Fighting Longarms Parts. 1 to 7

 These threads are part of the 14 days to be a better shooter series. There have been many many requests for the .pdf version - but since I only have dial-up - it took a large portion of my 'on-line' time to e-mail it out - so I decided to post is all here. Notice it takes 7 threads! Sorry - but I think you will agree it is worth it.

First off NONE of the information below comes from me. It was all taught to me or demonstrated to me throughout the years. I have been a serious student of this course of study for over 20 years. I do not claim to have any corner on the intellectual market with regards to firearms, techniques or tactics. What I have outlined below is what has and does work for ME. It may not work for you. I have given credit to those whom I know is the source of the information. You will notice that very little is credited to others simply because I do not know the original source. I received this information through many sources over many years in the form of hey I saw a guy do this or lets try it this way during a brainstorming session where ideas are built one small step at a time by many others. If anyone is aware of a source of any information contained herein, and I have not credited them, please contact me with that information and I will add it to the text.

EQUIPMENT (discussion)

Longarm types: Bolt Action and Self-loading

Bolt Action:
Enfield, Mauser, Springfield, Mosin, et al

1. With detachable magazine
AR, FN, HK, AK, et al

2. Without detachable magazine
M1 Garand

Use only factory or Military Issue mags
Mag-puls both factory and poor mans mag pulls

Clips (En-bloc or stripper clips)
Use only factory or Military Issue clips

Tritium Iron Sights
advantage seeing sights at night
disadvantage can give away ones position, although in my opinion the benefit outweighs the liability

Red Dot (Specifically Aimpoint and EOTech all others are just toys)
advantage EXTREMELY fast to use
disadvantage uses batteries, however, this is not that big a liability compared to the benefit.

Tritium Scopes (Trijicon Reflex sights and Meprolight equivalent)
advantage No batteries
disadvantage dot (or chevron) becomes nearly invisible in bright daylight making these inferior to the red dot scopes mentioned above

Powered, i.e. 4x or variable
advantage can enable user to see items that would not normally be seen as this type of scope brings the item closer
disadvantage usually longer, heavier, and more fragile than the red dot types. Also the powered scopes are a disadvantage at close range (where MOST action takes place)

Trijicon ACOG
advantage very rugged, low power helps with close target acquisition
disadvantage heavy, costly

Operating controls
remove any and all sharp edges with a file, emery cloth, etc. (or knife if the item is plastic)

sling swivels taped or even removed

It has been said that a sling for a rifle is like a holster for a pistol. To me this defies logic. How many of us, when we have our pistol in our hand/s, have the holster still on the pistol?? None of us. If the phrase were a lanyard for a pistol is like a sling for a rifle it would then make logical sense. My personal preference is to not have a lanyard on my pistol, and so I also prefer to not have a sling on my rifle except when needed. The only time I need a sling is when I need both hands to do something else, like rappelling/fast roping, stream/river crossing, or patting down and cuffing a bad guy. So I do carry a sling, I just don't have it on the rifle until I need it. Also, wearing a sling in CQB can be a liability. If you wish to know more information about this, just ask.
However, a great many people and professional units use slings. Almost every shooting school in the US promotes the use of slings. Slings will stop ones rifle from hitting the dirt/floor if one happens to let go of it for some reason. Slings are kind of like dummy cording ones rifle to ones body. Slings can aid in achieving a more stable shooting platform, thus enhancing the accuracy of the total system (total system = man + rifle). Although current tactical slings are not made or meant to be an aid in shooting they are only meant to be an aid in retention of a dropped rifle.
Regarding slings, they are broken down into three major categories. Those categories are; parade, target and combat. The parade sling is attached to the bottom of the rifle, and is used to hold the rifle at sling arms. This is NOT a good way to carry combat rifle. It works great on the parade deck and also on hunting arms, but has no place in the tactical arena. The second type is the target sling. It too is attached to the rifle at the bottom, and the arm is then looped through it to make the sling tight. It is great for the rifle range, but not for the battlefield. Target shooting and combat have more differences than similarities. The fighting rifle needs to be held in such a manner that it is always ready. This means the firing hand needs to be around the pistol grip. So that brings us to the third type of sling - the combat sling. The combat sling is what will discuss somewhat in detail.
There are three basic types of slings that are acceptable for lethal force type situations:

1. The Patrol sling is the first type. It is a sling that is attached to the front and rear of the rifle, arranged so the rifle hangs with the sights up and the pistol grip and magazine down, and is long enough that the rifle hangs in a horizontal attitude at about waist high.
a. The strengths of this sling method is that the rifle is hanging in a horizontal attitude, so if one falls, the muzzle will not fill up with dirt/mud.
b. It also allows a hands free method of carry, but is very fast to grab and get into a firing position.
c. It does NOT allow fast and easy transition to the off-side shoulder. This is the major concern I have with this carry method.

