Training Courses Magpul Dynamics Precision Rifle I Course Review

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This is a review of the Magpul Precision Rifle 1 Course in Yakima, Washington - January, 2013 hosted by Caylen Wojcik.

About the Instructor and Course

Caylen Wojcik's is a former USMC Scout/Sniper and Scout/Sniper instructor. He has seen active combat in the Middle East and received the Purple Heart during his tour. Caylen uses his experience in combat to teach real-world actualities of deploying a rifle effectively.

This course was four days and covered the basics of precision rifle from 100-1000+ yards. During this course we shot in winter conditions with temps ranging from around 20F-35F during the day.

My Rifle

Accuracy International AW in .308
26" Barrel
Single Chamber Muzzle Brake
Nightforce F1 3.5-15X w/Mildot Reticle
USGI Synthetic Sling
AI or Harris Bipod (See why below)

My Reloads

I was using reloads and they shoot sub 0.3MOA from my rifles. Here is the recipe and gear used to make them:

Lapua .308 Brass
175 Sierra Match King
43.5 grains Varget powder
CCI Benchrest Primers
2.80" COAL
Full length resize
Redding competition die and competition bullet seater
RCBS Rock Chucker
RCBS Charge Master

Nothing special is being done with these reloads. They are middle of the road in terms of pressure and velocity and are loaded to spec in terms of brass size, bullet seating depth, etc. I value consistency and reliability more than tweaking my loads for max velocity and this load gives me great performance and great reliability in my rifles.

Day 1 - Intro, Zeroes and Technique

It was about 21-22 degrees when I took off for the shooting area located on private ranchland. The ranch is in the desert region and is sagebrush with large rolling hills. The ranch is on 36,000 acres. That's not a typo!

There were five shooters, including myself, and two instructors. Caylen and the other instructor would teach together the first day. The remaining three days it would just be Caylen. But with only five of us this is an incredibly good teacher to student ratio. Everyone received great personal attention.

First we went over a basic briefing of the course and received a data book from impactdatabooks.com full of information and logging pages. We also received a laminated card deck with information about shooting positions, mil to yards conversions, blank elevation tables, etc. This card deck would be used throughout the course not only as a field guide to proper shooting technique, but also for our own elevation, windage, holdovers, etc.

Next, we went over the rifles, scopes, stocks, etc. that were present. This gave everyone a chance to see different hardware. There were:

2 - Stock Remington 700Ps (or close variants)
1 - GA Precision custom 700 in McRee Chassis
1 - REPR Semi-Auto
1 - Accuracy International Arctic Warfare (AIAW)

All rifles were shooting .308 in either hand loads or Federal Gold Medal Match. The class had all levels of experience from novice to a member of a regional Police SWAT Sniper team.

Firing Positions -- Get Out of Prone!

After a brief intro into what we will cover over the next few days, we went out to the 100-yard firing line. Here we went over the basics of firing positions, breathing, etc. We started off in the prone position, but Caylen was careful to inform us that the course would do more than prone position because he feels it is not realistic with what shooters face in the field. In particular, he thinks prone is good for a couple basic things:

1) Sighting in
2) Load development

He has found that around 95% of the time your shot is not really from the prone position. This is based on his military experience, but for civilian purposes it applies directly to situations like hunting where going prone is often not possible due to field obstacles and losing sight of your game when you drop to the ground. We would use not just prone, but also shoot off obstacles, odd positions, etc. Further, we would not be using shooter/spotter teams because that is also no longer realistic for civilian long range (hunting) or for many police/military applications. He would train us to spot our own bullet splashes and correct our own shots rapidly.

How to Set Parallax and Focus a Scope

We got behind the rifles and the instructors checked our positions and made adjustments. We were taught how to get straight back behind the rifle, good foot position, and eye to scope alignment. My form was already pretty good in this regard so it was more of a review. But for new shooters this adjustment phase is very important to get a consistent position behind the rifle. Accuracy is all about consistency.

The next order of business was to adjust parallax and focus our scopes. Caylen explained parallax and how it can cause serious problems in accuracy as the reticle and focal plane are not aligned. Many shooters have big problems correctly adjusting their parallax and this leads to inaccurate results.

We aimed at a target 500 yards away. The first thing we did was adjust parallax so that the reticle/target did not shift as we moved our head around behind the scope. Once we adjusted so the reticle and target were not moving, we loosened our focus rings and focused the reticle until it was clear. It's two simple steps:

1) Get rid of parallax at 500 yards.
2) Then focus the reticle.

When you do these things, you will have the target focal plane and reticle focal plane aligned accurately.

My scope was already adjusted and didn't need any changing. But it's always a good idea to double-check your gear from time to time to make sure nothing is out of alignment.

New Magpul Precision Rifle Target

Caylen put up the new (but not yet released) Magpul precision rifle targets to get our zeroes. Here is a sample of one that has been shot already:

MagpulTarget.JPG



The target is still going through some modifications. But basically:

1) The triangles up top are for sighting. You aim at each point because it is easier to be precise with aiming at a point than a big round/square blob.

