I don't know if this should be in the cop section or here. It's an LE school, but is really a training AAR - so I put it here. If it's in the wrong spot, mods feel free to move it.
I decided to put on a DM course for my PD. The driving force behind this was basically that I saw we had equipment and skill that were being unused, and I wanted to put them to use.
I live in a town with a big 12 university, where many tens of thousands of students go to school, and more come to large events (specifically football games, where 60K+ people attend regularly. The city isn't that large - about 50K. So the football games contain more people than the town. As with any college town, there are drugs and crime everywhere, and large building with thousands of people walking around a small area. Any nutjob can go shoot up large numbers of people at any time (I know this idea is shocking, but it could happen).
First off, we have a decent patrol rifle program. Colts (6920 or 6721), aimpoints in either larue or aimpoint QD mounts, 400+ lumen LED lights, magpul p-mags, various sling (officer preference), Speer Gold Dot duty ammo. Qual twice per year on the rifle. Basic rifle school is 4 days (40 hours), and everyone is issued and is required to carry their rifle by policy (even detectives). Our active shooter class is very rifle-centric. We practice killing each other with sims rounds with our rifles a lot of times in that school.
We have a good active shooter program (taught by a devastatingly handsome guy who's not at all old and fat and beyond his prime), so the inside the structure searches for bad guys is covered. We have a part-time multi-jurisdictional swat team with city, county, university officer, medics, and even a doctor. They have a sniper program that involves heavy bolt guns and smaller number of .308 gas guns (Larues). But these are big, heavy systems that are purpose built, and not terribly flexible. But, as everyone knows, tac teams take time to deploy - especially part-time teams. 30 mins to an hour before you have the team spun up and the MRAP rolling with enough bodies to make a difference. Bad guys may not want to wait on them.
Several years ago, we swapped out all of our Leupold Mk4 3.5-10 mil dot scopes for mil/mil scopes of various makes (most nightforce). So we had a pile of good mil/moa scopes sitting in the safe collecting dust. Most of our tac team has free-float forends on their rifles, and many guys who used to be on it still do. So, add bipod and a mount, and you can turn your aimpoint-equipped Colt 6920 into a de-facto DMR. So, quietly over the last few years of serious budget woes, I was buying bipods and QD mounts (Bobro) for the scopes, loose mounting the scopes in them, and putting them in the safe. By loose mounting I mean put them together, finger tight the screws, and when they get issued, the officer levels and adjusts the scope to his preferences. Or not, as it turns out.
A few years ago, i was able to talk our city street department into doing a major range overhaul. While I was doing that, I got the neighboring gun club to agree to let me use one of their ranges to make a 500-yard range. After several months of dirt work spread out when streets could get to it, I have about a 100-yard wide by 500-yard long lane. I bought steel that I could catch on sale (not too much at a time to raise eyebrows), and put out AR500 steel from 100 to 500 every 50 yards. Most are an IPSC plate next to a 6" gong. Closer targets are the A/C zone targets, and the little circle gongs get larger the further away you get.
The snipers used the new range often, as did some outside agencies (who liked it), and I would go shoot the setup similar to what our DMR's were going to be when I had the time. Colt AR, stock trigger (which sucks), Troy Delta forend (doesn't require removal of the FSB, but isn't cheap), leupold mid-range scope (mine was 3-9, theirs were all 3.5-10) with mil dot reticles (mine was TMR). I cheaped out and got the ADM mount - which I don't like their dual-lever design. Everyone else had the bobro. Harris bipods with QD adaptors for the rail. Swapping is simple - take your patrol rifle out of the rack, lose the aimpoint (in larue mounts), add scope, attach bipod. Takes about 15 seconds (timed it many times - after I made them run 200 yards). I got a system I was comfortable with, data I was comfortable with, a zero range I was comfortable with, and wrote the class. It lingered on my computer for awhile with no movement.