2. The Three Point Sling is attached to the rifle in two places, but the way the sling routes makes it seem like it is attached in three places. This is the sling most often used for CQB.
a. The strength of this slinging method is that it allows for the weapon to drop such that the muzzle is straight down. This is so that when negotiating doors, hallways and other similar choke points the rifle does not hang up on the door jam or furniture, etc.
b. The downfall with this method, particularly when used in the field, is that the muzzle DOES go straight down. This fills the muzzle with dirt with potentially life threatening results if not cleared prior to firing. How many of us want to pull out a steel cleaning rod, screw the sections together, and punch the bore when we should be shooting instead?
c. This type of sling also does not lend itself well to firing from the off-side shoulder.

3. The third type of sling is the Single Point sling. It is attached to the rear end of the receiver where it meets the butt stock.
a. The advantage of this type of sling is that it is simpler than the Three Point sling, and has less webbing to snag on things.
b. It is more efficient than the Three Point slings to use.
c. It is easily and quickly installed and removed (I like this feature!)
d. The downfall with this sling is that is also points the barrel straight down (which is bad for the field). Although the muzzle does not drop quite as far down as with the typical Three Point Sling.
e. This type of sling also does not lend itself well to firing from the off-side shoulder, unless one wears the sling around the neck only. Worn in this fashion, both shoulders can be utilized with equal speed. (This is how I wear my single point sling.)

Which type of sling one chooses should be based upon an assessment of ones anticipated mission and needs. For strictly field use, the Patrol sling or the Single Point sling could be used, and IMHO (In My Humble Opinion) the Patrol Sling being in the number 1 spot. For CQB the Three Point and Single Point could be used, with the Single Point sling being in the number 1 spot (again IMHO).

For practice, use the least expensive type that will reliably function in your rifle.

For social use, there is a plethora of information on the web regarding what is best for each caliber. Below is just one or two of the most stellar in each caliber. The following comes from AR15.com ammunition section:

M193 mil spec 55 grain ammo
Hornady 75 grain OTM
Sierra 77 grain SMK

Winchester 123 gr JSP (X76239)

Russian 7N6 (Wolf 60 grain)

7.62mmx51mm NATO (.308 Win.)
Hornady 155 grain TAP ammo
Nosler 150 grain Ballistic Tip
West German DAG 1960s ammo


I am going to take an excerpt out of Jeff Coopers Book, as he states the safety rules very succinctly.

Jeff Cooper's Rules of Gun Safety
From Pages 8-10 of The Modern Technique of the Pistol, by Greg Morrison, Gunsite Press, Paulden, Arizona, ISBN 0-9621342-3-6, Library of Congress Number 91-72644, $40

There are no exceptions. Do not pretend that this is true. Some people and organizations take this rule and weaken it; e.g. "Treat all guns as if they were loaded." Unfortunately, the "as if" compromises the directness of the statement by implying that they are unloaded, but we will treat them as though they are loaded. No good! Safety rules must be worded forcefully so that they are never treated lightly or reduced to partial compliance.
All guns are always loaded - period!
This must be your mind-set. If someone hands you a firearm and says, "Don't worry, it's not loaded," you do not dare believe him. You need not be impolite, but check it yourself. Remember, there are no accidents, only negligent acts. Check it. Do not let yourself fall prey to a situation where you might feel compelled to squeal, "I didn't know it was loaded!"

Conspicuously and continuously violated, especially with pistols, Rule II applies whether you are involved in range practice, daily carry, or examination. If the weapon is assembled and in someone's hands, it is capable of being discharged. A firearm holstered properly, lying on a table, or placed in a scabbard is of no danger to anyone. Only when handled is there a need for concern. This rule applies to fighting as well as to daily handling. If you are not willing to take a human life, do not cover a person with the muzzle. This rule also applies to your own person. Do not allow the muzzle to cover your extremities, e.g. using both hands to reholster the pistol. This practice is unsound, both procedurally and tactically. You may need a free hand for something important. Proper holster design should provide for one-handed holstering, so avoid holsters which collapse after withdrawing the pistol. (Note: It is dangerous to push the muzzle against the inside edge of the holster nearest the body to "open" it since this results in your pointing the pistol at your midsection.) Dry-practice in the home is a worthwhile habit and it will result in more deeply programmed reflexes. Most of the reflexes involved in the Modern Technique do not require that a shot be fired. Particular procedures for dry-firing in the home will be covered later. Let it suffice for now that you do not dry-fire using a "target" that you wish not to see destroyed. (Recall RULE I as well.)

Rule III is violated most anytime the uneducated person handles a firearm. Whether on TV, in the theaters, or at the range, people seem fascinated with having their finger on the trigger. Never stand or walk around with your finger on the trigger. It is unprofessional, dangerous, and, perhaps most damaging to the psyche, it is klutzy looking. Never fire a shot unless the sights are superimposed on the target and you have made a conscious decision to fire. Firing an unaligned pistol in a fight gains nothing. If you believe that the defensive pistol is only an intimidation tool - not something to be used - carry blanks, or better yet, reevaluate having one around. If you are going to launch a projectile, it had best be directed purposely. Danger abounds if you allow your finger to dawdle inside the trigger guard. As soon as the sights leave the target, the trigger-finger leaves the trigger and straightens alongside the frame. Since the hand normally prefers to work as a unit - as in grasping - separating the function of the trigger-finger from the rest of the hand takes effort. The five-finger grasp is a deeply programmed reflex. Under sufficient stress, and with the finger already placed on the trigger, an unexpected movement, misstep or surprise could result in a negligent discharge. Speed cannot be gained from such a premature placement of the trigger-finger. Bringing the sights to bear on the target, whether from the holster or the Guard Position, takes more time than that required for moving the trigger finger an inch or so to the trigger.

