A nicely put together video that shows the training options/benefits available with Airsoft equipment.
While I’m not sold on the competition aspect due to “training scar” concerns, the target systems and equipment can provide many man-hours of training in a shoot house environment without the expense of live ammunition or the safety concerns.
There’s a great post over at Moderno.com about the Temple Index. Yes, that “gun by the head” pose that many range instructors will have a cow over….there are times when it’s the best thing available.
Go read it and tell me what YOU think.
William of Ockham was an influential medieval philosopher who is recalled chiefly for the maxim attributed to him known as Ockham’s razor. Also spelled “Occam’s Razor”. The words attributed to him are, entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem…or “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”.
I bring this up because I have just read a quote from the Dokkodo, the “The Solitary Path”, which is a short piece written by Miyamoto Musashi shortly before his death:
Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what can be of use to you.
I see a link between the philosophies of these two men and an application to weapon training. I will attempt to explain.
These philosophical issues come to mind because I was recently involved in a friendly conversation debating that “Less Filling. Tastes Great” topic of using the slide release vs “power stroking” the slide on a handgun during an emergency reload.
Debate points that always seem to come up when discussing emergency reloads are:
“I use the power stroke because I may be using a weapon I am unfamiliar with and running the slide is fairly universal for all pistols while slide releases may vary.”
“I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.”
Being a fairly recent convert to the slide release method, Occam’s and Musashi’s quotes kind of cut me both ways.
I argue that the “It’s universal for all pistols” point either means you own too many pistols or you are saying you are going to be doing a combat pick up of a pistol…or a disarm.
Per Occam/Musashi…if you have so many different pistols that you may/may not be carrying at any one time, you are violating their precepts. I’m not against collecting guns, I’m not against having different pistols/rifles for different applications, but if you worry that you may not be able to “auto pilot” your weapon because you may be carrying something different on any given day, that’s a problem IMO. Pick one and make it a part of your hand.
The combat pick-up/disarm argument doesn’t hold much water for me either. I’m probably not going to disarm an attacker of his weapon and magazines and have to do an emergency reload with them. And the combat pick-up is such a statistically rare issue that I don’t see it as a valid point. Either way, if they worry you then do the power stroke method if that ever happens.
The second point…”I use the power stroke because the actions are similar to the manual of arms for clearing malfunctions.” Is a more valid argument when applying Occam (Musashi doesn’t really apply here). Having one way of operating the pistol regardless of reason (malfunction or running dry) is a stronger point IMO and I have much to agree with.
However I would counter that Occam said “…must not be multiplied beyond necessity” he didn’t say “never multiply”. The slide stop method has some things going for it; speed, efficiency, the weapon/hands stay more oriented to the threat, etc. The necessity of multiplying your manual of arms to gain those advantages may be debatable, but I would debate it.
Either way you choose I find Occam and Musashi’s points as interesting ways to analyze our choices when it comes to weaponcraft. What do you think?
I was just reading Tiger McKee’s “The Book of Two Guns” where I came across this passage:
When engaging a threat with fire you are shooting to stop the threat-not kill them. Due to the areas we must shoot to stop the threat effectively-the center mass and head, the threat may die. But that isn’t the desired effect. Our job is to stop the threat as quickly as possible-or we hurt them enough that they decide to leave.
I entirely understand WHY we are taught this way…because of litigation. “So officer you are saying that you INTENDED TO KILL MY CLIENT?!?!” And to combat the television educated critics that demand to know why we don’t just “shoot him in the leg” or knee.
There’s also the (IMO) silly argument that “shooting to kill” means that we execute incapacitated subjects or surrendering offenders.
However, I have always thought that this meme has some holes in it (so to speak).
If you draw your firearm and shoot someone in self defense, you are intending to use lethal force against them with legal justification. It’s called the “Use of DEADLY force” for a reason. It’s not called the “use of STOPPING force”. Death is not merely a side-effect of your actions, it is most likely going to be the natural consequence of them.
A lack of intent does nothing to establish the justification of self defense, yet somehow people have gotten the idea that they have to pretend that they had no intent when they pull the trigger.
“Stopping” is not a legal term in this context, but firearms trainers are determined to give it legal significance. I would bet an attorney would say that it has none and never has. You can try to dress up the use of lethal force anyway you want, but the bottom line is if you use it you had better be justified in intending to kill. “Shooting to stop” could easily include shooting the handgun out of their hand or shooting their leg. That’s a dangerous road to go down. If you could defend yourself by using less-than-lethal force, they you probably weren’t justified in using lethal force.
