Range Report/Lessons Learned – RWVA First Anniversary Shoot
The 3/5 RWVA First Anniversary shoot was a real winner, as each of us continued to improve our practical marksmanship skills. For me, it was the first time combining accurate rifle shooting and movement, while carrying a full load.
We began the day, per standard practice, with the AQT. Then, each participant brought not only their rifles to the firing line, but also whatever gear he or she would use to carry at least 300 rounds of ammo in the field. Some folks had small packs or waist packs, others had web gear, and still other used ditty bags or bandoleers slung a la Pancho Villa over their shoulders. Just figuring out how to carry and use my mags, ammo and canteens was a valuable learning experience (memo to file: I need to get a USGI butt pack).
We then slung our rifles (mags out, bolts locked open, safeties on), formed into a line, and quickly moved up the hill to the 500 yard berm and back. As we returned, one of the RWVA members fired a star shell, indicating that the pop-ups were exposed. Taking “cover” behind the 100 yard berm, we loaded our rifles, charged up the berm, and blasted the pop-ups at the 200 and 300 yard lines. Even from a supported, semi-prone position on the berm, it was really tough to overcome the huffing and puffing to get a decent sight picture, at least at first. More aerobic exercise, less bacon for this fat boy!
The day continued with the standard pop-up speed shoot and sniper events, each of which brought rewards and challenges. Those head/shoulder targets are mighty small at 500 yards, but lots of folks knocked them down! We also ran several laps of the super-fun “Counterattack” game, where the two-man teams clear the pop-ups from prone, then run downrange towards the 100 yard berm. Along the way, the pop-ups come back up several times, and the team has to drop and clear the targets before proceeding further downrange. Final stage comes by charging up the 100 yard berm, and clearing the 200 and 300 yard targets. Great fun, and because you’re working against the clock, a real challenge to one’s precision rifle skills.
We ended the day with the new “Battleground” event, designed to push shooters to the limit of their practical rifle skills. You begin with a full field load of gear and ammo. Stage 1 consists of another run through Counterattack, but this time, you don’t get to catch your breath after the 100 yard berm. Instead, with the clock still running, you safe your rifle (mags out, bolts locked open, safeties on) and move as fast as you can across about 75 yards of broken ground to the next range.
Once there, you shoot Stage 2 of Battleground by loading your rifle and firing the “really quick and dirty” AQT. That means that after all of that movement in full gear, you have to fire ten rounds standing at the standard 25M Quick and Dirty single-sheet AQT target, ten rounds from the sitting position, and then 20 more rounds at the prone rapid and slow-fire targets. The only concession from the standard QD AQT is that shooters are allowed to fire each stage with loaded mags, changing them as needed.
By this time, my rifle barrel was smoking, I was wheezing and panting, and I was down to my last loaded mag. But the fun wasn’t over yet, as we moved with the clock still running to the other end of the firing line. Stage 3 is the popular “Bunker” drill, designed to test a team’s ability to deliver accurate fire against multiple targets. To emphasize accurate fire, each target is scored for points.
Our three-man team had to engage five of the 25M standing targets at 100 yards, with each shooter being limited to a single 20-round mag. We assigned targets are on the run, dropped into prone, and cut loose. When the last shot was fired, the clock stopped.
Battleground is scored by counting the team point totals from Stages 2 and 3, and dividing that amount by the total elapsed time in seconds. Our team score totaled 598 points and the elapsed time was 570 seconds (9.5 minutes), which makes a score of 1.05 points per second. Come on down for our March 19th Rapid-Fire Clinic and see if you can beat it!
1. 300 rounds of ammo (five mags and 200 rounds in strippers), plus 2 canteens, weigh a lot! Until I put my gear through the test of actual use, I didn’t know what worked and what didn’t.
2. Walking briskly with rifle and gear up a decent hill is a whole lot different than sauntering casually across to the firing line. The impact of my thudding heart and my wheezing lungs made a HUGE difference in my ability even to form a sight picture, let alone maintain it to fire a good shot. Experiencing that difference just once is worth more than a thousand lectures about losing weight and getting fit. Bottom line -- aerobic training is just as important as marksmanship training.
3. There’s a huge practical difference between 5 mags (rifle plus 4 spares) and 4 mags. Make sure you have enough reliable mags for your rifle, plus a good way to carry them.
4. It was almost impossible for me to reload mags under the time pressure. My drills going forward will include figuring out how to do so; any suggestions will be VERY welcome!
See ya on March 19th!