Multi-Gun Training Day: Rifle Transition Practice

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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.

Budget 3-Gun Rifle Upgrades

Budget Multi-Gun Rifle with Palmetto State Armory Upper

The same day I fired the inaugural shots out of the first AR-15 that I built I also was also able to shoot a friend’s mid-length gas system AR.  I immediately knew that I had made a newbie mistake by going with the carbine-length system on my 14.5″ AR.  The mid-length had a softer recoil impulse and allowed for very quick follow-up shots.  After putting thousands of rounds downrange over nearly two years, and much of those rounds during competition, I finally decided to upgrade to a mid-length gas system upper receiver group.

PALMETTO STATE ARMORY’S LIGHTWEIGHT UPPER RECEIVER GROUP

Palmetto State Armory Mid-Length Upper

Palmetto State Armory Mid-Length Upper

Recently I caught one of the Daily Deals from Palmetto State Armory that had a great price on a stripped upper assembly. The upper is a 16” barrel with a mid-length gas system and has other desirable features such as being Cold Hammer Forged, chrome lined and M4 feed ramps. In addition, PSA’s barrels are supplied by FN so I know the quality will be there.

I have purchased items from Palmetto State Armory in the past, in fact my lower parts kit, receiver extension (buffer tube), spring and buffer came from them.  I have always found them to have decent prices for a decent product and would recommend doing business with them.

COMPARISON: 14.5″ CARBINE VS. 16″ MID-LENGTH

Mid-Length vs. Carbine Gas System Comparison

Mid-Length vs. Carbine Gas System Comparison

There are some key differences in the DS Arms upper receiver assembly I was using before and the new upper receiver assembly from Palmetto State Armory that you can see in the photo. The DS Arms upper is a 1:9 twist, 14.5” barrel with a pinned and welded BattleComp 2.0 flash hider (for an overall length of 16.5″) and a carbine length gas system. The PSA upper is a 1:7 twist, 16″ barrel with an A2 flash hider and a mid-length gas system. From the photo you can see the noticeable difference between the 7” carbine and the 9” mid-length gas system.

SIMPLE BUT EFFECTIVE LIMITED OPTICS SETUP

AimPoint Comp M2

AimPoint Comp M2

Swapped over my Aimpoint Comp M2.

Magpul MOE Handguard

Magpul MOE Handguard

Added a Magpul MOE Handguard. I dig the feel of the MOE Handguard and of course the rifle furniture has to match.

Miculek Compensator

Miculek Compensator

I changed out the stock A2 flash hider for the Jerry Miculek Compensator. The Miculek Comp drastically reduces muzzle rise allowing for super quick follow-up shots but trades all that for some pretty serious muzzle blast out the sides. People next to you on a traditional firing line will hate you.

Budget Multi-Gun Rifle with Palmetto State Armory Upper

Budget Multi-Gun Rifle with Palmetto State Armory Upper

I have not built the perfect Multi-Gun rifle by any means.  What I have built is a budget 3-Gun rifle that serves dual purpose as both a competition and defense rifle.  This rifle setup as it sits now should be good for many thousands of rounds and will hold up well for competitions until my skill has outpaced my gear and I build a proper, dedicated 3-Gun rifle.  Right now the largest improvement that I could make would be replacing the mil-spec trigger with a nice match trigger.  That will likely have to wait for the next build.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

I was a little concerned about the accuracy of the 1:7 twist barrel with the 55 grain mil-spec ammo that I shoot but was rewarded with decent 1 MOA groups on my first outing.  Considering the tolerance stacking that occurs with a 4 MOA dot on the Aimpoint Comp M2, I was pleased with the groups and didn’t mess with it any further.  The first real test of my upgraded AR-15’s capabilities was at the long-range Multi-Gun Training Day that I host at my local range.  The rifle performed fine from prone and in any unconventional position that we shot out to 300 yards.  I have about 200 rounds on it now and am looking forward to getting a few thousand more downrange before I upgrade again.

If you’re looking to build a budget three gun AR-15 rifle I highly recommend checking out Palmetto State Armory’s uppers and adding some simple upgrades including a Miculek Compensator and Magpul MOE Handguard.

