|March 29, 2006, 11:49 PM||#1|
Join Date: September 20, 2002
Location: Baton Rouge
Training Review - 5 day Precision Rifle II - Tiger Mckee
5 day Precision Rifle II – instructed by Tiger McKee – Off-Site class, held at the Gadsden Police Dept. Range.
It is about 40 degrees, rain is pouring down, and I can barely make out the head in my crosshairs because of the water on my optics. I just beat the crap out of my rifle, it doesn’t want to feed the ammo I shouldn’t have brought, and I am thinking about a dozen variables that I don’t know how to compensate for. I’m about 15 minutes into a five day journey. Nothing is working, everything is going wrong, and I have rain gear in the car that is designed to go on before you are soaked to the bone – I must be training.
I recently attended a 5 day Precision Rifle II class hosted by the Gadsden Police Department, graciously represented by Gadsden PD Rangemaster Lamar Jaggears. Lamar is a very progressive firearms trainer, bringing in instructors from all over – Tiger teaches there periodically, Louis Awerbuck will be there in May, with others in the works. The facility itself is very nice.
This class was taught by Tiger Mckee, the director of Shootrite Firearms Academy and adjunct instructor for Thunder Ranch and Rifles Only. Tiger is a very accomplished rifleman in his own right, instructing everything from close range carbine to *very* long range rifle work.
This class focuses on the use of the precision rifle in an urban environment. The range of LE sniper shootings has steadily decreased over the years, and now the average shooting in LE is 55 yards, with one documented shot taken from about 12 yards… something to think about when selecting equipment. It isn’t likely you’ll be in a situation where you will be able to shoot more than 200 yards, but you may have to make a precise shot… and often from an unconventional position.
Representing nerds everywhere, I sit in the front row for all classroom work. Tiger issues us log books – we record every shot in the class, along with the placement on target. This lecture is similar to most firearm classes with regard to safety but with an emphasis on the fact we’re dealing with rifles that will cause devastating wounds that bleed you out before EMS shows up. The lecture has different practical content than I’ve heard before since the bolt gun is used differently than a handgun or carbine with regard to movement, sighting system, general ballistic curve concerns, etc. – basically, more theory due to the more complex nature of the beast.
After lunch, we meet on the 100 yard line. As I settle in the sky releases a few drops of rain. I see everybody but me is running a tactical Remington 700 with a tactical Leupold Vari-X III or Mark 4 scope and tactical Federal Gold Medal ammo. I am not tactical. We fire from prone, supported (i.e. with a bipod, backpack, etc) to verify zero. I load up my Georgia Arms – that I have never shot out of the gun – and we get the command to let three fly. I wonder how badly I’m going to embarrass myself. I wonder how off the ammo will be for my GM308M zero. I fire three rounds… After rifles are safed and optics protected, we walked the long walk to see how we did, and…
I have a 1”, MAYBE 1.2” group, dead center of the diamond. Looking around at the LE guys targets, I not even embarrassed. The guys in the class are all squared away but my first group is right up there with them. Tiger walks the line and(delete) discussing the groups and what adjustments to make with each shooter. I just get a “good group, don’t change anything”. I am ready for a week of high speed, low drag shooting.
I now believe Murphy carefully selected and guided each one of those rounds as such just so he could gain maximum pleasure since he was winding up to kick me square in the jewels.
Back on the line so the other guys could get their zero’s perfected (ha!) we got the command for three more. I launch one down range… then as I try to extract my first round of the volley, the fourth of the class, Murphy launches his attack. No joy, the bolt is locked up tight - a problem I have never had before with this gun. I can get the handle up but not back. I yank a few times with no luck and by this point Tiger is coming over to investigate why I’m flailing around on the ground like an injured duck. Upon seeing the problem he spoke some stomach churning words – “Remember how to clear an AR? Same thing.” Bearing in mind that training classes are supposed to prepare us for “the real thing”, when bad things happen we learn to fix them effectively in the field. I knew this and committed to doing it right so that I would have the experience of how to in case I ever had to do it for real. Nonetheless, for those of you unfamiliar with the AR clearing process, taking your “precision” rifle with your Leupold scope on top and slamming the butt into the ground while you yank the bolt SUCKS.
Amazingly, my scopes zero didn’t change despite the abuse. This is a testament to Leupold’s variable power scopes.
Naturally, it started to rain for real. It is about 50 degrees but felt like less. Rain will not stop a rifle class.
About now my rifle begins to have feeding issues. The gun won't strip rounds out of the magazine, and then when it did rounds would pop up like a jack in the box and go over the bolt. Later research reveals Savage internal magazines are sheet metal and the factory plastic stock allows a lot of flex, and the clearance drill probably didn’t do the system as a whole any good. That said, the problem wasn’t with the clearing drill, but rather that the equipment wasn’t up being cleared in an emergency.
Between the rain, the seized action, the rain, the beating, the rain, and the gun not feeding, my groups open up.
