Training with the Blackbeard and the SAINT

By Travis Pike
Posted in #Skills
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Training with the Blackbeard and the SAINT

October 11th, 2023

7 minute read

In my opinion, the Blackbeard from Mantis revolutionized the dry-fire industry. An auto-resetting trigger device with an optional laser makes dry-fire fun and takes it to a new level. However, the Mantis Blackbeard can’t plan your training session — but I can, or at least I can help! Today, I plan to take your AR-15 training to the next level.

offset drill long range
Training, especially defensive rifle training, can be difficult on traditional ranges. These dry fire training drills can be done safely in your home to keep you skills fresh.

My Setup

I chose to use a SAINT Victor 5.56mm with the Blackbeard attached with a simple red dot. It’s the quintessential AR carbine and a perfect match for the Blackbeard.

[Catch Paul Carlson’s Springfield SAINT Victor review here.]

I developed drills based on dry-fire and the Mantis Blackbeard device with the goal to make these easily accessible, capable of being shot indoors and out, and for training various skills. Let’s dig in and get shooting — or “lasering,” if you prefer.

The Failure to El Pres

The Failure to El Pres combines two of Jeff Cooper’s most famous drills into a fun drill you can run indoors or out. If you run it outdoors, you can use greater distances and bigger targets, like USPSA or FBI Q targets. If we take it indoors, you are closer to the targets, so use smaller ones.

aiming indoors
As with any dry-fire training, be sure you are working with empty firearms. When used, the Blackbeard system prevents you from loading live rounds into the gun due to the design of the mechanism.

For this, we’ll need our rifle, the Mantis Blackbeard and three targets. A shot timer is also a must-have. (A phone app shot timer works since we are only using par times.) First place three targets in a row. If you’re outdoors, set them up three yards apart. If you’re indoors, set them up one foot apart.

[For more information on this dry fire training system, read our Mantis Blackbeard Review.]

Start with your back to the targets with your rifle at the low ready. Set a par time for 10 seconds. At the beep of your timer, turn and engage each target with two shots to the chest (big sticky note). Now, change gears and shoot each target with one round to the head (or tiny sticky note).

blackbeard training system
As shown above, the Blackbeard training system includes replacement parts for the SAINT’s magazine, bolt carrier group and charging handle.

The purpose of this drill is to work on your target transitions and shot placement under time. You are also changing gears and going from two quick shots to a large target to one well-aimed shot to a small target.

The Offset Drill

Home defense distances are typically less than 15 yards. If you are using an AR at that range, you’ll need to learn about height over bore. With an AR, your sighting system sits well above the barrel. When you are shooting at 25 yards and beyond, that’s not a big deal. As you get closer, you’ll notice your rounds hitting lower than your point of aim. At home, defense distances this offset can be measured in inches. The offset drill allows you to get used to and train for that offset.

offset drill
Offset drills can be high-value training opportunities in your home. This will help you understand the rifle’s offset at various distances in your abode for safer shooting if needed to defend your family.

For this, I used my Blackbeard-equipped rifle with a sighting system and a small target. A shot timer also helps, but isn’t necessary. Your optic needs to use your normal zero. For me, that’s a 50/200 zero. Now, you’ll need to zero your Blackbeard to your optic. This is quite easy. Refer to your Blackbeard manual on how to do this.

Set up your target at the longest possible shot you can take and measure that distance in yards or feet. Divide by three to establish three different distances. So, if your longest shot is 15 yards, you’ll shoot at 15, 10 and 5 yards. We’ll start at the longest distance and move forward.

Set your par time to one second and assume a low-ready position. At the beep, aim and fire a shot while attempting to compensate for offset. Small targets won’t lie, and it’s easy to see a miss. Observe and learn the offset. Fire this drill three times at each distance, aiming to achieve a dead-on shot in one second while accounting for height over bore.

Using this drill, you’ll learn a lot about close-range precision shots. Having some experience with offset under the stress of a timer will ensure you recognize, acknowledge and train in observing height over bore.

The Mean Lean

Cover is a real lifesaver, a literal one. Knowing how to use and shoot around cover can be a very valuable skill to have. The mean lean shooting drill is all about using and shooting from behind cover while forcing you to move and stretch your skills at different angles and levels under a time limit.

mean lean
Using cover is an important, and often overlooked, aspect of defensive shooting. Here, the author demonstrates a shooting drill employing cover.

For this, you need a Mantis Blackbeard and rifle, a single target, and a piece of cover that is tall enough for you to stand behind. You’ll need a shot timer as well.

Set the target up at an appropriate distance. If you’re outdoors and using big targets, use a greater distance. If you are indoors, use a smaller target cause you’re a bit closer. Then, set your par time to 10 seconds. You’ll start standing behind cover.

At the beep, you’ll lean out from the dominant side of cover and fire two rounds at the target. You’ll then immediately take a knee and fire two more shots at the target. Now, transfer to the support side, but remain kneeling and fire two shots before finally standing and firing two rounds from the support hand side. You have 10 seconds for eight shots and four position changes.

mean lean training drill
The proper use of cover allows you to minimize the amount of your body that is directly exposed to danger.

In this drill, you are digging in and learning how to shoot around cover, as well as how to work around cover. You may need to change position from cover. In fact, it’s typically a smart idea to use different angles of cover rather than predictably pop out from the same side and height every time.

1 Through 6

In the gun world, we get into this two-shot habit. We get really used to firing two shots at a target and assuming that’s what it will take to win. Sometimes, it might take more. Other times, it might take less. With that in mind, let’s do a little more and less.

1 through 6 shooting
Dry-fire training, like this 1 Through 6 Drill, can be done with inexpensive sticky notes or just paper and tape.

For this drill, we need seven cards, roughly 3”. This can be index cards or playing cards, or cut out from paper. Don’t get wrapped around the edges too much on the targets. You’ll need your Blackbeard-equipped rifle and a pen. Don’t forget the shot timer.

Take six cards and number them one through six. Leave one card blank. Shuffle the cards so you can’t see the numbers. Hang your blank card in the middle and begin drawing cards one by one, attaching the first to the right side of the blank card, the second to the left. Repeat that pattern until all of the cards are hanging around the blank card. My example came up — 1 — 4 — 6 — Blank — 2 — 5 — 3.

To run the drill, set a par time to 10 seconds and start in the ready position, aiming at the blank card. At the beep, you’ll shoot target number one a single time. You’ll then shoot target two, two times, and so forth and so on until you shoot all six targets.

The most obvious training in this comes from target transitions. You’ll also be breaking away from the “shoot two and move on” mindset. Shooters will need to pay attention and think the entire time. It’s tough to get mechanical with random orders.

Train, Train, Train

There we are, four intensive drills that can take your training to a different level. These drills all have a basis in defensive firearm use and, in my opinion, can be quite fun. My par times are generous and aimed at new shooters, so if you find the drills too easy, trim the par times and move and shoot faster.

There are near-infinite variations of different drills you can do with your Blackbeard kit and SAINT rifle, so hop into the forum and let us know how you train with yours.

Editor’s Note: Please be sure to check out The Armory Life Forum, where you can comment about our daily articles, as well as just talk guns and gear. Click the “Go To Forum Thread” link below to jump in and discuss this article and much more!

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Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles and videos are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.

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