AAR - WRSA Intermediate Rifle Clinic - Douglas, WY
The blue skies of windy, wonderful Wyoming gazed down on us as we conducted another WRSA Intermediate Rifle clinic - this time in Douglas, Wyoming. Our local host could not have done a better job at securing us a fine range and balming any of the administrative details associated with a successful shoot. Many thanks!
Following target set-up and a safety briefing, we started right in with weapons familiarization drills - loading, unloading, and reloading. Rifles on the line included 3 M1 Garands, an AK47, SKSs, and several flavors of AR. Optics rode about 50% of the rigs, and folks' sidearms ran the gamut of Glocks, Springfields, 1911s, and other usual suspects.
After-action drills came next, and as always, the habits developed over years of range shooting needed to be tamped down in favor of more practical steps. The concept of scanning left and right via head turns, while keeping the muzzle on the neutralized target, followed by controlled muzzle scans left and right, kept people on their toes. Malfunction clearing drills came next, with students learning how to set up and then clear various flavors of badness in their irons.
As will be the case in future shoots, we placed a considerable emphasis on weak-side shooting, stressing the importance of being able to use barriers to their best advantage via this technique. Many eyes were opened at both the difficulties and the positive results to be gained by this kind of practice. Thanks to the construction and materials scrounging efforts of our host, Jack A Sol and Prairie Fire, the group had an excellent selection of barriers with which to practice their shooting and moving.
Accurate, fast shooting was emphasized throughout the weekend, as was the importance of cover, short-distance movement, and not getting fixated on solving a problem (be it intentional or spontaneous) while in the shooting zone. To illustrate some of the dangers inherent in close-range engagements, students finger-tracked (in lieu of tracking with live rifles) an instructor who jumped up from concealment and sprinted as fast as he could between points of cover. That brief exposure (six seconds or so) at less than 20 yards resulted, all agreed, in the almost-certain death or serious injury to the runner had the game actually been playing.
We also conducted a number of scenarios, including
- a "Hogan's Alley" walk through the gully behind the adjacent range,
- a "solo frontal assault" using microterrain and concealment points against multiple targets (once with rifle only and once with rifle/pistol transition),
- the always-popular "We're here from the undead and would like to ask you a few questions" encounter, where the shooter (who foolishly got separated from his or her rifle) has to engage multiple targets at 50 yards by pistol while advancing to one's rifle to conclude the fight.
Participants were encouraged to think and use terrain or cover as best as they could, and were also required at times to shoot various stages purely from their weak sides.
Finally, on Saturday night, we also had a chance to do some late twilight/almost dark instinctive shooting instruction with both pistol and rifle. Although range rules and a nearly-full moon prevented us from doing all that was possible, it was nonetheless a great chance for everyone to learn something new. Just as importantly, folks had a chance to compare the effectiveness of various optics and rifle flashhiders, and also learn why compensated pistol barrels aren't such a good idea at night.
All in all, we had great weather, great shooters, great hosts, and a great opportunity to exchange thoughts on what works and what doesn't work in a great setting. Who could ask for anything more?
Hope we see you at the next event in Yakima on September 22-23!
PS: Jared of the WRA shot virtually the whole course using his .22LR Ciener conversion kit for his AR, including the longer stages (< 100 yards). If you don't have one of these, what are you waiting for?