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Posted: 7/9/2003 4:19:30 AM EDT
Thanks for all the replies about the Thunder Ranch Urban Rifle Course. One thing I would like to debate about is the multiple quotes about how TR recommends a simple light-weight AR without a lot of the fancy high-speed accessories out there.

Now I would never advocate that technology or material can ever replace solid training, but it seems that TR doesn't recommend the use of optics, tactical lights, and tactical slings. It seems to me that the urban rifle course has swayed many into thinking that all of the above accessories are negated by training alone and with this I disagree. The course sounds tough, much like the MOUT (military operations in urban terrain) courses that Marines go through. It sounds very demanding both physically and materially on your rifle. If I were to be hazed for five days I too would want less to drag around with me and by all means less rifle can also mean less accessories as well. However, in combat I would want my ACOG because it allows me to acquire the enemy much much faster than with my iron sights. During night operations near the Al Rasheed Air field I used it to acquire targets at night, you can't do that well with iron sights. Though I still have my iron sights on my carrying handle. Here in Iraq I had my Surefire 6-volt tactical light on my M-16A2 at all times and it proved its weight in gold because I could initiate CQB at all times, because interiors are dark day or night. I would go so far to say that I would take my surefire over my ACOG if given one choice. TR doesn't recommend tactical slings huh? Well try patrolling for hours at a time or standing a security perimeter, its the most efficient way to have your weapon at the ready and not wear your arms out. Try carrying a wounded buddy in the fireman carry and have your weapon at the ready, it can't be done as easy with the GI sling. A pencil weight barrel? Sounds convenient for the course but if I only owned one rifle I would want a barrel that will endure lots of use and abuse, this dovetails those who fantasize about the SHTF scenarios.

I'm not taking anything away from Thunder Ranch but I am speaking from experience here in Karbala, Iraq where I type this on our Battalion satellite link. Yes I will agree that a shorter lighter rifle is better but some of the high-speed gear helped me do my job better (and safer) and I'm alive to talk about it.

Semper Fidelis,
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 4:47:06 AM EDT
hey lance. first thanks for your service [usa] second. a lot of things you are saying about TR just are not so. 1. there is little hazing. mostly it's just good hard training with a lot of personal attention. they like to keep you "plugged into the data stream". you learn to use your ears and eyes to stay in the fight and not use them to look at things you don't need to. to do this they give you something "interesting" to listen to and look at so you don't get bored. they have to yell to be able to get thru the hearing protection and when the situation get's intense most folks go deaf. TR teaches you to pay attention. I have been to UR1 UR2 and PR1 and they have never asked more of me that I do of myself. lot's of getting up and down but no forced marches or "mindless PT". 2. tac slings are cool. most people that go to the classes have some form of tack sling and Clint sells them in his pro shop! 3. optics are cool. they just want you to have a set of irons that can be deployed quickly or that co-witness. your laser-phaser=taser will break and it's a good idea to have those irons ready! not busting your chops but just want to set the record straight.
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 6:33:24 AM EDT
Lance, I agree with you, so do many professionals. Proper selection of lights, optics, and slings are what is needed. Many instructors don't want you to have them for your first class so you can learn the basics with irons and SEE what are good choices to make for lights/optics/etc. I learned pretty quick at a similar class that the USGI sling sucks when compared with the Tactical Taylor for all day carry & use. I like the guys who say irons rule and lights aren't needed - I guess they never fight or train at night. Those who do find their engagment ranged are exented by orders of magnitude with good optics and lights.
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 8:49:05 AM EDT
Lance provided OPSEC is not an issue what model ACOG are you guys being issued. Being a Marine Officer theres not much an Airborne troop could tell you other than thanks for your service and be safe Devil Dog. Glockdog Airborne!!
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 8:54:10 AM EDT
Thanks for the reply gents. Let me set the record straight, when I used the term "hazing" I meant it very liberally. Not the 'blood-pinning' of jump wings or border line assaults that we discourage these days. Just the extreme training one would experience at the urban rifle course. I was referring to the trend I heard from the "thunder ranch urban rifle" board I initiated earlier. It seems as though a minimalist approach is being taken to accomodate the arduous course. This is understandable but as you probably heard you fight like you train and vice versa. Marines train with flak jackets [interceptor vests] and helmets on, even if it's a measily 10 round BZO range. It sucks, its hot, its inconvenient but we do it because that's what we would wear in combat, not a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. We don't lighten the load for convenience. So thus my AR-15 brethren, if you invested in all the gear (optics, slings, mag connnectors) and you intend on using it for that 'one' day then you might as well train in it. If it fails for some reason, than figure it out and get it back up and running (duct tape, loc-tite, 550 cord, etc.) Don't discard it because its easier. I don't dis Thunder Ranch or the instructors and in fact would like to attend the course to see for myself. This is my opinion on it, I don't think its any more valuable than the next guys. I think you are all a bunch of professional guys here and we should get together and have a few cold ones one day when I finally get to leave this nasty place. S/F
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 9:03:37 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/9/2003 9:05:21 AM EDT by blikbok]
I think what Clint is emphasizing is confidence with the bare rifle before things are bolted on. So if the sling breaks, the light goes dark, or the optic fails, the shooter says, "No problem, I can do this." Also, it might be easier for the instructor *not* have to cope with each variant of sling, light, and scope. The capable rifleman can then select his own based on his own experience, not merely the dogma of his teacher. I am a big fan of the simple rifle, but for me, simple includes a sling, a light, and a sight, in that order. And I have to second lance on the daylight use of a light. I don't have a dangerous job, but I am constantly going from daylight to pitch dark, and use flashlights constantly.
