen to the instructor when you're doing that.


Boat Guy said...

Yea verily and Amen!
Camelbacks can be useful for having water very handy and thus drinking easily while walking back from the line, instruction time etc (always good to have your water ON you). The downside I've found is that it's tough to track your consumption - and like "tactical" light batteries - they run dry with little warning.
One of Bride's classmates at the TR Urban Rifle class was using an M1 Carbine with a couple-three mags and so was having to get mags refilled a good bit, even though Clint Smith is not exactly of the "let's burn LOTS of ammo so we'll be cool" school. We actually brought ammo back from TR! 'Course we're still taking a BUNCH for the next class...

Anonymous said...

I just double the magazine requirements and have them all loaded the night before. Hate holding the class up.

Last year was the first time I got a bit loopy from the sun. Too much coffee and not enough water.


Anonymous said...

Boat Guy, didn't you get the memo that camelbacks are for mall ninja's and Tactical Tommy's?

FatWhiteMan said...

Two items I added after attending a couple of classes at TDIOhio were an assortment of band aids and a couple tennis wrist bands. I new sore or blister on your hand can be quite a distraction as can sweat pouring down your grip.

Tam said...


Haven't used a Camelbak myself, but then again, every place I've taken a class thus far has had a setup where the water wasn't but a few yards back of the firing line.

TheMinuteman said...

I learned to just put a tube of sun screen in my range bag. I'm usually really good about hydrating, but for Boomershoot this year I forgot to toss the sunscreen into the truck. Next day my face and head were blistered badly. I'm the shining example of why you bring sun screen to Boomershoot, even though it's only the end of April, and it could possibly snow.

Anonymous said...

I'm so used to using a camelbak for bike riding that using one on the range is a very natural extension of it's usefulness to me.

It's that or water bottles at my favorite range, no running water and a porta potty or bushes for ones calls of nature.

But I've seen enough crap on the intertubes that I just had to make that wise crack:)

Caleb said...

I remember you at Blackwater on Day 3, I was like "uh...."

This also applies to matches. Even a club level match can get you dehydrated and burned, so pack lots of water and sunscreen to these things. In the summer time I usually have an awesome "shooter's tan" from my t-shirt and shorts lines are.

Randy said...

+1 on Camelbaks. It's part of my standard kit for any outside activity.

Hint for hot days: fill it 1/4 to 1/2 the night before, lay it flat in the freezer (keep water clear of the valve of the bladder). Next morning fill the rest up. Cool water all day.

One local carbine course I took had us loading random number of rounds (3-15) into our mags and then having the instructor loading them into our mag pouches when our eyes were closed. So that we could get used to random stoppages and reloads.

So do check the course content ahead of time. Stripping live rounds and keeping them corralled on a picnic table is much more of a pain than loading up (since my ammo is kept on stripper clips).

GuardDuck said...

And remember, light colored clothes reflect heat, dark colors absorb it.

Nothing like broiling your brain under a black GSSF hat to make a day in class unforgettable.

Boat Guy said...

Being more than a little bit wise-ass myself I can see appreciate the impulse.
I'm good at using bottles/canteens - and keeping track of consumption/remaining water as I noted is far easier, but like many, Bride is used to them from biking and it worked well for her.
As an NCO, we had to keep track of our folks consumption - at 29 Palms the rule was "eight canteens a day per man".
Camelbacks - like so many other things were like manna from heaven back in the day, but we learned the downside of a lot of "cool-guy gear"; like the friend who had his drinking tube leak all over his uniform just before insertion on a cold-weather exercise; changing into dry gear in the back of a -130 doing nap-of-the-earth is still better than freezing to death - but your friends will rag you about it for the rest of your life...

Anonymous said...

I've gone through 2- and 3-day pistol and carbine classes. Every time, there have been two relays. I brought 6 quarts of Gatorade/Powerade each day. I also had snacks to eat while the other relay was on the firing line.

As for magazines, I had at least five for my Glock, two on the belt and the others stowed in the weak-side cargo pocket. Reloads were done with the mags on the belt. The empty or partially empty mags moved to the weak-side front pocket and a full mag was moved from the cargo pocket to the belt. When my relay was shooting, I never had to use more than two reloads before a short break, allowing me to reallocate magazines.

I also put 30+ rounds in my strong side front pocket, to top off magazines during breaks on firing line. I didn't find it hard to pay attention while reloading.

Tam said...

"I also put 30+ rounds in my strong side front pocket, to top off magazines during breaks on firing line. I didn't find it hard to pay attention while reloading."

Well, yeah, I'd do that too, but the difference is, you're just casually topping up some partial mags, not thinking "Oh God, I gotta get these two mags loaded before he stops talking or I'm not gonna be able to shoot!"

Unknownsailor said...

I bring enough mags to last all day (usually 25-30 AR mags, and 10-15 pistol mags). If you can't do that, a LULA works wonders for not chewing up your thumb stuffing mags. I usually have at least 5 mags on my person at all times. I run a chest rig for carbine classes to hold extra mags, and back feed my primary belt pouches.
I run a 3 liter Camel-Bak for hydration, and fill it up every time I am off the line. 50/50 Gatorade G2/water mix.
Worked like a charm at one late Sept. Eloy AZ class with a ground temp reading of 132.