After Action Review - Trident Concepts Carbine 2 Hosted Course
Written by user UnaStamus
Trident Concepts Combative Carbine, Level 2
28-30 SEP 2012
Breezy Point, MN (Brainerd area)
T1: Mid 70’s, overcast with a breeze
T2: 80 and sunny
T3: High 70’s with clear skies and light breeze
There were 17 total students, including Dave Timm and Mike Davis from Timm Training who hosted the course. Additionally, there were several LE members in the course from all over. We had two Canadian cops in the class who were solid shooters and good guys. Additionally, we had a couple LFers in the course, including BC520 and WILCO423. One addition was the crew from the Fleet Farm range out of Baxter, MN, led by Stewart Mills of Huldra Arms and Fleet Farm. The background of the students from Fleet Farm varied by person, but several had LE experience. There was also a varied level of experience with these students, ranging from a couple solid shooters to some that were very new to this kind of shooting. I believe all had Huldra Arms piston rifles on the line.
The course was taught by Jeff Gonzalez. His Navy SEALs background and related training added a lot to this course in the way of standards and accountability for shots fired. Jeff’s pace is FAST. It’s balls to the wall, and you need to keep your wits about you to keep up.
Dave Timm and Mike Davis of Timm Training hosted the course, and they were both good guys and solid shooters. They assisted with instructing for remedial and more intensive training for those that did not have the experience to keep up. One female shooting next to WILCO423 and me was definitely a long ways behind the power curve. Dave and Mike worked with her extensively on T1, and then further throughout the next couple days. There was a lot of improvement, and this reflected very positively on Dave and Mike as instructors in their own right.
Pistol: S&W M&P9 w/ Apex DCAEK and RAM upgrade, and Streamlight TLR-1S weaponlight.
Rifle 1: 11.5” SBR with LaRue billet lower, Geissele SD-C trigger, Noveske 60 degree ambi safety, VLTOR upper with Daniel Defense barrel and rail. Also has a PWS Triad 556 flash hider on the end that has been a vast improvement over the BC 1.0 it replaced. Optic was an Aimpoint CompM4s w/ LaRue mount and an Aimpoint 3x magnifier in LaRue mount.
Rifle 2: 16” middy with Noveske Gen2 lower, ALG Defense QMS trigger, BCM upper and BCM BCG, Daniel Defense LW barrel and DD MFR 12.0 tube. A BC 1.0 was on the end of that. Topped it off with an Aimpoint T-1 w/ LaRue mount.
The gun belt was a VTAC Brokos belt with HSGI riggers belt insert. I have this setup exactly like my duty belt, so I know where everything is and how it works. I have to get a full extender for my Safariland ALS holster.
Vest was a Mayflower R&C Assault Armor Carrier in Multicam with an SKD PIG hydration carrier and Source 2L bladder, Mayflower shingle mag pouch (4 mags), an additional FirstSpear speed reload mag pouch, and a CTOMS Slimline IFAX w/ CAT tourniquet. The hydration carrier for this course was invaluable, as the temps were a lot higher than expected for a Minnesota fall. The only issue I had was with the location of my IFAC for when I draw my pistol. I have to get an extender for my pistol holster. Otherwise, my gear locations have been sorted out. BC520 made a recommendation for me to rearrange my pouches a certain way just a little bit to move the Slimline IFAK inward a little. When I get a moment, I will rearrange it and see if it works better.
On the topic of gear, many of the shooters from Fleet Farm were wearing sub-optimal gear, and it showed. Much of it was off-the-shelf Blackchicken! gear, which Fleet Farm sells. I personally feel that much of what Blackchicken! is putting out now is really out of touch with the current trends and needs for tactical use by LE, PMC and MIL users. Much of the gear really did not work well, and it was not configured appropriately for its users. The vests being worn had double-mag pouches that have been shown in the past to be poor for retention when one mag is removed, and getting a mag back in them is a chore in and of itself. Additionally, there were pistol mag pouches mounted up on the left upper pectoral/shoulder area. This is a terrible place for pistol mags. Most of the vests being used were of a fixed configuration and not modular. This is important to note, because gear like this is not ideal for this kind of training. It is generally built to be one-size-fits-all, and it tends to not do much more than just hold gear. Your gear should meet your needs and your mission, and you shouldn’t have to fight it. I saw several people fighting their gear.
