Sunday, May 13, 2018

Basic Training: Marksmanship - Preamble


Welcome to your second phase of basic training, covering Marksmanship.
We're going to cover the basics with rifles, pistols, and shotguns.

First off, an intro, and some caveats.

I am not Sgt. York. Nor an 18B. I was not a Marine Corps sniper (though, like all Marines, current and former, I think I could have made the grade). Not counting endless neighborhood cowboys-and-Indians and Army matchups and arcade games, I only touched or fired live weapons once before the age of 18. Once in my childhood, my older brother, fresh back from a USMC tour in 'Nam (we were winning when he left), took my younger brother and I out shooting. Suffice it to say the population of California desert jackrabbits was none the worse for wear after our foray, despite earnest attempts. But at least we didn't shoot our eyes out.
From 18-20 I owned and fired a few different weapons, but nothing beyond basic plinking. It was cheap enough to try them at the range, without needing to own one, and my parents weren't big on guns in the house with two adolescent boys, not even BB guns (yet mom was fine with us having wrist rockets, go figure) but once I and my younger brother hit college age, and could purchase our own toys, we started making up for the lack.

Not the authorized Army
Rifle Expert award, but
if I were SecArmy for five
minutes, it would be.
But the first time I fired high-powered rifles on distant targets (rather than just plinking) with live ammunition was at the tender age of 20.  I paid diligent attention to the lessons taught, and they work. That first time, I shot the US Army qual course, with a shot-out M16A1, and I only qualified expert on the first try. That was falling targets, from 50-300 yards. The next time I shot a military qual course was MCRD, with another raggedy old M-16A1. I shot expert again, this time from 200-500 yards. Then they issued us the M-16A2, brand new, and my scores went up even higher. I shot high expert the next four trips to the range, dropping a total of four points (out of 250 possible) on my final qual. That means I hit the 4-pt. ring exactly four times, and bullseyed everything else, forty six times. So I've qualified as "Expert"  six times in two different services at five different ranges. I never saw a "Maggie's Drawers" miss flagged to me once in my time in the service. Not once. I spent the last two years I was in as a marksmanship coach for other shooters whenever my unit sent people to the firing range. If I could've gotten to being a Primary Marksmanship Instructor, I probably would've stayed in as a career. I like doing things I'm good at.

When I shot sporting clays the first time, fresh out of the military and never having done it before, using a rep sample Remington pump, I beat 46 other guys in the firearms wholesale business, all of whom had shot and hunted for decades more than I had. They were rather peeved about that when the scores were tallied. (Being young and naïve, I found out later, it's never a career-enhancing move to smoke the company Veeps at anything.)

I've shot action pistol and cowboy matches, and I come out in the bottom of the top third, most days, whether it's 30 shooters or 900. I've even shot with a number of world champions. I am not even within the same zip code of skill they are in.

In a team match using single-action cowboy guns versus the marksmanship team for LAPD, them using their custom-accurized and modified semi-auto duty weapons, baby brother and I with our SA Rugers beat the cops in both speed and accuracy. Using falling plates, and by a healthy time margin. As did more than a few other older farts with six-guns. I have the attaboy neener-neener certificate to prove it.

So all that means is that most days, I can outshoot a good hunk of the population, with rifles, pistols, and shotguns.
Certainly not all of them, nor all of the time, nor at everything possible. Nor wave my non-existent Olympic medals. Nor write memoirs of my mythical time in JSOC sniping jihadi dirtbags from 1/2 a mile, or tell stories of bagging mountain rams across windy alpine canyons. (Though the latter is still on my bucket list.)

But I can take a stock civilian M16A2, or an M-4gery, and with a bit of sighting in, go out and hit pie plates at 200 and 300 yards standing, sitting, kneeling, and prone all day long. And at 500 yards, from the prone using iron sights, drop rounds with a tedious regularity into the middle of a man-sized silhouette, until I run out of ammo, or my trigger finger gets tired.

We won't even talk about what good optics do to improve that. Yet.

If you've been more highly trained, or are a better shot, then you're definitely a better man than I am Gunga Din, bully for you, well done, and huzzah.
If you have some need to wave your e-penis about it, you've come to the wrong shop.

That's me, and that's what paying attention to the basics can get anyone.

You, at this point, may be a school trained PIG or HOG, and you can skip right past all this.
It's intended for those who don't know what they don't know.

Or, you may or may not have some prior military training, or none at all.
If it's none at all, I hope to the heavens you've at least had some basic instruction beyond a hunter's safety class, or playing Call Of Duty, and ideally, have taken yourself and your toys out to an Appleseed event (or ten), until you could nab yourself the Rifleman patch. If you haven't yet done at least that, I have only one question:

Why the hell not?

