Monday, March 26, 2018

Full Spectrum T&C Intermediate Carbine AAR




Intermediate Carbine
Full Spectrum Training and Consulting
Instructor: Kevin Williams
Ravensdale, WA.
March 2018

Course Goals:
Refresher
·      Zero/Procedures
·      Marksmanship Fundamentals
Malfunction Clearance
Main areas of Focus:
·      Standard/Unconventional Shooting Positions
·      Reloading Techniques
·      Close Quarters Shooting
·      Multiple Target Engagement
·      Use of Cover/Barricades
·      Shooting on the move
·      Transitions

The course called for the standard equipment for a rifle class. Ammo was “300 rounds for your rifle, but bring more and we can shoot more.” Transitions were classified as a topic that would only be covered if you felt comfortable with them and pistol use, which is a good call as not everyone taking a rifle class is there with pistol use. 

Equipment used:

Weapons: My employer was kind enough to let me use my issued patrol rifle: Colt 10.5” with a Surefire RC-2 suppressor, Aimpoint T-2 and Surefire Fury. I’m using a personal SOB Tactical U-Loop sling on this rifle. For the class I fed it from various PMAGs, gen 1 to current M3 Generation. Pistol was a Glock 22 (Dirty nasty 40 S&W) with a Raven Concealment Balor and a 2 MOA T-1 on it..

I used a Raven “Roland Special” holster and Raven DSS overrun Sonny rig (2x M4 1x Glock) on my belt. A Extreme Gear Labs 3 Mag VOCR chest right with FBI Drop hanger med kit was the rest of mag/medical gear. SLIP 2000 EWL was present, Oakley eyewear prepped with Cat Crap and a pair of well worn Peltor Tactical Earpro.

Class Start:
            Start time was 0800 hours. After setting up targets as a class – mix of paper/steel, and some barricades, we had an admin briefing. This was prolonged due to the range not allowing live fire till after 0900 hours. The course overview and goals were covered. Student and AI introductions were made, and students were asked what they main thing they wanted to get out of the class. Kevin and his AI made it clear that if a student didn’t feel comfortable trying something, they should let the staff know as its better to be safe than try something you shouldn’t and get hurt.

            Medical. Kevin did a quick and to the point overview of the phased medical emergency response plan for the class. From student expectations to what responders should do. Then he did a surprise “you have 5 seconds to show me your tourniquet”drill. Of the 8 students in the class, all but one had one on them. The last student had his on his range bag. After the class was over, this student stated he will be carrying one on him all the time at the range. Kevin then distributed everyone an additional CAT for the duration of the class. After this distribution, how to stage for carry then apply one handed/two handed on arms as well as legs was practiced.

            Live fire. Everyone stated they should have had a mostly zeroed rifle. I’m limited to a 25 yard indoor range at work, put prefer a 50 yard zero. As such, I wanted to confirm my rifle zero at 50 yards. After we fired a group at 25 yards to ensure everyone’s rifle was on paper, the class moved to 50 where fine tuning was done. I found that my 25 yard rough compensate for 50 yard zero with duty ammo needed moved a half inch up and right. Considering that no paper target combo is perfect for the gun/ammo/optic/suppressor combo, this isn’t bad at all. 




            Next we covered positional shooting. This was broken down into kneeling (quick, stretch and double knee), sitting (stacked feet, crossed legs or legs in front) and prone. After a period of time engaging steel targets at 75 yards from the positions, we shot the 4 position aggregate (100 yards prone, 75 yards seated, 50 yards kneeling and 25 yards standing) and 3 position aggregate (50 yards for 10 rounds each from kneeling, seated and prone) on paper.


We story boarded from both 50 and 100 yards: 10 round groups from RDS and dry zeroed irons at 50, 10 round groups at 100 showing POI with 50 yard  zero and forced parallax (Red dot in extreme left of window). This is helpful to show that positional shooting can affect where you shoot based on how you zeroed.



            Next covered was reloads. Students had obviously been reloading already and had all taken some sort of training prior to this. Kevin was big on all our loading/unloading of the gun following the same method. As it was all building blocks that work together for administrative loading, tactical reloads, emergency reloads into simple and complex malfunction clearances.

            Kevin is a proponent of the “safety on when you can” mantra. When doing an emergency reload for example, as well as anytime you manipulate the gun – empty gun for transition, malfunction, etc. As Pat McNamara says in regards to this, “Always an enabler, never a disabler.” I started shooting when this was not the norm. It took me a while to undue the biomechanical programming of this when I first was exposed to it, and am thankful that new shooters are being taught to run the safety selector as much as possible.

