Who: Forge Tactical (Doc and Chappy)
What: SWAT Sniper Overwatch
When: September 28-30 2018
Where: Alliance, Ohio
What I/we brought to play with: I used a personally-owned (worked out an agreement with my agency) AI AX with a Schmidt & Bender Ultra Short. Manfrotto Tripod with Ashbury Precision Ball mount or a PIG saddle as the situation dictates. Other items of note were Atlas bipod, Wiebad Tacpad, TAB Gear rear bag. I had 2 teammates with me. One had other AI AX topped with a Leupold Mk4 4.5-14x and the other was shooting a Remington 5R situated in an AICS topped with a Steiner 3-15x. While a tripod isn't required, it's recommended and you'll be using one of theirs if you don't happen to have one.
Who else: It was my team of 3 from Illinois, a pair from TN, a pair from KY, and one local medic who could really handle a bolt gun. Pretty much everybody else had a Remington 700 topped with a Leupold.
TD1: I would venture to say that 60% of day 1 was classroom work and the remainder was getting us out on the range to check zero and for Doc and Chappy to observe what kind of skillsets they were working with. Pretty standard stuff
TD2: Was probably 80% range work with a lot of time spent on use of tripods, building positions and experimenting with the kit that we brought to figure out what worked best. Doc would demonstrate his preferred methods and highlight critical points but students were left to establish their own methods. End of TD2 was doing a mock run of the integration scenarios for TD3. Sniper pairs were shooting off of a roof top adjacent to the shoot house into a bullet trap while all other students performed as assaulters.
TD3: We put it all together and went out into Alliance to 3 locations and conducted actual real, live-fire into bullet traps from different locations/conditions. If you look through Forge's FBook page, you can sort out which pictures those are. This part was the favorite part of the course for most in getting off the flat range and taking the training out into the real world without having to hear a "click" or call "shot out" over the radio.
Truths spoken/lessons learned:
- The hassle of a barrier round may not be worth the trouble...more TAP rounds will get the job done eventually.
- Bad shots/bad positions aren't good for anybody. Learn how to make a good position/shot and train improve on the time it takes to make it rather than trying to bust your ass in making that miraculous 100y off-hand snap shot with a 20lb rifle.
- It's 2018...time to move beyond the blind/BDL internal magazine
- If you don't run a zerostop scope with multiple revolutions, you better have a way/mark to know what rev you're on
- For the LE sniper, the juice isn't worth the squeeze for semi-auto 308's. While ideal for anti-vehicle work, most agencies are better served with a bolt gun. Not that this is a big secret, but people generally to be reminded of this.
Why this class?
It's SOP for our team that snipers get continuing ed at least every 2 years. I've been to several basic and advance "LE Sniper" courses. Centermass, FBI, Snipercraft, a couple scoped AR/DMR classes, and have cross-trained with other sniper teams in the area. At this point in the game, the thought of going through some of the old-school "basic" courses makes me want to cry. "This is 'dope' book...that's called a 'mildot'...". I also am growing tiresome of courses that think "advanced" means a jamming students through the USMC scout sniper qual and stalk....or courses that are just a PT with a sniper rifle only to gas dudes for 40 hours. It's gotten much better in the past few years, but there were/are a lot of supposed LE classes that aren't really structured for the police sniper mission. I've gone so far as to dip my toe into the PRS world to see what (if anything) I could return with and to improve our capabilities. This past summer, we started hitting "position building" much harder and stopped taking "low-percentage" shots just for the sake of training.
Needless to say, the Urban Overwatch class made the cut for this year's training consideration. While I knew that it involved a lot of shooting from practical LE type positions (off armored vehicle, off tripod, etc.), a big portion was efficient positional shooting (sitting, standing, kneeling) but with use of tripods, packs and bags. More importantly, the emphasis was to make these positions both comfortable for long-term use (as much as one can) and with the gear one is likely to have for a sniper deployment. While I felt coming in I was reasonably proficient with my setups, there's no doubt that I came away with tips for more stability in nearly every position.
In all, I would call it an "intermediate" course as it certainly helps to have some of the bare basics down, but most of our shooters didn't have a ton of formal LE sniper training experience...and nobody seemed in over their head. It was refreshing to go all 3 days without thinking to myself: "Yeah...I'm NEVER going to be doing that" in my head. That's pretty rare. Couple this with the benefit of the live-fire in-town stuff and I say it's money well spent.
Post Class follow-up
We got back to Illinois late Sunday night. Tuesday in the AM was our sniper training day and some overzealous TL (me) booked a private range that took us from 465y all the way out to 1680y. Having access to farmland, I get to shoot long-range fairly often but my other guys have limited time at distance and with wind. After spending some time collecting dope and just having fun, we spent the last half reviewing the position building from Forge and engaged small targets out to 465, 509, and 611 yards. My guys were owning it on MOA targets at those distances off our tripod setups.
- Alpha 05