If it looks silly, but works … it ain’t silly

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Notes from Rifle Fundamentals: Breath and Hold Control

It is said that 600 yards separates the men from the boys. Maybe, but for me, offhand shooting is hardest. The illustration at the head of the article linked below shows two tools to make offhand a bit steadier.

1. Hip support for the support elbow. Yes, both male and female usually need to push the forward hip out to get better support. Looks silly – but it works.

2. Note how far back toward the trigger guard is the shooter’s support hand. (In fact, I use the trigger guard for my forward support.) What does this accomplish? The longer the moment arm, the slower the oscillation. This characteristic of oscillations is most commonly observed in grandfather clocks. And, like a clock, put a bigger weight at the end of the moment arm and oscillations will again slow.

One more ancillary comment – the article is about breathing. But while breathing and getting oxygen for your muscles and brain, you can use that time to improve your ability to see.

1. Blinking your eyes will spread basal tears that will keep your cornea clean, clear, nourished and lubricated.

2. Simply closing your eyes, or looking at something green, will help the retina recover from your eyes previous staring at the sights & target. The relatively long term and intense fixed staring at black-and-white sights and target will ‘burn’ these images into the retina, making the ability to discriminate these a bit harder. The remedy – look somewhere restful, or simply close your shooting eye.

By the way – the comments above about moment arm and eye sensitivity recovery apply to all phases of shooting, not just offhand.



Lones Wigger: 1937-2017

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“The will to win is really better stated as the will to prepare to win. In shooting, it’s persistence that pays the biggest dividends—constant, steady practice, week in and week out, all year long. I truly believe that anyone can be a champion marksman if they work at it long and hard enough.”

– Lones Wigger, LTC, USA (Ret)

COL Lones Wigger was a four-time Olympian and the most decorated shooter in the world.

Legends: Lones Wigger 1937-2017
by Hap Rocketto


Sling Use


Sling Use
by John Tate

I’m a firm believer in slings for long guns for several OBVIOUS reasons:

  • Hands-free while hands-on. Once a perp is located and needs to be hooked-up, you gotta put that long gun somewhere safe and secure. Voilá – the sling.
  • Shooting position stability. The sling, if properly used, reduces wobble and may remove the need for muscle support (all positions except offhand).
  • Hands-free when traveling. Think “sling arms.”

My background is the classic 1907-style leather sling. But I’ve also used the one-piece web sling. Either works as a “hasty sling.” And the web sling can be disconnected from the butt for an upper-arm-to-rifle-forearm config.

I’m not familiar with the modern one-point and … well, I don’t know the name(s) for modern around the neck and around the back-shoulder options.

Full disclosure: Virtually all my sling experience is with the military two-piece leather or one-piece web sling. For either, the only quick option is the hasty sling. Otherwise, whether kneeling, sitting or prone, a different length is needed, which means individual adjustment prior to going into position. When I was a kid and did a bunch of hunting, it was mostly along the central eastern seaboard around Piedmont NC. I always had a tree for standing support; so I didn’t need slings, sticks or bipods.

Czech government tells its citizens how to fight terrorists: Shoot them yourselves

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Guns from a previously held firearms surrender are displayed at police headquarters in Manchester, England. (Andrew Yates/Reuters) [Editor's Note: I'm noticing a few non-firing orange and blue guns turned in to the firearms surrender.]



Safety – Safariland 7390 holster

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From John Tate.

Please immediately discontinue the use of the Safariland Holster 7390. A problem has been identified when holstering the weapon. During the holstering procedure, it is possible for a small piece of the holster, located internally (pictured below), to catch the tip of the trigger and move it towards the rear. While we do not believe it possible for the trigger to travel far enough to cause the weapon to fire, such movement clearly should not occur at all.

Safariland has been notified of the problem and is actively working on a solution.

Please advise your personnel to immediately discontinue the use of this holster and return to the holster that they were using prior to the 7390.


Remembering Fundamentals

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from John Tate

“Military actions are distilled down to shooting, moving, and communicating.”

“The most dynamic of the basics is shooting, and shooting well requires technique, accuracy, effect on target, and an understanding of what you are shooting at. This is a complex skill set, including everything from rifles/artillery to submarine-launched precision-guided missiles and close air support. Those that are doing the shooting and those that are directing the shooting need to be trained and exercised constantly.”

On a related note: Have you ever shot a Highpower match where (for example at 600 yds) the fog/haze/rain was so dense that your couldn’t clearly see your target? So you use a “berm hold” for elevation. Or, same distance, the wind exceeded your rifle’s windage, and you had to aim at the next target over? These are both examples of off-set aim points; attack aircraft crews use the same techniques when using RADAR significant objects as aim points with bomb navigation corrections that will achieve a hit on the intended target.

