I have never met Jeff Cooper. I have never taken a class at the Gunsite Academy and I don’t claim to know much about the man. I do know that he saved my life, and if you carry a gun for a living, at some point he is going to save yours too. In order to digest this sweeping statement you have to understand how things were before Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper, USMC (retired/deceased), developed the “modern techniques” of small arms training and opened the Gunsite Training Academy in Paulden, Ariz.
THE FIRST FIREARM that I carried was a Marine Corpsissue .45-caliber pistol. The date: December 1983; the place: Beirut, Lebanon; and the mission: determine the source and nature of a serious food-borne illness that had started ashore. I was a navy corpsman, a medical laboratory technician, coming off the USS Guam to assist the environmental medical team in isolating an outbreak of salmonella paratyphoid. This disease is a mankiller and the mission was very important, but as far as pistols go, I was completely untrained. A fellow corpsman, who was assigned to the Marine helicopter squadron operating off the coast of Guam, had given me the pistol.
I have know idea where he got the firearm; he simply pulled it out of his tiny locker located in the shared overflow berthing compartment. He handed it to me with the warning, “Whatever happens, for god’s sake, don’t load it because the Marines ashore would go crazy if they caught you with a loaded weapon.”
On Oct. 23 of that year, a suicide bomber had driven a large truck filled with the equivalent of 21,000 pounds of TNT through the base perimeter and detonated the explosives on the side of the building that the Marines were using for their headquarters and barracks. One of the details from that tragedy that I have never forgotten was how the truck driver made it past the Marine sentries at the entrance gate. As the driver approached the gate without slowing down, the Marines recognized him as a threat, but did not fire their weapons because they were unloaded. They were unloaded because that was the default standard operating procedure of the day. Conventional wisdom at that time was that a loaded weapon equaled accidental discharges, which in turn injured Marines.
THE SENTRIES probably had a loaded magazine sitting right below an empty chamber. That is now called a “Condition 3” firearm, but back then, conditions were not taught to Marines or anyone else. They could have done a “type one” malfunction drill to put their rifles into action, but in those days, the importance of muscle memory or type-one malfunction drills were simply not taught. The mechanical skills and combat mindset required to react instinctively to an existential threat would not become ingrained in the Marine Corps or anywhere else until Cooper made these concepts fundamental to professional firearms training.
Without this knowledge, the sentries acted on instinct and in an attempt to save his fellow Marines, one of them threw himself in front of the truck. He became the first of 241 Marines to die that night.
FOUR YEARS LATER, I arrived at Camp Pendleton, Calif., as a second lieutenant who had just graduated from the Infantry Officer Course and was slated to take charge of a rifle platoon in the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. The assignment was pure luck. The battalion was scheduled to be the Ground Combat Element of the very first Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable. That meant we were slated to do a six-month deployment to the Western Pacific aboard the ships of an Amphibious Ready Group instead of doing a six-month rotation with the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa. That was a good deal and being the first SOC Battalion Landing Team meant that we were conducting all sorts of new and high-speed training with “fast” ropes and “rigid-raiding” craft. We were also alotted all the training ammunition a young lieutenant could ask for.
Unfortunately, we had no clear understanding of what to do with all of the extra small-arms ammunition. Every infantry battalion in the Marine Corps conducted an annual training rotation in Twentynine Palms, Calif. This was a month-long, Combined Arms training eXercise, or CAX, that included multiple sequences of live-fire assaults.
This is where infantry battalions burned up most of their annual training ammunition allocation; we had hundreds of thousands of rounds more than those guys. The extensive entry-level training required one to pass the qualification course with both the rifle and pistol. Anyone who has read Cooper’s doctrine knows, a rifle and pistol qualification isn’t combat training. It means that you are ready to start combat training. At the time, that concept was largely alien in both military and law enforcement circles. Tactical training was, doctrinally, the responsibility of the Fleet Marine Force, but up until 1988, they too had zero training to offer on the tactical employment of small arms.
