This past weekend, I taught a marksmanship clinic to 31 Patriots. Even though rain threatened us all day, we didn't get any more than a couple of drops until cleanup at the end. Despite the constant cloud cover, a few participants got slight sunburns. Here is my review as an instructor. If a participant has a review, I will link to it here post-edit.
We started with a safety briefing, and defined what we would call a safe rifle for the day (magazine out, bolt back, safety on, rifle on the ground, nobody touching the rifle). Of course, everyone is a safety officer. If any participant sees something unsafe, they are to call out in a commanding voice, "cease fire!" Line commands were also reviewed, so as to familiarize the participants with the nomenclature.
We started with a brief talk about "Marksmanship: The American Martial Art," as well as why marksmanship is important. Then it was to the firing line to fire a 3-shot group at an Army 300 m target. Several participants were not zeroed, and so we had a brief discussion on how to adjust sights.
Measure the number of inches high/low and right/left from center of the target, and apply that many clicks elevation and windage. Precise? No. However, since we have not yet covered MOA or IMC, it was critical to get them going in the right direction, yet still be able to get instruction in.
Shooters were warned of the hazard of "chasing shots."
For much of the rest of the day, we would huddle up for instructions, and then go shoot 3-shot groups. Often, there were a couple of 3-shot groups fired back-to-back. After each string of fire, the line was made cold, and the Patriots moved forward to read their targets.
Topics covered centered around the phrase "Sight Picture, Trigger Squeeze, and the Big Lie." The big lie, of course, is that anything else matters. Sight picture not only refers to aiming correctly at the target, but also correct sight alignment, steady hold factors, breath control, natural point of aim, and where to focus your eye and mind. We discussed how to build a stable prone position using a rucksack, bipod, or even the magazine of the rifle. Trigger squeeze covered topics such as finger placement, smooth pull, follow-through, no dragging wood.
With all this instruction and shooting, lunch was on us very rapidly. We had a "working lunch" and the topic of MOA was covered. As lunch wrapped up, we moved to "Inches, Minutes, Clicks." Measure the inches away from your target that your shots were off by, Calculate the Minutes of Angle of that measurement, and apply that many clicks to your sighting system.
And we were back to the grind. We shot a bit more in the afternoon, by design. By this time, almost all of the Patriots were getting all three shots in the black.
Afternoon topics covered holdovers for elevation ("chest-head-hat") and windage ("1-2-3-4-5"). And while these were designed for a 200-yard zero, we also discussed similar for the 300-m zero used by the military, as a good portion of the participants used this zero. Also covered were implications of your zero at common ranges.
We wrapped up instruction with some ideas for accurizing your AR15 (all but a handful used the AR15 that day). These ideas included -
* good trigger
* free floating
* stainless steel barrel
* heavy barrel / fluted barrel
* good ammo
A few more 3-shot groups, and we were ready for the final evaluation of the day.
The final exam was easy - Patriots prepared a magazine with 10 rounds. A 300 m target and a 400 m target were posted. The Patriot fired 5 rounds at each target. The Patriot scored 4 points for a hit and 5 points for a hit in the circle. If a shot touched two scoring areas, the higher point value was used.
If a Patriot scored 29 points or more, they earned the designation, Marksman.
If a Patriot scored 38 points or more, they earned the designation, Sharpshooter.
If a Patriot score 45 - 50 points, they earned the designation, (Expert) Rifleman.
This is the target used. We shot at 50 yards, so this target was printed at 200% size for scale. 400 m targets were created by printing at 175% scale.
My wife and son shooting. No, I did not take these (or any) photographs, as I was running the line.
One Patriot's 5-shot group.
At the beginning of the day, only a handful of Patriots got their initial three shots all on target. Only four got all three shots in the circle. Just after lunch, nearly every Patriot was able to get all three shots on target.
In the end, here's how they scored:
12 Marksmen and Sharpshooters.
10 Did not qualify.
Of those that did not qualify, all of them had placed all three shots on the target earlier in the day. Fatigue was definitely setting in with several. A few others had experienced equipment malfunction. A couple had to leave early and did not get to shoot the qualifier. We ran two qualifiers.
My wife scored Rifleman (47 & 48)
My son scored Sharpshooter (38)
One Patriot, a young lady whom had never fired a rifle before that day, shot a 44 on her final qualifier - Sharpshooter. One point away from Rifleman. Oh, did I mention she had just put together her rifle and scope that morning?
Another Patriot had an initial group with all three shots completely off paper, scored a perfect 50 on both qualifiers!
Several shooters had equipment failure. Optics wearing a price tag of under $100 failed by the end of the day. One set of traditional irons had a major malfunction. One AK went down. I brought 3 loaners, and my rifle. All three loaners were put to use. No rifle from my household had a malfunction of any sort. To be fair, my SPR was not shot that day, but I'd doubt it would have had a failure.
One Patriot brought steel cased Russian ammo, with which he had sighted in previously. Not only was he not hitting his target, he was hitting the target of the Patriot to his right, 4 feet away! When he switched to brass cased ammo, he was back on target.
I saw several lower-priced Primary Arms optics on the line. None had issues.
As an instructor, I'm extremely proud of the Patriots that came out. They were eager, attentive, and learned a lot!