Letter Re: Physical Fitness and Trigger Time

After reading the recent MBR article by Zorro, it seems that all the amateurs still fuss over the 5.56/7.62 or 9mm/.45 debate. At our police agency here in the Southwest, we focus on increasing our trigger time via the SIRT laser training pistol, practicing fundamentals through live and dry fire, working through scenarios (lessons learned) and practicing “range fitness”.

A great resource for range fitness is www.militaryathlete.com. Rob Shaul speaks of high percentage shooting positions based upon the experiences of combat veterans, as well as developing the fitness needed to put the gun in the fight.  It seems that whenever I’m selected to attend firearms training courses it’s at the worst possible time of year. The temperature for my shotgun course in February was 20 degrees with howling winds. I had to decide between wearing gloves that got stuck in the elevator of the weapon when doing slug manipulation or just letting them go numb. Now I will attend a Rifle course in August as the temperature is officially 110 degrees in the shade. Hydration, heat effect, and laying on the hot ground to zero or practice prone positions are all on the menu. In other words, when we find ourselves in need of deploying the main battle rifle (MBR), its usually at the worst time with factors like weather, visibility, and fatigue affecting our ability to utilize the weapon.  So before a person picks a side in the great ammo/rifle debate, can you run a half mile, do 20 burpees, assume a firing position with your main battle rifle (MBR), acquire targets, squeeze off accurate fire, “change your return address” (i.e. move off the line of attack to better cover), change magazines, and then put the gun back in the fight? I still can’t and yet I train for it. I’m considered a reliable shot. I practice, watch videos, and seek out the help of others because I know my life depends upon it. 

My advice is to find a good rifle in a caliber that’s readily available. What’s a good rifle? (I can hear people leaning in as I write this), Any rifle from a reputable company (Remington, Colt, Winchester, etc) in a caliber you can find at a stocking sporting goods store (.223, .308, .30-06, .22 LR) at a price that you can live with.

Inevitably, you’ll purchase other firearms in other calibers as you gain experience (trust me). Seek out competent instruction in your area and practice firearms safety religiously. Improve your level of physical fitness as you improve your firearms skill set. For example, today I will go to the range on my way to work and practice “snapping in” on a target with my AR. I won’t fire a single shot [in these particular drills]. Just bringing the weapon up, on target, and acquiring a sight picture. Yesterday I practiced drawing, acquiring a sight picture, and speed reloading with empty magazines for 10 minutes.  Live by the four firearms safety rules, improve your skills, and have fun.

In response to Zorro: Yes the M1 Garand is a great rifle compared to the AR/M4, but I’m partial to the 1903 Springfield because the US Marines wouldn’t be known as “Devil Dogs” without it. Just had to say it! Thank you, – Bretmail