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 11:14:17 AM EDT
Originally Posted By blikbok: Also, it might be easier for the instructor *not* have to cope with each variant of sling, light, and scope. The capable rifleman can then select his own based on his own experience, not merely the dogma of his teacher.
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BlikBok, I agree with most of what you're saying - but the above few lines. Most people attending courses don't have the experince or insight to select gear like lights. They have to go on buddy's recommendation or magazine articles. By going to classes they can find out what works and what doesn't and what the limitations of variouse products and features. The same goes for optics and slings. During our night shoot at PFDC's Carbine 1 I found out the good & bad about my light. One thing I found is I dislike tape switches, and while the M900 is a neat idea (ok its a really KEWL idea) - its on/off is again a pressure type switch so I'm looking for a simple push-on momentary type light. Its a cop out for an instructor to say no slings because of they myriad of slings out there. In truth there are only a few designs each design with a several variations (i.e. Giles vs Tactical Taylor both are a 3 point sling). Our instructor (Pete) didn't have an issue with different optics or slings - just made sure we could use them properly and that we knew the limitations of each product.
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 2:12:08 PM EDT
Hoo-ahh Glockdog! The issued ACOG model on the barely emerging M-16A4 is I believe the TA-31. Its like the TA-01 except that it has a fiber optic to amplify the Bindon Aiming Concept (your optic nerves selecting the bigger image) and the reticle is a chevron versus the crosshair. Here's the story, our battalion was only issued 27 of the new A4s along with the ACOGs. I brought with me from home my own Trijicon TA-01 with tenebraex killflash, rubber eye piece and thumb screw (versus the given allen screw). I also brought my 6-volt surefire light with barrel clamp and my Eagle Industries Tac sling. Everything worked great, especially the surefire light, best piece of gear to add to your weapon. Someday I'll get my pictures developed and post them. Have a cold one on me, there's no booze in this rat hole country!
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 3:34:10 PM EDT
Lance...Thanks for serving the country.... M4-AK [Beer]
Link Posted: 7/9/2003 3:37:09 PM EDT
a light weight weapon is a plus but you need it to have a light on it if you plan to use it for any house clearing or cqb ops. I teach LEO's patrol rifle and recomend the tac sling its easy to transition to a pistol or hand cuff that way its hard to do with a single strap.
Link Posted: 7/10/2003 10:14:50 PM EDT
Wow, either people have never been to Thunder Ranch, or they don't understand Clint! I've been to Handgun 1,2,and 3; Urban Rifle 1 and 2, Shotgun, Handgun H.I.T. and Rifle H.I.T. and some of what is being said is just plain false. Clint doesn't like weapon mounted lights on HANDGUNS, on long guns (rifles and shotguns) he thinks they are helpful, usefull, and even a requirement! Of course, you should also have a hand-held light on your person just in case the weapon mounted light or the weapon fails. Even one of those little photon micro lights will work if its dark enough. Doesn't need to be a billion-candlepower death ray. (You don't really believe all that marketing crap about light being a "weapon" do you? - If you do, I'll offer the Dave Spaulding challenge - your light vs. my .45, I'll even use Simunitions just to be sporting!) Back to the misperceptions. Clint does prefer the simple, military-issue type sling. He doesn't mind the tactical slings, he just wants the students to know their limitations and he wants to make sure they know how to properly use them! Same with optics. He doesn't care if you use them. He just wants you to have a properly sighted-in set of iron sights on the weapon that can be rapidly deployed when the optical sight fails. (Notice I didn't say "if" it fails. Batteries die, electronics will get fried if hit by EMP, glass can break, etc.) If you can't use the weapon with the issued sights you might as well use it as a club when the optical do-dad breaks. At the start of every class, be it level one class, or an advanced high-intensity class, Clint makes each student write a five-letter word on the top of their handout. That word is LOGIC. He tells you to use LOGIC to evaluate any new gadget or technique that is described or written about in some gun magazine or on some internet site. If it doesn't make sense, it probably doens't belong on your gun or in your armamentarium of techniques. That's why he doesn't advocate one technique or stance over another, the student has to think for themselves. Take a vertical foregrip on a semiauto for example. On a machinegun the vertical foregrip MAY give a little better control with a short commando length barrel. On a semiauto, all it can do is get caught in the sling, make prone more difficult, possible interfere with a rapid mag change, get tangled in branches or brush, etc. It just isn't logical. Same with strapping two or more magizines together. That alters the force on the mag in the mag well and could cause feeding problems. If you drop the mag, you have dropped your spare too. If you get shot in the magazine, both may become unserviceable. It makes the weapon system heavier. Again, not logical. Clint just wants what you do to make sense. Don't do something just because it looks cool or because you saw it in a movie or some Delta SEAL Recon Ninja guy had one. Here's a clue - you're not a Special Forces soldier, you're not in a beauty contest. If you die, people don't care how "cool" your gun was. It obviously wasn't up to the task at hand. Here's my lightweight carbine: Colt Sporter lower, 14.5" lightweight bbl with Gemtech BiLock, Knight's RIS fore-end, M3 light, A2 sights with tritium inserts, Gemtech M4-96D as needed. Light, simple, silent.
