Thursday, June 03, 2010

Training Day

It was 90 degrees in the shade today, and there was no shade at all on the range where I go to train.

I had the place to myself this morning, so that meant that I got to set up a real nice multi-position shooting course to run through. I put several 5-gallon pail targets downrange at various distances, from 10 meters to 90 meters (sadly, that's all the room there is here) and parked my truck perpendicular to the targets midway between a large rock on one side and an orange and white ex-construction barrel on the other side. A bit forward of this line--between the truck and the barrel--was a smaller dirt berm. Downrange of the barrel there was the remains of an old table that I put several empty drink cans on. They'd be my final targets. Then I set about to practice my cover and transition drills with the Uzi submachine gun, Remington 870 shotgun and H&K P7M13 pistol.

The drill ran as follows:

1. Starting from a seated position in the truck, exit the truck and engage two of the targets with the primary weapon (Uzi or shotgun).
2. Run to the rock. Taking cover behind the rock, engage two targets from there.
3. Run back to the truck. Kneel behind the tire and fire around the front bumper. Engage two targets.
4. Run to rear of truck and use it for cover while engaging two more target pails.
5. Run forward to the berm and go prone behind it. Roll out and engage any two visible targets left.
6. Get up, run back to the barrel, and drop the Uzi (it's on a sling) or set down the shotgun (it doesn't have a sling) and transition to the pistol. Using the barrel as cover, clear the table of the cans.
7. Reload as necessary during the run, but without stopping. If the primary weapon jams or goes completely empty before getting to the barrel, transition to the pistol and finish the course.

Sounds easy, right?


Anyone can just stand and shoot static targets like drink cans, but when your heart rate is up and your chest is pounding, you're out of breath, and the sweat is just flowing down your face and into your eyes, hitting those same little cans can be a vexing exercise, indeed. Add in the heat and the rough terrain, and've got reality staring back at you. And that's the idea; real-life gunfights don't take place on 15-meter indoor pistol ranges.

I ran this course eight times--three times with the Uzi, four times with the shotgun, and once with an M1 carbine. I stumbled once while running with the Uzi and fell on top of it, and I'm extremely grateful that Uziel Gal put a grip safety on that thing as the muzzle nailed me hard in my ribs when I hit the ground. (This is why we don't run with our fingers on the triggers, people.) But I got right back up again and finished the course.

With the Uzi and the carbine, there was just one mag change required midway through each run, but with the shotgun, I had to constantly strip rounds from the sidesaddle and stock tubes to top off the gun or feed through the ejection port as I ran. That's an essential fighting shotgun skill that few people practice adequately.

During the four shotgun runs, I fired 65 rounds of buckshot and slugs, and when I finished the last run, I actually burned my hand on the barrel, it was so hot. But those 870s, like the Uzis, just keep going.

Only twice out of the seven runs was I able to clean all of the cans off of the last stage with one shot per can. Every other times, I was shaking and muffed one or more. But that's why we train--to get faster, smoother and better.

When I finished, I went down to check out of the range. The desk staff was shocked to see that I was soaking wet and covered with sand. "What were you doing out there?" they asked.

My prosthetist asked the same question half an hour later when I showed up in his office for another "emergency" repair. Once again, I'd torn through the neoprene sleeve holding my leg in place by repeatedly kneeling and going prone on it. And once again, I was reminded that my leg wasn't designed for this sort of abuse. But until they come out with one that is, I guess I'll keep tearing this one up. Screw it--that's why I have insurance and plenty of spare sleeves and other parts for it at home. But for now, I guess that I probably should go out and try to find some knee pads that'll fit over it.

Oh well...other than a burned hand, a few cuts and scrapes, and some bruising in my ribs, I'm feeling great. Confidence is high.

So what'd you do today to make yourself a better you?

My lifesaving tools.


  1. Hey, ya'll, this dude is really runnin' and gunnin'. Very impressive!

    (Anyone see where I put my beer?)

  2. But seriously, I watched a Maricopa county officer doing a similar (but easier) course here in Arizona once. And after watching his performance, I was very glad to be on the same side as him.

    Baddies beware!

  3. I wish I could run that course too, but I'm limited at all the ranges I shoot at to static shooting, unless I'm taking a course.