2) The group of four inner pointing triangles is for a Natural Point of Aim drill that I'll discuss.

3) The numbers on the outside are for various drills, but we also used them for a NPA drill.

Zero Rifles

We sighted in the rifles. My final three shots did this (squares are 1 inch):

FinalSighterAt100.JPG



At this point I tightened the zero stop and turrets, but I left a couple clicks below zero stop just in case I needed it later in the course. I don't want to have to pull the turrets again because each time I do it there is I chance I mess things up or get debris into the turret mechanicals.

Make Your Position, Then Break Your Position

After the sight in we went to a drill that helped us get into position and Natural Point of Aim (NPA), then break it, then get back into it again.

It works like this:

1) Get into position and shoot for the center of number "1" target.
2) Cycle the bolt, put on safe, and back up to your knees behind the rifle.
3) Get back down behind the rifle and shoot for target "2."
4) Do this for all 16 targets.

The objective here is to shoot for the center of each numbered shape, but the shapes do not really have a defined center and they are placed randomly on the target. The purpose is to see if you can get into and out of position consistently and put the bullet more or less in the center. If you are not doing it repeatedly, then the bullet strikes will tell the instructors where you are going wrong (left, right, etc.).

You can see on the full size target I did OK, but miscounted and skipped #3 by mistake! Oh well. The strikes I did have were all in the faint circle (you can't see it from 100 yds.) for the most part.

Natural Point of Aim - Use the Force

This next drill we aligned our sights with the targets with four pointed in triangles. Each one gets smaller from 4MOA to 3, 2, 1. But, we will do it with our eyes closed.

The object here is to get NPA, close your eyes, open them, check for NPA again, then close eyes and shoot! So these targets were shot with our eyes closed. If you do it right the NPA takes care of the rest and you'll be accurate.

The shooting was done very safely in an environment where there is no chance a bullet could go errant and hurt anyone. The ranch again is 36,000 acres with very large hills as backstops behind the targets. With that said, I don't recommend doing this drill unless you have proper instruction.

Let me also add that the difference between an average shooter and a great shooter is their ability to get NPA consistently. It's not what gear you own, what rounds you shoot, what videos you've watched or anything of the sort. It's about getting into a good position, getting solid NPA, and pressing the trigger consistently each time. I have done marksmanship instruction and we focused a lot on NPA as a basic skill. Within an afternoon, you would see very average shooters who couldn't hold 4MOA at 100 yards go to 1MOA to sub-MOA shooters even with very modest equipment. Technique trumps gear in almost every case. If you can't get NPA, you will shoot poorly.

Now, here's a three shot group I did with my eyes closed at 100 yards. This is an example of what good NPA can do. My other groups were acceptable (sub-MOA), but I had two fliers simply because my finger was freezing staying on the steel AI trigger with temps still in the 20s and no gloves!

NPASighterAt100.JPG


Chronograph

After the NPA drill we chrono'd our rounds with a MagnetoSpeed. My rounds were as follows from my 26" 1:12 twist barrel:

Max Velocity: 2683
Min Velocity: 2653
Average: 2670
Standard Deviation: 12

The standard deviation of 12 is pretty well in line with what I get with Federal Gold Medal Match. It's perfectly fine for this kind of shooting. Velocity was within margins as well. Varget powder is temperature stable and cold wasn't affecting it.

Rifle Cleaning

We next went inside to discuss: Rifle Cleaning! A subject steeped in much voodoo and mystique.

Now I admit that I don't like cleaning my rifles until they show an accuracy drop off. And when I do clean them, I will not strip copper out of the barrel. After all, I figure the gun kind of wants it there anyway. Besides, being an engineer type I'm a huge believer in "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Over cleaning a rifle is far more likely to cause damage and trouble than leaving it alone. IMO.

Caylen cleans out carbon and leaves the copper alone as well. His rifle has 6500 rounds through it and he has never removed the copper and it works great (and it certainly shows in how it shoots).

The AIAW I was shooting is stainless so cleaning the barrel a lot is not very high on my list and I clean my rifle very infrequently. I maybe clean the rifle every few hundred rounds or so at most outside of wiping down the bolt and bolt face which I do more frequently just to get the loose stuff off.

However, fouling can attract corrosion and cause pitting in carbon steel varieties and you probably want to get it out with some milder cleaners using a nylon brush and patches. You don't want to scrub the hell out of the thing and use stuff that will peel skin off your fingers. A simple cleaning regimen is fine and it really is true that "less is more" when it comes to cleaning a rifle.

I use Simple Green and a nylon bore brush to remove carbon fouling from time to time and it will not affect your zero on the "clean bore" shot. I have tested this out myself to confirm. The nylon brush is also soft enough to leave the copper alone and not scratch areas of the chamber or crown that could affect accuracy. If you are storing the rifle for a while, running a light oil, CLP, or other protectant down the bore to prevent rust is a good idea.

While I have used Simple Green with great success, Caylen likes these products as well:

MPro 7 (carbon cleaner, NOT the copper solvent version!)
Slip 2000

Also, muzzle brakes attract a ton of carbon buildup. They need to be cleaned as well, but with great care to not damage the crown when you are doing it.