They'll have taught you everything you need to hit targets. But at any rate, you should get there as soon as you can, and apply the basics to a weapon, until you're able to hit what you're aiming at.

Only hits count.
The rest is just making noise, and turning money into sound waves and brass piles.

So first, before we start, you should know the Four Rules.
You should, in fact, be just about able to recite them from memory.

I.   All guns are always loaded.
II.  Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
III. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
IV. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
Learn them. Love them. Live them.
That way you'll never shoot yourself in the ass, unlike veritable legions of YouTube entertainment legends, all of whom now have extra @$$holes, and/or missing body parts.
Secondly, weapons.
You should own and be skilled with a civilian version of a military-style semi-automatic rifle.
And a semi-auto pistol.
And a modern shotgun.
Everyone has their preferences.
What you carry or own, or prefer, for the most part,
I don't give a f**k.
Neither does anyone else.
Certainly, anyone you're ever shooting at won't care.
That's because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter.
They're all tools. No more, and no less.
There are dozens of ways to skin those cats, and as long as you understand the strengths and shortcomings of any choice (and every one of them has both), the final selection is your business, not mine.
That said, in the United States, for over 50 years, and for some good time to come, the go-to military-style rifle is the M-16/AR-15 platform. Period. Full stop.
There are tens of millions of them around the world, they are ubiquitous, proven, reliable, accurate, and the ammunition, supply, parts, and accessory product lines are mature and enormous, especially here in the US. And all the reference training materials since the mid-1960s are geared to that.
If you have or prefer something else, good for you. I do too. (I toted a pig-heavy M1A SOCOM for 5 years at the border, over tougher terrain with worse heat or cold than anything I saw in the Marines most days. It was heavier to carry than an AR, I only had half as many rounds, but unlike .223, the .308 had a better chance against cartel trucks with concrete-filled bumpers, tires pumped full of Fix-A-Flat, and a driver full of coke or meth when they were going to run a load of dope to the freeway, and I wanted a fair chance if I suddenly had to play dodge-car.) Almost everything I cover herein will apply equally well to the rifle you prefer. I leave it to you to translate that from the M-16 platform to your chosen weapons platform. Fundamentals always are exactly that.


As for pistols, owing to the fact that the current manual and training is geared to it, I'll be using the Beretta M9 family as the example. Not because it's my first choice, because it isn't. But before the silly sh*ts out there go all goggle-eyed, I prefer, and have carried and do carry, an M1911.
I also own Glocks in multiple calibers/sizes/flavors, quite an assortment of sturdy and venerable revolvers, and a number of other pistols, in both semi-auto and revolver. My bedside gun is a simple S&W Model 13, with 125gr JHPs, a couple of extra speedloaders, and a good sturdy flashlight. And I can put rounds out of a .45 Ruger Vaquero faster that you probably can out of your semi-auto of choice, and I hit what I aim at, under stress and time constraints, with notable regularity, at most distances where a pistol is useful.
But the go-to training materials refer to the M9, I have one of those too, and it's a fine weapon for what it was designed to do, if the operator knows what they're about. So that's what we'll discuss, and as before, you can translate those fundamentals from the Beretta to whatever platform you prefer/carry/fondle and whisper to in the night. So if I can suck it up and deal with something I'm not in love with, so can you.
As to shotguns, there are similarly multiple standard ones.
My go-to, deferring to military and civilian agencies, and about 50 million purchases, will be the Remington 870 series.
Same as above: buy/use/slobber over whatever you like; you can translate the information from that platform to any comparable one, and should do so without any additional prompting or weenie-waving.
If you can't translate from the covered weapon to yours, you need additional instruction, or your weapons should probably be firing corks out the end. If anyone wants to get any kind of butthurt about it, sell it somewhere else. I don't have time for the dumb sh*t.
The take away lesson is, know the weapons you have, and be competent in employing them, as required. That's really all any of this is about. Pure and simple.

Range Briefing:
If you're at a shooting range, you will wear eye protection and hearing protection, at all times while live firing is happening. One stray piece of jacket ricocheting through the air, and landing in your eye, makes you Eyepatch in perpetuity. Sound exposure is cumulative: if you want to see what gunfire does to old farts before ear plugs were a thing, go to any shooting range, and listen to them yelling to each other from 5 feet away, and still not understanding each other, because they're deaf as a post. I fired weapons from pistols to howitzers, and everything in between, and my hearing is still sensitive enough to hear baby heartbeats through a stethoscope, because I wore my earplugs and/or shooting muffs religiously. And I have had stray lead splatter off my shooting glasses more times than I'm happy about. You will not grow new eyes or a fresh set of eardrums. Safety glasses are under $10, and reusable High NRR (29-32dB) foam earplugs about a buck a pair. So you WILL wear proper safety gear at all times on my ranges. Unless you're a moron, this will not need repeating, will it?
We'll cover a rifle lesson for the mornings (x 5), pistols for the afternoons (x 4), and the shotgun at the end of the week's instruction (x 1). That's the format for your next five days' instruction. Figure on about 5 hours apiece, morning and afternoon. I'll do my best to post two/day, one of each, through the end of this actual week, starting tomorrow morning.