With that said, several students were open to critique and constructive criticism about how they can change their gear, and what kind of gear they should be looking at. For most people a minimalist chest rig setup is more than ideal. Jeff was wearing a setup (looked like a Mayflower R&C UW Chest Rig??) that would have worked for most people present, which several of us professional door kickers explained to the other shooters wearing their gear.
Unfortunately, one student who was an ARNG officer with undisclosed experience became very defensive about gear when several of us were offering advice to a different shooter about her vest setup. He was wearing issued Army web gear. Not only that, but his gear was loaded out in a very ridiculous way. He was carrying 9 magazines in a configuration of 3 wide by 3 deep. He had 3 double mag pouches, and 3 mags behind them. His vest was improperly adjusted and everything was sagging down around his waist area instead of being up higher on the torso. There were other things wrong with all of his gear, but I understand why he was wearing what he was. He didn’t know anything better because, as has been said before, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE DON’T KNOW. The problem was not that he was wearing the wrong gear, it’s that he had the mentality “this is what I wore in Iraq, so I know everything”. I replied straight to him and said “I wore shit like that in Iraq too, and it fucking sucked.” I wasn’t trying to be a dick, I was trying to make a point that just because he liked his setup, that doesn’t mean that it was right for someone else. Especially not a 5’4” female wearing a vest that was 3 sizes too big. My understanding was that several people tried to discuss his gear with him, and he was very hostile and would not even discuss why he did what he did. His response was always something like “this is the way I did it in Iraq” or “this is how I do it”. It wasn’t until I finally sternly told him to listen and explained that having multiple mags deep wasn’t the issue, but that issues generally arose when there was no individual magazine retention features. If each mag has it’s own independent retention feature, then they don’t go bouncing out when you have to run or drop to prone.
Much like on here, people ask questions and give advice because they want to help. There is no need to get defensive. If you have a reason for carrying things a certain way, so be it. Just be open to advice and criticism. If people ask you why you are doing something a certain way, be able to articulate why. We are asking because we want to know, or we want you to think about your gear to see if you can see it from an objective perspective. There’s no need to get defensive, but if you are going to get defense, make sure that the people you’re getting defensive against don’t have more experience. There is a growing list of people who have been to Iraqinam and Trashcanistan, so don’t take an attitude that your one deployment makes you an expert. When I look back at my post-war ideologies and “knowledge”, I realize now that I was a fucking retard who didn’t know 1/10th of the crap I thought I did. Big Army does a good job of making sure you only know enough to do things the Big Army way.
Point being, don’t get all butt-hurt or else we’ll consider you to be Clownshoes. When you have 3 or 4 people who are professional door kickers saying the exact same thing, consider that a clue. We didn’t get annoyed that he didn’t listen, we got annoyed that he copped attitude when we were only trying to offer friendly advice based on our own experience.
To the credit of the other students, the rest were very much open to advice on gear and configuration and they had great attitudes.
This is not meant to be a rip on this one dude, but rather as a cautionary tale to those who will read this. If someone gives you gear advice or constructive criticism, take a moment to figure out who they are before you start getting defensive. Try to understand why they are talking to you. If it’s some fat slob at the range wearing some “tacticool” shit you’d see at an airsoft tournament, go ahead and ignore him. However, if it’s a bunch of cops with military experience who are wearing tactical gear with POLICE patches on them, or it’s a guy who is legitimately a BTDT PMC or MIL dude, do yourself a favor and listen. Discuss and think about the advice, and consider if you can glean something from it to make yourself more efficient. Just like our training, we also all have a duty to constantly evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of our kit. No one says you need to listen, but at least do yourself a favor and listen and think instead of being close-minded and egotistical.
