Lessons to be learned…
It was an honor to be invited by Karen Butler, Founder of Shoot Like A Girl to the 2014 SHOT Show to demonstrate the AR-15 platform .223 to the outdoor writers of the world showcasing an example of what their new test shots program was offering women around the country.
Wanting to demonstrate the rifle platform and the basics of shooting fundamentals in the best capacity possible, I contacted Caylen Wojcik, lead firearms instructor at Magpul Dynamics who has many years of extensive real world experience. Experience that is priceless and I am thankful to have had him share with me.
Magpul Dynamics offers skill building courses for its students ranging in experience from novice to advanced and being novice carbine shooter I had a lot to learn. Magpul focuses on developing the skill sets required for peak performance under stress and real-world considerations.
My real world consideration is to be the best instructor that I can be teaching the most basic fundamentals to shooters within a short 5 minute timeframe. Caylen was excellent in designing a course outline that was best suited for my practical instruction application and fundamental building.
The basic outline of the course was:
- Proper choice and placement of gear
- Different optics and accessories
- Effective shooting stance
- Proper firearm grip
- Recoil control
- Sight alignment
- Sight picture using iron sights and electronic optics
- Trigger control
- Speed reloads
- Tactical reloads
- Possible malfunctions of the rifle
- Strong and weak hand shooting while both stationary and on the move
- Different shooting positions
- Choosing the proper position for the task
What I took away from the day was priceless.
I learned how to efficiently and safely demonstrate a 3 point safety check prior to loading the rifle:
Chamber- The chamber should be clear of all cartridges.
Bolt Face- The bolt face should be visible and clear of all cartridges.
Magazine Feed Well – Should be removed from the rifle.
Caylen taught me how to properly inspect a magazine to ensure cartridges for correct alignment and how to do a press check to inspect the cartridge placement within the magazine for night time loading when your vision is diminished or non-existent using feel alone.
I learned how to teach proper un-loading techniques:
Safe: Rifle safety on.
Source: Remove the magazine.
Feed: Check the chamber bolt face and magazine feed well to ensure that no cartridges are present.
Having Caylen, give me proper instruction on effective shooting stance, proper firearm grip, how proper grip helps manage recoil, proper sight alignment techniques, sight picture variances for iron sights as well as scoped optics, and trigger press, all helped me in turn be my best.
Efficiency in Speed
My background with Magpul Dynamics is with Precision Rifle and Precision Hunter; both a very different animal than Dynamic Carbine. For the first time in my life, the really nice tight group I shot, which in essence made a golf ball sized hole in my paper target was actually kind of a bad thing. Luckily for me, I am told that an accurate shooter can always be trained to shoot faster.
With each discipline speed and accuracy vary. In Precision Rifle, my “rat hole” target would have made me proud, however in Dynamic Carbine, this was only evidence that I was shooting too slow and therefore being un-necessarily precise.
For carbine application, I needed to learn to speed it up and focus less on shooting with precision and more on getting effective rounds down range. Shooting the target and then reengage it again as quickly as possible; quicker re-engagement with the focus on a larger acceptable targeted area.
Of course the speed and accuracy that you can engage that target varies on a plethora of considerations for instance target distance, target size and if the target is stationary or moving.
Walking forward engaging a target verses me walking backwards engaging a target. Really walking backwards? Yes, I learned how to shoot accurately while walking backwards without even falling down. In fact, I was more accurate moving backwards than I was moving forward. Who would have imagined that!?!
Then to top off the day, Caylen threw multiple target engagements at me: left, right, center. This was my greatest struggle of the day as I am left eye dominate and right handed. Look first, get your target in sight, then move your rifle into position for engagement of the new target. I would not know which target I would be engaging until he called out the specific target.
With as much speed as possible, it was my job to then locate and engage the target with two –three rounds depending on his call out.
Looking left was very inhibiting with a closed left eye. My peripheral vision sucked and I could not accurately, reliably and repetitively locate and engage the left target with the desired speed that I had hoped for.
I would be a sitting duck as a right handed combat shooter with tape on my glasses like I do when shooting sporting clays to compensate for my eye dominance issues. This certainly would not be a suitable solution in a combat situation. This particular application lent me to the rather firm belief that had I been a professional operator, I would have been required to learn to either shoot left handed or look into different optics that are designed for either eye accuracy.
After burning it down, I left Magpul Dynamics with the urge to begin my training regiment under stress simulations and as always looking forward to my next course.