After this discussion on cleaning, he told the class to not clean their weapon for the rest of the course. Part of this was as an experiment for the students to get away from the overkill cleaning that many people want to do. Also, it was a practical thing because we just spent the afternoon confirming our zeroes and he didn't want anyone messing them up! Again: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. This was fine by me because I wasn't going to clean my rifle anyway.

Pre-Fire/Post-Fire Checklists

Finally, Caylen recommends a pre-fire/post-fire checklist:

1) Is everything tight? Put a co-witness mark on your bolts so you can see if they moved (A dab of whiteout or red nail polish is what he recommends).
2) Anything cracked or wobbly?
3) Is the action smoothly operating?
4) Is your suppressor on tight? He sees a ton of accuracy problems from loose suppressors.
5) Are your sling and bipod attachment points solid?
6) Etc.

Then there is a post-fire checklist:

1) Again is anything loose?
2) Re-torque all bolts every 500rds. with 308. Do it every 200-300 rds. for bigger calibers like .338, etc.

To bring the point home, Caylen went to every rifle with a torque wrench and personally checked the tightness of the sight mounts and other components. As an instructor, he constantly sees rifles coming through with loose components that destroy any chance of good accuracy.

Day 2 - Exterior Ballistics

Today we met at 0800 at a local diner for a class session to get out of the freezing weather. The class was on exterior ballistics. We discussed G1 vs. G7 profiles, bullet shape, air density as it relates to altitude, humidity, etc. and even spin drift. We also discussed the flight path of a bullet from supersonic to transonic to terminal velocity.

Long Range Data

We were given Android tablets to run the Applied Ballistics application using Bryan Litz's data. We entered in our rifle, barrel, sight height over bore, barrel twist, and results from yesterday's chrono session.

With this information, we hit the long-range targets today starting at 400 yards and going out to 1030. The object was to use our ballistic computer to get our elevation and dial it in to target. The ballistics program gave me numbers that closely matched the data I already had on my rifle from previous engagements.

We shot each target spotting our own impacts and correcting. There was virtually no wind. I had first round hits at 431, 495, 560, 611, 674 and 745 yards. I put five rounds on each target.

I had a bare miss at 809 yards on first round and next four were center mass so elevation from the computer was good. The wind picked up and I had to hold one mil right after the first shot splash was seen. At 893 yards I had first round hit center mass but was a little high so I brought it down 0.2 mils away from what the computer told me. All follow-ups were center mass with good elevation.

At 955 yards the computer-generated elevation was too high. It said 10.2 mils and it was more like 9.9 mils. I did my elevation correction plus I held off another 0.5-mil right to get onto target. Follow-ups were hits.

At 1030 yards the computer said elevation should be 11.8, which seemed high to me based on experience. But we were going with the data so I shot and of course it was too high! So I dropped it down to 11.4 and hit to the left of the target with good elevation. I corrected for the wind and put the other rounds on target.

A Competition and a Shoot-Off

After the long-range work we went back to the 100-yard line to recheck our zeroes. We also did consistency drills where we shot 16 times breaking our position each time just as before. But this time, we were playing for prizes...

We did the 16 shots and it was announced the person with the best score would win a PMAG. A hit inside the center 1MOA circle on each colored shape was one point. I had 16 points, a perfect score. One other shooter did the same. That means we needed to have a shoot-off!

The shoot-off target was the smallest of the "Know your limits" dots at the bottom of the Magpul Precision Rifle Target. I'd say it was about a little over 1/2MOA in diameter.

The shoot-off was simple: We were to load our rifles with bolt back and stand behind the guns. A buzzer would activate and we'd have to get into position and fire two shots within 15 seconds at the smallest dot. The person with the best group on the dot would win.

The buzzer sounded. I got down, slid the AI action closed, and established my position. For some reason I felt my hand reach into the thumbhole stock which I virtually never use! The AIAW feels very aggressive when using the thumbhole, like it wants you to hold it and shoot the lights out. I aimed and fired. I then racked the bolt, grabbed the thumbhole, aligned sights and fired again. I opened bolt and made the gun safe. Then the buzzer sounded. I got up with the memory of how awesome the AIAW felt in that grip. The AIAW is solid and all business as you can see below…maybe I should use the thumbhole more often?

100YardShootout.JPG


That's about a 0.5MOA group shot in rapid fire in less than 15 seconds starting from a standing position. As a result of this shooting, I won an AR-15 PMAG.

Next up we placed a "Guns and Coffee" sticker on our target. The drill is that all shooters would have 25 seconds to start from standing, go their rifle at the 100-yard line, and fire one shot. That one shot had to be at the star on the head of the Mermaid. The shooter closest to the star won a prize.

I stood. The buzzer sounded. The AI bolt closed. I fired. We walked down range and...I won an AR10 PMAG with this shot:

starbucksclose.JPG


At this point it was getting dark and class was wrapping up. Tomorrow we were told we will start shooting from barriers at unknown distances and computers are no longer allowed. We will be milling and using our elevation data from non-prone positions.
 