Anyways, back to the AAR…
In reference to guns, my 11.5" SBR was my main rifle and I ran it the whole course. The 16" was only a backup. At the end of this course, my 11.5" was at around 6,000rds through it since last being cleaned last summer. Zero mechanical malfunctions with it. Slip2000 EWL is good stuff, people. I mentioned above that the PWS Triad 5.56 flash hider was a big improvement, and it was. The BattleComp is an excellent muzzle device, but it is excellent for longer carbines. I would have no problem putting it on a 14.5" barrel, and I do have it on a 16". However, SBR barrel lengths introduce unique issues. My biggest issue was the muzzle flash, which was so bad that the rifle could not be used in low light. The flash hider has eliminated nearly all visible muzzle flash. The next issue was that I was getting pretty heavily gassed in the face. This has been happening for a while with this rifle, and I thought it was just an SBR quirk. I did not think this was a compensator issue, but when I put on the open-ended flash hider, I noticed that virtually no gas was being ejected back into my face. In looking at the BC, I think that it's creating more backpressure in the system and causing more gas to come back through the system, and thus into my face. This really isn't an issue with a 16" barrel with a midlength gas system, but with an 11.5" carbine, it appears that it is.
Again, I still think that the BC is good kit. I just won't have it on an SBR anymore. It's definitely staying on my 16" lightweight backup rifle.
We started out by meeting at the Breezy Point PD. Now, I was surprised by this meeting location, as Breezy Point is sort of a northwoods resort town on Pelican Lake. Start time was at 0730hrs, which was WAY too early for me since I’m a professional vampire (night shift). We all took care of paperwork and I got to say hello to BC520 and WILCO423 whom I had not seen since last year in Wisconsin. It’s always nice to shoot with some fellow LFers.
Jeff rolled in and we got right down to brass tacks. Jeff started by explaining the mission of TRICON, which was based on gunfighting. When looking at mindsets, you can have a competition or combat mindset when using a gun. You can’t have both and succeed at one. TRICON training is about validated combat gunfighting. What they teach is known to work, and Jeff makes it very clear that if you don’t want to adopt this combat mindset for this course, you are in the wrong class. This rang home for me, because I know that there is a distinct defining line between combat and competition mindsets from my time shooting in an IPSC league. When I have shot IPSC in the past, my goal was always to remain tactically “correct” and do things the way that I would do them in a gunfight. I didn’t give a crap about points or beating a clock. As such, I rarely did well in the points standings. Still, I would notice that my shots on target were usually far better than most of the other shooters, but they would do better than me because they would shoot faster and take less points for C and D zone hits or “Mikes” so that they could get a really good time. I’d see these shooters blast through 4 or 5 magazines in a single stage and think to myself “Don’t be like these guys. You can’t miss fast enough to win a gunfight.” If you can differentiate tactics between combat and competition, that’s fine, but how do you know that you’ll use the correct gunfighting tactics in a real two-way range, and not some competition ninja moves where you inadvertently unload and make safe after shooting.
Jeff then went over standards of TRICON, which are Knowledge, Application and Performance. In looking at this, marksmanship was emphasized. When looking at this, we first looked at what we knew about rifles and what we needed to understand about them. Rifles are an advantage in a gunfight. We know this, and those of us who are cops need to remember this every time we get out of our car and know we need to have a gun in our hands. Rifles offer Lethality, Accuracy, Range and Capacity (ammunition). Handgun rounds suck, and this is very well documented. Rifle rounds are far more effective. Not only that, but you can be far more accurate with a rifle. I have no qualms about my ability to put a shot into a suspect’s head at 50yds, or torso at 100+ yds. If I have a prone supported position, I can extend those ranges significantly. This makes a rifle a force multiplier. This also gives us the ability to increase our range, which increases our own safety in a gunfight. Lastly, having the ability to load 30rd magazines into the rifles is a major advantage, especially when compared to the 5rd capacity of a short barrel shotgun or the 15rds in my Glock 22 duty mags.
When we look at how our training, gear and weapons work, we have to ask ourselves this- Does it work? If so, does it work AT WORK, at night? For those who use NVGs, does it also work under NV? Then we ask, Is it necessary? Finally, Does it work under stress? If SHTF, will we be able to do it?