If some crook shoots me in an attempt to escape and I survive he is going to be charged with attempted MURDER not an illegal STOP with a firearm.
I will refer you to another post of mine where I addressed this. It was in reference to the tragic death of Police Officer Jonathan Schmidt.
Officer Schmidt was gunned down on a traffic stop while trying to arrest a man with a warrant for an unleashed dog. The man came out of the backseat of the car firing and Schmidt lost his life. A quote from a local news article reads:
Wounded in the neck and scrambling away from a gunman, a young Arkansas police officer managed to shove his sergeant out of harm’s way before dying in a shootout while pleading for his life, witnesses told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
According to Elumbaugh, when Schmidt opened the rear passenger door where Lard was sitting, Lard lunged at him and started shooting. Schmidt, hit in the neck by a bullet, turned away and pushed Overstreet toward safety.
Once Overstreet was behind Schmidt’s police car, Schmidt turned back toward Lard and began to return fire.
While he was shooting, Elumbaugh said, Lard was cursing Schmidt, saying “Die, (expletive)!”
“Please don’t shoot me. Please don’t shoot me,” Schmidt cried out, Elumbaugh said.
It’s my opinion that the “shoot to stop” meme so popular in our profession (and made necessary by attorneys) ingrains in us the mindset of “please stop..please let this stop him…God stop him!!”. In this sort of situation, where a gunman has hit you in the neck and is screaming “DIE F$%^#R!!!” at you…perhaps it should be entering into our minds that it’s KILL or BE KILLED! If he’s yelling “DIE MOTHER F#$@%R!!!” I’d prefer to see officers yelling “YOU FIRST A$$%^!E!!!” through a barrage of bullets.
It’s a difficult topic. On one hand I understand the reasoning behind the “shoot to stop” mentality, but on the other it seems more about semantics than tactics.
The initial reason for starting this blog was to try and frame a discussion about what “warriorship” is. One of the first posts here was an attempt to define the term:
The discussion in the comments became an interesting exploration all of its own. A definition of warriorship that was explored stated that the warrior put him or herself at risk of serious physical injury or death for the sake of oneself or others. Someone else then asked if that would include “non-martial types”, such as a doctor who goes into dangerous places to treat others. I responded with a quote from Musashi:
It is said the warrior’s is the twofold Way of pen and sword, and he should have a taste for both Ways. Even if a man has no natural ability he can be a warrior by sticking assiduously to both divisions of the Way. Generally speaking, the Way of the warrior is resolute acceptance of death. Although not only warriors but priests, women, peasants and lowlier folk have been known to die readily in the cause of duty or out of shame, this is a different thing. The warrior is different in that studying the Way of strategy is based on overcoming men. By victory gained in crossing swords with individuals, or enjoining battle with large numbers, we can attain power and fame for ourselves or our lord. This is the virtue of strategy.
A vital component of the definition, (according to Musashi at least…and I would dare say most historical “warriors”) is the point that the warrior exists and trains to overcome other people who are trying to impose their will against him and/or his group/community/clan/nation.
I also believe that being a “Warrior” comes with a price tag. And a pretty hefty price tag at that. Service, sacrifice, risk…Just “wanting to be one” isn’t enough by my standard. Neither is “putting on the clothes or skills”. Some folks like to apply the “warrior” label to one who simply practices a martial art.
Karate no more makes you a warrior than being a football player would. Karate (and pistol skills, rifle schooling, lock picking training, knife fighting training, etc.) are “warrior skills”. Skills that I believe some people pursue to live out their “warrior fantasy”.
If you want to be a “Warrior” then you have to go out and “put it on the line” and put those “warrior skills” to use. Anything less than you are practicing the “Warrior Lifestyle”. Much like training exactly like a NFL football player but only playing some backyard ball with your buddies doesn’t make you “as good as” a Professional Football player. Or having all the skills and gear of a Delta Force Operator doesn’t make you “as good as a Delta Operator”.
There are some martial artists and authors who have a different opinion than me:
This is a common misconception where the true warrior is concerned. While the main definition of the warrior found in most dictionaries is, “Somebody who takes part in or has experience in warfare.” This definition is not the one that should be used to define the true warrior, and is not an accurate definition for the warrior lifestyle. A better definition for a warrior is, “Somebody who takes part in a struggle or conflict.” The true warrior is engaged in a struggle and it is a daily fight. His battle is not necessarily on the battlefield, but rather a personal battle to perfect his character and to become a man of excellence in every area of his life.