IT ALL CHANGED when a bright 1st Marine Division staff officer developed a plan to address the evident training short fall. We received word of this when we returned from our first six-month shipboard deployment and our battalion was ordered to surrender our best sergeants to division schools. When an infantry battalion returns from a deployment it can anticipate losing hundreds of Marines in what was then known as the Fleet Assistance Program.
These Marines would augment the military police, base services, rifle range and many other facilities. The FAP was one of the many cost-saving programs used by the legendarily stingy Marine Corps to get the most bang out of its manpower buck. The standard operating procedure for units facing the FAP crunch was to hold back their talent in order to train the replacements who would be pouring in for the next deployment.
The courses we steered our sergeants towards were called the combat-rifle and combat-pistol instructor courses. Three of my acting squad leaders (all corporals) scored seats to these courses. We knew nothing about them except that the ammuntion requirement was 2,000 rounds per man per course; this hinted that they might be worth attending. The corporals were nervous about the pistol course because that was not a firearm they had ever qualified with.
I wasn’t in good shape either, having only qualified with the Colt 1911 in Quantico. Here,
we were running 9mm Berettas, and I had never fired one. I remember walking into the
classroom where we ended up spending very little time, and seeing posters with the four rules of weapons safety and color codes of mental awareness. I knew then that these two courses would be worth some investment of time and ammunition. I was wrong; the training we received there was worth its weight in gold!
THE SERGEANTS instructing these courses were beyond impressive – they were confident, knew the material and experts in weapons handling, tactical shooting and positive reinforcement. They taught us the syllabus that was doctrine for the famous Gunsite Academy founded by Cooper in 1976. Word for word, drill by drill, they taught us well. Cooper and his team had trained these Marines to perfection and then he had allowed his class outlines and drills to be used without any compensation for what was then and is now, extraordinarily valuable intellectual property.
The impact this training had on our Marines was impossible to quantify. We made it a priority to teach these techniques, tactics and procedures to the new Marines joining the company. The new lieutenants and staff sergeants we received for the next deployment cycle also attended the courses. Everyone who encountered Marines from our regiment noted straight trigger fingers and professional weapon handling skills. They sensed that they were observing men who considered the fundamentals of combat shooting to be the very foundation of the profession of arms.
OUR SECOND MEU (SOC) training cycle was markedly different from the first. We crammed as much live-fire training into our schedule as possible, using Gunsite-designed line drills and simulators. It was intense. The Marines loved it. Our rotation through Twentynine Palms was a smashing success; the squads, platoons and rifle companies ran through the live fire and movement range progressions with ease.
I remember one of the coyotes (officers assigned to supervise and run the CAX) telling me that there was a noticeable difference between battalions coming from Camp Pendleton and those that were based at Camp Lejune or Hawaii. He added that they knew it was due to “those shooting courses you guys are teaching” at the division schools. In time, Cooper’s modern technique of small arms training would spread to every corner of America. The military, police and federal law enforcement use it to this day, and there are hundreds of schools across America that teach it to students who want to be responsible for their own safety and need to learn how.
I’M A HISTORY BUFF with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the Vietnam War. I’ve studied thousands of photographs from that conflict; my father and two of my uncles fought there and have shared many stories about their time working the Leatherneck Square, Rockpile and the infamous Arizona territory. Look at photos of Marines or soldiers fighting in Vietnam and compare them with photographs from Afghanistan or Iraq today and you can see for yourself that the way grunts used to handle their weapons is completely different from how they handle them now.
Jeff Cooper single handedly did that, and without fanfare or self promotion. He did much more too; he taught us how to think. I spent eight years in Afghanistan, all of it outside the wire embedded in various Afghan communities. During that time I was given the opportunity to design reconstruction projects in the contested provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar, Nimroz and the Hellmand. We did not take the normal approach used by traditional security contractors. We did not have armored SUVs or heavily reinforced compounds. We moved in local vehicles, wearing local clothes and were responsible for our own security, a position advocated by Cooper repeatedly in his insightful lessons.
