Our fall course, INITIAL/INTERMEDIATE PRECISION RIFLE was a smashing success. It was the smallest group we have ever worked with, and it was certainly a pleasure working with a group that size.
I figured I would put together a write-up of what a typical two day I/I course of ours covers.
The students came from all walks of life, and had all sorts of equipment. We had a 30-06, and six .308 rifles in the course. Two semi-auto’s and five bolt guns.
Day one started with breakfast (which was excellent, and served right at the clubhouse). After that, we went into classroom mode and got down to business covering very important areas such as:
- The course outline for the 2.5 days. What we intend to accomplish.
- The definition and purpose of precision rifle shooting.
- The technical areas of the course we will cover:
- Basic Rifle Marksmanship
- Understanding how a rifle scope functions, it’s features and how they are used.
- Trajectory – working with a ballistic calculator. Understanding Elevation and windage compensations.
- Wind – reading, compensation, and reacting to it.
- Mirage – dealing with it and making it work for you.
- Range Estimation – Theory and practice. Pitfalls and student exercises.
- Strategies to avoid performing repeated calculations.
- Recording proper data, demonstrated using the IMPACT;&trade Data Book
- Using and applying the data toward shots, and also to reverse-engineer conditions.
- Setting up your shooting position.
- Solving bipod hop or jump.
- Proper rifle fitment and how this contributes to a good shooting position.
- Proper use of a variable magnification scope.
- Care, Cleaning, maintenance of the precision rifle.
- Being a good spotter – calling impacts, corrections and working with trace, mirage, and communications.
The students were then off to the range. 15 steel targets awaited them, set out between 375 and 1050 yards. But first, the shooters set up their positions as instructed, and were checked by the instructors, with many requiring adjustment and some requiring altering the fitment of their rifle significantly. We see this a LOT. Natural Point of Aim (NPOA) drills followed, as students shifted between targets on demand and readjusted themselves as instructed.
Live fire exercises began with zeroing at 100 Yards. Students were taught how to set up for zeroing shots, and they listened. It didn’t take long at all to get everyone dialed in. Everyone arrived already on the paper, which was good.
It was time to start stretching legs, and verifying the data that the students acquired from the ballistic calculator.
The first day’s targets were set up at:
375, 681, 460, 519, 620, 723, 825, 200, 315, 1050Y, 1040Y, 919Y, 520Y and 518Y.
The students were guided through the engagement of each target one at a time, and data book pages started to fill up with ink pretty fast. They compared their actual data with that from the calculator. Most were pretty close. Lessons about the wind started to show up all by themselves once we got out past 500 yards. They always do…..
By the end of the day, every one of the students had achieved a center mass hit on all the targets from 200Y (a 4″ popper) out to 1050Y ( a 30″ disc). They were encouraged to experiment with engaging the targets at both low, medium, and high magnification to expose some of the pitfalls pointed out in the classroom.
Wind calls were discussed on the range, and the instructors (one while enjoying a cigar) pointed out several obvious wind indicators while the students had believed there were simply none available. Opening up one’s focus takes practice, especially when given to the intense concentration required for precision rifle shots.
The instructors shot the drills as well, in plain view of the students. It was not uncommon to find an instructor on a gun next to a student spotting shots, making wind calls, and trading info with a student. The course was not taught from a lawn chair, it was taught right behind a gun, just like the students.
After a long and excellent day of long range precision shooting, the students were dismissed, and told to report back on the firing line at 1945 for the night shoot.
The students engaged four targets in full darkness. They were illuminated with a green laser designator. Those with illuminated reticles got a chance to experiment with them. They were at: 375, 475, 540, and 620Y. Most of the students hit them all!
Official debriefing of the previous day’s events followed at the clubhouse. Pulled pork tenderloin was served and enjoyed by all. Students were told to sleep on one decision:
“Pick a target for your Cold Bore Shot tomorrow. As far out as possible, but you have to guarantee a first round hit.”
Day 2 started with another great breakfast, and a review. Some of the things we observed students doing and had corrected were brought out and discussed in general terms. Many of the students had excellent follow up questions from the lessons the day before.
The cold bore shots commenced with most hitting, but some requiring a follow up shot. Most chose targets in the 400Y to 750Y range. One of the instructors shot the CBS drill too, hitting the 825Y target with a bolt gun, and a 520Y with a semi.
Shooters then re-confirmed zero. Very few had any issues.
After that, reticle concepts were covered. Five targets were engaged using hold-over from 200 to 520Y in as rapid a manner as good technique for each shot would allow. They were: 200, 315, 425, 435, and 520Y. Most picked up on this concept quickly, but some had fallen into one of the traps pointed out in the classroom. A second try showed five solid hits on the target group.
Targets were moved around to demonstrate an alternative zeroing technique for mid-range targets. The concept having been explained in the classroom, the students got a chance to prove this out for themselves in a real-world circumstance.
Our courses are not broken up into several different levels. Our approach is to combine concepts that compliment and rely on each other from the very beginning of the learning experience. The product is a shooter who is able to fish for him or herself.
All the students were ordered off the glass, and the targets were all relocated for the course’s final exam: The USMC’s Scout Sniper UKD Qualification Course. It is an excellent test of overall long range precision rifle ability. Here’s how it works:
10 Targets that can be between 300 and 800 yards.
E-type silhouette targets (40×20) are the official targets, but ours are considerably smaller. 31×18, 24×18 and down to 10×24.
20 minutes to conduct range estimations.
Each shooter is given :30 to adjust their dope for a given target.
When identified, shooter has ten seconds to fire the first shot. If a miss, shooter has five seconds to fire a follow-up.
10 points for a first round hit. 8 points for a second round hit. Passing score is a 60. With the big targets, it’s an 80, but we are working with nearly half the surface area at the same distances so we train to the standard of a pass being a 60.
One of the instructors shot the test as well.
The targets were later lased at the following distances after everyone had shot.
Students had 20 minutes
After a great lunch of slow cooked beef, salad, cole saw and mash taters it was back out to shoot.
The shooters were lined up and targets were called out in no particular order. Shooters had :30 to adjust dope, get pointed at the identified target and be ready. Then their heads had to be down; off the glass completely. One by one the shooters were signaled to fire. While one shooter was firing, the next one was authorized to get on the gun and get ready.
The scores from the drill are listed below. The high shooter was Todd, shooting a LaRue OBR with an 88/100.
Target distances (lased after the test was over)
7 = 775Y
F = 660Y
2 = 500Y
Black/Left = 490Y
4 = 620Y
6 = 375Y
1 = 380Y
3 = 520Y
B/W = 425Y
Black/Right = 440Y
After some recreational fire, a review and some very happy conversation among the students, it was time to pack up and hit the road for the long ride home. Some students were repeats. We get that a lot. They return to take the course again and focus on more intermediate techniques and to refresh themselves on some of the more difficult concepts. Others said they would definitely be back again.
Boy, that last shot would have been GREAT if the target was there……