While it is true that martial arts training is a vital part of warriorship, it is not the sole component of a true warrior. There are many people who are trained fighters who are not true warriors. The world is full of killers, gang members, and people of low character who are well-versed in weapons and how to take a human life, but is this the singular requirement for being a warrior? Are these people true warriors or simply trained thugs? Anyone can learn to pull a trigger or destroy the human body. Does this knowledge make them a true warrior, or is there more to the warrior than the ability to fight?
While I agree with the sentiment that warriorship is not all about skills. I’m not convinced that the word “warrior” or the concept of “warriorship” necessarily has or ever had a mandate of being “virtuous”.
Many “Warriors” sacked cities, carried off women as slaves, burned down villages and did other things we would consider reprehensible today. Would one suggest that the Vikings were not “Warriors”?
While I of all people value the “Warrior Ethic”, as we have re-codified it with our modern values; I would hesitate to define the basic concept of a “Warrior” as necessarily being “virtuous”, at least by any modern standard. Remember though that what the Mongols, Romans, etc. did back then was the “Way of War” in those days. Warriors were warriors because that’s what they were. Many were born into a caste system, Knights, Samurai, Tribal Warriors etc….Soldiers were the “Average Joe’s” that joined (or were conscripted) into armies, taught how to fight, paid in some manner and sent into battle. Many went back to being “Joe Farmer” afterwards. Some became “Career Men” and sort of crossed the Soldier/Warrior boundary. In our times I would say that the difference between a Warrior and a Soldier is a matter of professionalism, commitment to craft, and the honoring of a “code” either personal or codified. In the military, when you meet a “Soldier” vs. a “Warrior” you know it….
I don’t really now of any example in military history where significant things were accomplished by warriors who “fought alone”. The lone wolf, Rambo “Warrior” is a myth IMHO. Even the Samurai and medieval Knights who were of the “Warrior Class” fought in organized battles. Examples of individual combat did absolutely exist, but all warfare is typified by some form of teamwork. Our modern definition of “Warrior” is very different from the historical model IMO. For example, the Samurai were “Warriors” by caste and at the same time there were Ashigaru “Soldiers” recruited from the other classes who fought at the same time. They all fought, bled and died pretty much the same, but what was expected of the Warriors by their society was quite different. There really is no “class” difference in the military these days (besides the officer/enlisted split), so the difference between a Warrior and a Soldier has picked up all of this philosophical/spiritual/mystical stuff. I just think of the difference as one of “dedication to craft”. The difference between somebody who “does something” from someone who “is something”.
That “service, sacrifice and risk for ones clan/community” I mentioned earlier…note I didn’t add any sort of “virtuous conduct” to the definition. The German SS were an elite group of “warriors” they were using their warrior skills in the service of their nation. I wouldn’t describe what they were doing as virtuous by any means, but I would still consider them “warriors”. The Samurai of Japan were noted for..at times…lopping off heads for simply not bowing swiftly enough.
So in a nutshell. My definition:
- Trains to overcome other men/people.
- Seeks to perfect those skills.
- Uses those skills in service to others.
- Sees this honing of “craft” and “service to others” as a “way of life” vs. SOLELY as a paycheck/term of enlistment/college money/retirement package/etc.
While virtue and “self-improvement” are desirable and some historic warrior groups attempted to codify/instill those virtues (Bushido, Chivalry, etc.), the cultural and historic “fuzziness” of what is “virtuous” makes this aspect sort of an “add on” depending on the period and people making the definition.
Of course, there are no “warrior police” out there, so everybody is free to label as they wish. However this blog is about my definition so…there it is.
This post is going to try and explain one of the more difficult combat carbine concepts to comprehend (see what I did there ?). That is the trajectory of a rifle round when firing from the “rollover” or “urban” prone position.
Before I try this, you need to review what the normal trajectory of a fired round is:
While the common phrase used when talking about a bullets flight is that a round “rises to the line of sight” after it exits the muzzle, the fact is the law of physics cannot be denied. Like water from a hose, gravity takes hold of a bullet the moment it exits the barrel.
If the bore line and your line of sight were the same, a bullets trajectory would look something like this:
So…your weapons sighting system is designed so that the barrel angles upwards in relation to your line of sight.
When the round exits the barrel gravity still takes immediate effect, but because of the upward angle of the barrel the bullet follows a curved trajectory.
When the rifle is held in this upright position, bullets will impact a target in more or less a vertical string depending on the distance to the target. Wind can impact the strike laterally but that’s for another discussion. Within the average engagement envelope of a combat carbine wind is not typically a major concern.