Next, we went over zeroing and understanding Point Blank Range (PBR). PBR is the concept where you will not need to adjust your point of aim (POA) and still have your point of impact (POI) within an acceptable target zone. In this case, we are looking at an 8” diameter target zone, so we need to make sure our shot is +/- 4” from the center of that target zone. This means that once bullet leaves that 4” radius, we our out of PBR. This is why the Army 300m zero for M855 5.56mm ammo is problematic. The maximum ordinate, or top of the trajectory of the bullet, is around 8.3” above POA. It’s suboptimal for short and intermediate range use because you need to make adjustments.
Rifles use a corrected trajectory, which means we lob the rounds at an arc. We don’t use an absolute trajectory like with the pistol, so it’s important to understand what your zero does for your trajectory so that you will know what capabilities you have for your intended load.
The use of ballistic programs is big asset to determining your PBR, as well as your overall trajectory. I’d used “Shooter” by Sean Kennedy for a while, but I recently have been using BulletFlight Ver.2 by Knights Armament and really like it. I have been debating giving Ballistic:AE a try as well. While these programs are important for long range precision shooting, they are very handy for carbine employment with your selected load. My 11.5” rifle performs much differently than a 16” carbine, and it’s important to identify your ballistic trajectory for your specific gun with the intended load; not just some generic trajectory. Your initial intersection may be the same for all loads, but your maximum ordinate and terminal intersection will vary by rifle and load due to external ballistics.
We then moved to the range, which was set up in an aggregate quarry a couple miles away. The ground was relatively level, but I managed to have a couple mounds in my lane on good ol’ Lane 3. One could get pissy about this, but in reality, the outside world isn’t always flat and level, so you have to be able to fight across any terrain.
Once at the range, we got a safety brief, followed by a briefing on maintenance and lubrication. Jeff handed out bottles of Slip2000 EWL to the class, which is a lube I’ve been using for a long time now and really do believe in.
Following that, we started with zeroing. We just worked on electronic sights. I was running a 3x magnifier, so I used that with zeroing to get my groups tighter and more consistent. I will say that regardless of magnifier or not, a 2MOA reticle is much more advantageous to a 4MOA or larger reticle when it comes to precision. The aiming circle we used on the TRICON targets was 4” around, which is covered completely by a 4MOA dot. I could put my 2MOA dot inside the circle and get a better placement for my zeroing. Having used both a 2MOA and 4MOA dots on my Aimpoints, I have determined that my 4MOA T-1 is going bye-bye and being replaced with a 2MOA.
I am so used to things with my department where once we get the command to fire, people don’t shoot, and won’t until someone else does. So, not being used to Jeff’s cadence for commands on the firing line, I thought he had given us the GO to go hot and start our first zero volley. I heard no shooting, and figured it was like I was back at my department and people were being timid. So, in my infinite jackassery, I launched my first round downrange. Said shot was immediately followed by a calm Jeff mentioning that he had not given the command to commence fire yet. Yep, I was officially on the road to being “that guy” right away. FUCKBEANS!!
One thing of note was that one shooter, the female listed above helped by Dave and Matt, mentioned that she was having trouble “lining up the reticle”. I looked at her optic and saw that she was running an Aimpoint PRO. She had BUIS with the front sight flipped up. I immediately knew what she was talking about, as did WILCO. We right away told her to just use the dot for aiming and that it had no relation to front sight. I told her to just flip her front sight post down for time being to eliminate the confusion. She mentioned that someone had told her that the dot is supposed to line up somewhere with the sight. She was talking about co-witness, and I told her that the dot should not line up with anything, as it’s a single plane sighting system. I then may have mentioned to her that if someone told her that the dot was supposed to line up with the front sight, that said person was talking out of his or her ass. WILCO and I briefly explained what co-witness was and got her set straight. To her credit, she listened and corrected immediately, which seemed to help a lot. It was good to see this issue was corrected early on TD1, as it could have caused problems later on.