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XOR

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Day 3

Today was denoted by one thing: Fog. Visibility was about 150 yards this morning. Here is the 100-yard range at 0800:

day3fog.JPG



Let's just say this isn't optimal long-range rifle weather. With that in mind, Caylen took us inside to do class instruction hoping to buy some time for the fog to burn off. During this time we covered range estimation.

Mil Ranging, Reticles, and Wind Holds

Caylen went over his milliradian estimation card he gave us earlier. This is a little chart with target sizes on X Axis and Mil size on Y Axis. You simply find where they intersect and get your range solution. Simple. I wish I had come up with it because it is so much handier than a calculator or slide rule.

We also reviewed the limitations with milling targets:

1) Must know exact size of target (either height or width).
2) Must be within 0.1 mils, especially at distance.
3) If you can't see hard lines on the target due to mirage or weather you won't get a good reading.
4) Your reticle interpretation is subjective (was it 1.1 mils or 1.15?).
5) Is the target angled towards or away from you? Perspective of the target can throw off milling results. BTW. Caylen deliberately angles targets to cause this error for shooters!

With that said, there are conditions where lasers won't work. In that case, you better know how to mil the target. No solution works all the time.

For wind, Caylen advises using mil holds. Because of the variability of wind, it is too hard to adjust turrets unless the wind is constant. He sees a lot of errors with wind turrets as users can forget to bring back to zero, or even lose track how many turns they have on the turrets (no zero stop for L/R wind!). So for tactical shooting, dial your elevation but hold off for your wind.

Barricades and Bipods

At this point we went outside to do some work on barricades. This was going to have to be on the short 100-yard course as the fog was still all over the place. Caylen warned me that I was going to seriously hate my AI bipod and I should put on the Harris. We'll soon find out!

We setup the barricades and Caylen instructed us on how to properly use them. Gone are the days of putting down a sand bag under you and firing. Now it's all about driving the rifle bipod into the barricade for support. You do this by shoving the bipod against the obstacle and then leaning onto the rifle so you are not using muscles to hold yourself up, but the rifle. Shifting your feet up and down and left and right achieves natural point of aim.

At this point I see why the AI bipod is no good for this. On the Harris you can extend the legs but they are stopped from folding backwards. Because the legs don't fold backwards, you can lean on them for support. Well the AI bipod folds forwards and backwards. So if you lean on the AI bipod it folds back! It does not work well at all for this kind of shooting. At this point I switched from my AI to my Harris bipod. The Harris worked a lot better.

Given the above, I will say that I still love my AI bipod! It is built strong, swivels so the legs don't bind up on uneven conditions, and it deploys quickly. You just slap down the front and the legs pop into place. Plus, I like the spigot mount. It's much stronger than the Harris pin mount, never comes loose, and the moment you don't want the AI bipod on the rifle, it takes one second to depress the button and pull it off and stow it. I have a solution to the AI bipod that I'll cover in the future. I've not given up on it.

As for the Harris, the quick deploy feature is now solved with a new product from Magpul called Combat Operator Response Device (C.O.R.D.). They are going to sell the C.O.R.D. in various colors, including coyote brown and multicam. You attach the C.O.R.D. between the legs of the Harris. A quick tug on the C.O.R.D. when the Harris is folded forward and the legs instantly deploy into action. I have photos below of the secret prototype:

harriscordtop.JPG



harriscordpullingtwo.JPG


Above you can see me using a special tactical grip to activate the C.O.R.D.

I just tied C.O.R.D. on each end with a simple bowline knot. Make sure the loops are under the spring mounts so it doesn't slide up when you pull on it (ask me how I know).

This is a simple mod I encourage you to try out. My only concern with it is the loop of cord could get caught up in things when maneuvering the rifle or possibly tangled up in the bipod legs preventing deployment. I need to play with this more in field conditions, but so far I like it.

No, Your Range Finder Won't Work in Fog

After the barricade work, the fog was clearing so we dashed out to the long range to do some milling of targets. There were 10 targets setup, but we could only see five due to very bad fog. It was so thick that even Caylen's awesome Terrapin range finder wouldn't work. My Leica 1200 was only showing 58 yards as well! The fog was blocking all ranging devices from other shooters also.

This fog is a perfect example on why milling targets as an art is not dead and never will be. In this case it was the only way to get any sort of range to the unknown distances. Laser devices would not work even though the targets were visible to the naked eye or through a scope. I've had this same exact situation happen when using range finders in snowstorms or rain as well. The lasers just don't work reliably in those kinds of conditions. Even if you think you got a good read, it may still be inaccurate but you just don't know it (until you fire).

I started milling through the thick fog and it was tough. The white painted targets would fade into the fog very quickly. The three near targets were 6" discs and two further ones we could see were 10" discs. I milled them with my riflescope, but the lack of subtensions made it difficult. I was pretty close, but not good enough for 6" plates at those distances. I switched to my spotting scope with milling reticle and 40X magnification. There I used the 0.2 mil subtensions to break out the targets to double digits. I had mils of 0.6, 0.55, 0.45 for the 6" plates and 0.7, 0.65 and 0.55 for the 10" plates. Using Caylen's wiz-bang mil card I got:

1) 278 yds.
2) 303 yds.
3) 370 yds.
4) 397 yds.
5) 427 yds.
6) 505 yds.