So, my idea was to put on a 2-day class for former snipers - almost all of whom are firearms instructors. Good people. If I was starting at square one, it would likely need to be a 4-5 day class. The vegas shooting (or namely the range at which it occurred) helped me push the idea of the DMR, especially when everyone who qualified last month was taken next door and allowed to shoot as far as they could hit (usually 400, struggling at 450 and 500). I pitched to the shift commanders that I can give them a handful of shooters who can hit one for one stationary out to 400+ with little cost and 2 days of training. It worked. I got 6 shooters the first class (this one) and 5 for the next. A few of the guys are using personal equipment, but most aren't - shit we bought or has lying around.
So, first class was a test of the concept - and he're how it went:
DM class day 1 AAR
- classroom - took about 3 hours – geared toward experienced snipers/rifle instructors
- move to range, stopped to eat since we would not take another significant break
- setup paper and steel (3 circle paper) – black was worse than a grey color, due to difficulty seeing shots
- 200 yard zero and group w/55gr GD (get close on steel, then shoot 5-shot group on paper)
- do the same with 62gr GD - chose which shot better – most ended up with 62gr
- refined 200 yard zero with preferred ammo (4/6 shooters ended up with 62gr)
- zero retention drill (5x 2 shots, remove and replace scope on small steel targets) – no issues
- cleet target with 2" orange dot at 200, 100, 50 (aim at center dot on all – mark shots in between)
- used to determine offset at “close range” – should add a 25 yard next time
- instructor demo of hold-over shooting from 150-500 every 50 using smaller plates as targets
- give my data (which was all correct) as a starting point
- shooter/spotter shoot plates and work up data, record in notes (comeup sheet issued)
- minor issues of range misidentification
- reiterate that shooter must PID correct target, and READ data from card every time – never shoot off of “memory” – not reading data correctly caused several misses
- patrol rifle to DMR setup, then shoot from 150 to 500
- during this drill, we refined and confirmed our come-up data
- #### had personal 20” bbl gun, which dropped less at range
- 62gr ammo dropped slightly less than 55gr past 400 but was very close
- next we went and practiced the "thunder run" qual course. The 10-second cold bore was extremely difficult to make - 12 seconds was the average, and many missed this "cold bore". A 15-second time limit would be viable, but still difficult. Most misses still would have been effective shots, but missed the small center face circle (scoring ring)
- 20 seconds was about average for a scope swap and adding the bipod from their kit. This can be improved
- the average time for the thunder run was about 2:15. A 2:30 time limit would be viable, but would allow no errors. It should be noted we did not do a "command fire" portion.
- we performed the thunder run portion on the CLEET target, with most passing (but all but 1 with at least some misses). Nobody missed the head, just the center scoring circle. 10 shots should likely be a passing score (72%). Missing the head was decided to be DQ
- made all shooters who swapped to the 62gr unload all their 55gr mags and load with 62gr - no mistakes from ammo ID
- Those swapped to 62 gr re-zeroed with the new ammo and their aimpoints.
- Cleaned up and left (that first part needs to be taught to the other instructors)
I thought the class went very well. All of the shooters (********* – along with me shooting all of the drills) are firearms instructors, rifle instructors, and school-trained snipers. While some of the zeroing drills took longer than I would have liked (misunderstanding about what exactly I wanted), and there were minor issues of misidentified targets and not reading the data off the card (or reading it incorrectly), everyone performed better than expected. I told the shooters by next week, they need to have data printed and taped to their scope where they can read it, and have a spare data card somewhere – maybe several.
The return to zero with our mounts was flawless. I recommended buying a small number of rail covers to physically block rails not used, so they could not install the scope incorrectly. Overall, with the group of shooters we had, it went as smoothly as could be expected. Everyone stayed on task, and shot very well. The majority of this day was tedious work, but everyone stayed with it.