Know what it is, what is in line with it, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything you have not positively identified. Be aware of your surroundings, whether on the range or in a fight. Do not assume anything. Know what you are doing.

Fighting Longarms Part 2


Dry Fire
Dry fire is practice performed without live ammunition. ALL aspects of shooting can and should be practiced dry. The only difference will be that there will be no flash, recoil, cycling, ejections of spend rounds and impact of the bullet downrange. However, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger manipulation, follow-through, magazine changes, malfunction clearance drills, movement, etc., can be practiced while dry.

The FIRST thing one needs to do before starting a dry fire regimen is to decide WHERE one will dry fire. The place needs to be somewhere where live rounds are not and will never be kept, or stored. Live rounds should NEVER be in the dry fire room under ANY circumstances. This will avoid any Unintentional Discharges (UDs).

First step for dry fire practice is to COMPLETELY unload the firearm prior to entering ones dry fire room. I personally go to the extent that I field strip the weapon and carry it to my dry fire room disassembled. At a minimum I lock the bolt to the rear and look into the chamber to verify that it is indeed empty. The magazines are empty also, with the followers clearly visible. I use blaze orange plastic dummy rounds for dry practice, but they are inserted into the magazines while in my dry fire room.

The most important thing to remember regarding dry fire practice is to NEVER dry fire practice where there are live rounds available. Dry practice only when completely separated by at least one closed door from live ammunition.

Loading and unloading
With auto loaders that utilize a detachable box magazine, the feeding device is called a magazine, not a clip. Clips are used to recharge magazines, or to load into the rifle itself (like the M1 Garand). Primary Magazines will usually be kept on the weak side of the body so that the support hand can access it/them. This is important, because, if possible, we ALWAYS want our firing hand to be holding the pistol grip ready to fire, not reaching for magazines. Secondary Magazines are kept on the strong side, and are used to replenish the Primary Magazine pouches this maintains fresh magazines within quick and easy reach.
So, to load - one takes a loaded magazine in the support hand, and brings it up and into the magazine well in the rifle. One inserts the magazine all the way in until the magazine is seated. Then one slaps or hits the bottom of the magazine with an upward thrust to ensure that it is seated all the way. (Note, some magazines, most notably AK magazines, must be rocked into place, not merely thrust in like on handguns and the AR series.)
Then one grasps the actuator with the offside hand and pulls the bolt/bolt carrier all the way to the rear. Then one lets go and the spring will thrust the bolt/bolt carrier forward, stripping a round out of the magazine, and chambering it. The safety would be applied now unless firing is imminent.
To unload one pushes the magazine release button/lever, and catches the ejecting magazine or lets it fall to the ground (it is preferable to catch it, as the auto-loader works only when it has magazines that FUNCTION. If they get damaged, the auto-loader reverts to a VERY slow to load single-shot). One then either pockets the mag, or holds it between some of the fingers of the support hand. Then one racks the bolt as if one were to load the sidearm, ejecting the round that was in the chamber. Now one can visually and even tactilely verify that the rifle is unloaded.

Magazine Changes
The magazine can be changed in one of two ways, and situation will dictate which of those two ways makes sense.

The first method is the speed load. This occurs when one has shot ones rifle dry and is in need of an immediate reload, and there is not enough time to retain the spent magazine. Once one has visually verified that the rifle is indeed empty and at bolt lock (the bolt is automatically locked to the rear when the magazine is empty), or if one is shooting a rifle (AK/HK) that does not have a bolt hold open feature one knows one is out of ammunition when one hears a click after pulling the trigger instead of a bang - the following procedure needs to be put into action.
Once the eyes have seen what they need to see (bolt lock, not a malfunction or click instead of bang) the eyes go BACK ON THE THREAT. The rest of the speed load should be done (and practiced) blind, i.e. eyes on threat, not on magazines, magazines well, or rifle.

These next two actions take place simultaneously. The support hand begins movement to the spare magazine. The firing hand trigger finger pushes the magazine catch button to eject the spent magazine (or on some weapons, the support hand will actuate the magazine catch lever to dispense the spent magazine). The rifle may be rotated inward toward the body slightly also, as this allows one to see the magazine well with ones peripheral vision WITHOUT actually looking at it. The magazine is then dropped.
Once the support has reached and grabbed a fresh magazine, it then goes to the magazine well. The support hand firmly seats the magazine, and an extra slap is given to ensure it is seated. Then the support gives a tug on the magazine as an extra measure (this tug will pull the magazine out of the well if the magazine is NOT seated.)
Now the bolt can be released by manipulating the bolt stop lever if the rifle has one, or the bolt must be pulled back fully and released to chamber a round if it is lacking a bolt hold open.

