Multi-Gun Training Day: Rifle Transition Practice

20121215_085841

Saturday’s Multi-Gun Training Day emphasized the importance of target transitions.  We were working on the rifle and the specific mechanics required to make quick and accurate transitions from one target to another.

DOPE at 7, 25 and 50 yards

DOPE at 7, 25 and 50 yards

After a quick DOPE refresher at 7, 25 and 50 yards to demonstrate the importance of knowing your mechanical offset and holds, we swapped our bolt carrier groups for

CMMG .22LR conversion kits, got out the steel “lolly pops” and went about training to transition from low ready to first shot on target and to properly transition between targets.

This was my first session of actual training with the CMMG .22 LR conversion kit and I am absolutely sold on it.  The benefits of a .22 conversion kit are numerous, chief among them is using the same platform you normally do in competition which allows you to get more repetitions on the same trigger, optic, etc.  You can safely perform drills with .22LR far closer to a steel target than you would be able to with center fire.  And finally the cost effectiveness of the ammo just can’t be beat, you’re talking $0.03 per round compared to $0.30 per round (or higher lately).  For short-range rifle drills I highly recommend a .22 conversion kit for the AR-15.

THE FUNDAMENTALS OF TRANSITIONS

Transitions are very important in 3-Gun and Practical Shooting in general.  In competition you must always be scoring points and one way to do that is to minimize the time spent not shooting.  This means that the time spent between engaging targets is costing you the lead and you must eliminate it.

The proper way to transition from one target to another is to lead with your eyes.  You start with your eyes and weapon on the same target, break the shot(s) and follow through.  Next, transition your eyes to the second target and follow them with your weapon while keeping your eyes focused on the second target.  Repeat.

That’s it and it sounds simple enough but under the stress of the clock and people watching, a lot of shooters tend to rush it and move their weapon and their eyes at the same time.  Our practice focused on going slow and performing a firm, deliberate transition each time.  Practicing slow and smooth will allow you to recall the motion and perform it quickly in competition.

We performed each of the following drills mulitiple times from 7 yards and 25 yards:

  • Start at Low Ready, on buzzer engage one target with one round. (1 round per string)
  • Start at Low Ready, on buzzer engage end target with one round, transition to farthest target and engage with one round.  (2 rounds per string) Perform both right to left and left to right.
  • Start at Low Ready, on buzzer engage farthest left target with one round, transition to next target and engage with one round.  Repeat for all five targets. (8 rounds per string)  Perform both right to left and left to right.

CENTER FIRE PRACTICE

After many drills and repetitions with .22 LR on the steel we swapped back to center fire, set up a quick drill with Metric IPSC targets that incorporated our 7, 25 and 50 yard dope, initial target engagement from low ready, target transitions and a magazine change.

  • Start at Low Ready, on buzzer engage targets from left to right with two rounds each, change magazines and engage from right to left with two rounds each.  (20 rounds per string)

WRAP-UP

We were on the range a solid three hours and it was time well spent.  Teaching yourself to slowly and smoothly perform the mechanics of an action during practice enables you to recall that action quickly when under the stress of a timer in competition.  And that is what Multi-Gun Training Day is all about.

Multi-Gun Training Day: Long (ish) Range Rifle Practice

On the way back from a Colorado Multigun match at Weld County Range, I was chatting with my shooting buddies Ben W, Bill and Nate about how I have been shooting so many matches that I haven’t had time to practice and that we never get the opportunity to shoot a stage multiple times to see if we can improve on our time and score.  From that conversation we came up with the idea to pitch a club-sponsored event at my local range that would focus on drills and practice rather than a competition.  I came up with an event description, a safety brief and went to the club’s Board of Directors.  The Board was receptive and voted unanimously to approve the event.  That was the genesis of Multi-Gun Training Day.

Saturday was the first event and I reserved the 200/300 yard range.  It was a great day to be out on the range for some mid-range distance practice with our rifles and carbines. We had a small-ish group and the entire range to ourselves which allowed us to get a lot of shooting in.

We set up a full size IPSC steel target at the 300 yard and 200 yard backstops and a 2/3-ish IPSC steel target at the 100 yard backstop.  Our warmup drill was pretty easy and shot from prone without any time; get three hits on each steel taking as long as you need.

MGTD Target Map

 

The rest of the drills we ran and the results:

Standing at low ready, at start signal go prone and engage steel with one hit.

The next round of drills required our VTAC wall, shown here with the designators that I gave each position:

Standing with heels on concrete pad (approx 4 ft from wall), at start signal engage steel with one shot from each position, S4, H5, H7.

Standing with heels on concrete pad (approx 4 ft from wall), at start signal engage steel with one shot from each position, S3, H4, H8.