We used what my good friend and former Gunsite instructor John “Mullah” Binns called the Jeff Cooper El Salvador option for securing our compounds. We had exterior guards, but they were only armed with sawed-off shotguns. Their job was to fire them and run if we were attacked. The high-end military-grade ordinance was inside the compound with trained expats. We didn’t want to leave AK-47s or RPK machineguns outside of our buildings where they could be used against us if our minimal exterior security failed, which was likely to happen.
We didn’t put our 30-foot RPG screens on top of the compound walls either, like every other Western-aid implementer in the country. Our exterior walls looked exactly like every other compounds’ exterior walls. If you jumped over them, you landed on top of concertina wire; if you got through the concertina, you then had to get past the dogs; if you got past the dogs, you had to deal with us – and we knew what we were doing with the multiple weapon systems stored in our compounds. Many international compounds in Afghanistan were attacked by the Taliban over the years, but they never attacked one of ours, and I think that was, in part, due to our unique security posture, developed by Cooper.
THE COMBAT MINDSET, color code of mental awareness and four rules of weapons safety were the foundation on which I based my security procedures in Afghanistan, and they served me well in some pretty tough situations. I survived eight years to return home relatively unscathed, and I am convinced that Jeff Cooper had much to do with that. If you carry a gun for living, you too are benefiting from the legacy of Lt. Col. Cooper. It is impossible to calculate the number of marines, soldiers, SEALs, police officers as well as trained civilians who are alive today thanks to the modernization of gun handling and combat marksmanship that was developed, refined and introduced to America by this lion of a man. He should never be forgotten as long as free men roam this world with the rights and ability to defend themselves against those who would victimize them through criminality or tyranny. ASJ
STORY BY TIM LYNCH • PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF GUNSITE ACADEMY
This story was originally published in our May 2015 print issue.
In this segment on precision long range shooting conducted by Larry Vicker and spotted by Walt Wilkinson of Gunsite. They will be pushing the range limits on the Lapua 338. Though the video states debunking myths on long range shooting, the results is what is significant.
Larry will be using a 338 Lapua/250 grain bullet with Schmidt&Bender scope, Atlas bipod and with a Armament suppressor. A fact that most long range shooter understands when shooting out to beyond 1000 yards the bullet starts to drop like a rainbow. Thats due to (getting a little technical here) the environmental factors of temperature and barometric pressure. So to overcome this is to run the math in a ballistic app. That’s the reason why they say a grouping at 1500 yards should be at fifteen inches group, where at closer range your groupings could be at 5 inches.
The un-suppressed rifle starts out at 300 yards for zeroing and pushes out to 2500 and outer space to see where the rounds go. For the 338 Lapua with the 20 inch barrel the drop off point was at 1470 yard. The bullet is tumbling, yawing, spinning out of control and would land in a group size of a Volkswagen.
From here its back to the 1313 yards where the gun was in the zone with a suppressor attached. Suppressed Lapua had no problem hitting steel targets at 1313 and 1470 yards, but lost it at 1583 yards.
Un-Suppressed with a 338 Lapua
Suppressed with a 33 Lapua (Suppressor has given it more velocity)
You can skip to these times to view the shooting at 8:50 (1082 yd), 9:26 (1313 yd), 13:35 (suppressed 1470yd).
Ok, the gun I’m using this year out at Gunsite in the season 2 long-distance episode is an Accuracy International AX 338 Lapua, provided to me by my good friend Randy Pennington at Mile High Shooting Accessories in Denver Colorado. Randy reached out after he saw what we did last year on the show, offered up a gun for Season 2, and it turns out, he’s a Vietnam vet with a service-related disability. Really good guy. And what I consider the best one-stop shop for high-end sniper rifles and accessories in the country. This entire gun was decked out by Mile High shooting accessories. Let me take you through it.