I am continually amazed at how some people out there continue to dole out "technical advice" like this, but have no conceptual understanding of this stuff. I kind of get spoiled with courses like this with TRICON and EAG Tactical where I get to train with squared-away people, and I sometimes forget that there are some serious idiots out there doling out bad advice to unwitting inexperienced shooters. Interestingly enough, this was a topic of conversation later at dinner at Famous Dave’s where we discussed other alternative training programs and philosophies that were doing more harm than good.
After breaking for lunch, we went back to shooting fundamentals. It started with the position of the rifle and how you hold and steady it, along with your body positioning. Jeff talked about the using of the shoulder blades to pull the rifle back into the body, and not the arms. This requires that you keep your elbows pointed down, and keeping the bend in arms more inward towards your body. This helps stabilize the rifle, but also helps reduce fatigue. This worked to some degree for me, but I noticed that I did have some difficulty with it due to my physiology. I have a larger chest and short arms, so the closing of the shoulder blades to pull the rifle back required some more intentional effort on my part to make happen correctly. I don’t tire easily in the firing position, which is due to physical conditioning, but I’ve been in enough stand-offs with a long gun to know that you can’t hold the gun up forever, and every little advantage and trick you can find will help immensely.
We discussed ready positions, being the low ready, high ready and tucked. The high ready used in this course was the SEAL method, which has the barrel pointed up and the stock down, similar to a modified high port type hold. I have had very limited training time with this method, and am used to my high ready being with the barrel in my shoulder and my eyes looking out just over the top of the sight. The SEAL high ready variant we used had a different purpose, and the benefits of it were discussed. The main benefit that I took away and that was most applicable to me was its capability to facilitate using the rifle as an impact weapon. This is a very LE applicable capability. You can use your fist on the rifle for a soft impact, or use the barrel itself as a hard impact weapon to bonk the suspect. Having had an unarmed suspect actually physically challenge me before while I was holding a gun, this was certainly very much applicable to my needs. Using a pistol as an impact weapon is difficult and more risky, but the use of the rifle makes it much more feasible.
We commenced with battery tests, which were graded shooting evolutions where your first volley is 2x shots to the chest, and 1x shot to the brain. The target used was a human silhouette with a very faint 8” circle in the high center mass, and a 4” circle for the face/brainstem area. We shoot from at 25/10, 35/15, and 50/25.
We then worked with ready positions and used them as we saw fit. I spent a lot of time switching between low ready and high ready throughout the weekend, and opted to not use the tucked position, as it’s not a position I have used in my LE work thus far. We worked on trigger reset.
While shooting, I was surrounded by fellow LEOs. Many have been trained to communicate when we run dry or do a mag change; myself included. Jeff mentioned that communicating and calling for cover or announcing mag changes can cause your partners to shift from their targets to yours, and as such cause you to be aggressed by your own neglected target. I have seen my partners do this. Last summer we were training to shoot and move behind barricades, and one partner called out “Cover!” when he went dry. The other partner shouted the appropriate response, which is “Covering!”, got up and ran across the range to get next to his partner to cover him while he reloaded. The officer left his own position of cover and exposed himself out in the open because he was trained to be next to his partner to cover him while he reloaded. This was a major failure of our TTPs, so when Jeff pointed it out, it hit home because I’d seen it before on the range.
The next step was immediate action drills with Type 1 and 2 malfunctions using dummy rounds. Following this, it was working with speed reloads and trying to develop proficiency with it so that you don’t have to watch your rifle to do it. This allows you to watch your target downrange, which is an important skill for personal safety. We worked at this by closing our eyes while doing our reloads. I have been working with the same setup for a while for my gear and rifle, so doing this was not difficult for me. For people who have not had a lot of time with their gear, this would obviously be a more difficult venture.
We briefly covered transitions to pistol, finished up and called it a day.
Dinner was at Famous Dave’s for some BBQ. Jeff was there, as was Stewart Mills. The rest of the guys there were all LEOs. Many people in the class were there because it was part of their job as range personnel, and they lived in the area and likely had their own lives to tend to. This was understandable. However, dinner with other students is a time to connect, network, discuss and learn. If the instructor shows up, it’s a time to pick the brain of the instructor and learn as much as you can off the range. There is always a wealth of information to learn from many top level instructors, and Jeff was no different. Not only that, but hilarity always ensues. We had a blast making light of the new TRICON patented 49yd Zero. For those not aware of this joke, go look at the TRICON Facebook page on a photo posted from TD1 of the firing line and read some of the comments.
