Category Archives: military

AR Basics: Shooting Positions – American Rifleman

AR Basics: Shooting Positions – American Rifleman.

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Magpul “Action Sport”

Magpul PTS Dynamic Action Sport from john lawrence on Vimeo.

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.

two man drills, good stuff or misunderstood?

I have seen, practiced and even operationally utilized some two man movement techniques similar to these but they sometimes left me thinking about the wisdom of them.

I can see the utility in “nuts to butts drills” when used doing building clearing and other situations where you need to maneuver in tight quarters and keep a 360 deg security. Similarly I can see their advantages as immediate reaction drills where you make contact while in a stack or while approaching a scene/suspect with a partner close by.

However, once the bullets start flying I can’t see an advantage in standing close together and slugging it out. One, you present a big target and two, you fail to present the opponent with the attention dividing distraction two people can present. I would think that it would be better to split up and find cover that would allow you to mutually support each other with fire.

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Occam’s Razor for shooters….

The Ockraz Logo
The Ockraz Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

I have a post here regarding this very issue BTW.

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.”

and

“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?

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lets see if this gets hearts racing

Anyone into LE/MIL training has heard of the book “Sharpening the Warriors Edge“. The core of the book is focused on the proposition that the human heart rate is a factor in combative performance under stress and that as the heart rate increases a person will loose motor function and other skills.

This book and author were picked up by Ltc David Grossman, who you all know, and this heart rate chart was propagated throughout MIL/LEcircles as proven science.

I have always been skeptical of the whole “heart rate chart” thing and how the TAC/LE community seems to have swallowed it without any sort of verification or peer review.

I don’t believe that HR in and of itself causes any significant motor loss.  I remember doing drills in SWAT school where I had to run in full gear and assemble a pistol while competing head to head. Since it wasn’t life or death it wasn’t exceedingly difficult. If anything, it would have been the mental stress of competition that caused any motor skill degradation. Conversely I’ve had some “oh shit” moments that left my hands shaking…Imo its adrenalin and mental factors that are whats in play here not HR at all. Saying heart rate is the cause is like saying that dilated pupils cause nodding out…not heroin in the bloodstream. Heart rate may be somewhat of an indicator of hormonal changes in the body but I see no proof that those indicators prove to be universal between all persons.

I note that in more recent versions of the HR chart it stipulates “HORMONAL Induced Heart Rate”. I don’t know if Siddle has altered his approach or if these charts are from a source other than Siddle, but when it first came out it seemed implied that heart rate ALONE was the factor and that’s how many LE/MIL/TAC trainers were regurgitating it to their students.

All the same I don’t know that HR should be used as a metric at all. I would think that people would have different symptoms at different heart rates under adrenaline/hormonal influences. Just because I may loose motor skills when scared at around 155 BPM doesn’t mean you are going to lose them at the same rate.

I wonder where these numbers came from…and so do others. That’s the core of the criticism as I see it.

Some other LE/MIL folks didn’t bite either. Hock Hochheim posted the following.

http://www.hockscqc.com/blogs/08-13/index.htm

Go to the bottom…August 1st post.

Of particular interest to this discussion from Hocks post is:

The professional look of the chart and its matter-of-fact presentation suggests some very serious, study work has been done. But by whom? The actual source is somewhat elusive these days. The source is usually just regurgitated as “Bruce Siddle’s work on,” or the “work of Bruce Siddle,” over and over again, as through Siddle himself was a renown heart surgeon or maybe a Distinguished Fellow, doctor at Houston’s Debakey Heart Center. Does anyone ask, just who this Siddle really is? Actually, Siddle has not graduated a college and has no psychology or medical degree or experience. He is essentially a self-proclaimed, martial arts grandmaster of his own style ” Fist of Dharma,” from a small, Illinois town. He had an idea at a very ripe time decades ago, to teach very non-violent, police courses. Many police administrations loved the programs because of the pressure-point approach. Many, many officers, including myself, did not like the program.

Siddle is also the guy behind the Pressure Point Control Tactics (PPCT) System that was so popular in LE circles for a while.

Its interesting how a self-proclaimed grandmaster can found a widely LE accepted DT system, leverage what many are now believing to be a mistaken idea into notoriety, and even get ownership of a handgun manufacturing outfit (with Grossman once again). The snake eating tail aspect of tactical experts endorsing/spouting each others work serves to ingrain concepts into our training and operations…some are good, but others we really should be taking a closer look at.

Grossman also used to hitch his training wagon to John Giduck who also is having some credibility issues of late.

This all goes to show the power of “getting an in” with LE and MIL circles. I don’t want to come off as “bashing” any of these authors but we in the LE/MIL communities seem to be having a “flavor of the day” issue with people and concepts. I think a dose of skepticism would serve us better than hero worship of authors and trainers we haven’t seriously investigated or vetted.

Do any of my readers have any additional information or expertise on this subject?

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when things go sideways

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:

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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:

Tragif

Tragif2

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So…your weapons sighting system is designed so that the barrel angles upwards in relation to your line of sight.

g4942

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.

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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:

g4942

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:

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Seen from the side the bullets drop would look more like this:

text3786-4-2-1

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):

path3867-4-5-0

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”.

g5740

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.

g5740

From 75 to about 150 hold high and to the magazine side around the targets pectoral.

g5740

From 150 to 200 hold high and to the magazine side on the targets shoulder

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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.

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police militarization

Police machine gun
Police machine gun (Photo credit: amphalon)

The Radley Balko book “Rise of the Warrior Cop” has been making a lot of media hay lately and I have discussed the subject in various discussion forums. To paraphrase those discussions I have the following to say on the subject.

I agree that 10 man departments forming SWAT teams is a problem, but I also think Balko is going in with an agenda, cherry picking data and exhibiting a little confirmation bias.

My opinion…it’s not gear that “militarizes” police. Its their actions with or without the gear. If I kick down your door and storm your house in street clothes pointing a revolver it’s not legally different than if Im wearing a helmet and carrying a subgun. The overkill stories being bandied about are ALL about police leadership decision making. The trappings and vehicles are just a diversion from the fact that storming an office building for wood importation records would be overkill if it was done by uniformed patrolmen.

If anyone is truly interested in the roots of PD’s “gearing up” I think they need to look into the after action analysis of the Mumbai attack. That attack (in conjunction with domestic mass shootings) plays a LARGE role in US police forces trying to prepare themselves to deal with such situations. I sat through a number of regional meetings on it. As the Bank of America incident illustrated: Two domestic bank robbers outgunned cops with nothing but pistols and shotguns. What would 4 dedicated attackers with AK’s be able to do in your Town/City with officers restricted to Barney Fife equipment?

This is not to say that cops should be walking the streets CARRYING rifles..and they really don’t, they are just kept in cars in case of need…or doing routine patrol in Bearcats. But we need to balance preparedness with departmental policies of use. Which is the REAL issue here IMO….

I have seen pictures of turn of the century (1918 etc) cops with motorcycle mounted machine guns and 1940’s cops with armored vehicles. I don’t think this trend is unprecedented, or that having the gear is necessarily wrong. But if we cant use it correctly then someone will have to set policy limits on its use.

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what is the spirit of the bayonet?

Retired Col. Lewis L. Millett wears his Medal ...
Retired Col. Lewis L. Millett wears his Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and other medals earned in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He served as honorary colonel of the 27th Infantry Regiment Association and was active in veterans events almost to his death Nov. 14. See more at http://www.army.mil Hero who led last major U.S. bayonet charge dies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was surfing round the net and discovered the wiki for Col. Lewis Millet. And like many from his generation, his life story is something to read.

Lewis Lee Millett, Sr.(December 15, 1920 – November 14, 2009) was a United States Army officer who received the Medal of Honor during the Korean War for leading the last major American bayonet charge.

He enlisted into the National Guard while still in high school and then in 1940 joined the United States Army Air Corps. When he thought that the United States would not participate in World War II he deserted and went to Canada with a friend where they joined the military and were sent to London. The U.S. did enter the war and by the time he made it to Europe they were in the fight so he transferred to theU.S. Army. While serving with the Army in World War II, he received a Silver Star for driving a burning ammunition truck away from a group of soldiers, before it exploded.

During the Korean War, he was awarded the United States military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. The citation explains that he lead a bayonet charge against the enemy. He later served in the Vietnam War as well. He retired from the Army in 1973 and died ofcongestive heart failure in 2009.

His wiki is worth a read. At the end of the bayonet charge he lead, 20 of the 50 enemy KIA were found to have been killed by cold American steel. The last known large scale charge of its kind.

never confuse movement with action

Action (supermarkets)
Action (supermarkets) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“It is even better to act quickly and err than to hesitate until the time of action is past.” -Karl Von Clausewitz

I’ve seen/heard/read variations on this sentiment over the years and I agree with it on a conceptual level. If you hesitate when you need to act it can mean the difference between mission success or failure…or life and death.

What I’m less clear on is what happens with this saying on a practical level. WHEN is it better to act quickly? Always? Is it always better if you don’t hesitate? Will your boss support you if your actions result in an unsuccessful outcome? Will the military, the media, the government back you if your act on the battlefield results in civilian casualties?

I’m not asking if they SHOULD back you. That’s an entirely different matter.

I think this concept is situation dependent…if bullets are flying and you have to move, that’s different from considering your next step in a barricade call-out.

I also think that this idea can be expressed in a metaphor of a street fight. There are always two considerations in a self defense situation…the immediate issue of survival and the need to act within the scope of the law. While the first should always take precedence, failure to consider the second can turn survival into a Pyrrhic victory.

In my opinion the only way to approach crisis decision making is to have a solid grasp on the “higher order” concepts; tactics, law, ROE, etc and ingrained physical skills that don’t overburden your thought process. Hopefully you get to road test these skills enough so that experience will allow you to adapt your training to the chaos.