Link Posted: 7/11/2003 5:34:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 7/11/2003 5:46:04 AM EDT by blikbok]
Originally Posted By Forest: Most people attending courses don't have the experince or insight to select gear like lights. They have to go on buddy's recommendation or magazine articles. By going to classes they can find out what works and what doesn't and what the limitations of variouse products and features. The same goes for optics and slings.
View Quote
That's what I meant-- the student can go to the class to gain experience with the rifle, then evaluate bolt-ons, rather than stock up on gadgets for the trip. For myself, considering the distance, time, and money, I'd want to maximize my learning opportunities by minimizing distractions. For example, I would try to arrive at class with a zeroed and functioning rifle. :) In the same way, I didn't mean to imply they said "no" to slings out of laziness. Just that my selfishness would rather spend my range time on marksmanship than sorting out everyones' kit. :) RayDBonz: I haven't been to TR, nor do I know Clint. I would however like to do both. Right now, trying to understand his mindset from others who have been there is the best I can do. Has he written a book?
Link Posted: 7/11/2003 6:27:04 AM EDT
Ray, What you posted makes much more sense -especially about the lights. However I would like to address this:
Take a vertical foregrip on a semiauto for example. On a machinegun the vertical foregrip MAY give a little better control with a short commando length barrel. On a semiauto, all it can do is get caught in the sling, make prone more difficult, possible interfere with a rapid mag change, get tangled in branches or brush, etc.
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1) It does help control of rapid semi-auto. 2) It will interfer with a GI type sling when using American or African carry (BTDT). It DOES NOT interfer with a 3 point sling. 3) Does not make prone more difficult IMHO. I used it in class in the prone position. 4) Since its not near the magazine well (heck its severl inches in front of it) I never noticed it when changing magazines. 5) Tangled in Brush? My hand is on it then my hand or arm is getting tangled in brush (would be the same with any other hold) or with the magazine well. Heck a sling is much more likely to get tangled in the brush (which is why some don't use them). The best thing about using a forward grip is it allows the supporting hand to be a more 'Neutral' position. You don't need to use muscles to hold your hand in that position. Now try to hold the standard forarm. You have to use muscles to rotate the wrist into position. It turns out you can hold the foward grip for a longer period of time w/o muscle fatigue than by using the 'standard' method. This was especially noticable during my class in June. A week prior to the class I injured my arm when carring some heavy items. Using the standard forearm just increased the discomfort I was feeling. When I switched back to the forward pistol grip - the pain went away and I had no more problems with it. Ergonomically the forward grip (at the proper angle) just makes sense.
Link Posted: 7/11/2003 6:56:10 AM EDT
Forest: Does the forward grip serve as a monopod when prone with 20-rounders?
Link Posted: 7/11/2003 2:15:27 PM EDT
First. A thank you to Lance and all the troops for the oustanding job they have been doing. You are appreciated. Stay safe. I have been in law enforcement over 30 years, and a good tactical light is worth its weight in gold, day or night.
Link Posted: 7/12/2003 1:38:15 PM EDT
Originally Posted By RayDBonz: Don't do something just because it looks cool or because you saw it in a movie or some Delta SEAL Recon Ninja guy had one. Here's a clue - you're not a Special Forces soldier, you're not in a beauty contest. If you die, people don't care how "cool" your gun was.
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Spot on… I think folks are taking all the movies too seriously and reading way too many S.W.A.T. magazine articles and advertisements. They’ll show up at the range or wherever with their super thermo-nuclear death ray thinking all the add-ons are going to make them better shooters. I think the KISS method is a good place to start and then on to LOGICal enhancements. Lance, thanks for your service. Best Regards, J
Link Posted: 7/14/2003 10:03:06 AM EDT
J, that's my thought. Pass the driver's test before we trick out the vehicle. :)
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