I love me some good high-intensity training with firearms, especially in classes with my buddy Rob Orgel from ER Tactical. You hear people complain a lot about “flat ranges” and their limitations. But I am here to tell you that you can get a hell of a lot of value out of a flat range with proper safety and instruction.
Being fast and accurate while stationary is certainly valuable. But how are you when your heart is slamming through your chest, can you maintain speed and accuracy? This is what I love to test with my firearms.
Where It Counts
For my rifle, I am sporting a Springfield Armory SAINT Edge with an Eotech EXPS3. My pistol is an XD-M Elite Tactical OSP 9mm with XS Tritium sights. My plate carrier is a Daeodon M from Esstac filled with Spartan Armor Systems AR550 plates (yes, I am a glutton for punishment). My belt is an Esstac Shooters Belt with KYWI pouches. For clothing, I am running the 5.11 Tactical Geo7 and their Atlas Boots.
We began the day with some basic moving and shooting on steel at 60 yards to work out any kinks. We then slowly ramped up the difficulty as we shook off the cobwebs. It’s amazing what you can do with a few cones and a single piece of steel when you get creative.
We began standing in place and shooting from a low/ready position, snapping up a sight picture and making singles hits or hammer pairs. We then began running from cone to cone and introducing a loading area so that we had to perform multiple actions with an elevated heart rate — i.e. loading or reloading while moving.
As we prepared to move from low-intensity to high-intensity, we practiced some transition drills. This is where you transition from either an empty or out-of-commission rifle to your sidearm in a quick, swift manner. One could argue the efficacy of this technique versus getting your rifle back in the fight, but it’s a fun drill to do on the clock and build dexterity.
One issue with using gloves on a carbine is when switching to a sidearm you lose a lot of dexterity. We ran this drill with and without gloves, and one version where we stripped the glove as we moved to the sidearm. I was much more accurate without gloves, but with training I think I could still perform with gloves on.
Turning Up the Heat
For our next course of fire, we began with 100-meter runs with ammo cans, vaulting tables, push-ups, sit-ups, etc., and then running to our rifles and engaging steel from different cones at about 60 yards. This is where you really must practice focus and breathing techniques. I realized I needed to run all my movements through in my head as I was approaching my rifle, or I would make a mistake. When your heart is pumping and you are sweating, it’s easy to forget small things and lose time on the clock.
Now it was time to introduce some real stress — the final training exercise. In a 20-lb. vest, we ran downrange and vaulted three tables. We then would pick up the steel target and carry it 50 yards to the left and then 50 yards to the right, then back 50 yards to center. We would then run 100 yards up range with three vaults in the way.
We then did lunges back downrange for 20 yards, three vaults again, and finally arrive at my rifle positioned 60 yards from the steel targets. Get five hits on steel, move 30 yards to the right, get five hits on steel, reload, 30 yards to the left and then five hits on steel. My time was 3:09. Talk about a workout!
Move fast, shoot slow. When running and carrying objects, find a rhythm where your heart rate can remain elevated but steady, and get into a good breathing routine. When transitioning to the gun, get on target quickly, and then slow down. Take a breath and audibly breath out to remind yourself to steady your structure and press the trigger.
As far as gear was concerned, it all performed flawlessly. The Esstac plate carrier is slim and minimalist — very comfortable. The steel plates had a triple curve advanced shooter cuts so, while they were heavy, they weren’t uncomfortable. The Esstac Shooters Belt makes reloading way too much fun with the KYWI pouches. I can’t say enough good things about the 5.11 clothing and boots — the fitment, comfort level and patterns are on point.
The SAINT Edge is as always, a rock. It’s never failed me once; the lightweight nature allows me to move fast and stay on target with ease. Similarly, the XD-M Elite Tactical OSP 9mm is comfortable in my hands and easily controllable.
Running these types of classes really helps me to find what works and what doesn’t between my rifles and gear. It builds proficiency, knowledge and experience which helps me be a better servant to the community and a safer more competent firearms user.
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