Summer 3-Gun On an Injured Ankle, 2012.08.17

THE SETTING

An absolutely gorgeous day to take an afternoon off of work and head to my local range for a little Summer 3-Gun.  Unfortunately I severely sprained my ankle (while shooting) six days ago and am still in a walking boot-type cast.  Lucky for me the stages were not very movement intensive as far as Three-Gun matches go and there were no weapon transitions.  However having to cover about 30 yards of ground on surface that is akin to decorative rock each stage made for some slow times, low rankings and a lot of ankle soreness.  The upside is that I was able to get a bunch of trigger time in and enjoy the camaraderie of some great people.

THE STAGES

The three stages were pretty simple this time with a common obstacle setup for all three and common targets among the rifle and pistol stages.  The Match Director, Walter T., did this to keep things moving during the match and be done in our 2.5 hour window so the Friday night Practical Pistol Match could start on time.  We did fairly well and were able to get all three stages in before the PPM.

Practice to Practical (Shotgun)

I love shotgun stages.  I never was that into the shotgun as a platform until I started shooting Three Gun.  This stage had seven steel pepper poppers, two birds and three plates on the Texas Star.  The course description:

-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with shotgun loaded with safety on in low ready
At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire.
Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 birdshot (10 steel and 2 frangible).

Start with eight in the tube and one in the chamber (9).  The smart play here was to whack all four targets on the left through the tire (5) load four as you’re moving to the right (9).  Engage all three poppers (6) and the two flipper birds (4).  Then run hard up to the 16 yard line and engage the three plates on the Texas Star (1).

What I did was start with eight in the tube and one in the chamber (9), nailed all 4 targets on the left (5), limped over to the right side while loading four (9), engaged all three poppers (6) and went up for the birds.  I got one bird (5) but the second one never came and that’s when I realized that I missed the popper on the right.  I reengaged it and got the bird as well (3).  As I was limping up to the Texas Star I went to load another four but was only able to stuff two until I felt some severe binding that stopped me (5).  I got my mount back with the two spare shells in my support hand and engaged the Star, knocking down all three plates in three shots (2).  Why did I load another four when I had enough to neutralize the star?  Well I had to limp instead of run anyway due to my walking boot so I figured that I would give my self a bit of insurance while getting one more practice repetition in for the weak hand reload during competition.

Chip Off the Shoulder (Rifle)

Course description:

-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with rifle loaded with safety on in low ready.
At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire.
Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 rifle (10 paper and 2 knock down/ frangible). The 2 little black targets are plastic primer trays. Knock down or any part of bullet hole to score.

The rifle stage was less eventful for me.  I basically cleaned out the targets on the left fairly quickly, limped over to the right, cleaned those out and then engaged the far targets from the barrel on the zero yard line.  I nailed the target stand that was holding the frangible target (primer tray) because I forgot about my height over bore offset.  I have a zero at 50 yards and verified at 200 yards so I should have placed my 4 MOA Aimpoint dot directly over the top of the frangible target.  That little mistake cost me 20 points.  Another little lesson learned there is to pay attention to the scoring as I would have tried a bit harder if I knew they were scored targets instead of “bonus” points.  Oops.

Chip Off the Shoulder (Pistol)

As I said earlier the pistol stage was the same setup as the rifle which was awesome because you could compare your rifle and pistol times to see which you were more proficient at.  The stage description:

-Start behind rear fault line outside of shooting area with pistol loaded in holster hands relaxes at sides.
At signal engage targets as they become visible from within shooting areas. 4 targets on the left must be engaged through the tire.
Time plus scoring. Minimum of 12 pistol (10 paper and 2 knock down/ frangible). The 2 little black targets are plastic primer trays.

The smart play on this one was to run down to the 16 yard line to engage the far targets.  I had to limp down but I was able to knock the right frangible off in one shot.  Unfortunately the left frangible took me three shots.

SHOOTING FOOTAGE

RESULTS

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3:

Overall:

LESSONS LEARNED

All the basics were in action during this shoot.  Sight alignment, trigger control and all that jazz.  It seemed it was even more important for me because I took a lot longer to cover any ground that need be covered.  Each shot counted because I couldn’t just run faster to make up for the extra time at an array or a missed target.  That said, there was no way in hell that I could have shot fast enough to make up for how slow I was to get to each array.  One of the things that I like most about Action Shooting and specifically Three-Gun is that they are very athletic sports and require just as much fine motor skill precision as they do brute strength and agility.  Even though I wasn’t competitive this time around the facts remains that any trigger time is good trigger time and competition will always teach you things about your skills and abilities.