They are the exclusive distributor for Suppressed Armament Systems, which was the suppressor that came with the gun, has a 20-inch barreled AX, the base rifle 338 Lapua, a Schmidt and Bender scope which he supplies, I actually got this particular one in flat dark earth from Mark Cromwell at Schmidt & Bender USA, this is one of the exact scopes that they’re sending to SOCOM for the PSR program. The 5-25 PM2 is the gold standard for long-distance shooting now, and this is the scope that was actually chosen by the shooters of SOCOM before the rifle was chosen. That’s how good of a piece of kit this is.
The Spur mount was supplied by Mile High, they’re one of the spur distributors of the States. Excellent mount, has a leveling bubble in the bottom, clamps on very solidly, unlike the gun we had last year.[Flashback cameraguy] Woah, we’re F***.
Now it’s a tactical sling as you know, you can run the adjustment on it in and out as need be, or you can actually cuff up, pinch down on your arm, and then use this as a support as a standard service rifle sling. It’s one of the many factors in why that sling was adopted by the Marine Corps, as the recommended sling for the M16-M4 family.
Ok TacTV fans, I’m out here at Long Range Ridge with my good buddy Walt Wilkinson, Sargeant Major retired, we’ve known each other for a long time; Walt’s a staff instructor here at Gunsite, and one of the most dialed-in gun guys that I know; and a world champion 50-caliber thousand-yard shooter. He is obviously the guy that I want to tap into for long-range shooting. Now I’ve brought out a 338 AI gun, and you’ve got your Steyr here, correct?[Walt] Yes I do, my HS50. [Larry] I guess we’ll confirm zeroes and we’ll get out here and start shootin’ some targets at distance.
Walt, I know you’ve told me this before, but remind me, when did you get into long-range shooting?[Walt] Back in Ohio in Highschool, alright, you know the groundhog thing, all over the place, me and my friends got into long-range groundhog shooting right there. We progressed through the 25016 up into our first precision guns once I got into the service and was able to make a little bit of money, with a Remington 40XB and 7mm Remington magnum. [Larry] Now remember, you’re an old boy like me, you bought that at Advanced Shooting supplies in Columbus. [Walt] That’s correct. Me and my buddy got consecutive serial numbers, single-shot 40XBs. [Larry] Good deal. Now, we’ve talked about a variety of things off-camera here, when it comes to long-range shooting, everything kinda changes at a thousand, right? [Walt] That is correct, once you get to that range, the bullet is dropping like a rainbow, so small problems in your calculations equal a lot, alright? So the environmental factors of temperature and barometric pressure really affect the bullet, and you’ve got to really either run the math, or have your dope book set up so that you know what the bullet’s gonna do at different temperatures. And then of course, the answer to the problem nowadays is the ballistic computer. [Larry] Absolutely. Now, we know you’re a world champion 50 cal, what else do you shoot with? [Walt] I compete with the 308, because I think that’s the best round really to train with, I’m not using one of the supercalibers there. The long-range matches, I use the 338 Lapua, going out to 2250 there, and then of course I shoot the practical 600-yard matches and the 1000-yard match with my Steyr HS50. [Larry] And one of the refreshing things about some of the stuff we talked about, is you don’t buy into the perpetuated myth of the sub-MOA accuracy in terms of the ammo-shooter-gun combination. [Walt] That’s one of the hard things that a lot of the students come out here, and they want every single group to be a half-inch or so. And that’s not gonna be the case, alright. Some people will claim that, you know, when they shoot, that one-time quarter-inch group, that now their rifle is a quarter MOA rifle, and they don’t. No, the stars just aligned, and you got the bullets to go into the same area in a tight group. A one-MOA gun, that’s what you’re looking for. And we always have to explain that to the students, whatever range we’re at. You know, at three hundrd, this is a perfect group, alright. And at four hundred, this is a perfect group. You’re doing fine, don’t get all frustrated. In most cases, with the environment, environmental changes and the ammunition and the rifle put together, a one MOA group is really what you should expect. [Larry] So if you’re shooting to 1500, it’s a fifteen-inch group. [Walt] It’s a fifteen-inch group. It’s an excellent group at that range, because the environment really starts to come into play there. [Larry] Good deal. Well I can tell you, last season we had a blast with our mile shot. By your standards it was, you know, it was rather crude, per se. But this season, I want to tap into a real subject matter expert, and look into the science, and debunk some of the myths behind shooting at long range. You’ll be firing up your fifty, I’ll be firing up my 338, we’ll have a great ****in time. [Walt] I think we will. And we certainly have the facilities here to do that. [Larry] You’ve got that right.