DM Day 2 AAR
- Met at SPD, reviewed day 1 training, went over plan for the day. Discussed training points
- Reiterate that shoot center of mass of available targets, even though thunder run is geared toward head shots
- Decided we needed a practice session at 25yds from either kneeling or prone to establish hold-over point at lowest magnification (mechanical offset basically)
- hang paper targets and paint steel for 200yd zero check -shoot groups/zero check at 200
- we noted some wandering zeroes, but attributed it to the wind conditions and/or just lack of being in the groove. But some of the groups were not ugly - but weren't pretty.
- compared 55gr FMJ to duty - found them to be acceptably similar for banging steel.
- Some minor adjustments were required, mostly reduction of elevation setting
- went to long range side to confirm and refine data one last time. Painted targets then went to work murdering small plates.
- More wandering zeroes. #### checked the mounting screws on the scopes, many of which were loose. Very loose. He tightened them down with the wrong torque wrench, causing a bind in his erector assy (we didn't find this out till much later). This gave #### fits for hours with a lack of movement on his erector while trying to re-zero.
- We had a short review on which torque driver was used on what screws
- tightening of screws causes a zero shift, so back to the PD side was had to go to fine zero before running quals. This hiccup set us back awhile. Note to self - check tightness of screws early and often.
- Once we re-zeroed, we shot from the stairs at the 200, top to bottom, both strong and weak side to practice different barricade shooting heights. This was an informal “find your best position exercise.” During this time, ##### tried to zero his rifle, and made up new curse words. This is when we found he had over-tightened his scope rings by about 5x the required setting
- At some point, we ate lunch and talked smack about disturbing things that shall never be repeated. I learned new terms for stuff I didn’t know existed, and am scarred mentally.
- We then moved back over to the LR side, and shot a qual course. Here, the gas gun on the full size targets using hold-overs only really shined (shone?). The first-round hit rate was very high.
- The times on first shots were in the 10 second range.
- We shot the plates out to 500 wrong-sided. Everyone shot on the wrong side of the gun. This was harder than it sounds, but everyone was successful. We need to - as a whole - practice this skill more. It was awkward and time consuming to teach the wrong side of your body and eye to shoot well.
- We then tried vehicle-supported positions. Over-the-hood, front bumper, and prone under the bumper were practiced one at a time (could only get one vehicle on the line). Shot out to 500 on that drill.
- Allowed time for various positions at all ranges: prone, sitting, kneeling both supported and not, and some standing unsupported (aka offhand). I let everyone shoot positions until they had enough. We spent quite a bit of time shooting these positions, and burned a lot of ammo. Nothing was less than 200 yards.
- Next we moved to an "unknown but over 200 yard" drill. Everyone held their 300 yard zero from 200 to 400, and shot rapid-fire 5 shot strings as fast as they could get hits. Wild success, and likely the most fun we had. Lots of noise, lots of ringing steel, and the barrels got hot.
- We returned to the PD side, and cleaned rifles. They were getting sluggish, and I wanted to see if cleaning them changed the zero. It did not.
- 25 yard hold-off practice on min magnification from kneeling barricade. No surprises.
- thunder run portion of the qual. All passed first try. Worst score was 3 outside the ring. Most were 1-2 outside, #### cleaned it. For switch-optic dudes, they had to change the optic from patrol rifle setup to DMR setup after the run under 30-second time limit. It should be noted that the Bobro mounts were MUCH faster and more forgiving than my 2-lever ADM hunk of crap.
- 15 second cold bore and 2:30 run time for thunder run were fine, even for the group fatties. Fastest time was #### at 1:43 w/ 1 miss.
- running sucks at the end of the day when you're worn out. But everyone stayed totally in the game the whole training. We had a short lunch break, and nothing else resembling a break. Everyone was on the gun, on the spotter, running or assisting all day long, and I never heard the word "break" or "tired" at any point.
this group was the "fairy tale" group. Accomplished shooters, SOT members for long periods (although many not anymore), all school trained snipers, all firearms instructors. Many years of military experience in the group also - basically hand-picked best dudes for the job. Everything went well training-wise and group wise. No drama of any sort that I recall. The most on-task group I've ever worked with.
