RECENTLY I WAS invited to sit in at the local county’s precision rifle course. This course is designed to train and qualify county deputies to carry a precision rifle to use in the line of duty.
Although the majority of most law enforcement defensive situations (or even civilian for that matter) occur in a distance of just a few feet, there are instances where long distance shots can be necessary. Further, when they are necessary, that long distance shot had better be precise and find its intended mark.
After a classroom portion discussing zero, optics, ammunition, Texas Penal Code, external ballistics, and rifle fundamentals, we hit the range. For a benchmark we all fired a five-round group at a one-inch square target at 100 yards from the prone position. Then the real world skills began.
This is something I have taught ever since I competed on Top Shot—get off the bench! At most shooting ranges, shooters will get as comfortable and stable as possible and never practice shooting otherwise. There is absolutely a place for solid prone and bench rest shooting, especially when zeroing a rifle and testing equipment. However, real world defensive and hunting situations rarely allow ideal conditions.
For the first skill assessment, we were required to fire prone at 100 yards, kneeling at 75 yards, sitting from 50 yards, and freestanding from 25 yards. We had to place every round in a three-inch circle representing the cranial vault. If you weren’t careful, it was easy to throw a round outside the target area while trying to beat the timer.
This is where I saw a great advantage in running my heavy-barreled LaRue Tactical PredatAR. My follow-up shots were much faster since I never had to run a bolt. However, the drawback was also the weight of my rig, especially with a suppressor.
The next real life law enforcement drill was also the most dreaded. In law enforcement scenarios, a sniper might be in position for hours and must be ready instantly to make a shot if called upon.
This is practiced in the 3/30 Drill. Every shooter loaded three rounds and got into a prone position staring at the FBI headshot target for a total of 30 minutes. Over the next 30 minutes, at a random signal the shooters would have to engage the target as quickly as possible.
During this exercise I found my hand getting quite tired as it held correct tension on my rear shooting support bag. However, my trigger finger seemed to be in tune with the instructor’s signal firing almost instantly at the sound of the buzzer.
The stress shooting exercise is common among competition shooters. With rifles loaded and ready on the 100-yard line, shooters were required to perform jumping jacks until the instructor hit the shot timer. On the signal, the shooters jumped behind their guns and fired five rounds into a three-inch diameter circle in less than 10 seconds. This is another that I recommend practicing on your own. It will even help hunters push through buck fever!
This was just a sampling of the class. I didn’t mention finding holds and practicing shots out to 400 yards. Because life doesn’t always give us optimum conditions, it’s helpful to subject ourselves to training like this, so we can shoot as straight as possible.
Email Dustin Ellermann at [email protected]