We’re up here at Long-range ridge, my buddy Walt Wilkinson’s spotting for me, and we’re dialing in my AI AX 338 with Schmidt & Bender 5-25 on top of it. Walt helped me get zeroed in at a hundred, then we confirmed it at 300 on the woodfield range, and now we’re stretching it out to eight, nine-hundred, a thousand, different steel targets, and he’s calculating the come-ups, so when in theory we could be on the first shot or the second shot at most; and by-and-large, it’s been right on the money.[Walt] Ok, I’m gonna give you your wind-holes in mils, alright, so figure out what they are. [Larry] It looks like incriments of ten, and then five, but in the center crosshair, only out to ten on each side; north-south-east-west. [Walt] Ok, so- [Larry] So I can swag five. [Walt] Two, five, seven, that kind of thing? [Larry] Yeah. [Walt] When you’re ready, let me know, it’s the small square one, third one from the right. [Larry] I’m ready. [Walt] Ok. Favor right. [Bang] [Walt] Looked like windage was good, just underneath. [Larry] Yep. [Walt] Ok, dial up point-five. So now we’ve come up point-five, six-point-two. That’s what we should be up right now, eight eighty-two. Lemmy know when you’re ready, shooter. [Larry] I’m ready. [Walt] Favor right. [Shot]…Clang. [Larry] Yep. [Walt] Can’t ask for more ‘n that. [Larry] Nope. [Walt] I think it hit. Just off the cross, upper-left-hand quadrant of it. [Larry] Mkay. [Walt] Alright, we’re gonna move to the thousand-eighty-two, two targets left. [Larry] The one with the crosshair on it? [Walt] Correct. [Larry] I… am ready. [Walt] Right edge. [Bang] [Walt] Right edge, you hit below the center just a little bit, though it looks pretty good. Tell me when you’re ready. [Larry] Ready. [Walt] Right edge. [Bang] [Walt] Clang. Trace said maybe just a little bit below center. Okay, moving. Thirteen-thirteen. [Larry] That’s in that open field? [Walt] Yeah, to the left, the two that are together, tall and short. [Larry] I’m ready. [Walt] Right edge. [Bang] [Walt] OH! [Larry] He f***in skedaddled! [Walt] Almost got ‘im dude! There was a jackrabbit behind the target I was tryin’ to get. [Larry] Yeah! High left! [Walt] Come down point-four, we should at least get in there. [Larry] Alright. [Walt] Tell me when you’re ready. [Larry] I… am ready. [Walt] Right. Point-five. [Bang] [Walt] There we go. OK, we know we can pound out to that. Now we’re gonna stretch. [Larry] Alright.