These were approximate of course so the further I went out the more fudge factor I left on my elevation to be sure of a hit. So for instance 505 I set for 500 because I knew the danger zone would put me on steel at 10" just in case I was off a little. Etc.

The students read off their estimates. Mine were different than the others for the furthest targets. We then fired at the furthest target first and then inwards. On the furthest target everyone missed except me where I got first round hit. Second target the same thing happened. My milling and elevation were good. The third target was hit by others and almost fell over, then I hit it and knocked it over. The two closest targets were hits and knocked over by other shooters before I could shoot.

Oh SH*T, I Forgot My Bullets

At this point the fog was rolling in again! Very frustrating, but that's just how it goes. We went back to the 100-yard line to do some stress shooting. This was a speed drill. The name of the drill was "Oh sh*t, I forgot my bullets!"

The drill was simple:

1) Lay 16 rounds loose on the ground (off the dirt to keep your chamber clean) 25 yards away from you.
2) Stand near your rifle.
3) When the buzzer sounds, you have 7 minutes to run to pick up a round, run back to your rifle, load it, fire at one of sixteen 2 MOA targets down range, unload and run back for another round.
4) Repeat this 16 times.

This is all about stress. You have the running of course, plus the loading, plus needing to get a good shot off all against the clock. Since you only have seven minutes, you don't have time to wait around. You need to be moving.

The buzzer sounded and off we went. Each time I need to drop a round into the AI action, but the AI has a bolt lock on empty magazine feature. That means I need to press the round into the mag through the ejection port each time to depress the magazine follower. This is more time consuming than other rifles where you can just throw a round into the thing and close the bolt. I fumbled a couple times in the AI, but it wasn't bad. I just need to focus on what I was doing. I did all 16 rounds with about a minute to spare.

At the end of the round we went down range. I fired all 16 rounds and felt pretty good about it, except I know I did a couple doubles on targets by mistake (that's the stress part). We were using the "bad guy" silhouettes at the bottom of the Magpul target I showed earlier. I had 13 out of 16 valid hits. Of the three I missed, one was just a bad shot barely outside. The other two were doubles, but at least they were hits! But, they didn't count. Overall it was pretty good shooting.

The above exercise may sound easy, but it's actually pretty exhausting running back and forth 16 times 25 yards each way (400 yards total running) and shooting under time pressure. Try it!

Off the Gun? Reset Your Zero.

Some of the shooters on the above exercise were too high. They forgot to reset their zeroes. They were set at 300 yards from the previous course and were about 1 mil too high so they were all misses.

Something I had drilled into me from prior experience is whenever you come off your rifle, reset your zero to where it normally is. I have been bitten by this same error and now when I get off my rifle, I reset my zero.

More Stress Drills

Next up we went back to the colored numbers. This drill we would load four magazines with four rounds each. When a color was called we would run up to the barricades from about 20 yards back with our rifles loaded, but bolt back. We would then engage each color from the barricade. We had 90 seconds to do it.

I shot each round and felt OK. Not great, but just OK. I knew I sent a round onto the empty target next to me by mistake, but I couldn't do anything about it now. We did 16 rounds and it was not nearly as exhausting as the "Oh sh*t" exercise.

I went downrange and my score was 10 out of 16. No good! The one I sent onto the other target was a good "hit" but wrong target so I didn't get the 11. I had a couple I pulled and knew I screwed them up because I was rushing. So I didn't win this one. The winner got an 11. If I had just shot the right target we would have had a shoot-off again! But, my NPA on this exercise was not very good as the barricade shooting is still new to me. I needed more practice.

I Hate Knobs on Adjustable Stocks

I had one minor rifle issue today. When the course started we were adjusting our cheek risers, etc. for fit. Mine was OK, but I thought I might want to adjust it during the course. So against my better judgment, I put in the AI quick adjust thumbscrews for the riser in lieu of the simple allen bolts it normally uses. I never used them before because I always felt they could snag on clothes, etc. or they could come lose with shooting or accidental twisting.

Well I was walking to the firing line and my cheek piece fell out! Luckily, I saw it happen and sure enough the thumbscrews had come loose just as I thought might happen. I put the simple allen bolts back in and made sure they were tight. The allen bolts have never come loose after thousands of rounds and will remain right where they are going forward.

A Very Un-Tactical Sling

I had my standard USGI surplus sling mounted on my rifle. It's simple and I can use it for sling-supported positions quickly or improvised supports as required. It can be deployed in 10 seconds.

However, I brought my [Tactical Sling A] and [Tactical Sling B] slings. I was thinking I was kind of a moron because I just didn't like them even though they got great reviews. But the buckles, clamps, adjustments, etc. are too finicky, too slow, too cumbersome and too uncomfortable for me. I kept using my USGI sling for the simplicity and just had to accept how un-tactical it is.

