|The Steve McQueen of SIGforum|
So I have had extensive pistol training, including a fantastic class by a security training company local to me. But I have had no formal rifle training, and will be taking a basic patrol rifle class from the same company that taught my recent pistol class next month.
I'd like to be as prepared as possible, to make the most of the day. What info, gear suggestions, or practice drills would you recommend based on your class experiences? What would you have liked to have known before your first rifle class?
Class requirements are simply a carbine rifle, 3 mags min, and a sling. I'll be using a S&W M&P-15T with an EOTech red dot, Vickers 2 point sling, and a 5.11 4-banger as my magazine belt.
Licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer
NRA Certified Pistol Instructor
Simunitions Certified Range Instructor
One thing that's regularly forgotten prior to taking weapons training clssses is a thorough inspection of the firearm and all gear.
20 people in a class and one will have a scope fall off. Another will have a battery go dead in their optic. Two will forget their extra magazines. Etc. Etc.
You're running a red dot, but insure your BUIS is zeroed as well. Fresh batteries in your red dot. Plus spares available.
Magazines. Three minimum is a minimum. As many as possible is always best. I have found when the line is changing over (assuming two relays) , it's nice not to feel the pressure of HAVING to stuff magazines at a given moment. Often having extra mags ready to go yields extra opportunities to shoot and learn, while others are stuffing mags.
Bring your comfort gear. Lots of water, lunch, treats and a comfy lawn chair are needed.
You run muffs with microphones? Lots of batteries for those too. Hearing instructions clearly adds to the training value.
Don't pick up some accessory at the last minute and try it out on the course.
Make sure you have weapons cleaning gear and tools with you.
Be the first to arrive and the last to leave training. Be the guy that has work gloves with him and helps with set up and tear down.
Preparing for the training is more important than practising for it.
|Music's over turn |
out the lights
I hope to take a rifle class this year as well. Highlander gave a good list, I would add a spare rifle if yours goes down or at least another BCG.
Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud. -Sophocles
Spray can of G96 or Breakfree CLP.
If you don't end up needing it, a classmate will.
|Flow first, |
I'll add a few:
Look up height over bore. It'll save you in close distance marksmanship. They discuss it here:
My first (and only) carbine class, this was a gotcha that caught a couple of more experienced shooters. Luckily I had read up previously. One of the few sections of class I shined.
Get a shooting mat and look at the shooting positions:
I lined up my mat directly in line with the target, and got a snort from another shooter :-)
A third thing - get a sling. A sling is more than an easier way to carry your rifle - it acts like a holster - safe way to hold your gun while you are not shooting. Carbine on safety, hand off pistol grip, and others can tell the gun is "safe"
I've taken 20+ classes from many of the big names. Here is my advice:
+1 on having as many magazines as possible pre-loaded. It lets you use the breaks for rehydration, dehydration, nutrition, and anything else you need.
+1 on a spare rifle if you have it.
Lube frequently and generously.
Knee pads will really help with the kneeling positions
I wear a long sleeve shirt with a zip up neck after enough experiences getting brass in uncomfortable places.
Bring more ammunition than the class calls for. You may have the opportunity to get more reps in than you or the instructors think.
Open mind. You're there to learn, not go through selection for SOF-D or any of the other top tier units. Learn what they are teaching.
Gauge yourself by your progress. You probably don't know what type of experience and prior training the guy next to you has. Don't judge your results by his.
Have fun. If you're not enjoying it on some level, you're not learning.
What, me worry?
|Fighting the good fight|
Long sleeves and a closed collar or closely buttoned/zipped collar are a plus. I'll add that, if possible, wear something with a collar slightly higher than a traditional t-shirt. Such as a mock turtleneck, a polo shirt, a button-down camp shirt, etc.
Otherwise, depending on the drills you're doing and your specific sling setup, you might develop sling burn (like rope burn) on your neck. Especially once you start sweating.
For example, I really like these 5.11 Rapid Response shirts for training classes. http://www.511tactical.com/rap...nse-quarter-zip.html The collar is slightly higher than usual, but not annoyingly so. The zipper can be pulled down to ventilate, and then zipped up to keep brass out once you go back on the line. The sleeves and shoulders are reinforced and hard-wearing, while the body is thin and light to keep you cool. And they're very soft and comfy.
|The Steve McQueen of SIGforum|
Good thoughts guys. I appreciate all the feedback so far. Thanks!
Licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer
NRA Certified Pistol Instructor
Simunitions Certified Range Instructor
The first carbine course I took I showed up with an ACOG, IR/Vis laser, weapon light and metal BUIS attached. Midway through the 8-hour first day, my traps and shoulders were completely fatigued from the weight of the rifle hanging on the strap. I was sore for the rest of the week!
For the next class, I brought a short barreled rifle with nothing but a Aimpoint T1 and Magpul polymer MBUS sights. That was much better.
Lots of good advice above. You are going to need something to carry mags in and there are lots of good options. A chest carry rig worked well for me.
Make sure you have some decent ammo. You don't want to end up messing around with failures. Good advice from above about getting everything zero'd.
If you are using a scope, get one of the wider charging handles that are ambidextrous. There will be lots of failure drills and reaching around a scope isn't that easy under pressure.
|Fighting the good fight|
Yep. A real-world day-long field test, like a training class or hunting expedition, will make you question every extra ounce on your rifle.
Less is definitely more. A rifle with an optic, BUIS, and sling, combined with a minimalist chest rig, or battle belt, or even just a couple kydex magazine holders for your trouser belt, is much preferable to being the guy that shows up with the 20 magazine chest rig and a rifle with more hardware than Home Depot, only to be exhausted halfway through.
Sounds like the OP's already on the right track though, with the bare necessities on his rifle, and a simple magazine carrier setup.
A lula will be the best thing you could have brought with, aside from 20 or more preloaded mags. While everyone else is busting their ass, you'll have time to relax and absorb some of the advice the instructor is passing on to other folk. Also, bring a collapsable chair. You'll appreciate it on days two and three.
|Go ahead punk, make my day|
Comfortable shoes, a change of socks at lunch, lightweight & proven reliable rifle (x2), lots of ammo and magazines.
I used a Blade-tech AR magazine pouch on my belt and I stuck a second & third in my Carhart type pants pocket for more admin / line type work. Next time I'll add a second belt pouch.
My rifles were Mega Lower / LW BCM uppers, I used my 16" with a 1-4 Trijicon on it with a Blue Force sling primarily. I shot one drill with my 11.5 SBR / Aimpoint T2 at lunch.
No problems with either. Keep your magazines clean.
Lots of good advice above.
Lots of magazines. Lube. Lighten your rifle or plan how you can if it starts to get heavy. I did much better with a SBR and a Fastfire than with a heavier setup. Band-aids, Motrin, a magazine loader are all essential.
Extra magazine carriers and an extra sling can save the class for a line mate, if they forgot something. Nothing feels better than helping a classmate get the most out of their class, too.
Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. "All the News That's Fit to Print," it says. It's been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it's as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan. -Christopher Hitchens
"At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats."
“It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to try to enslave a people that wants to remain free."
An easy answer is to dig through SWAT magazine's archives and read Pat Rogers' article on prepping for class.
Otherwise, you want to do everything you can to maximize learning time.
Physical Fitness-You don't have to be a marathon runner, but you shouldn't be gasping and wheezing the whole time. If you are in survival mode, you aren't in learning mode. Folks bitch about how heavy a carbine can be, but if you work out it gets easier. Speed and coordination helps with movement drills, and flexibility helps with alternate firing positions.
Hydrated-Pre hydrate, you should be pissing clear, if your pee looks like coffee you might be a future heat casualty. Don't over do it though, You want to be learning not watering the berm. If you are pre-hydrated it makes it easier to stay hydrated. Also, contrary to popular belief, you can become a heat casualty in cold weather too. Make sure that you have the right hydration system. A Nalgene bottle isn't the best for a high movement class, but its great for classes taught from the bench. Camelbacks are good, but they can get distracting if you aren't used to them.
Wear the right clothes for the environment and activity level. If you are overdress, you can overheat, if you are underdressed you can become a cold weather casualty. If you are head to toe in cotton and get wet then cold, you run the risk of hypothermia. If you aren't comfortable, you will more focused on your discomfort than on learning. Good shoes are a must, you need traction, stability and comfort. Be prepared to spend the entire time on your feet, so broken in ahead of time is a must. Have a plan if you get wet. Raingear you can shoot in is important if it's an outdoor course.
Ready to learn- You are paying for the class. Don't walk in there thing you know everything and looking for validation of what you already think you know. Listen, ask the questions you need IOT clarify what you don't understand and take notes. A rite in the rain pocket notebook and a pen in your pocket is a good TTP. If your notebooks on the bench and the instructions at the firing line you will not take good notes. Be prepared to be told you are doing it wrong and to be corrected. It's not an ego fight, by your own admission this is your first class. You don't know what you don't know and you are paying to get educated. If you get told to do something that you think is wrong, ask a question or two for clarification. If you still don't get it, try to do it the instructor's way as best as you can, you may find that it works for you. Make a note and talk to the instructor after class or during a break. Don't get into a pissing match, you'll lose training time and disrupt the class. Now if something is blatantly unsafe, pipe up. Also,remember there is always more than one way to do something, just because instructor A does it one way and instructor B does it differently doesn't mean that either are right or wrong.
A properly functioning and inspected rifle. Meaning you zeroed it with the ammo you are going to be using during the class and you verified that your rifle will work reliably with that round. Preferably, the same batch and lot you are going to use in class, but at least the same sku/specs. Don't be that guy that purchased a case of ammo the night before the case only to find out that it would not cycle their weapon reliably. If you are doing malfunction drills or trouble shooting your rifle every five minutes you are wasting your time and money and possibly the instructors and classmates. Do a thorough inspection and functions check several days prior to the class, that way you have time to fix things. What you can do is zero and test your weapon and mentioned above, give it a good cleaning, lubrication and inspection. MAKE SURE THAT EVERYTHING IS TIGHT, you don't want parts falling off your weapon during the class. Then take it to the range and recheck your zero, add oil and pack it up for the class. Yeah, it might have a little carbon on it, but you know it goes bang and held zero after reassembly. Resist the urge to finger bang or modify your weapon immediately prior to the class, if you mess it up you might not have time to fix it. Be prepared to rezero your rifle at the class. You might zero at 25yards, but the instructor design the class around a 50 yard zero, smile and rezero. You can always go back to your zero after the class or you might like the instructors' zero better.
Magazines- bring every functional and reliable magazine you can, preloaded if possible. I took almost 20 magazines to an EAG class once. It worked out great. I could go the whole day without jamming mags. This is good for several reasons. First, I wasn't rushing during the short breaks, I could do what I needed to and not worry about holding up the next iteration of fire. I could pee, hydrate or graze as needed. Also, I could pay attention to the instructor during the breaks, you can learn a lot if you are listening instead of being heads down in a box of ammo. Since I had preloaded them at home at my leisure I could inspect the magazines as I went and also ensure that they were in fact loaded to capacity. You don't want to go into a 30 round course of fire with 20 rounds in your magazine. It can happen if you get distracted while speed loading. Having preloaded spare mags also lets you dump malfunctioning magazines and drive on with the course. A magazine loader that you are proficient with will make reloading faster.
Performance food- bring your lunch and snacks. Don't bring fat boy pills (soda, donuts, candy bars, crap), bring granola bars, fruit (bananas), nuts and other foods that can help you do better on the range and not dehydrate you or send you into a sugar high/caffeine twitches. Also avoid things that could spoil and make you sick, if you are puking because your egg salad sandwich went bad, you are losing training time. Bring extra snacks and water, you can make friends quick by sharing a spare bottle of water with a fellow student or sharing with the instructor. The one caveat to this is to try and eat lunch with the instructor as you can learn a lot from their war stories and informal discussion over lunch.
Spares plan/load plan- No matter how good a job you do of prepping, something will go wrong. Hopefully to some one else. Have either a spare rifle or spare parts and the ability to employ them. The spare rifle should be zeroed and functional with the ammo you are taking to the course and be set up similarly to your primary, that way it's grab and go. You want to get back into the class instead of taking the time to try and fix your downed gun. If you don't have a spare, that's ok, not everyone can afford one or wants one. Spare parts and the ability to use them quick can get you back in the class. A spare bolt or complete bolt carrier group is key. However, a spare bolt or BCG requires prep. You need to make sure that it headspaces properly with your rifle and functions reliably, prior to using it in a class. By having a known good BCG you can literally bypass things like a lose gas key, sheared firing pin or broken bolt simple by swapping out the BCG and driving on. That said, don't run out and buy a ton of spare stuff before your first class. Spare magazines, eye and ear pro, water, socks, first aid supplies, BUIS, oil (lots of oil)are highly recommended if not a must. Batteries, spare batteries for everything you have from your optic to your earphones. even new "good" batteries from reputable makers can die on you with no warning. A load plan is important because if you forget your ammo or rifle, it will definitely interfere with training. Load everything you can into the vehicle the night before. Pilferables like weapons and ammo should stay inside with you in one central location so it loads easily and doesn't get overlooked.
Gear- Don't sweat the gear too much, as you learn the gear will sort itself out. Most folks fixate on gear and buy some of the most whacked out expensive crap ever devised. When you figure out how you prefer to shoot and move you will gravitate to the equipment that is conducive to your shooting style. Not everyone needs a plate carrier nor can everyone get by with one spare mag on the belt. Mission drives the gear. However, try out the gear you are going to wear/use at the class before you go. Make sure everything fits and is comfortable and workable. If you can't reach your mag pouches or they preclude you from getting in the prone, you might want to move them. Also, if you bring it make sure you know how to use it.
Last but not least a sense of fun. Smile, enjoy yourself, it's a day on the range. A positive attitude is conducive to learning.
Hope it helps, sorry if I went over stuff you already know. Have fun and enjoy the class.
A lot of good information, although I must admit I don’t know how I survived some of my training without exactly the right kind and balance of food and without drinking to the point of hyponatremia during every break.
I also never have more than a half-dozen or so magazines, and most are spares. Keep in mind that if you stuff every one completely full before the course, you may be instructed, “Load four magazines with two rounds each.” Preloading is fine, but bring some empties.
Things I’ll stress:
Lube your rifle properly before class, add lube during lunch, and if it’s a multiday class, clean and lube it between days. Many people say that’s not necessary, but the gun won’t quit because it’s properly maintained.
Use decent ammunition. I’ve seen more problems due to lack of lube and cheap ammo than all other reasons combined. The ammunition doesn’t need to be premium quality, but all I ever use for practice and training is Federal/Lake City M193/M855/AE223 Remington, and I’ve never had any problems other than a dud round once in a great while.
Added: If your ammunition is in small boxes, open and dump them into a bulk container before the class. Although I never felt the need to load a score of magazines before a class, not dealing with individual 20-round boxes for in-class reloads speeds things up a lot. I also always carried a bunch of loose ammo in a cargo pocket for top-offs on the line rather than having to run back to a bench.
Have knee and elbow pads available in case someone wants you to kneel and/or lie down on concrete or rocks to shoot.
If the class will include transitions, weak-side shooting, etc., find and become proficient with a decent sling for the purpose. Review the videos that show how to use it for the purpose. Some slings, for example, can be extended easily, but can’t be tightened back up without using two hands. I like the current generation Magpul slings with plastic slider.
Have a spare rifle if possible.
Ensure your rifle is zeroed. If possible find out if the instructor will insist you zero the rifle at a
Once your rifle is zeroed, check its point of impact at close distances if there’s any chance the course will include that. The instruction should cover sight/bore offset, but sometimes it’s not explained in sufficient detail or students aren’t given sufficient time or practice to get a feel for where their rifle hits at 15 yards for example. Even shooting at 25 yards will require a point of aim change for precise hits if your rifle is zeroed at 50 (as it should be). Practicing and becoming comfortable with doing that will make life easier during a class. I even put labels with POA requirements for different ranges on my rifles, or at least carry a small card for quick reference before a stage if I don’t have them memorized.
I always plan on eating lunch on site even if leaving is an option. I can catch up, lube my rifle, load some mags if necessary, etc., without being rushed to run out and try to find someplace that’s not jammed.
“The most common reaction to a life-or-death situation is to do nothing.”
— Amanda Ripley, The Unthinkable: who survives when disaster strikes and why (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2008)
Bring a cleaning kit and cleaning supplies. Bring basic tools and if you have them spare parts. If you bring them then you won't need them.
La Dolce Vita
Everyone pretty much covered it but they are not asking you to bring a pistol as well?
Make sure your gear allows for a pistol.
Our rifle class was a week long and we did transitions to handgun.
Not minority enough!
The LUBE and AMMO comments Sigfreund mentioned are worth noting and following.This message has been edited. Last edited by: CD228,
Sigfreund's comment jogged something else.
Know the Instructor, the course and the intended audience. There is a big difference between courses intend to be a basic familiarization course for large groups individuals who haven't had any training and courses intended for small groups of folks that shoot people for a living. Even then, there can be a difference between LE and .MIL centic classes. Round counts can also be an indicator but also ask about movement drills, range facilities and if there is classroom instruction. If you are shooting a static indoor course, hydration and nutrition become a non issue. If you are going to spend all day running between barricades in Georgia in the summer, then hydration becomes more important.
Don't be the guy that wears a plate carrier to a CCW course.
Also pick the right course for you. Civilians and LEs have different training requirements than .MIL. While it might be fun to take a "high speed" class, you might be able to get better bang for your buck taking a class from a local LE instructor who can teach you the use of force laws in your state and give you realistic training for the environment you may have to fight in.
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