As I lay in a puddle with the cold rain pouring down on me, it is virtually impossible to use my optics. I feel a long week ahead.
I also have a blinding flash of retroactive compassion for all the other idiots in all the other classes who THOUGHT they knew what they were doing, THOUGHT that they had good gear, etc ad nauseum.
In the end, I can’t hold a decent group that afternoon – I am “mind copulating” myself and the fact my gear isn’t working properly, I have no back up rifle, I am still wondering what beating the rifle may have done, also wondering if it is me or the new ammo, am literally soaked in the rain, can’t see out my scope b/c of all the rain on the lenses… but in three hours of shooting, I learn a LOT, although the lessons aren’t ones I was looking to learn.
I adjust a few things Monday night and the gun seems to be feeding again. From there, every day our first shot is the cold bore shot… every morning, afternoon, every time we cleaned the guns. The cold bore shot point of impact will normally have a minor deviation from the rest of your shots so it is important to know what your rifle does and log the results. Based on the prior day, I use some FederalGM308M I have with me and fire that for the first few rounds. To my aggravation, the first five shot group is a clover of overlapping rounds. Now I am really wondering if the flyers I am running into are me or the Georgia Arms ammo. A few groups with the GA are decent – and for the record, I don’t expect bulk packed ammo that costs half as much to match the Federal, I was just looking to verify consistent performance. After a few groups confirm zero, my confidence still isn’t completely there. We walk to the 200 yard line and experiment with the drop at that range. Indeed, mistakes are magnified at distance. Tiger instructs us to put back the 100 yard zero and work with estimating drop.
This drill is repeated at 150 yards, 75, 50, and 25. As there should be, our focus is on the fundamentals, how to run the bolt (hard, fast, and right after you shoot) and various firing positions at different ranges… day two builds on day one we continue toward bigger and better things. Tiger turns up the pressure a bit with timed drills – but we don’t know how much time we have! To be honest, most of the day I am still trying to sort my head out. Again, unnecessary variables are bad news.
Time to put it together – day three and four are low light days that run from 2:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Cold bore shot, 100 yard zero confirmation, and we’re off to the use of cover. We look at specific traditional techniques but Tiger emphasizes that in the field, in actual shootings, you adapt to the situation. Tiger introduces a drill that involves a number of “outside the box” scenarios. We fire off a rooftop, from behind a 3 foot tall brick wall, on top of a stairwell, behind a telephone pole, and off the side of a berm.
This is a great drill that the SWAT guys love. The goofy civilian thought it was cool as well! Break for dinner as the sun set, then on the 50 yard line to begin low light/night work.
I admit skepticism when I see we are working off starlight and six cyalume sticks for illumination.
It is DARK - This is with the flash!
What I find is the scopes do “gather” light amazingly well, especially the Vari-X III and Mk4 units with the heavier recticles. I am struggle with a target recticle and a minimum 6X power. The more magnification, the darker the target… the 3.5x -10x scopes with heavier reticules do well here.
Last edited by pangris; March 30, 2006 at 12:43 AM.
|March 30, 2006, 12:00 AM||#2|
Join Date: September 20, 2002
Location: Baton Rouge
Lamar pulls a squad car within about 70 yards of the range. He would hit the lights for 2-3 seconds in which we would have to make a shot. We practice working with a partner, cover drills, multiple targets... good stuff, great experience.
For the last drill of the night we practiced using our rifles at 25 yards FROM STANDING, at night, using handheld lights. Tiger has documented that in the Middle East some “good guy” riflemen are being ambushed coming out of their hides. This drill illustrates that while a scoped rifle is not the ideal weapon to be used in close range confrontations, it can be done effective and multiple shots can be fired. Again, the lower the magnification the better.
Day three ends with an increased confidence shooting from various positions, in extremely low light, and knowing the bolt gun can be used as an effective CQB weapon in a worst case scenario. I am a lot more comfortable behind the rifle and since we were shooting at 100 yards and in, the ammo/accuracy question is less of an issue.
Again the day starts at 2:00 PM with a cold bore shot...
...and 100 yard zero verification. Tiger introduces unconventional shooting positions. We work on roll over prone from behind cover, then use a car as cover and firing in 4 different stations – behind the rear tire, over the trunk, over the hood, and forward of the front tire. Then we do it again FROM THE WEAK SIDE. This is all sorts of fun if your right eye is as dominant as mine.
We talk about shooting at dusk, and do the same roof/wall/stairwell/pole/berm drill – but in the failing light of the day. After that, a quick pizza break and then back on the range. Again we fire more and various extremely low light drills by the light of a patrol car about 70 yards away. This time we do the roof/wall/stairwell/pole/berm drill in the darkness. It is very interesting see how the various lighting impacts the speed and accuracy with which we can accomplish that drill in the day, dusk and night.