Every artillery officer knows the effect of wind(s) at altitude(s) on ballistics.

Over-the-horizon targeting can employ similar relational aiming techniques.

My point, the comment of aiming being “a complex skill set” is fully on target. And having all warriors skilled in small arms will likely have positive transfer to other warfare skills.

The service of the author, LTC Ray McFall, USMC (1986 – 2008), overlapped with that of Gen A.M. Gray’s tour as commandant (1987–91). You may remember, Gen Gray said, “every Marine is a rifleman.” That philosophy may have been impressed on McFall during his formative years. But even as a sailor, I’m firmly of the belief that every warrior should be confidently competent with small arms and thus his basic psyche permeated with the skill and will to kill.

Here’s hoping Mattis can return our military to a fighting force with only that focus.

The Unacceptable Price of Mediocrity

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As you read this essay, please keep in mind this thought, contributed by a police officer, Todd Jayne. “[Shooting] is probably the most important skill [a soldier or peace officer] may never need. When it comes time to shoot, you are doing so for your life, or the life of someone else. There is literally no other facet of our job where that is 100% true.”

Many in the intended audience of the Firearms User Network are warriors; for us, firearms’ ultimate purpose is as a weapon, one where skill may be measured in lives. Is this an activity where any warrior can be satisfied with mediocrity?

Robert McNamara was famous for bringing his Ford Motor Company ‘bean counters’ to the Pentagon and applying his business and management strategies to the business of war. But, as Mr. Jayne suggests above, war and its preparation are not endeavors that lend themselves to the typical concepts of efficiency. In truth, the opposite is nearer to reality. Consider that if an entity is known to be able to overcome immediately any opposition, that opposition is likely never to be launched. Whoa, doesn’t that mean all the entity’s preparations for war will never be used … and are thus a waste? This is the Vegetius Renatus paradox of deterrence: si vis pacem, para bellum.

Even without attempting commercial efficiency, the reality of limited resources demands careful allocation of those limited resources. A popular adage is, “People are our most valuable resource.” OK, but let me color that with Mark Twain’s metaphor: “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” Anyone who has observed Israel’s wars against her neighbors knows this is true. My point here is, if we must have a relatively small armed force, let’s have each member’s goal be perfection in fundamental pursuits. Gen. A.M. Gray, USMC said, “Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman.” I believe the same attitude applies to all warriors: you are first and foremost a marksman, because, for you, no other skill is more fundamental.

A saying goes: Perfect practice makes perfect. Vince Lombardi observed, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” That pursuit of perfection is something we should never deny to those of our members who want that chase.

I know a soldier who was never given access to or a chance to practice any Army obstacle course. The soldier was sent to an Army school where passing the “O” course was required, and only two chances were allowed. The soldier failed and was sent home. Later, at a subsequent school, with practice and preparation, the same soldier excelled on the “O” course and finished as a distinguished graduate. So the question is, why was the soldier not allowed to try and try and try in the first iteration? Stated differently, why would we deny success when success is within reach?

I know a soldier who is a better than fair shot, but had never shot the “pop-up” targets on the Army qual course. The soldier shot a poor but passing score (29/40) and was pulled off the line so other soldiers could shoot. Passing is 23 hits on 40 exposures; that’s a 42% miss rate … with no pressure, no one shooting back. This is passing for the most fundamental skill of a soldier? Our soldier was genuinely embarrassed to leave the line with such a poor score, and not a little angry at not being given an opportunity to shoot again in a subsequent relay. But, here, the management decision was made and “better was the enemy of good enough,” and good enough was allowed to win.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote that “ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.” If the Army has a soldier who is willing to dedicate 10,000 hours to maxing the “O” course or perfecting his sight alignment and trigger squeeze, why would we deny him the opportunity? If we are smart, we won’t, for two reasons. If we do:

we deny that soldier the pursuit of perfection that may result in excellence, and
we lead that soldier to be satisfied with mediocrity.

If we’re going to be a force of limited numbers, those few we have must be allowed to be their best.

The world of the warrior is not the world of the feather merchants. In a fight, you cannot hit your opponent too hard, you can only end the fight more quickly. I do not disparage the store clerk for his expertise in sweeping a floor, and he may be rightfully proud of a job well done; but dust isn’t life. For the warrior who deals in life, excellence must be a routine mindset in all military endeavors, especially shooting, because “when it comes time to shoot, you are doing so for your life, or the life of someone else.”

Stay safe all,
John Tate

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