AFTT owner/instructor Mark Fricke discussing shooting positions during his Precision Rifle class.
NRAblog Editor Lars Dalseide is in Arizona this week for a Precision Law Enforcement Rifle class. While there, he is providing daily updates of the experience here on NRAblog.
Wickenberg, Arizona - Day two at American Firearms Training & Tactics Law Enforcement Precision Rifle class started with the promise of 200 rounds. As Owner/Director Mark Fricke says, a guy can buy a hunting rifle and put less than 200 rounds through it in a lifetime. Ten shots to zero it in, two or three shots (if they're on target) during hunting season, another five to ten rounds to zero in for next hunting season and so on. We were going to best that total with today's training. There were plenty of smiles.
We were also promised 300 yards. Although less than 1% of all law enforcement encounters require the team's shooters to deploy more than 100 yards, that doesn't mean they should ignore the training required to make such a shot. But we weren't starting there. The starting point would be the 100 yard line to make sure everyone was comfortable with their rifles.
Students from AFTT's Precision Rifle class walk 300 yards to check out their target
Instructions for five shots at 100 yards didn't seem to matter — at least to me. Whether it was the pressure of shooting along side real-life snipers or the thought of a 13 hour shooting day, I somehow lost count and fired six. Not the biggest crime in the world, but ammo is ammo and ammo is expensive. Keep track of your shots boys and girls — the karma is worth it.
Before trudging off to two hundred yards, we received a ballistic report from Sierra Bullets. Punch in your ammunition, grain and all, along with yardage and windage results in a the answer for dialing in your rifle. For those of you who don't know, when shooting long distances with a scope, there are dials on the top and right that are measured in minutes of angle. For me, for example, I was told that my bullet would drop one minute of angle at 200 yards. To compensate, and keep on target, you would turn the top dial four clicks (four to a minute) to the right. So there's dialing in your rifle.
The mistake I made was dialing the windage. While it's perfectly acceptable to dial windage (how much the wind will blow your bullet to the left or right), it's sometimes better to aim a little to the left and right instead. This was one of those cases.
A Remington 700 rifle and scope looking 100 yards down range.
Although my shots hit paper, they didn't exactly reach the bullseye. They did reach the same approximate area, but not in the desired zone. Lesson learned, remove the windage dialing, and off to three hundred yards.
Dialing in a few more clicks (2.7 drop in minutes of angle) and I was set. Though the group was about as big as a grapefruit (others the size of a golfball), I was told my accomplishments were on average for a first time long range shooter. Then the real fun began — positions.
Kneeling, sitting, standing and supported … my head was spinning. There were so many options and so many angles that I had no idea where to turn. Figuring that as long as I watched the others and kept the muzzle pointed in the right direction then all would be fine. Sort of.
AFTT instructor demonstrates one a several firing positions during Precision Rifle Class.
Holding in those positions for more than a few seconds can be painful. If the joints and muscles aren't use to it, like mine, they start to yelp and ache in agony. But the only concern at this point is the shot. Getting the shot on target. But not just on target … on target in the right area. For a shot on target doesn't not necessarily mean the shot is good. There are specific places, specific areas, that need to be hit. If you don't hit it, then you put your team and citizens in jeopardy. And that's where these men's responsibilities rest.
There's a lot at stake when they go out on a call. No matter what the conditions, what the terrain or how long they have to hold their positions, these men and women are expected to do their job so everyone goes home safe. That's why I was honored to gain entrance to such a class. To see and experience just some of what they go through to be the best. Even if it means I'm shooting groups the size of grapefruits along the way.
AFTT students lined up for their first attempt at a 300 yard shot.