If you are not familiar with training courses, know that it would be very much worth your while to find out where everyone is going for dinner, and then show up. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn over a plate of food and some Octoberfest beer.
One thing that I noticed later on in the first day was when I looked at the back of one of my USGI mags. There was a small chunk of metal missing at the back of the feed lips, with a very fine crack going down the back. Fortunately, I number all of my magazines, so I knew back at my car that magazine “US2” went T-U and was now relegated to the trash can. Remember people- NUMBER YOUR MAGS!!
We setup the range at 0730. My hotel was about 25 minutes away, and I always try to show up 20 minutes early to training, or more. So you can imagine that this is early for someone like me who is a professional vampire/nightshift guy. Being awake in the daytime was difficult for me, as I had a lot of difficulty getting to sleep before 0100hrs. I think all three nights I was there, I averaged about 4hrs of sleep each night. I generally need about 5.5hrs to be coherent, so with 4hrs of sleep, mornings are not a high point for me. Oh well, shit happens and there's no use crying over spilt scotch.
We zeroed our optics again, and I had no real need to adjust anything there. Then we went to our irons and sighted those in. I was way off on my first volley, but got the irons dialed in on the next two volleys and was good to go. Following that, we did battery tests and assessment drills like we had done on TD1. While shooting, I had the opportunity to watch a couple other people shoot and manipulate their weapons and gear. This was where I saw a lot of the suboptimal gear cause problems. I saw several people fighting their vests and gear to get magazines out and so forth. Hopefully, some students saw this as a demonstration of how mainstream off-the-shelf tactical gear isn’t always as good as the manufacturer or retailer would have you believe. Having watched a lot of this gear cause problems, I was glad I was using high quality gear like Mayflower R&C, FirstSpear, SKD, ITW, etc. I only had one small gear placement issue, which has since been resolved.
One thing that I noticed in my shooting was that I was starting to shoot faster. I also noticed that I was becoming sloppy, so I had to throttle myself back to clean up my groups and bring them back in on target. This is an on-going issue with me, so I always need to remind myself to slow the hell down, as it usually makes me a better shooter.
During a break, Jeff talked about the mechanisms of killing/incapacitation by rifles. We discussed immediate incapacitation (CNS disruption), rapid incapacitation (hypovolemia), incapacitating trauma (loss of limbs/motor movement), and psychological incapacitation (suspect giving up). As a student of terminal ballistics, this was stuff that has been right up my alley for the past several months. I have been doing extensive ballistic research, so touching on this subject was familiar territory.
We discussed scanning for threats, and determining how and why we do scans was briefly pointed out by Jeff. Basically, determine where the bad guy is, where’s your backup, what’s around you, and where is your “out” to get away if needed? These are things to consider when doing your scans after engaging a threat.
Reloads were the next topic of discussion, and we talked about the merit of combat reloads, speed reloads and tactical reloads. Combat reloads have you working the charging handle (or bolt release lever). Speed reloads are a straight mag change at speed without retention. Tactical reloads are done to bring the rifle up to full ammunition load, but done while retaining the old magazine. We talked about doing a tactical reload with retention, as well as doing the “pistol method” where you swap magazines at the rifle, instead of doing it with retention where you pull the old mag out, stow it, and put in a new one. I have my preference to keep the rifle loaded as long and quickly as possible, so I tend to prefer the one-for-one “pistol” method as opposed to reload with retention.
The goal of these reloads was ammunition management, which was a theme that was stressed throughout the course. During the whole course, I fired less than 30rds from my pistol because I was active in my ammo management. One reason why I was effective at this was because I was primarily using windowed PMAGs, which are not only ultra reliable, but they’re a massive help in monitoring round count in classes and in the field. I have numerous windowed PMAGs, but after this summer of training, I am tripling my windowed PMAG supply.