Now the USGI sling is not perfect. The adjustment lock slider sometimes comes loose, and the synthetic version is very slick when you use the arm cuff on a synthetic shell. But overall it's simple, light, and quick to adjust and doesn't get in the way. I think it blows most tactical slings out of the water in terms of function.

Frustrated with these other tactical slings, Caylen showed the new Magpul MS3 that looks a lot better than most because it is simple. It was very similar to the USGI sling in appearance in fact. It has a simple fabric, simple quick adjustments, and doesn't have a bunch of unneeded hardware hanging all over it. It looked good and I'm going to try one out.

UPDATE: I did order the MS3 and it looks well made, but sadly the quick attachment clamps do not fit my AIAW sling mount points. The clamp could probably work if I put some swivel mounts in addition to the AIAW mount points, but that just adds more hardware to go wrong that I don't feel like using. It may work fine on other rifles though.

Day 4

Driving through fog I figured the day would be pretty bad, but when I came up the valley it was all clear on the range. Today it was going to be all long-range steel targets going out to 1030 yards.

On the longest range, we milled the targets to get non-laser distances. The plates were mainly 18x24 in size and we attempted to mill both height and width to get two numbers to verify. This took about 20 minutes and we read off our milled distances to compare to what Caylen had obtained with his spotting scope. Most of the students at this point had pretty close numbers, but at distance the milling formula showed its weaknesses and errors became much larger and more consequential. For instance, being off 50 yards at 300 yards means you'll probably still hit steel. It may be high or low, but you'll be on the plate. But if you are off 50 yards at 600+ yards you're probably going to miss. At 800+ you are definitely out of the game with the .308 caliber that we were all shooting.

Once we milled the targets, Caylen gave us actual numbers from the laser. Most of my milled readings were pretty good. At distance there were a couple with big enough errors that it might have been a miss, but close enough that seeing bullet splash would be possible to adjust fire quickly for a second round hit.

At this point we got ready to do some live shooting, but this time we had wind from 5-10MPH down range so we'd have to do our own wind calls as well. Each person would call out their wind guess, do their wind hold, and fire. If they missed, they were allowed three more shots to get on target. This exercise allowed the students to practice their wind reading, but also learn how to spot their own bullet splash and hold for corrections quickly in changing winds. We worked the line from close in targets around 430 yards out to 1030 yards maximum. I did fine on this drill and put most rounds on target either with the first or second shot max.

I Blew It

We next changed firing lines. The targets on the new line were anywhere from 6" to 9" hanging discs. These sizes were much smaller than the other plates to test our skills. Just as before, we milled them for height and width. And just like before we called out our readings. We were given the actual readings and this time there were more errors.

As targets shrink in size, the ability to mil them correctly goes down. For one, they are just smaller and harder to see as you are playing with 0.05 mil readings needed to be accurate. Secondly, the size of the target means errors are much more severe. Being off as little as 25 yards could easily put you off the plate.

The twist here though is after the actual readings were given, we were told we had to shoot with what we milled and not use the actual readings. We would have to shoot, spot our splash, and then correct if our ranging was wrong. We also were going to play for a prize again.

We went down the line and each time the person would call out their wind guess and fire. You had four rounds on each target (10 targets total). The scoring was as such:

10 Points for first round hit.
8 Points for second round hit.
6 Points for third round hit.
4 Points for fourth round hit.
0 Points for no hits.

Once you hit the target, it was the next shooter's turn.

We ran down the line and, frankly, I shot like crap. The wind was changing through the valley going from almost zero to over 10 MPH. There was also lack of good mirage and the grass was so dead that it hardly moved. It was very hard to call the wind and it really bit me. I shot one target for instance and was 0.5 mils off the plate. When I corrected and fired the wind had gusted to needing almost 1.5 mils hold. The targets were so small that any error was fatal. One of the shooters though did a great job calling the wind and scored many solid first round hits.

Tripod Mount Shooting

We next reviewed tripod use with a precision rifle as an instructor demo only.

Caylen is using a carbon fiber Manfrotto tripod and a LaRue picatinny to tripod head mounting adapter. The LaRue piece attaches to the picatinny rail he had specially mounted on his McRee chassis just forward of the magazine well. He uses this setup when hunting so he always has a stable platform in case he needs it for longer shots. He demoed sitting and standing positions with the tripod and sling. I'm going to make up some kind of tripod support after seeing his demo.

TripoSlingSitting.JPG


TripodSlingPosition.JPG


TripodMountCloseup.JPG


Long Range Barricade Shooting

After lunch, we went back to the long-range steel course going out to 1030 yards. We brought over the barricades and setup to do some training with standing barricade long-range drills. We went over sling use again while standing, proper bracing, and the all-important NPA.

Students were given practice time to work up the targets from nearest (430) to furthest (1030). This was the time to work out kinks in the brace position, stance, and, of course, NPA.

I worked the targets from nearest to furthest and felt really solid. I was learning how to get my NPA on the barricade and it was really settling in. I had good first round hits all the way up to over 900 yards before the firing line was taken cold for the next task.

