AAR - WRSA Intermediate Rifle Clinic - Kooskia, ID - July 7-8
The WRSA Intermediate Rifle clinic in Kooskia, ID on 7/7-8 was a terrific combination of good people, practical instruction, and challenging shooting exercises.
The class began on a beautiful Saturday with a safety briefing and a listing of objectives for the weekend:
· Improve students’ practical shooting skills
· Evaluate existing gear and share what works/does not work
· Keep all firearms running (from both malfs and maintenance issues)
· Get hits on target quickly (in that order)
Long guns were mostly ARs in various configurations, with two M1As thrown in for diversity’s sake. Most rifles were iron-sighted, although there were a few optical sighting devices such as an ACOG and a Trijicon Reflex. Pistols were mostly Glocks, but 1911s and Springfield XDs also took the line. Gear ran the gamut from full-on tactical rigs to GI web slings with pants pocket “mag pouches.”
The training began with loading/reloading/unloading drills designed to establish a skillset baseline and expose folks to the need for tactile familiarization with their weapons. As would be emphasized throughout the weekend, the overall objective was to get people exposed to various skills so that they could practice and attain proficiency at home.
Next came the concept of “after-action drills”, by which the shooter ensures that the target just engaged is no longer a threat and that there are no other threats present. As would recur over the weekend, folks had to “unlearn” prior range habits of relaxing and lowering their weapons immediately after firing the prescribed number of shots. Instead, all students were encouraged after each shot series to:
- Look left and right while keeping their muzzle on the first target
- Then scan left and right, pivoting from the hips and directing their muzzles in the direction of the scan
- Then, only after each step above is completed, should the shooter lower his/her rifle
I know that I had a great deal of trouble remembering to follow these steps after each shot, and will be working on driving them into my subconscious via my personal practice sessions.
From after-action drills, we moved to malfunction clearance drills, including Type 1 (dead round or empty chamber), Type 2 (stovepipe failure to eject), and Type 3 (double-feed failure to feed). Students practiced each clearance drill several times, and were encouraged to drill extensively on each type of malfunction at home.
Following reviews of carrying, ready and firing positions, along with a recap of the BRASS/6 Steps elements of firing a good shot, all shooters confirmed their zeroes. .30 cal shooters zeroed at 25 yards, with .223 shooters using a 50 yard zero.
The rest of day #1 was spent on firing exercises from 3 yards to 50 yards, with an emphasis on accurate, rapid fire. However, “accuracy” was defined as all hits within the “A” zone of a standard IPSC target, with separate hits producing distinct wound channels to be preferred over tiny group sizes. .30 cal shooters were given the option of firing a single round per target, while .223 shooters were required to fire two shots on each target.
We started slowly with single targets, and introduced all shooters to the idea of near-distance sight offset. For example, a typical iron-sighted AR will have its iron approximately 2” above boreline, such that for precision shooting at close distances, one’s point of aim will need to be considerably higher than point of impact in order to deliver an incapacitating shot to the brain. M1A and M1 shooters, with their rifles’ greatly reduced sightline to boreline offset, had much less work to do in this section.
As the afternoon progressed, so did the shooters, who moved to multiple targets from multiple practical positions and then multiple targets while moving. Most challenging was a multiple target with mandatory reload drill. We also conducted our first scenario on Saturday, in which each shooter had five rounds to engage four 10” pieces of steel from a high ambush position at approximately 40 yards distance. By the end of the day, all shooters had received a full day of instruction and practice, with total rounds expended in the vicinity of 100-120. Class dismissed, and everyone planned to rendezvous at the local greasy spoon the next day at 730 am for our next stage.
Day #2 opened clear and sunny, and all shooters spent the first two hours reviewing clearance drills and moving accuracy drills. Our next scenario unfolded near the site’s treeline, where each student was asked to move casually towards an opening in the woods slightly behind a small rise in the terrain. As the student started up the terrain feature, he was confronted with three Canadian grey wolves (a/k/a 10” hanging steels) that needed to be dispatched promptly. The student was then required to retreat at a fast (but safe) pace over the broken terrain, where he would need to engage and defeat an assigned IPSC target. Given that each shooter was allowed only five rounds, everyone ran the drill three times, with improvements in target acquisition, accuracy, and speed of movement noted on each successive pass.
On both days, gear issues made themselves known to the shooters, with folks learning that pants pockets don’t work well for rapid reloads, but that some high-quality gear also had deficiencies. Given that the courses of fire were intentionally designed to require reloads (despite low shot counts), everyone developed a pretty good idea of what worked and what didn’t in their personal equipment.
We then moved to the second range area, where two-man student teams encountered the “Valley of Death”. Imagine a gravel pit with a large pile of 4” rubble on the shooter’s right, a large (50 yard) opening, and a small earth berm on the shooter’s left. In the clearing were 10 10” hanging steels, with 3 more steels on the right behind the rubble pile and 1 more steel on the left by the berm. Distance from the starting point to the 10 steels was a lasered 130 yards. Each team member had 8 rifle rounds, plus unlimited pistol rounds. The objective was to kill all of the targets intelligently while minimizing your own exposure. Several lessons were learned by the teams, including:
- Why safety glasses are essential when someone is shooting at the rocks in front of you
- If you get fixated on finding a single target hidden by shadows and not firing, the other targets will kill you
- Terrain is your friend
- Failure to use terrain will get you dead
- Absent radios, splitting your team means that each element will be operating independently, whether that’s the plan or not
- 16 rounds is not a lot of rifle ammo to engage 14 targets, even at < 150 yards
- You may need your pistol for distances a LOT longer than you thought
To that final point, we then switched to pistols for some familiarization exposure. Starting at seven yards and moving backwards at lasered five-yard intervals, shooters were asked to place three rounds on their steel target from offhand, kneeling, and (at longer distances) prone. We then switched to some more traditional pistol-on-steel work, including finishing the day with a three-target El Presidente shoot-off.
All in all, our first shoot in Kooskia was a successful weekend, and one that all participants enjoyed greatly. We also will post some lessons learned and "gear tips" later in this space.
UPDATE: Some gear we discussed/used (no commercial interest in any):
1) Singlepoint AR sling set
2) Larry Vickers multipoint sling
3) Blackhawk gloves
4) Kramer horsehide inside waistband holster
5) Suarez tactical bag
6) Camelbak hydration kits
7) Magpul rifle mag loops
8) White's hi-arch boots
9) Ciener AR15 .22 LR conversion kits
10) AR mag belt clip
11) Blow-out kits
12) Eyeglass frames
13) Mad Dog knives