            The Modified Navy Qual was shot at 50 yards on a steel target. This is typically shot on a 8” circle paper target. For this you need 3 mags of 5 rounds. The shooter is to fire 5 rounds standing, emergency reload, 5 rounds kneeling, emergency reload, 5 rounds prone. Par time for this drill is 30 seconds. I was asked to demonstrate the drill live which meant there was just a little pressure. The Surefire RC2 suppressor worked well as the shot timer couldn’t hear my shots, but one could clearly hear each of my hits on steel making me pretty happy to perform on demand. Total time was at 25 seconds.

            During the lunch break, a discussion on carbine setup was had. Also covered was a demo of how Kevin teaches malfunctions. The way malfunction clearances was covered, was the same as I’ve been taught in the other training I’ve taken on my own and from my current agency. What stood out to me though, was how Kevin really drove home the importance of ensuring everything works as a system so you have less things to think about for clearing the malfunction.


            After lunch, we started with a 5 yard drill to demonstrate the importance of knowing your mechanical offset. Next was bill drills to work recoil control and ensure the little things in holding a rifle are being followed. Also shown in this was the concept of rhythmic fire.

I learned a while ago that you can cheat and be sloppy with grip/stance on a suppressed 5.56 gun. When I was issued a .308 semi auto patrol rifle, I learned I was ignoring little things like rolling my shooting side shoulder forward into the gun then. It was good to see students in this class have that same lightbulb moment. I watched Kevin and his AI making little tweaks to shooters stance and grip as they ran this drill, and saw happiness appear on students faces as they began to shoot faster while groups got tighter and they mitigated recoil.

            Next up was transitions. Doing these dry to ensure the steps were being done right, ensured students got the hang of this. A couple times as I transitioned I felt my rifle bounce off the bulk on my support side, which is extra thick thanks to the mag pouch setup I was using. Kevin commented he had experienced the same thing a few times with the same mag pouch, which is purely for our use, training rigs. After doing this dry a few times, live fire was done. After this, anytime the rifle went down, the student were expected to transition to pistols inside 25 yards.

            To further the offset and speed up close portion we discussed shot cadence. Then there was a demo of the Half and Half drill. We then ran that as a class. Half by Half: 30 rounds total, shot on a B8 bullseye. 10 rounds at 20 yards in 10 second. 10 rounds at half of that in half the time, 10 yards/5 second. 10 rounds at half of that, 5 yards in 2.5 seconds. After seeing where we were on that, those who wanted to could run the full half by half as one drill. A par time of 17.5 seconds to get all 30 shots fired. Exploding off the line after each shot and ability to stop on a dime drive the gun and get on it was obvious.

            Shooting on the move was covered next. We did this dry fire both moving forwards and backwards as a class. Next we went 2 at a time with instructors following students to ensure a safe environment. After this a box of cones was used for ability to practice walking forward, to the right, backwards and to the left. As everyone was right handed, the only hard part was the to the left portion. I’d dry practiced the over the shoulder technique for moving to the left while engaging targets to the right before, but never live fired it. It worked well and was much easier and faster than the bend/squat lower so you can twist to the right I’d seen in prior rifle training.

            We then went back to the barricades at 75 yards where use of barricades was covered. The various odd shooting positions, braced kneeling, squatting, SBU prone, rollover prone, urban prone as well as old and worn out knees kneeling was demonstrated. Kevin then talked about being smart in when to crowd and when not to crowd your cover. We then practiced these positions dry fire, before working them live fire for a while on steel.





            Next was bilateral shooting. Discussion on when to switch shoulders and when not to was had. After this, the process for switching shoulders was done dry. After a period of dry practice standing, we did it live. After a bit of this, we started practicing bilateral kneeling around the barricades. Kevin talked about there being a time and place for when to switch your feet when switching shoulders vs just switching shoulders. Its faster to just switch shoulders and not feet, but you do loose some of the recoil control capability. As such, situation dictates the weapon manipulation.

            Next up was working ability to rapidly get into and out of cover and using the various braced cover shooting positions. This also covered when to move with your rifle in a standard ready position vs the “football” carry. We worked this by shooting a classic TMAC’s drill, “Set it Off” at 75 yards on steel. Little things like not getting into a braced position slowed shooters down vs. taking the opportunity to brace off a barricade.

            The class ended with a little work on movement around people with guns and being able to communicate. This was a fun way to end the live fire session, although by this point most of us were out of ammo having shot well over the 300 rounds we brought. As always, the only time you can have to much ammo is when you have to carry it or pay for it. ;)

            After range clean up, we had a debrief. Nobody was hurt or injured during the training. Kevin collected his collection of CAT’s despite my attempts to acquire an extra from him. The class then went around including Kevin and his AI commenting on what the main thing was that they took away. Certificates were then handed out and we all began to drive away as the first rain of the day in the seemingly always rainy PNW began.

