AAR: America’s Rifle Challenge Carbine Clinic (October 29, 2016, Las Vegas, NV)

/ / After Action Report (AAR)

The first-ever Revere’s Riders America’s Rifle Challenge Carbine Clinic was held this weekend at Clark County Shooting Park in Las Vegas, NV and it was a blast!  At America’s Rifle Challenge events, students learn modern defensive shooting skills on the AR platform.

A student irons out the transition to a kneeling position during a rapid fire drill.

A student irons out the transition to a kneeling position during a rapid fire drill.

The day started off bright and early with a safety brief at 0800.  All of our students were Rifle Sharpshooters so we were able to focus on the new range commands used in the carbine course.  For example, in the carbine clinic we use the command “The Range is Cold” after clearing the line and ensuring all carbines are safe and clear to allow shooters to sling their firearms and move about the range.  After a brief warmup at the 25 yard line it was time to get started.

We began by going through administrative loading and carbine handling procedures.  Next up was instructing the standing position as used in the carbine discipline.  As opposed to the traditional bladed-off stance taught in basic rifle and used by hunters and competitors, in carbine we teach a modern defensive stance.  We also introduced the low and high ready positions.  After a few drills to get comfortable in the new positions, we revisited the “five steps to firing the shot” but with a carbine flair.  For example, we talked about how to setup your carbine red dot optic during the discussion of aiming.

Everyone was shooting well so soon it was time to speed things up.  In basic rifle, we emphasize the perfect sight picture and perfect trigger control.  In carbine, we introduce the use of a floating sight picture with “compressed press & squeeze” which is used for most of our shooting, as well as the flash sight picture with trigger slap for those really close targets.  We then ran a drill from 3 to 50 yards so that shooters could get a feel for the balance between speed and accuracy at different ranges.  At this point we worked in a little history about “The Whites of their Eyes” from Bunker Hill, discussing how New Hampshire militia fired accurate volleys from 40 yards on it to near contact distances — basically the same distances we were shooting.

After getting a feel for speed vs. accuracy it was time to introduce reloading and keeping the carbines fed.  At Bunker Hill, militia were able to keep up an astounding rate of 8-10 rounds per minute using black powder muskets — the rapid fire “patrol rifles” of the day — by working in relays to load and fire.  Today our challenge is simpler but we still need to know how to perform tactical reloads when the situation allows for it.

Colonial militia await another assault by British Regulars at Bunker Hill... "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes!"

Colonial militia await another assault by British Regulars at Bunker Hill… “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!”

After this it was time to focus on some precision.  Our students confirmed zeroes at the 50 yard line.  Then it was time to slow down just a hair for precise shots to 12 square inch targets — just smaller than a 3×5 index card — from 7 to 25 yards.  It turns out that this is trickier than you might think, in part due to issues with carbine holdovers up close.  We discussed how the Colonial militia at Bunker Hill defeated highly motivated opponents — British Grenadier shock troops who doggedly fought on until taking nearly 90% casualties, in some cases.

For lunch, Heather was kind enough to bring out Muster Bread for us to snack on.  Muster Bread is a sweet bread that was baked in Colonial Days to induce the menfolk to come out for training.  Doubtless some was present in the camps around Bunker Hill in the summer of 1775!  After the Revolutionary War was won, the cake was known as “election bread” and it was a tool to lure men to the polls to vote.

After lunch it was time to focus on how to keep the guns running:  malfunction clearances!  We worked emergency reloads, failure to fire, failure to eject, and double feeds.

Because everyone was a graduate of Basic Rifle, we were able to launch right into a qualifier which puts together all the core carbine tasks in a course of fire based on the WW2 M1 Carbine qualification course, but with a modern twist.  These are shot in the NRA America’s Rifle Challenge Basic Match format.  Normally, we’d spend time teaching the kneeling and prone positions as well but today we were able to launch right into more shooting!

NRA America’s Rifle Challenge lets owners of America’s most popular new rifle platform develop and showcase their AR skills.

NRA America’s Rifle Challenge lets owners of America’s most popular new rifle platform develop and showcase their AR skills.

After our first qualifiers it was time to tackle some advanced subjects.  We did a little shooting on the move as well as drills to iron out the kinks in our reloads, transitions, and precision shooting.  Later in the afternoon we mixed in some fun drills to include more malfunction clearances, scanning and situational awareness, and multiple target scenarios.

On one of the final qualifiers, Dann pushed on over the edge to earn a Carbine Sharpshooter’s patch!  He showed how everything can come together with great shooting from 7 to 100 yards.  To be fair, this was Dann’s second carbine event so he did have the advantage of knowing what to expect, but all of our shooters all showed improvement over the day as well, with others knocking at the door.

Dann waits at the high ready, on his way to landing a Sharpshooter's score and a carbine patch!

Dann waits at the high ready, on his way to landing a Sharpshooter’s score and a carbine patch!

We wrapped things up by slowing down and working a favorite drill, “ragged holes” with slowfire to refocus on accuracy and fundamentals.

Overall this was a great day at the 5-star Clark County Shooting Park.  We had a blast, the weather was perfect, everyone was completely safe, and we covered a lot of ground due to the diligence of the students.  Look for more carbine events as we enter 2017 — this new discipline is as exciting for us to teach as it is for students to attend!