With a total of 8 hours of low light training, this far exceeds the amount low light/night work I’ve come to expect and I am VERY happy with that aspect of the class. I feel confident that if I have enough light to establish and identity, I can hit as well as I do during the day. Further, I know it doesn’t take much light to do this with good optics – and finally, I now know that MY optics aren’t well suited to the task.
Happy days… this is the last day of class, and the day it all comes together.
Today we do all the stuff you can do once you are squared away - moving targets, firing through an actual windshield at various angles, and a hostage scenario with a deployed target.
8:30 start, and of course we check our cold bore, shoot a 100 yard group verification, but then the challenge… the target is moving, at a jerky 3-5 MPH, across the firing line.
We fire this from 50 yards, which is actually harder than 100 or 200 – you have to move the gun a lot more to keep up with the target at shorter distances. This drill is done several times using various techniques, with and without a bipod (no bipod was universally preferred) and from prone, sitting, cover, etc.
Then, for something completely different, we shot through auto glass, a real windshield, from various angles.
This is something I’ve read about for YEARS and to see it in practice was interesting. We hit from several different angles, and the result is that there is a whole bunch of debris – jacket separation, glass fragmentation, even the metal headrest frame once the bullet passes through the target. Each shot is carefully examined and discussed.
Finally, “the shot”. Tiger asks us to meet in the classroom and says we’ll need one bullet.
We get the scenario brief. An older white male has taken his daughter in law hostage. He is known to be armed, and is stating he is going to kill her, himself, and anyone else he sees. We have an idea of where he is but will have to get into position in a building across the street to work out of a second story window. From there our job is to gather intel and shoot *if* we see the suspect *and* if he is an armed threat. Tiger takes us out one by one. First you cross field, then enter and clear the building.
From the second story window you can see across the “street” into a shoot house.
The hostage is visible – but an older white male is not - so you wait. And wait. And wait some more. Then, if you are me, you start shifting around trying to get a better angle to see if you are missing anything… and you shift to the wrong side of the window, at which point the target pops out.
Through a combination of luck and having been shooting all week, I managed to make a decent shot in a reasonable amount of time.
EXCELLENT class. Exceptional value at $500.
Lessons learned –
1) Any one part of this isn’t complicated – mastery is a matter of putting it all together the same way every time. If you are consistent, your groups will be as well.
2) Once you know what works, don’t change your ammo for a precision rifle. I knew what worked and for the sake of a couple hundred bucks, I didn’t get everything I could have from the class. In the end, the expense isn’t meaningful when looking at the overall cost.
3) Georgia Arms has ereat cuqtomer service. I called and discussed some of the issues I ran into during the class regarding accuracy, sticky chamber, etc etc and the call was transferred to a manager who took the time to explore the issue. He requested I send `ack the remainder of the ammo and is replacing it at a 2 to 1, and giving me an additional 100 rounds JUST TO TEST in my gun. Once I get that, I will run a 100 yard accuracy test with those 100 rounds, 6 rounds at a time – cold bore, 5 shot group, rinse and repeat until empty. I’ll post those results later.
4) Optics – A 3.5-10X scope will do everything you need it to and then some out to 1000 yards. Much more and you limit your field of view at short ranges – which is about all you’ll find in urban environments – to the point you can’t see enough of what is going on.
5) A good stock/cheek weld is worth its weight in gold. Tiger built mine up in a field expedient manner with a towel and duct tape and my groups shrank. I THOUGHT I had a good weld, but ½” of rise made a LOT of difference.
6) There is no substitute for quality training. Even the SWAT guys learned a lot about what did and didn’t work for them, learned about their gear under field use, and shot from new positions in new training paradigms.
7) Be ready for rain. It isn’t your friend. It is annoying in a pistol or carbine class. It is a PITA if you are laying in it as it gets all over your optics and on your ammo. Wet ammo in a PR is BAD due to pressure concerns.
8) About 2 million little things that apply to me and my gear specifically.
I learned a LOT in this class. I would say it was as eye opening as my first trip to TR. I can’t thank Tiger enough for making the spot available to me, and I sincerely appreciate that the Gadsden PD allowed the use of their range. Finally, thanks again to Lamar for putting up with my shenanigans all week.
|March 30, 2006, 12:49 PM||#5|
Join Date: March 24, 2005
Location: Steubenville, OH
Very well done, Pangris! THIS, is the kind of thing we like to see here !
TFL Members are ambassadors to the world for firearm owners. What kind of ambassador does your post make you?
I train in earnest, to do the things that I pray in earnest, I'll never have to do.
|March 30, 2006, 01:19 PM||#6|
Join Date: January 6, 2006
Location: Houston, TX
Thanks for taking the time.
"Sabah al khair -- ismee Dave, ahnee al Shayṭān"
|March 30, 2006, 10:53 PM||#7|
Join Date: September 20, 2002
Location: Baton Rouge
Thank you, gentlemen. If anyone has any questions, please ask. There is a lot more info in my head... the rough draft was 4500 words and that was incomplete - but I cut the final draft back to 3500 words so it would fit on forums in only two posts (!)