The other method of changing magazines is what I call the retention magazine re-load. This is for when there is time enough to retain the spent magazine. This method is the PREFERRED all around method. One should retain ones magazines as often as is possible, as resupply may not be for some time to come, if ever. The self-loader works very well when it has magazines to feed it. It is VERY slow to load if one doesn't have magazines. By dropping mags, one runs the risk of turning ones self-loader into a SLOW manual loader. So the moral is RETAIN MAGAZINES. One should spend 90% of ones magazine changing practice time retaining mags, and 10% of the allotted time dropping mags.

So to change magazines while retaining them, there are two ways to do it. The first is for the support hand to catch the magazine as it is being ejected, then put it in a pocket/empty mag pouch. (Spent/partially spent mags should NEVER be put back in the magazine carrier as in the thick of it one may grab that mag that only has two rounds in it THINKING that it is full. This could have disastrous results if one needs more than two rounds.) Then one grabs a fresh magazine and seats it. Then one pulls back slightly on the bolt to ensure that there is indeed a round in the chamber, and if not, the bolt is brought all the way to rear and released (or the bolt release is actuated).
Alternatively, one grabs the fresh magazine first, and then one would catch the partially full magazine as it is ejected from the rifle, in between the fourth and fifth fingers of the support hand. (The fresh magazine is being held with the thumb, first and second fingers.) Then the fresh magazine is seated, slapped, and THEN the partially empty mag is pocketed. Now one pulls back slightly on the bolt to ensure that the sidearm is has a round in the chamber and is ready to fire, and if not it is made ready. This method is the LEAST reliable, as can be seen when practiced when it is dark, wet, muddy, etc. The operator usually fumbles the mag and ends up dropping the fresh magazine into the mud. This just complicated the reloading phase by orders of magnitude. I DO NOT use this method. I only use the first method described. However, you may want to practice both and make up your own mind. Additionally, if one uses Magpuls?, they can make it so that one does not fumble the mags, and if they are fumbled, the Magpul? can aid in holding onto the mag before it is lost in the snow/mud. The downside is that many mag pouches are not Magpul? friendly.

Malfunction Clearance Drills
The first type of malfunction is the result of a poorly seated magazine. The mag wasn't high enough for the bolt to strip a round from the mag to push into the chamber. The remedy for a type 1 malfunction is called a Tap, Rack, Bang manipulation. One taps (slaps or hits) the bottom of the magazine with the support hand to ensure it is seated properly. Then one racks the bolt to rear and releases it. The last step - one bangs (or fires the round).

The next malfunction clearance drill is the type 2, or failure to eject. This is also sometimes referred as to as the stovepipe drill. The remediation for this malfunction is to grab the bolt actuator with the support hand and while pulling the bolt all the way to the rear, the rifle is simultaneously flipped to over on its side to help the round fall clear of the ejection port. Then the bolt is released, chambering a live round.

The third type of malfunction is the type 3 or the feedway stoppage drill. This is when there is more than one round trying to enter the chamber. This is usually caused by failure to extract a fired cartridge from the chamber. Then the new round rams into the stuck case, causing a stoppage. The first step for this is to lock the bolt back to the rear (if your weapon type lacks a bolt hold open go the next step). Then one releases the magazine from the mag well. (The magazine may have to manually pulled out of the mag well.) This magazine is then discarded, or put in a pocket depending upon time limitations. The bolt is then racked fore and aft a few times. Then a fresh magazine is inserted into the mag well, the bolt brought to the rear and released. One is now ready to fire.

The Grip (holding the long gun)
Grab the long arm with the strong or master hand at the pistol grip (or the small area of the buttstock if it is lacking a pistol grip). Be sure to hold the handle up as high as possible. This will prevent shifting during firing. The elbow is down at least at a 45 degree angle or even pressed against ones ribcage is even more preferable. We DON'T want the typical target shooting stance of arm/elbow parallel to the ground. That just creates a target for someone to shoot as they will see your elbow sticking out before they see you as you round a corner, tree, bush, rock, etc.
The support hand should be contacting the front handguard (or front pistol grip ala the M4) or even the magazine/magazine well. The support hand elbow is also bent with the elbow pointing straight down.

BOTH hands have a grip on the rifle (in target shooting, the support hand merely cradles the fore end) with the arms pressing inward. This offers vastly greater control and faster shot to shot times.