Right now, the 338’s doing great, we’re gonna use a Blackhills 250-grain. Mile High shooting and accessories hooked me up with the gun. We’re at 1300 now, we’re trying to push farther, and by all accounts, with a twenty-inch barrel, we’re gonna start running into challenges, so we’ll see how it shakes.[Walt] Let’s see what that little 20-inch barrel is capable of. [Larry] Alright. [Walt] It’s lightening up pretty good for us, not a problem, Mirage is not an issue. [Larry] I’m ready. [Walt] Right, point-three. [Bang] [Walt] YES. I love it when I can see the bullet. [Larry] How’d that shake? [Walt] It’d be a fifteen-inch group. Dial up point-four for me. [Larry] Nineteen-eight. [Walt] Nineteen-point-eight. Ok. Getting less wind up at altitude, most of it’s on the ground. So tell me when you’re ready. [Larry] I am ready. [Walt] Right edge. [Bang] [Walt] Just off the right edge. So we’ll make the adjustment, we don’t care what’s going on. Tell me when you’re ready. [Larry] I am ready. [Walt] Favor left. Favor left. [Bang] [Larry] Oh. Yeah, I saw that. [Walt] Guess what. [Larry] Yeah. [Walt] We may have found that point in the world where that thing’s gonna start dropping off. We just hit one point too low. In the last one we were hitting dead on, ok. [Larry] Yeah. [Walt] Let’s try that again. Top, left-hand corner of the target. [Larry] Got it. [Walt] Watch your reticle. [Bang] [Larry] Yeah. You’re right. [Walt] We have reached that point. So at this point here, we’ve now gone down below the speed of sound, and the crossing back through the sound barrier, the bullet ends up having issues, and will start tumbling, spinning, and yawing and everything else. So we have definitely reached that point. We didn’t reach it out at thirteen-thirteen, but now at 1470, we’re there. [Larry] Well my world-class spotter-slash-ballastician Walt has figured it out– this gun is basically good to go out to 1313 on steel, but now we just tried just shy of 1500, and it’s a no-go. The group size down there is probably the size of a Volkswagon. [Walt] It’s gettin’ big, yeah. [Larry] And so what we’re gonna do now, we’re gonna back it back down to the zone where we know we can get good hits, we put the suppressor on it that Mile High shooting and accessories supplied with the gun, we’re gonna see what kinda hits we get with the same data we had unsuppressed. [Walt] Sounds like a plan.
Larry, you ready?[Larry] I’m ready. [Walt] Wind has shift…ed. [Larry] Yeah it has, I can tell. [Walt] Left edge. [Bang] …Clang. [Larry] WOOOOW. [Walt] I’m gonna say that it hit… [Larry] In the upper-left quadrant? [Walt] Yep, right in there. That, that was impressive, you know, to go add that suppressor and then have no real point of impact shift at that range. [Larry] At thirteen-hundred? [Walt] Yeah. [Larry] I’m very impressed. [Walt] Yeah. You gonna try, go back out to 1470? Alright. Here we go. Dial nineteen-eight. [Larry] Alright. [Walt] Larry, you ready? [Larry] Yeah I’m ready. [Walt] Give me left edge. [Bang] [Larry] Wow. [Walt] It hit… center… low. So, with that in mind, larry, come up point three. [Larry] ‘Kay. [Walt] Let’s see what happens. Point-three would give us twenty point one, correct? [Larry] 20.1 [Walt] 20.1 and that’s the suppressed one. Tell me when you’re ready. [Larry] I’m ready. [Walt] Alright, focus on the reticle, I can’t stress that enough. Left edge. [bang] [Larry] I’ll be ****. [Walt] I’m gonna say that hit center, low. That laid waste. The suppressor’s given it more velocity and we’re getting there. [Larry] Well the guy got Randy Pennington, the guy that sent it to me, from Mile High, said that most people, once they start shooting these suppressed, they’re shooting suppressed all the time. I am genuinely impressed with that exact same hit with that exact same dope at 1313 with the suppressor on it. Basically it hit a man at 1300 meters with exactly the same dope, suppressor on and suppressor off. That’s very impressive.