This whole relationship changes when the rifle is canted or held sideways. One of the common positions in modern combat carbine application is the “rollover” or “urban” prone position.
To maximize cover and concealment, it may become necessary to hold your rifle on it’s side.
This is when trying to explain things becomes dicey, and if not explained well can leave the student scratching his/her head.
To start with remember these things.
- The relationship of the boreline to the weapons sights remains the same. The barrel still angles “towards the sights”.
- The bullets trajectory is no longer an arch. Because the barrel is no longer pointed “UP”, but to the left or right, the bullet exits the muzzle and starts to immediately drop.
- There is no longer an “up and down” stringing of rounds on the target. Bullets will be low and to one side or the other dependent on which side the gun is on.
First. The angular relation between sight line and barrel is the same if it’s upright or sideways. What changes is the angular relationship between the barrel and the ground.
Normally the barrel points up and away from the ground:
On it’s side the barrel is more or less parallel to the ground. Seen from above, an M4 with it’s ejection port up would have a sight/bore/trajectory relationship somewhat like this:
Seen from the side the bullets drop would look more like this:
Not an “arch” but an immediate pull to the ground by gravity.
With the velocities involved this pull isn’t extremely “drastic” at shorter ranges (and you are not a surgical sniper). A rifle with a 50/200 zero will be about .5 to .75 inches “low” at 50 yards… 2 to 2.5 inches low at 100. BUT the differences will be drastic the further out you go. 4-5 inches low at 150 yards and at 200 yards you are looking at being 8-9 inches low. Remember, on its side the bullet is constantly being pulled down…no “arch”.
Because the barrel is pointed left or right in relation to what side you are laying on, the bullet will continue in that direction till it strikes the ground. A stringing of strikes on target will be similar to this (not mathematically accurate…more as an example):
Remember how at CQB ranges there can be a “sight over bore” issue? A head shot at room distance must be aimed at the hairline to strike in the “sunglasses zone”. This is due to the fact that the sights are above the barrel, and the angle of the barrel wont intersect the sight line till it reaches “close zero” which can be 50 yards away. In normal orientation, the rule of thumb is to aim about 2-2.5 inches high for surgical shots from 0-25 yards.
In sideways orientation, the round will NEVER be above your sight line, but left or right of it. The bullet will be striking on the “magazine side” of your weapon at short range by about the same distance as it would have been below your sights in upright orientation.
If you are in rollover prone, ejection port up, and trying to hit a BG between the eyes at 10 yards you will be 2-2.5 inches right (with a 50/200 zero). So at CQB ranges at narrow targets like headshots or knees from under a vehicle it’s… “Aim AWAY from the magazine”.
For more general combative applications however (read..COM hits under most circumstances), the rule of thumb to remember when shooting rollover is “Aim High and to the Magazine Side“.
From 0 to about 75 yards just hold high on the center of the torso.
From 75 to about 150 hold high and to the magazine side around the targets pectoral.
From 150 to 200 hold high and to the magazine side on the targets shoulder
This will get you COM hits only needing to remember three holdovers; 0-75, over 75, and over 150.
There…that’s the best I can do. Please let me know if you are confused or if I can clarify anything for you.
I know, I know, the “C-Clamp” hold isn’t anything new and everyone seems to be doing it these days, but I’m going to talk about it anyway.
One of the most common rifle stances in circulation is the classic “shoulder pocket…upright…side onto target” rifleman’s stance. For long distance standing shots it actually has a lot going for it in terms of ability to hold steady on a distant target. The Marines routinely hit targets out to 500 yds using it…no badmouting here.
I hesitate to say “the problem with this stance is” because there isn’t really a problem with it as much as it can be the wrong tool for some applications. The fact of the matter is that the “rifleman’s stance” is not the ideal way to control a weapon in close quarters, rapid fire situations. Single, accurate, long range shots? Absolutely. Rapid shooting at multiple targets? IMO, not really.
The issue with rapid fire from the shoulder pocket/side on stance is that the mass of the body isn’t effectively behind the weapon to absorb the recoil; and yes…a long enough string of even .223 can push you far enough of target to make delivering shots on one spot difficult.
The “side on” stance also means that the recoil will be applying a “torque-like” force to the upper body, pushing the shoulder back and making recoil control difficult.
Many people have been adopting the “C-Clamp” hold these days, however (while I do use it) the way the support hand grasps the fore-end is really a side issue. To deal with rapid fire whats important is getting more body mass directly behind the gun.