Just as this morning, we would have four rounds of 10, 8, 6, 4, and 0 points depending whether you hit the target with the first, second, third, fourth or no rounds. Once a target was hit, or rounds used, the next student was to engage the target. We would engage the target from a standing barricade position.

I got into position and reset my elevation to the nearest target at 430 yards. I made a wind call of around 5MPH from 3 o'clock. My wind dope for that range was around 0.2Mil and went up from there. Firing, I made a first round impact. Target two at 495, same. Target three at 570, same. Target four at 610, same. Target five at 673 I made a bad wind call and didn't hold my windage correctly and just went off the right edge. Second round hit though. Target six at 746, first round impact. Target seven at 809...miss. I pulled the shot but knew I had done it. Second round hit though. Target eight at 893 first round hit. Target nine at 956 first round hit. Target ten, at 1033 yards, first round hit from standing barricade position!

I finished this round with a score of 96/100. I was very happy with the result because I had not done barricade shooting long range before. It felt really good to do it and Caylen's coaching was a big help as he personally instructed each shooter. I won another PMAG and some patches.

Finally, we moved the barricades over to the cursed small steel range that wrecked me this morning. Our challenge here was to practice kneeling position off the barricade. This position was the hardest for me. You'd think it would be more stable than standing, but the barricade height is very dependent on each person and I just couldn't get comfortable and set up good NPA. And again, without NPA you are going to miss. And miss I did. The first five targets were disasters as I kept adjusting positions, trying sling, no sling, knees, no knees, etc. I couldn't get a good position down.

We all shot poorly in this part of the class. Seems kneeling was hard for everyone. In fact, we didn't even keep competing at this point. Caylen instead spent a lot of time working with each person as he opened up the course of fire to allow us instead to work on our form individually. By target six I finally got settled in and started hitting steel. I made first round hits on two 9" rectangular targets at 542 and 570 yds. from kneeling. Again, Caylen's direct instruction really allowed me to settle down on my form and improve quickly. Caylen is always full of good tips and is very patient working with students.

At the end of this exercise we packed up the barricades and went in for a short debrief. After the fog the previous two days it was good to get in a solid day of long range shooting. The fact that we did almost all of it not from the prone position was a great new skill to acquire.

In the end, it was a really valuable course. I have taken courses from Caylen before and he has continuously updated the curriculum with new tactics, techniques, and training methods. If you get a chance to train with him it will definitely take your precision rifle skills up many notches. I highly recommend his course.
 
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bm11

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Great read! Makes me itch to do another class.
 

NOMAD

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    Caylon is a great dude so you can expect and will get great training from him!!!
     

    GeKados

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    Thank you for this detailed information. I wish that in my country to have the same courses, unfortunatly we haven't.

    Best
     

    Graham

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    A very thorough review. I would not hesitate taking a course from Caylen. He has an easy-going personality that is well-suited to teaching, and he knows his stuff.
     

    earthquake

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    Great and informative write up...thanks for sharing your experience.
     

    LRRPF52

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    Excellent write-up, very detailed, and a lot of great points. While doing our preliminary course work with another instructor, who has a ton of real-world experience in this discipline as well, I sarcastically asked him, "How often do you ever get to take a shot from the prone?"

    "Never..." Was his response. The terrain just doesn't support it.

    I found the blind NPA shooting very interesting, because I use the same technique in my Concealed Carry Courses for the retention position at close range. Your 100yd closed-eye drill is simply amazing.

    There are a lot of lessons-learned in this post-course review.
     

    XOR

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    Prone is great and I've done a lot of it. But as a civilian I see the limits even in situations like hunting where getting prone is frequently not possible or desirable due to the terrain or shot options. In this course Caylen also pointed out the limits for military and police as well.

    At the range I still do prone for things like load development, sighting in, and F-Class practice. But I also am sure to work in kneeling, sitting and offhand positions. Now that I know barricade work, I'm working that in as well.

    Caylen strongly recommends getting away from shooting groups at the range and moving to drills that encourage you to break you position and try new things. For instance, I like the Sniper's Hide Dot Drill because it forces you to break NPA each time to make the shot or you'll hit outside the dot. It would be a very good challenge to clean an entire Sniper's Hide Dot Drill. So if anyone reading this is doing lots of prone, I would simply suggest getting away from shooting groups and use targets that force you to move and re-establish your position between shots and work on positions that aren't bipod supported prone. It is a good way to practice even if you don't have access to long ranges.

    Thanks for the compliment on the NPA drill. It's a fun exercise. Being able to get natural point of aim is critical for accuracy.
     
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    scimitar2

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    One of the best AAR's of any class I have read! Thank you for taking the time to write it up. A co-worker and I are taking the same class May 28-June 2 and are very much looking forward to it. Any tips on lodging, equipment you suggest to bring, other stuff I should be aware of? Thanks!
     

    XOR

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    A co-worker and I are taking the same class May 28-June 2 and are very much looking forward to it. Any tips on lodging, equipment you suggest to bring, other stuff I should be aware of? Thanks!