Ok now we shot the gun 1470 with the suppressor on and we got hits that we previously did not get any hits on unsuppressed. Now we’re gonna see where it falls off the edge of the cliff, so to speak, and push it another hundred yards or so, to just shy of sixteen-hundred yards.[Walt] Ok. 1583, alright, I want you to dial 21.7. 21.7. It works out to about a mil and a half for that next hundred yards. [Larry] Got it. [Walt] We’re getting out there, now. Focus on the reticle, tell me when you’re ready. [Larry] I’m ready. [Walt] Left, point-three. [Bang] [Larry] Oh. About where the crosshair was at. [Walt] Just out there. Tell me when you’re ready. [Larry] I am ready. [Walt] Favor left. [Bang] [Larry] Nah. [Walt] Unobserved. [Larry] Yeah. Outer space. [Walt] That’s not really good, because that was point-seven lower. [Larry] Yeah. [Walt] Than where we hit before. Larry give me another one. [Larry] ‘Kay. [Walt] We’ll make an adjustment off that. Tell me when you’re ready. [Larry] Ready. [Walt] Let me have the upper left-hand corner of the target. [Bang] [Larry] That’s it. [Walt] Not only is it hard to spot out at that range, but yeah, we just had a half-mil shift between those two. Yeah. So. [Larry] We were able to hold it together at fourteen-somethin’, but… [Walt] So that is definitely– that is the threshhold of everything that– the suppressor gave us that extra one-hundred. Yeah. And when we added a hundred, we lost it. [Larry] Makes sense.
Sources: Vickers Tactical, Gunsite, TacTV
Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: 20 inch barrel AX, 338 Lapua, 50 Cal BMG Bolt gun, Armament Suppressor, Atlas bipod, Black Hill 250 grains, Blue Force Gear Tactical Sling, Gunsite, H550, Larry Vicker, Long Range Precision, Mile High Shooting Accessories, TacTV, Walt Wilkinson
How often do you get a chance to shoot at a killer robot wielding an AK? Maybe the robot wasn’t a killer, and maybe the AK wasn’t real, but it could have been, and that’s why it’s a good drill.
Larry Vicker of Vicker’s Tactical was at Gunsite to get some lead downrange. Sporting a Bravo Company AR with an 8 point microbe and a red dot sight attach at 100 yard out. His partner Frank used an AI AT308 bolt rifle, at the same distance with his optics at 6x. At longer distances would be set to 8x or 10x. Less than 100 yards you want to see more of target and its surroundings, enabling you to anticipate its movement.
Shooting a moving target is no cake in the park from long distance, but Frank Galli and Walt Wilkinson has some great tips:
On a more serious note ANY chance you have to practice shooting at a moving target you should do it. Remember NO ONE stands still in a gunfight!
My buddy and frequent guest on my shows Walt Wilkinson from GunSite put Frank Galli and I through a moving target drill using one of GunSite’s four robots, with the TAT3D target that’s sold my good friends at Mile High Shooting Accessories mounted on top. Having to shoot at a 3D target moving sideways is always difficult, because of the limited target profile. Great drill.
Larry: Hey Vickers Tactical fans, thanks for coming back. Larry Vickers, Walt Wilkinson, Frank Galley, we’re out here at Gunsight, and Walt’s gonna run me and Frank through a little moving target drill. Walt, take it away, bro.
Walt: Okay, here at Gunsight we shoot moving targets in our pistol classes and our carbine classes, and of course in our long-range rifle classes. We have three ranges equipped with fixed moving targets, and then we have four remote-control robots that we use, which is what we’re going to use today.
Larry: We also got the Mile-High TAT3D target on it. Frank’s gonna go first with the AI AT 308 bolt gun with Schmidt & Bender five by twenty-five. Now Frank, you’ve done this before, why don’t you give some tips or quick pointers for the folks at home?
Frank: Ok, uh, with a moving target –we talked about this off-camera– the time starts from the time you think about pulling the trigger to the time the bullet gets down there. However, I usually go with a rule of thumb of a half-mil per mile an hour. That’ll get me in the ballpark, but it can vary. You might be slightly different, Walt might have a completely different hold. The way you can shoot the moving target is trapping it, you can track it, and you can do a combination where you lead it, track in front of it, ambush ’em that way; the trapping some people call an ambush method. Gunsight uses a pattern method where you work on the pattern.