            Takeways: Lots of things were covered in class. The same outline could of taken 2-3 days to cover everything in depth. The only way to really stay proficient and remember the techniques covered, is to dry practice them.

I had met Kevin back in 2010, when he was working with LMS Defense. I took a class on distance carbine work and malfunction clearances from him. His teaching method then, is the same as it is now. He talks through and demonstrates what he wants us to do, then makes little corrections so its not “brain overload” when corrections start. Kevin’s teaching method is more along the line of coaching than a rote “do x y z” method.  

            This class was all civilian except for the Instructors and myself. I love classes where people pay to be there, as they are motivated to learn. Being in a class of people who 1, want to be there, 2, many have suppressed rifles making the range session less harsh on the ears, and 3, care about our gun rights was a blast.





Sunday, January 21, 2018

Salomon Outpath GTX shoe review


Salomon Outpath GTX


Specifications:

OUTSOLE
·      High Traction Contagrip®
MIDSOLE
·       injected EVA
·       molded shank
MEMBRANE
·       GORE-TEX® Performance Comfort Footwear 
SOCKLINER
·       EVA shaped footbed 
UPPER CONSTRUCTION
·       Seamless Technology
FIT MANAGEMENT
·       Quicklace™ 
·       Asymmetrical lacing 
·       Precise forefoot fit
UPPER MATERIAL
·       Water Resistant textile
·       Waterproof Synthetic
·       Seamless sensifit™



Review:

My standby daily wear shoe since about 2010 or so, has been the Salomon XA PRO 3D. This was back when Grey Group Training was a thing and all the cool guys had Atom LT’s aka Smoking Jackets, XA Pro’s and if you were really cool, a BAC. Over the years, I’ve worn out a couple pair of the XA PRO 3D’s, and last fall was on my last saved pair. 

Proof I've had a Salomon problem... a few pairs have been thrown away since they were worn out.


For running I had been using a couple shoes over the last few years, New Balance, Rebook Nano 3’s and recently, Saucony Peregrine 7’s.  I try to use a toe first natural stride as opposed to a heel strike stride. This was easier with Nano’s than the New Balance, and the Saucony’s were comfortable to run in. During the winter or when traveling and not wanting to pack extra shoes, I would just run in my XA Pro’s. I noticed it took more effort to focus on stride in the XA Pro’s than with normal running shoe.

After living in the PNW for a year at that point, I realized shoes here for hiking and running 8 months of the year or so need to be waterproof (GTX). So my search for a replacement for the now worn out XA Pro’s and Peregrine 7’s. Its easy to just go with what you know, but at the same time as any gear nerd will tell you, new gear is exciting. I also knew from getting dirt covered socks, that the XA Pro’s in the non-GTX/breathable format allowed dirt to get on the whole sock, which sucks when off paved paths.

Summer 2017, Salomon announced the new Outpath GTX. It looked like the upper portion of the shoe was sealed better to keep out dirt so I figured I’d give it a shot. Right off the bat in comparison to the XA Pro’s, I noticed the Outpath is stiffer. After wearing them for non work use as well as running, Its only slightly less stiff. From reading reviews this is a common complaint and I should expect the shoe to remain this stiff for the rest of its serviceable life.



The Outpath laces up using the Salomon Speed Lace system, just like the XA Pro’s. These options are fast to put on. The downside to the Speed Lace’s are:
1.     Can’t replace without a replacement kit vs normal shoes and a spool of Paracord.
2.     The friction lock looses torsion abilities over time/wear.
3.     Personalizing fit with how tight in a given place is difficult although it can be done.


The first couple times running in the Outpath’s, I went reduced distance as my feet adjusted to a different feel than they were used to. This was the same process I’ve done with my other running shoes, 1.5 miles, 2 miles, 3, and up to 4. I recently ran the farthest I’ve ran in way to long, 7.75 miles in these. Around mile 6.5 there was some pinching going on. The pinching was on the upper inner middle area of my foot. I stopped, loosened the laces, readjusted and finished without further pinching. 




With a typical lace up shoe, I can generally feel that the shoe is properly laced without needing to take a few steps to check it out. The Outpath, not so. I tighten the Outpath up then walk around to ensure proper fit. I’m about 50/50 on having to readjust one of the shoes each time. After this its fine for an average run – 3-5 miles.

I’m still planning to get a non-GTX running shoe for summer and rare rainless d
ay’s here in the PNW. In the meantime, the Outpath GTX are working double duty and I’m content to give them a 4/5 star rating. That would go up if the stiffness goes away so we will stay tuned.