“Long range” – Targets arranged from 150 (4” circle) to 500 (IPSC Plate) every 50 yards, 8 targets. On demand, shooter will engage the target at the given range (painted different colors for easy ID) within 30 seconds (10 point hit). If shooter misses first target, he has 15 seconds to re-engage for 5 points. A second miss results in a zero. Engaging the wrong target is a zero for that target. 70% to pass.
Results – #### 75/80 (94%), ##### 80/80, #### 65/80 (81%), #### 75/80, #### 80/80, ##### 80/80
“Thunder Run” – head shots on CLEET target, inside the circle or touching counts as a hit, outside of that is a miss, missing the head completely is a DQ. Run to old gate and back to the 100 (about 200 yards). On 'go', remove aimpoint then install scope and bipod correctly within 30 seconds. Set up rifle toward target and stand. On command, assume a prone position, and fire a shot within 15 seconds. Once ready, fire a 3-shot group at 100, run to 75 and fire 3 shots, run to 50 and fire 3 shots, run to 25 and fire 3 shots kneeling barricade, then run to 100 and fire final shot within 2min 30secs. Must hit 10/14 shots (71%) to pass. There were no issues other than my fat jiggling too much when I run and someone stealing all my oxygen. If the
Scores: #### 12/14 (86%), #### 13/14 (93%), #### 11/14 (79%), #### 12/14 (86%), ### 14/14 (100%). ##### had a family emergency (suicide) and had to leave, but did this drill the previous week (11/14). All times were under 2:30 with ####’s time being the fastest at 1:43. He was encouraged to eat more and sit on the couch to make the rest of us feel better. ####, who is the least experienced of the group, was the only one to shoot 100% on this. I blame this on him having a personal rifle set up for this, and us using old PD crap. If the rest of us got Lt pay, we might be able to afford better rifles and optics like him.
OK - that was basically my notes for the class. It went well. A few more weeks and I'll do class 2. I consider this to be an advanced/instructor level class. I fully believe if I took our average rifle shooter from the PD and put this 2-day class on, most would fail. If I do an outside class, I will have to add a basic "this is a mil, this is a MOA, this is how bullets fly, this is basic internal, external, and terminal ballistics, " portion. I'd have to explain hold-overs, shooter/spotter dialogue, windage/elevation adjustments, basic rifle shooting positions, manipulation of the gun at speed, etc. And that's coming from a "I know what they're taught" group. Standards vary wildly at departments.
A note on ammo - this stuff is service ammo with an eye toward patrol work. It is bonded soft point ammo, and is in no way "match" ammo. I'd say it's in the neighborhood of 1.5-2.5 MOA out of most rifles with rack grade barrels. I didn't want one set of ammo for patrol work, and another for DM-ing. It's just a failure point if you don't swap your ammo. So, no it's not the most accurate stuff out of my rifle, but some rifles liked it better than mine did. Ammo expense is a real issue, and 'good enough' was what I wanted to work with. Searching for perfect takes a long time and resources I don't have. So everyone shot one of the two flavors of Gold Dot we have. If you can't hit a target with a 2 - 3 MOA gun, it's not the gun.
Triggers - we can't afford to buy Geiselle match triggers, and I'm not sure I want to swap triggers out to a completely different style anyway. That requires much more training. I did go with a handful of ALG triggers (the silver, coated ones) that are decent but not great. They are still - by our policy - equivalent of a stock trigger, as they operate identically. A very smooth, clean 6lb trigger is fine for the girls I go with. They are also not super expensive.
Anyway - not sure if this is terribly helpful, and I'm sure I skipped certain things (did the notes for the class from memory the next day. I do want to say that one of our guys got a doo-hicky that attaches to a spotting scope that allows you to record video with your phone. And it lets you watch the spotting scope without having to get your eye up in it. I liked it, and wished we had done this before.