Walt: Right, our other two– we teach those two– and then in the precision rifle class, we have a track and hold, where we are tracking behind the moving target, and when it stops or slows down, once the crosshairs or the dot get on the target, you touch it off then. The other one would be a pattern timing where an adversary is popping out of a window or behind the edge of a wall, and you pick up that pattern, and you’re waiting, and just as soon as you see the edge come out, you touch the shot off. So those are our four techniques that we use.
Larry: Now you use an S&B Five-twenty-five, what magnification do you anticipate using for this drill?
Frank: Right now because we’re at a hundred yards, I have it set on six power. Generally speaking I’d be back a little bit further, so eight to twelve is my preferred, but I’m opening up my field of view, just because the robot can move a little bit faster and a little bit more erratic.
Larry: Got it. Now, we’re at a hundred yards for this drill, I’m gonna be using my bravo company training carbine with an eight-point micro, and I’m a big fan -especially at specialty distances like this- of a red-dot sight for movers. They are awesome. Get farther out, might not work so well, that’s where magnification may come into play, but you’re a hundred in, you can wear a mover out with a red-dot sight.
Walt: Alright, here we go. Shooter ready!
Frank: Shooter’s up!
Walt: And Ceasefire.
Larry: Alright, Walt.
Walt: Shooter Ready! Standby![Firing]
Larry: Alright. Walt, if you don’t mind, why don’t you run this puppy up here, we’ll check it out.
Walt: Alrighty. Alright. That’s the side we were shooting at, right there.
Larry: Pretty sure these bigger hits, that’s Frank and the 308. The smaller little ones are me and the 556. And then Frank did a number, he had a goal to cut the target in half, and ‘worked like a champ. This is a hit, one of mine, and this is one of Frank’s. They sealed back up, but we’re going off of bullet diameter. This is one of mine. I think that’s one of Frank’s.
Walt: And the nice thing about this, it’s realistic, in that when you’re shooting a target from the side, you’ve only got a small amount of true target, because any edge hits are just gonna deflect off and not really do any damage. So it’s a small target when you’re working it from the side.
Larry: It’s like everything in life, everything kinda balances itself out. If you’re shooting somebody that’s a little wider, he’s gonna be moving slower, he’s gonna be easier to hit. Thin dude like this, he’s gonna be truckin’.
Frank: That’s it.
Larry: Now you held leading edge the whole way, you just tracked it?
Frank: Leading edge, and I tracked ’em, and took it out that way, I just was in the front trying to get that, I did do a head, I came down into the body, and like I said I wanted to get that cardboard to get that effect, and it worked out pretty well.
Larry: I held body the whole time, leading edge, I didn’t even try for the head, that’s one thing about a RedDot, you don’t have any magnification, you know, the way I’ve got it set up, so you need to be looking more center mass.
Walt: Yeah. And as far as technique goes, Frank you adjusted your natural point of aim every single shot.
Frank: Yes sir.
Walt: To set yourself up for success. And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be done, just like that.
Frank: I move my hips when I do it, I don’t shoulder it. I shift.
Walt: “Shift”, that was great.
Larry: Alright, Frank, Walt, I think you guys would agree: Train on movers any chance you get.
Larry: You know, Actually, I tell my students ‘try to go out of your way to find opportunities to train on moving targets’. Because in the real world, when the bullets start flying, nobody’s gonna be standing still.
Larry: Well we’re gonna wrap it up here, I wanna thank Adam for bringing the target, Frank for his assistance with the bolt gun, Walt for your expertise with the robot, and Hamburger Head for sucking up the bullets. Larry Vickers, wrappin’ it up from Gunsight.
Larry: Hey thanks for watchin’ the vickers Tactical Youtube channel. To subscribe click here, and to watch some of my favorite videos, click here. Have a good one, LAV out.
Source: Vicker’s Tactical Youtube, Gunsite