Right after PT.


Today is Sunday, in the real world.
Y'all enjoy it.
I'm going to Disneyland, or somesuch.
{And I'll go 20/20 at the shooting gallery there, too. ;)}


Ed Gage said...

"...I toted a pig-heavy M1A SOCOM for 5 years at the border..."

Wh... wait, what?

Tell me more!

(I tried a search, no luck...)


And thanks for all the recent first aid/training posts. Given the amount of reading, I'm ready to just take the local community college EMT course and go from there.

RSR said...

When what the media terms "an arsenal" is in fact "barely adequate."

"When police arrived at the Equus on Ala Moana Boulevard, sources say, they found an arsenal:

An AR-15, and 15 high-capacity magazines — all loaded.
A shotgun and two handguns.
A total of more than 800 rounds of ammunition, plus 18 military styles knives and body armor."

Though I must admit -- 18 knives excessive when 2-3 will do...

Aesop said...

When the Minutemen went to the border back around 2004/5, I checked them out. Bunch of @$$clowns, with their heart in the right place, but no common sense, and their heads up their asses. And no small number of con men, criminals, and crazies. Apparently God protects such fools.
But fortunately, I bumped into a couple of guys who knew what they were about.
They'd been catching illegals on private land for years. I was recruited and vetted.
We had a retiree ranch owner with about a square mile of land, literally on the border, in the spot that was the shortest distance between Mexican Route 2, and U.S. I-8.
So by counting footprints, they were literally walking through his back yard about 100K illegals a year, and untold loads of dope. We were catching some, but more was getting through, and BP none the wiser (which is true along most of the nation's borders, 24/7/365. The ocean section is only slightly better-covered by the USCG, because unlike CBP, they're semi-military 95% of the time, and far less incompetent, but stretched even thinner).
In three years' work on the ranch, we cut that to <10/year. We also secured about 5 miles of border in our area (by which I mean nothing moved without our knowledge, and on days we were there physically, nothing moved at all), and sent Lou Dobbs tons of photos and about 50 videos which almost all made it straight onto air on his show on CNN. Especially every time Dubbya told you the "border is secure". Next day, we'd have a fresh video showing another group crossing in broad daylight. Once they hit ranch property, we could legally apprehend them, and did, by the hundreds.
Held them for BP.
Someone (sitting in the Oval Office) got so pissed off about getting beclowned on CNN, he called Homeland Security, and said that if he "saw one more g#####ned video on CNN, heads will roll". That was a direct quote form the regional head of DHS, and a CoE one-star. Suddenly we had the Corp of Engineers, DHS, and CBP building 5 miles of tank-proof, bombproof, dig-proof fencing, 20' tall, and our sector was secured. So we branched out east and west, and started going to AZ, where it was (and is) the Wild West. By 2008, the US had essentially ceded everything south of I-8 to Mexican cartel control, where it remains to this day.
During my time there, we caught about 1K illegals/yr, including some OTMs that were whisked away in the dead of night by MIB and "never happened", some carrying Korans and prayer rugs, a lot carrying dope, and spotted and reported even more. They killed one BP agent (quite brutally) while we were down there, less than a mile from where we were working, so they weren't playing. Neither were we. We went out loaded for bear, every time, even doing fence-building in broad daylight.
When they came within minutes of torch-cutting through the landing-mat fence with a convoy of dope vehicles ready to blast all the way to the freeway, in broad daylight (yes, they're that brazen), I decided to upgrade from a rifle in .223 to the M1A. At that point, three of us (and eventually two BP agents with only sidearms, no body armor, and no first aid kit) were the only thing between them and I-8, and about an hour from San Diego.
We won, they lost.
But the game goes on elsewhere.
That was it in a nutshell.

Glad you enjoyed the posts.
And do, by all means, take the EMT class and get the card.
IMHO, it should be required to graduate high school or start college, for everyone, and is the minimum place to start in medical skill for people expecting tough times, whether local via disaster, or societal.

Ed Gage said...

To quote Shepherd Book, "That's ... quite a story."

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

No problems with the SOCOM's shortened gas system? P'raps the ones friends had trouble with were early ones.
Likely purchasing a Scout (providing I can find one) to supplement the standard rifle I've owned since '78
Boat Guy

Aesop said...

Worked like a champ; shorter than my M-16A2, but heavy as hell.
Ditto for the ammo.

Anonymous said...

Cool. Thanks.
Might still stick with standard length for parts commonality having started there. Trading non standard battle rifles in to simplify logistics.