The Foundation (Body stance)
Feet should be around shoulder width apart, with knees slightly bent to allow ones center of gravity to be just a little bit more forward than when . Upper torso is bent slightly forward, with the bend at the bottom of the ribcage NOT the hips. Whether or not one foot is slightly in front of the other (and which foot that is) really is of no relevance. This is graphically illustrated when we start shooting on the move.
The head should be erect not tilted or turned. By being erect it provides the best vision, balance and tactical awareness than if otherwise.
The shoulders will be somewhere between the natural or square stance and the bladed or boxer stance. This is dependant upon the length of pull (the distance from the trigger to the end of the buttstock), the amount of body armor/lbv/lbe being worn, weather conditions (if it is cold, winter clothing is more bulky or if is hot, few layers of clothing will be present), body shape, etc. However easier, faster movement will occur if ones shoulders are as close to how they are when one normally runs/walks. This is why most real operators have the stock collapsed or open to the first stop on their M4s. This keeps the LOP shorter and is more conducive to keeping ones body square to the target, thus making it easier to move more naturally. If ones LOP is long, then one must be more angled and this makes it harder to move forward naturally.
Both arms are bent, with elbows down. Both hands are pulling the rifle back into the shoulder firmly, but not with a death grip.
The butt stock is usually quite high on the body, and is in the vicinity of the collarbone. This allows one to keep ones head erect. (If one puts the butt stock down in the pocket like a target shooter, one has to drop or lean ones head over to look through the scope/sights which is not desirable.) Also by keeping the rifle near the centerline of the body (not out on the shoulder), recoil management is greatly enhanced, as is movement. This also facilitates ones ability to look through the sights/scope with ones head erect, not bent over or canted.

Practice this stance under a variety of circumstances (low-light, with body armor, w/o body armor, when tired, awake, cold, hot, etc.) INCLUDING force on force training *(paintballs, air-soft or simunitions). In your mind, think of driving or flying the rifle onto the target. Smooth movements, not jerky corrections are what will enable hits on the move.
One should practice shooting with both eyes open. This will allow much more peripheral vision than if one shoots with just one eye. This promotes situational awareness and will help allow one the opportunity to bring the right tactics into play at the right time, because one will not be blind on one side. If one needs to make a shot that will take out the eye of a knat at 50 paces one may have to close one eye, but for fast and dirty combat distance shooting, two eyes are much preferable. (Four eyes are even better! So hook up with a partner.)
Follow through is essential to good shot placement. Follow through is when one keeps ones focus on the front sight (or dot, etc.) during the recoil phase, and continues this focus while the sights comes back on target. As one watches the front sight come back on target, one can also see the target downrange. If the target is still standing, further shots may be required. Since one is all ready to go (sight alignment and sight picture are acceptable) one need only to press the trigger to the rear to deliver additional shots.
The following photographs will help illustrate the point made above.

Note that elbows are down, head is erect, body slightly forward, knees bent, both hands gripping, and if one could see it in the picture, both eyes are open. Even the guy to the right is gripping with only his finger and thumb on the magazine well (he lacks a fore grip). Although one might as well use all the fingers of the hand to grip instead of just two.

Note that elbows are down, both hand gripping, knees bent, head is erect, torso is bent slightly forward at the bottom of the rib cage and butt stock is high in the collar bone area.

Note the buttstock is high in the collar bone area, also his firing thumb is on the selector (safety), head is erect, elbow is down.

The Marine in the center is using RANGE SHOOTING technique. Note that is head is BENT, that his elbow is stuck out, buttstock down in the pocket instead of up higher and he is standing straight? WRONG PLACE for range shooting technique! Note the two on the left, elbows down, head erect, upper torso slightly bent forward at bottom of rib cage. All three Marines are ready to shoot, but only two are ready to shoot and move. These two listened.

Fighting Longarms Part 3

Shooting Platforms (different positions)
There are a variety of ways to shoot a firearm. We will touch on a few of the more popular ones.
Standing is described above. Body square to target. This position offers the most mobility, which is the advantage. The disadvantage is if one slows down or even stops, this position offers the best target for ones enemy. So if one needs to stop, one NEEDS to do one of the following.

Squatting or Crouching is the next position. It is used when one has cover available that is too high to kneel behind. It is VERY fast to assume and get out of.

Fighting Longarms Part 4

Kneeling is done with either one or both knees on the ground, depending upon the situation.

Rice Paddy Prone is an effective position, is quick to assume and get out of, as it is merely deeper squatting position.

Fighting Longarms Part 5

Modified Prone is a fast to get into prone position that offers good firearm presentation almost all the time. It is also very fast to get out of. (This position is achieved by getting into a kneeling position, straightening the off side leg, then sitting back on the foot, and bending the upper body down nearly to the ground. With practice it can be assumed and then gotten out of VERY fast.)

This first pic is modified 'high' prone.

This second pic is modified 'low' prone.

With practice this position can be assumed from the standing position all in one motion. One merely drops right into the Modified Prone. This has obvious advantages in Close Quarters Fighting/Battle. If one were walking down a hallway and a bad guy jumps into the hallway from a room or from around a corner, one can fall right into a Modified Prone and deliver accurate shots while becoming a VERY small target. If the bad guy has a weapon raised to the firing position, by dropping down into a Modified Prone one is out-of-sight and the bad guy must re-acquire you, in which time, you have already delivered multiple rounds on target.

To get out of the 'Modified Prone' simply pull the 'off-side leg' up to get the foot under you, and then lean the upper body over the off-side leg and stand up.