Unlike the matches we usually shoot, the results are for informational purposes only. We are keeping metrics of the drills we shoot to compare them when we shoot those same drills at a later date. The goal is to improve and beat yourself, not each other.

Bill engaging:

Even with the rifle and the shooter rolled over all of us to g0t our shots at 200 and 300 yards after a little discussion of where to hold on the target.

Yours truly grabbing sight pictures:

In the picture below I am supporting on the wrong knee, I always want to get down like I’m just kneeling rather than using my strong-side knee for a barrier support.  I need to work on fixing that bad habit.

Initially we were a little concerned that the forecasted wind may make for a bad day of chasing rounds all over but I think the wind ended up helping us in the end. I know that I learned my shots are not affected nearly as much as I thought by what seemed to be a pretty stiff wind. I also confirmed that I am in love with the 200 yard zero on my 1X magnification Aimpoint Comp M2. I was able to zing the IPSC Steel at 100, 200 by just aiming center mass and nail the 300 target by holding just at the line between B and C zones. Bill and Ben had it even easier with their 4x scopes making those teeny little targets out at 300 look like they were up close and personal. I got the opportunity to check out Bill’s Burris XTR or Tac 30 (I believe) and can say that the glass is super-clear and that Bullet Drop reticule is almost like cheating. I estimate that a determined marksman could get solid hits on the IPSC steel at 300 from kneeling with little trouble and possibly off-hand with a bit of practice.

One of the big benefits of making those hits in unconventional positions, at distance and in the wind on Saturday is that each of us has now been there/done that. The experience we gained in hitting targets during practice in those types of conditions prove that in can be done and will give us the confidence to attack a stage and make those hits under the clock when faced with a similar situation at a match. Awesome!  Next time smaller targets…

I was very excited and encouraged by the discussions of physics and technique that came about during our shoot. This type of open, collaborative dialog is exactly what I had in mind for MGTD and would love to see more of it going forward. Each of us has a wealth of knowledge and a diverse point of view on shooting topics and I hope that we can all use each other as a resource to get those tips and that feedback to help us become better 3-Gunners. Along those same lines I would like to keep the drills we do open to community choice as well so if there is something you read/heard about or saw in a match that you suggest I work on, comment or email me and we will work it in.

 

Summer 3-Gun Drills Day, 2012.09.14

Friday’s Summer 3-Gun Match at my local range was a drills day which meant that we had short courses of fire and were able to run through them multiple times.  It was an exciting day for me because it was the second day out of my walking boot due to my ankle sprain.  My ankle was quite tender,  super-stiff and I actually ended up going back to the boot while I was helping with stage reset and waiting for my turn to shoot.  To make things even better the drills that we were practicing for rifle and pistol all involved shooting while moving and the hitch on my right foot caused the sights on my Glock and the dot on my Aimpoint to bounce around quite a bit.  I have 4-6 weeks of physical therapy in front of me and I’m looking forward to getting better so I can move more quickly and with more confidence on the range.  As it is right now just watching YouTube videos of shooters cutting (like this one of Colt’s Clint Upchurch) makes me wince.

RIFLE

Our first drill was pretty simple, 6 targets, 3 on the left, 3 on the right.  Engage with rifle while moving.

PISTOL

The next drill was the same but with pistol.

SHOTGUN

Our third drill of the day was shotgun, 7 rounds for record, engage in any order but the star was flanked on either side by hardcover which were two full-size IPSC steel targets.  I had more than my fair share of issues on this one and I would like to place the blame on my HD Mossberg 500 but I must admit that I am out of practice with it.  The 18.5″ pump holds 5 in the tube plus 1 in the chamber for a total of six which would leave me with only one “oh crap” reload and then done with the course.  As you can see from the film, it never quite worked out that way.

I would like to get the opportunity to shoot this one again when I get my usual Mossberg 930 JM Pro Series back up and running.  I’ll have to have a talk with our match director to see if he’d want to shoot it again in the future.

TAKE AWAY

All in all a great day as it usually is when I’m at the range.  Things I learned Friday were that I need more practice.  I shoot a lot of matches but I rarely practice.  I think setting up a few 1/3 IPSC targets in my house and dry firing on the move would be very helpful.  I know from previous matches that I have never shot my shotgun well on the move so good practice on all three will do worlds of good for my stage times.

The other big take away is that I need to get serious about physical therapy on my ankle if I am going to be competitive in this sport.  Like I said, the hitch in my stride from the atrophy and lack of mobility in my right leg caused the dot on the Aimpoint and the sights on my Glock to bounce around terribly while attempting to shoot on the move.  Getting my ankle back up to running and fighting strength should be the top priority in my life right now.

For an example of how quick movement can be check out this video of my friend Ben rocking his AK-74: