I attended the “Small Arms Firing School” (SAFS) at Camp Perry on July 31-Aug 1, 2010. This is my after action report. (http://www.odcmp.com/nm/safs.htm )
A little about my background: I’m 48 years old. I served in the US Army Infantry. The Army “familiarized” me with the M16A1 in Basic. My first unit was invited to Parris Island to shoot, where the US Marine Corps actually taught me how to shoot the rifle. I will be eternally grateful for there excellent instruction.
I have attended “Appleseed Shoots” the last 2 years, and scored “Rifleman” both times. I’m no champion, but I know how to shoot a rifle. (http://www.appleseedinfo.org )
The 2 day course started Saturday morning with an orientation at the base theater by the Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU). They covered safety, and operation of the M16A2 Rifle. Out of about 600 shooters, only a handful had not fired a M16/AR15 type Rifle. The AMU then gave brief, but excellent power point class of marksmanship techniques. The instructor closed with the comment: “You all now know more about marksmanship than 95% of the US Army”. I agree with this statement. Then we were off to the range.
The SAFS provides the rifle and the ammo. We were broken down into 5 relays of shooters per Rifle. The first day is practice; Sunday would be the Match and scored.
We fired at 200 yards. The course of fire was: Prone: 10 shots in 10 minutes. Because of the amount of shooters, we had to sight in this day during our 10 shot prone.
Standing: 10 shots in 10 min. (single load), Standing to sitting: 10 shots in 60 seconds, Standing to Prone: 10 shots in 60 seconds, Last 2 include a magazine change.
Saturday I was disappointed with my shooting. OK, I shot like crap! I was practicing all the fundamentals, but had some misses. Like I wrote above, I’m no champion, but it’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to miss at 200 yards with a good sight in!
After my time in the rifle pits, my friend told me that the M16A2 that I had been using had a loose barrel! An Armorer came up to the line after the AMU coach noticed every shooter having erratic scores. He said that barrel was loose, and that this rifle is “unserviceable” and replaced it.
Our AMU coach also noticed that some of our Hornady 75gr BTHP ammo (Lot#3100236) was EXPLODING, or coming apart before hitting the targets due to thin jackets or excessive speed! He commented Sunday: “You’ve seen more ammo come apart in two days than you will the rest of your life…unless you build a rifle specifically TO blow up ammo.”
Sunday everyone shot much better,( especially “Bailey”, the 15 year old young lady from Texas before me who shot a 360 out of 400 possible), but there were still “alibi’s” because of some of this defective ammo was still being used. We finished 3 hours and 45 minutes later than scheduled.
PRO’S: I recommend doing this! This was a great experience, as far as my introduction to High Power shooting. The AMU coaches are professional and friendly to all shooters. I learned a lot. I paid $40 for this course, and used this Army’s rifle and ammo! You even get to keep your brass (I walked away with 225 pieces! Others did not want there’s.) They even throw in a t-shirt. Very under priced for what I received.
CON’S: The rifles are combat weapons of unknown age and condition. Quality is just that: unknown. You don’t have time to get a proper Zero. I always thought that Hornady was quality ammo. This lot# was junk, and slightly “soured” an otherwise awesome experience.
The SAFS is not for new shooters. Attend an “Appleseed” shoot for the building blocks of rifle marksmanship before you attend SAFS.
Please tell other shooters about this great program.