Shooting On The Move
One of the most important aspects of shooting on the move is to be fluid in ones movement. ANY jerky movement will cause shots to be missed. Missed shots are bad. THEY WILL HAPPEN, but they are bad, and are to be avoided if possible. Fluid movement helps to minimize jerky movements. Moving SLOWLY makes fluid movement. Moving quickly makes jerky movements. The more one practices SLOWLY the more quickly one can move smoothly. The more one practices quickly, the more jerky ones movements become. Repeat this mantra SLOW IS SMOOTH, SMOOTH IS FAST.
While moving, some find it helpful to visualize the way an M1 Abrams tank operates. While moving cross-country, the bogie wheels, suspension and track are taking up most of the shock of movement. The barrel is steady and on target, even though the rest of the tank is not.
This is the same type of movement we want to mimic with our body. The feet, ankles, knees, hips, lower and upper torso, shoulder and elbows will try and take up all the shock of movement. The eyes and the sights should be steady and on target, even though the rest of the body is not.
The first step is to take a Styrofoam cup filled to the top with hot water, hold it with both hands in your firing stance and walk around pretending the cup of water is a firearm. You will find that if you keep your legs bent at all times while walking and the individual foot movement is heel to toe, that you will likely keep more water in the cup. Try different speeds. You will notice the slower the movement, the more water stays in the cup. The faster the movement the less water stays in the cup. However, one will find a speed that allows for quite quick movement, but also is steady enough to retain most of the water in the cup. This is your combat speed. (Note that ones combat speed is highly dependant upon the terrain too. Uncluttered floors and flat ground will allow faster/more even movement than cluttered floors/uneven ground.) Remember RELAX. If you are all tense you will spill more water. The more water that stays in the cup, the more hits you will get while on the move.
If ones upper body is closer to a 45 degree angle from the target (because of length of pull issues or other reasons) then one may have to do the following: Move one foot forward about 18 and then the trailing foot moves up until it touches the heel of the forward foot. This method of movement is slower, however it does offer an advantage to those that shoot with a more steeply bladed stance. It also can be useful in very cluttered areas or very uneven terrain as it lessens the chance of tripping.
Do this drill moving forward, backward, sideways, laterally, obliquely (at angles), up, down, at night, etc, etc, etc.
Now transition to dry fire practice with the long arm. Practice movement (with a TRIPLE VERIFIED UNLOADED RIFLE) and watch the sights. Start with forward movement, walking slowly. Aim at a paper plate taped to a wall and dry fire at the paper plate. Pick up the pace and see how you do. Perform the same movements as were done with the cup of water (forward, backward, sideways, laterally, obliquely (at angles), at night, etc, etc, etc.). Then move on to live fire practice.

Tactics are how each of the above are employed to give the firer (you) the best chance of winning a deadly force encounter.
Regarding offensive operations, a good quote to memorize regarding tactics is this:

Fire without movement is indecisive. Exposed movement without fire is disastrous. There must be effective fire combined with skilful movement.
George C. Marshall, Infantry in Battle

Fire without movement is indecisive. If one stays put in a combat situation, PARTICULARLY if one does not enjoy artillery or close air support on-call, one will die, no matter how much fire one is pouring out. The outcomes of battles are decided by which unit outmaneuvers, or outflanks the other. If fire superiority is essential for movement, movement is essential for winning the conflict.

Exposed movement without fire is disastrous. Movement MUST be done while the non-moving unit applies covering fire. (The non-moving unit may be as small in numbers as your buddy to a complete company of men.)

There must be effective fire combined with skilful movement. Effective fire is that fire which is accurate and heavy (volume) enough, such that the enemy keeps their heads down for a sufficient duration of time in order that the moving unit can outflank the enemy unit. (Again, these units of which we speak can be as small as two guys or as large as infantry companies.)
Now, how do the above axioms relate to the lawful use of firearms by citizens? Good question. Here is the short answer.

Maneuvers that are possible and dispositions that are essential are indelibly written on the ground. Badly off, indeed, is the leader who is unable to read this writing. His lot must inevitably be one of blunder, defeat, and disaster.
George C. Marshall, Infantry in Battle

The long answer goes something like this:

Cover do not crowd cover. Which is to say stay back away from cover a distance. At least an arms length. If one crowds cover, one loses situational awareness. Example: When most people use cars for cover, the get right up and touch the car, sometimes sitting there with their backs against the car. They cannot see hardly ANYTHING that is going on. It is better to stay back away from the car at least an arms length, with the engine block and tire in front of you. Then one can look over the hood, and yet can also be aware if the bad guys are trying to come around the side of the car in a flanking maneuver. (The infamous Miami shoot-out between the FBI and two perps is a graphic example of the good guys crowding cover, and the bad guy flanking them and killing them.)
Same with walls and corners. Do NOT slide down the wall with your back or shoulder. Stay back away from walls and corners. Same with trees and rocks. Maintain some distance to allow situational awareness of the surrounding areas. Remember, while you are behind cover trying to figure out where to move to next, the bad guys are doing the same!! And they may move before you do, so be aware of that and don't let them flank you! And they will flank you if you cannot see them. So? DON'T CROWD COVER.
The next little axiom of tactics is to practice using both hands/shoulders. This is true of handguns, submachine guns, rifles/carbines and shotguns. Be an ambidextrous shooter. That way one can utilize left side cover just as well as right side cover. The shooter that can only shoot right handed is handicapped indeed if he comes up on left side cover (or left side corner).
Be aware of things vertical. In other words, one must force oneself to look not only straight ahead, left, right and behind, but one must also look UP. This is especially true of an urban environment.
Once one is fired upon the first course of action is to return fire. While one is returning fire one should be running for cover. It does not have to be accurate only close, with the rate of fire sufficient for the enemy to be concerned. This will buy you and your mates precious seconds to get to cover. DO NOT GO TO GROUND IN A KILL ZONE. Movement will save your life.
While moving and shooting, it is imperative that communication is utilized between team members, and between teams. Each team member must know what is going on at all times. This way the goals and sub-goals of the teams will be met, even when casualties are mounting. If ones team members do not know what is going on, when casualties mount, movement stops. When movement stops, death follows. So, COMMUNICATE.
By reading the above, it should be clear where the phrase shoot, move, communicate came from. And that is really what it all boils down to. If one is not moving, one should be shooting. And, one should be communicating during both activities. Communicating does NOT necessarily mean talking. It can be listening, passing hand and arm signals, or signaling using some other device (a smoke grenade used as a signaling device is communication.)

The ONLY way for any of the above to be ingrained into ones actions is to do them in the field. One cannot read the above and have it sink in. One must DO all of the above, in as many varied situations as one can. And one must do it with a team-mate (hopefully that has some experience) in order to point out when one is crowding cover, or should be moving instead of staying, or?? do you get the picture?
Force on force training is an EXCELLENT way to do the above. The hit from a paintball gun gives the user IMMEDIATE feedback that one screwed up. Just be mindful of the limitations of paintball guns, and the paintballs themselves (i.e. most things in life and nature are cover to paintballs but only concealment to live rounds. So when using paintballs, be aware that bushes that stop paintballs probably will NOT stop live rounds. Same with couches, walls, doors, etc. in an urban set-up. These will stop paintballs but not live rounds.) So paintballing should be used in the proper context and not abused to the point where it is counter productive.
An effective way of using paintball/air-soft for training is to build a floor plan layout with cardboard or butcher paper. Make all of the mock couches/chairs/TV/refrigerators/walls/doors etc. out of cardboard or butcher paper (using a 2x4 frame). Paintball and air-soft can penetrate these, and then everyone will KNOW that these items are CONCEALMENT only!

The bottom line to all of this is to PRACTICE.

And remember only PERFECT practice makes perfect performance.

Now you are ready to move on the 14 days to be a better shooter thread!

Fighting Longarms Part 6

Target Shooting versus Fighting with a firearm

Hopefully, you the reader will be able to understand the principles that I am about to explain. If you fail to understand, the problem is on my end, by failing to present this information to you in a way that is easily understandable.

I have written this as a result of doing some informal training with some people in my area. This is actually a primer for them to read before we actually start the training process.

So, here it is.

Most of us have been taught to shoot using target shooting methods as opposed to fighting shooting methods. In reality, the two are as similar as stock car racing and driving to work. The only REAL similarities are that the vehicles both have 4 tires, a steering wheel, an engine and seat belts. However, the similarities pretty much end there.

With Stock Car racing, the tracks are of known length, width and condition. The driver may go and walk the track if he desires. His equipment is specialized, made specifically for driving on these known tracks. His competitors are of similar skill level, know the rules and abide by them (for the most part).

Target shooting is also very specialized. The shots are made at known distances. One is not under any serious time constraints. The equipment is specialized, with target triggers, target sights, target stocks, target barrels, shooting slings, shooting jackets, etc. If ones weapon malfunctions, an alibi is declared, allowing the competitor to re-shoot that portion of the course. There are MANY rules that must be adhered to in the spirit of sportsmanship and fairness.

However, if one tries to take these target rifles and these techniques into the combat or fighting arena, one quickly discovers that this is the WRONG tool for the job. (The target guns are unnecessarily heavy, the components can be fragile, the target slings useless, the shooting jacket too restrictive, the rules can get you killed, blah blah blah)

In target shooting, there is NO movement. All shots are fired to a target that is a known distance. One studies the effect of wind by range flags and observing the mirage effect.

The target stance is characterized by having the body perpendicular to the target. The feet are shoulder width apart and pointing in the same direction as the upper body (at 90 degrees to the target), the body is totally relaxed, the breathing controlled and slow, the firing arm/elbow stuck out at 90 degrees to create a nice pocket for the stock, the support hand forms a cradle for the front of the weapon, the rearward pull of the weapon into the shoulder is accomplished with the middle, fourth and fifth fingers of the firing hand. For this stance, one needs the longer length of pull as characterized by the M16-A2 stock. (Length of pull is the distance from the trigger to the rear of the butt stock. With the A2 and most target rifles this distance is 13.5) Look at the next picture for an example of a Target Stance.