    You will learn a lot. Just listen to what Caylen has to say and ask questions. He will answer them all.

    As for equipment, I have opinions based on my experiences in these kinds of courses and also teaching marksmanship courses to others.

    Basically it boils down to this: Keep it simple.

    The shooting conditions in these courses are fast paced and will work your gear hard at times. They will involve dirt, water, wide temps, odd ball shooting positions, and various other things that will make marginal gear break and super tweaked out gear and ammo have problems.

    The area of Yakima is desert. It can be hot, dry and dusty during the day and cold at night. It also can rain for no particular reason in very serious ways and make mud. That kind of environment will break things quickly. It will break marginal equipment or equipment that is super tweaked out. Think broken bolt handles, broken triggers, scopes going down, etc. You should bring things that are built with tolerances to work in less than ideal conditions. So I would not bring the super tight chambered benchrest/target guns. I would not bring the target trigger set to very light pull weight (or any target trigger at all). I would not bring the Uncle Bubba's secret double load hot ammo with maximum overall length and fire formed tight tolerance brass. You may want to consider bringing factory ammo over reloads if you are not sure of your ability to make reliable match grade accuracy ammo. Even experienced reloaders mess this up, especially when they are running really tweaked out stuff trying to be tricky. I recommend not trying to be tricky with your gear and you'll be a lot happier.

    Here is my short list of what you need in the course:

    1) A reliable rifle and solidly attached bipod.
    2) Detachable magazines (4X if you have them).
    3) Reliable ammo where you aren't doing anything tricky. Ditto for the trigger. Don't tweak it out.
    4) A variable max 15X scope with mil/mil turrets and reticle (or moa/moa, just make sure they match).
    5) Reticle with hash marks at least every 0.5 mil.
    6) A simple sling. You won't need/want one with buckles and adjustments all over it.
    7) An insulated mat (and thick enough so when you put it on tough thorns it won't poke through).
    8) Don't hang a bunch of stuff all over your rifle and keep the stock simple.
    9) A spotting scope (optional).
    10) A laser range finder (optional).
    11) Wind meter (optional).
    12) Clothing for any and all conditions.

    Note that the electronics are optional for me. I think trying to mil targets when you can is good practice because we all know the laser can do it faster. But when the laser isn't working you'll be glad you know how to mil.

    The spotting scope is also optional because you likely will be spotting your own impacts with your rifle scope and doing milling of targets from it. I used mine occasionally in this course, but mostly it's a matter of using your rifle scope.

    Wind meters are optional for me. IMO, they are limited use at times because they only show you wind at your position which is just one part of the problem. You will learn to read the wind at near, mid, and far range to make a total wind call. The wind meter can help learn this, but ultimately it's kind of a black art that just needs practice and experience.

    As for lodging, contact Magpul because they have a preferred hotel with reasonable rates and a Magpul discount for students.

    Hope that helps.
     
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    Jimichanga

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    Great write up. I took this course last year and it mirrored my experience. Caylen is very knowledgeable and an excellent instructor. I will be definitely be taking additional courses from him in the future.
     

    davidg268

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    Thank you for the great report. I am new to long range shooting and trying to find a good civilian school to attend. Magpul is on my list along with Rifles Only.
     

    XOR

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    Which android tablet did you use?

    I don't remember. I also used Ballistic on the iPhone with the Litz data and it was pretty much identical results to the Applied Ballistics app on the Android.
     

    123Nick

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    Great read thank you for taking time to write it!

    Would having a higher power riflescope, lets say~25X, be more helpful?
     

    XOR

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    Would having a higher power riflescope, lets say~25X, be more helpful?

    No. I've never had to use high power shooting steel even out to 1200 yards (in. .308 - bigger bore would be different at longer ranges). At high power mirage becomes an issue and usually you have to dial it down. Higher power is useful for more benchrest style/F-class shooting though. But on steel targets center mass is fine and since you are under time pressure and need to acquire the target quickly the higher power's narrow field of view is a potential problem as well.

    What higher power could be good for is milling targets and reading mirage for wind calls though. I may try a 25X scope one day, but the extra size and weight is kind of keeping me away from them right now. Most of the time I find that at 15X I may dial down to 8-10X for some kinds of shooting, not wanting to dial up.
     
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    savages

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    Thank you for taking the time to write up your experience and post it. Greatly appreciated and a good read.
     

    shooten

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    Just finished the class with Caylen last week. Great write up. He didn't show us the C.O.R.D. though... He cleaned up a lot of my fundamentals. I recommend it as well if you have a chance. The Impact Data book was a nice touch as well.
     

    Bruiser_Joe

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    great review and just so you know if it wasn't clear thats a whiskey 3 chassis not a mcree on his multicam gun.

    Kaylen knows his shit
     

    Distant1

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    XOR .... One of the best posts ive ever read , many many thanks for taking the time to detail it all out for us , it sounds like a wonderful learning experience .........BTW I love the C.O.R.D some of the world simplest solutions are the best.
    Thanks once again