The way I have been taught is to square up a little more to the target, place the buttstock closer to the sternum than to the shoulder pocket, lean forward at the waist and roll the shoulders forward.
From there, if you use the “C-Clamp” hold, grasp the vertical foregrip or use some other sort of hold is your business IMO. I like the “C-Clamp”.
Critics talk about the armpit exposure, lack of muscle support etc.
In terms of muscle/bone support, this stance (IMO..YMMV) is about rapid firing at multiple targets at close to mid range while moving or in the open. This isn’t so much for single aimed shots at distant targets. Although I routinely ring steel at 100+ yds with it, I’d take up a supported position if one was available.
A little video to illustrate the differences. Take a look at the start of this video and see how even a large man firing from the shoulder pocket can get moved around a bit.
And here’s a couple of 10 round strings fired from the other stance. Granted .223 is different from 7.62X39 in terms of recoil but…
In the end…as I see things…a “stance” is not a hard and fast rule as much as it should be a position best adapted to the situation. “C-Clamping” while in a kneeling position ignores the advantage of stability by placing the elbow on the knee. Firing from behind cover or using a support for stability can all require a different method.
Select the best “stance” for your situation.
In this time of financial hardship it’s only logical to try and save money where you can. When I started to see that I was putting large sheets of cardboard out on the curb on a frequent basis It dawned on me that IPSC targets were going for over a dollar apiece.
While it was always possible to simply draw out the dimensions on the board and cut them out, my drive for efficiency (ie laziness) made me think of what easier options there could be.
The solution I came up with was to swipe a piece of foam core board from my wife’s crafting horde and cook up a template.
I cut out windows for the head and COM zones and punched holes (with a .40 S&W case :) ) for the B Zone area.
Now, whenever I have a large piece of cardboard laying around I grab whatever dwindling can of spray paint I can find in my garage…there’s always one somewhere…and get to work.
While they may not be as professional in appearance as a store purchased pack, I have a somewhat constant supply of targets at a fraction of the cost.
I had an interesting discussion with some guys about weapon zero today and the issue of “individual zero” vs “weapon zero”. What I have learned/read over the years is that scoped guns are different from iron sighted guns and both are different from red dot/holo sights.
- On magnified optics (Sniper Rifles), scope parallax can cause differences in individual zeros depending on how the shooter mounts the gun…his distance of eye from scope..etc.
- In a perfect world, where all of us use the exact same sight alignment/sight picture, all shooters would be “zeroed” with properly adjusted iron sights. Because there are differences in how we “hold” on target and how we center up irons there are going to be small differences in zero. But as long as they are “close” those differences are not drastic within realistic ranges.
The Army FM 23-9 states that “When standard zeroing procedures are followed, a rifle that is properly zeroed for one soldier is close to the zero for another soldier”, this allows soldiers to accurately shoot with another soldiers rifle if he needs to pick one up.
Zeroing is primarily about aligning the guns sights with the barrel..taking individual differences in sight picture into account to fine tune.
FM 23-9 says:
“the similarity of individual zeros should be emphasized instead of the differences.”
“There is no relationship between the specific sight setting a soldier uses on one rifle (his zero) to the sight setting he needs on another rifle. For example, a soldier could be required to move the rear sight of his assigned rifle 10 clicks left of center for zero, and the next rifle he is assigned could be adjusted 10 clicks right of center for zero. This is due to the inherent variability from rifle to rifle”
Which is something many people don’t realize. When I was a young private I thought for a long time that my “zero” was MY zero and that if I dialed it in on any M16 I was issued I’d be GTG. The fact of the matter is that zeroing is really about aligning the SIGHTS to the gun…not the shooter. If we all held a gun the same way and used exactly identical sight pictures/alignments a zero would be universal. Individual zeroing is really just a “fine tune” when proper marksmanship fundamentals are applied.
- Red dot sights/holographic sights do not rely on sight picture or eye relief. If a RDS is properly adjusted so that the bullet impacts where the dot lays, that sight is zeroed for all shooters who use that weapon. Any variation with a RDS is based on the shooters breath/trigger control. Of course the dot only represents “zero” at 2 points of the bullets trajectory. With our 50 yard zero that should be at 50 and approx 200 yards. The round will strike below the dot when closer than 50 yards and approx an inch to 1.5 inches above the dot between 50 and 200 yards and then drop off past 200.
Of course time and a beating may loosen up the Aimpoint tubes causing a Zero shift.