Fighting or combat is altogether different. Movement is the key to success. Shoot. Move. Communicate. Also shootmovecommunicate (at the same time). The targets shoot back. There really are no rules. Alibis do not exist. It is OK to shoot someone while they are in the middle of mag change and no one will prosecute you for fighting unfair. One couldn't care less about wind and drift. One is not concerned with getting an absolutely perfect sight picture, coupled with flawless sight alignment, followed up with stellar trigger control. One only wants to get hits on target! Center of mass is preferable, but ANY hit is GREAT! Follow up with more hits if necessary.

The fighting stance and the target stance have nothing in common. First off, while in the fighting stance the upper body is NO MORE than 45 degrees to the target, with less being better. How many of us when we run or move quickly do so with our upper torso at 45 to 90 degrees??? Nobody! If combat shooting is not about moving, then your idea of combat is severely mistaken. So, one should ideally have ones upper torso facing the threat allowing one to move (run) and still keep the weapon trained on the threat.

The elbows should be down; BOTH hands are gripping the weapon (not a death grip but a controlled grip like when gripping a hammer.) and the upper body in a relaxed but alert state. (This allows for fluid movement movement that is SMOOTH not jerky.)

Some folks poo-pah the front handgrip of the M4 RAS type arrangement. Most of this poo-pahing comes from ignorance. These people, in almost every case, form their comments from target shooting and they are right. For strictly target shooting, where the support hand does not grip the weapon, but merely cradles it, the front handgrip is utterly worthless. BUT, we are talking about a fighting instrument here, NOT a target piece, and under those conditions, the front handgrip is VERY useful.

The feet are facing the target, with a slight amount of turn or blading being acceptable. However, keep in mind that it really doesn't matter what the feet are doing as one should not be standing still anyway. One should be MOVING.

The legs are flexed or slightly bent, so as to allow one to move quickly, and to act as shock absorbers while moving. If you find you are skipping, hopping or crabbing with your legs instead of or running naturally, then your upper body is angled too far away from the target. Square your shoulders to the target more (so your shoulders are more parallel with the target) until your foot work is more natural and straight. You want to walk or run as you would if you did not have a weapon in your hands, or as close to it as possible.

The upper torso is also leaning forward at the bottom of the rib cage (not the hips) to afford easy movement, and to somewhat negate the recoil forces of the weapon as it discharges.

A shorter length of pull with regards to the butt stock make it much easier to assume and keep the fighting position. The collapsible stock on the CAR-15/M4 series all the way closed (9.7 LOP) or open to the first stop (10.6 LOP) seem to work best for most people.

The butt stock it placed more in the collarbone area than out on the shoulder. This allows one to see the red dot/front sight without have to kant ones head over and down to see the sight's). In other words, keep your head erect, without any weird head movements.

With handguns, the stance is the same, but one is merely cradling the weapon in two hands. The Weaver crowd will have a little more difficult time utilizing movement because of the angled or bladed shoulders, which is part of the Weaver method. Most people find it un-natural to walk straight ahead when ones shoulders are pointed in another direction. It just takes some extra practice. The modern freestyle (some would call it the isosceles stance but it really isn't that either as there is no isometric pushing together, blah blah.) is the ticket, as the shoulders are already pointed straight ahead. The weapon is supported out in space with both hands and the arms are semi-relaxed. (Some folks have their arms at full extension, and some don't. Whatever feels the best to the shooter and gives them the best hits is what counts.)
Here is the Weaver (actually the Chapman Modified Weaver, as the gunhand elbow is straight. The strictly Weaver stance has the gunhand elbow slightly bent but the principle is the same a push/pull effect):

Fighting Longarms 7

Here is the Iso: With both the short (handgun) and long (rifle/carbine/smg/shotgun) guns one actually drives or flies the weapon on target. This may sound juvenile but it works. Pretend that the weapon actually flies and you are just directing the flight. You are not muscling the weapon around, but just doing course corrections. The weapon then moves SMOOTHLY, and the front sight/red dot just finds the spot that your master eye has recognized as a threat. During firing, let the weapon recoil on its own, and it will settle down right back on target MUCH faster than if one were trying to control the recoil. Try it yourself. Shoot at a target and TRY to control the recoil. Notice even IF the front sight comes back to where it should, and how long it takes. Then relax your hold on the piece, and let the weapon recoil on its own. The front sight will magically drop right back on target much faster. So: 1. Face the threat in a semi-aggressive forward facing stance. 2. Elbows down (when using a long) or arms extended (not necessarily all the way out and locked, my arms are slightly bent) and semi-relaxed if using a short. 3. Head straight up (no leaning over to the right or left) 4. Fly the gun. Practice by walking around the house with a Styrofoam cup full of hot (not scalding) water. Try out different methods of walking (shorter steps, longer steps, heel to toe, toe to heel, arms locked out, arms slightly flexed, etc.) This will show any shortcoming quickly as the spilt hot water will makes errors known. Then try your newfound stance with your DRY weapon. Then after some dry time, try it live at your next range session. Try and video yourself so you can critique your movements, or have a buddy watch you and tell you what you are doing wrong. (Then switch so there is pay backs then you can keep your friendship intact!) Remember, only PERFECT practice makes PERFECT.

cheers tire iron