We worked on high value/brain shots, and worked with head shots, failure drills, and reverse failure drills. This was later followed by working with our backup iron sights, which included working again with failure drills and brain shots.
On TD2 during the assessment drills, I did much better in my shooting. I was much more relaxed and managed to shut my brain off for much of it. If I shut off my thinking and analyzing, I tend to do much better in my shooting. Today was no different and I did much better than I had on TD1.
We closed out the day by having dinner again at Famous Dave’s again, which brought on numerous stories and lots of learning.
Day 3 brought on confirmation of zero in the morning after setting up the range. I managed to get ahold of the spray paint in the morning, and made sure our two Canadian LEOs had their targets in both English and French, in accordance with Canadian law.
We then proceeded to confirm the zero on our optics. My zero managed to float just a little bit left, which is nothing abnormal, but a quick adjusment put it back in the black and I was hitting 4/5 in the black dot.
We did battery tests again and other evolutions of shooting at 50yds. This is where the concept of FIRST BEST SIGHT PICTURE really started to become more apparent to me. I was using my 3x magnifier for anything over 25yds, and at 50yds I was spending a lot of time on my shots trying to make perfect shots. This was killing my time, and it was making make some bad shots. I disengaged my magnifier and started shooting straight through my Aimpoint M4S bare, concentrating on making my shots once I got that first best sight picture. For the uninitiated, this is the first point you get the optic right on the target where you want it, and after that the reticle will start floating around. Pulling the trigger when you get that first sight picture will give you good results, and I noticed this as the day went on. For deliberate shooting from a stable position, using a magnifier is an asset. When shooting from an improvised or hasty position like from standing at 50yds, it’s not always the best option. Target identification is a bonus to a magnifier, but being able to make the shot accurately is just as important. There are pros and cons to both configurations (magnification vs no magnification).
Another area we worked on was with weak/reaction side operation of the weapon. Transitioning the weapon to the opposite shoulder, and then doing weapon manipulations like reloads and immediate action drills were stressed. The way prescribed for doing this was to use my right/strong hand to reach over the gun while rotating the gun to the right 90 degrees. I was having a lot of trouble with this, which is partly because I was running a Sprinco Red extra power recoil spring and H2 buffer, which makes bolt manipulation require a lot more physical effort. Doing this was also made difficult by my left shoulder, which at the time was not 100%. More on that later.
We started working on shooting while moving, which is something that I’ve managed to work on a little since my last class in August with EAG Tactical where I wasn’t doing as well with it. Still, my shooting wasn’t as good as I would have liked and I still need a ton more work on it.
We did more assessment drills, and then finished off the day working on the Modified Navy Qual. The MNQ is a total of 15 shots from 50yds. 5rds standing, 5rds kneeling and 5rds prone. What sets the TRICON MNQ apart is that you are penalized for every procedural error you make. You must engage the safety before changing mags. You must change mags before moving to the next position. You must manipulate the charging handle for the reloads and the bolt must be forward before moving to that next position. You must use the high kneel position where you lay the arch of your strong foot flat on the ground and lean forward for support. With this kneeling position, this was a mix of muscular support for my support leg, and ground support for my strong side leg. My preferred position is the double-kneeling “Monica” position, but Jeff made a good argument for the use of this high kneel position as another one to consider using. I think that my training needs to incorporate more positions so that I can become proficient at more options, which can help me adapt to any situation as needed.
We initially shot the MNQ at closer ranges for practice, but eventually moved out to 50yds for the official MNQ test for qualification.
On the first evolution, I did it very smoothly and I felt really good about my how I did everything. I had a good time as well. My shots didn’t feel as good, but I knew that I had at least done well enough to qualify. After the first string, Jeff called out all the names of everyone that qualified on the first string. Everyone else went off the line and back to the muster area. Those of us that qualified had to do a second qualification string. On the second string, I didn’t feel like I manipulated or moves as smoothly, but I felt good about my shots.
After the MNQ was complete, Jeff went over the results and I was pleased. My first qualification was Marksman, and my second was Sharpshooter. Your official qualification is your lowest ranking, so I wound up getting a qualification badge for Marksman instead of Sharpshooter. Still, I was very happy with my performance, and I was more than happy to get the patch. Given my lack of confidence in my shooting on TD3, I was happy to even qualify at all.
We got our overall test percentages at the end. Jeff documents everything and scores everything. I never really understood why he did this until later on in the course. Nobody explained to me that all the tests were for a passing certificate at the end. You can either complete the course, or you can pass it. I only completed the course, as my percentages were not nearly high enough for a PASS.
Battery Avg: 51%
Test Avg: 47%
Overall Avg: 50%
I was one of the first to get my score read off, so I was sort of down in the dumps about my percentages. However, with the exception of one person, all the people that were at my level or higher were all LEOs. So, in retrospect, my percentage was not atypical of the LE group. The other civilian shooters did not fare as well, so to me this asserted that I had a higher level of capability. What it really did was give me a baseline to compare myself to where I used to be, and juxtapose that to where I was after TD3 of that course. Then, I can gauge it later on down the line after I keep training and practicing and getting better. It’s a baseline, but it’s one where I know I didn’t do terrible, but still have a lot of room for improvement to make myself a better shooter.
If you like shooting at 50yds, this course is for you. We probably spend upwards of 40-50% of our shooting time at 50yds. This was welcomed, as it was an area where I know I could always use a lot more work. I find it fun to shoot at 50yds, despite it being somewhat frustrating at times. My goal for the future is to work on my long range game, as well as keep working on my shooting on the move.
Throughout this course, Jeff kept it professional and ran the line at a fast pace, but he was a good guy to BS with too. For people who are not familiar with a military method of training speed, it might be a bit hard to keep up. For me, this was a good way to keep my wits about me. Jeff has short breaks, so having pre-loaded magazines or having your ammo on stripper clips will allow you to restock your combat load and still have time to get a snack, take a leak, hydrade or jot down some notes.
I developed a SLAP tear (Superior Labrum Anterior and Posterior tear) in my left shoulder several months back, and I managed to aggravate the injury mildly on TD1, but then really aggravate it early on TD3. I only had about 50% strength in my left shoulder by lunchtime on TD3, and I forgot my ibuprofen at home. I drove through it and managed, so it wasn’t the end of the world. Fortunately, I got a good night’s sleep when I got home and woke up to discover that my shoulder was feeling better and I had not exacerbated the injury. I had only gotten a stinger of some sort, or it was fatigue related.
I have a recovered SLAP tear in my right shoulder and torn flexor carpi ulnaris forearm muscle that I got from both weight lifting and trying to extricate a partner from a car wreck back in January. Add in my left shoulder, and this summer training season has been the most beat up I’ve ever been. It’s been interesting for sure, but I’m looking forward to some rest.
My shooting was not where I hoped it would be, but it was a fun course and I learned some good points to bring back to my agency.
One topic of discussion was how Jeff does not count shots that hit the line. I happened to give him some crap for it, but he was a good sport and managed to throw it right back at me. Jeff’s biggest mistake was probably not throat-punching me the first time I mentioned line hits on TD1… graemlin::D (My wife learned to do this a long ago and will attest to its effectiveness)
However, I understand his reasoning with it. Thing is, my shots in the center of the target were not always consistent. I was like a motherfucking sniper with those line hits though. The guys shooting next to me will attest to the concentric circle of masking tape that was negatively taped around the center 8” circle of my targets. Something to work on for sure.
My overall impression of the course was that it was a very high speed, low drag course with a lot of information. There was a lot of carry over to this course from my previous training. I’ve never taken the TRICON CC Level 1 course, but I didn’t feel like I was behind in any way with this course. One thing that I really appreciated was that when Jeff put out information, it was a no-bullshit info dump. There was no fluff, no extraneous information, nothing. He told you what you needed know, and he held no punches with topics that he didn’t agree with. Jeff has a very prestigious background that affords him a unique operational perspective. This perspective benefits students who can use this information operationally, especially those of us in attendance who make our living as cops.