“Clusterf**k”: Lessons Learned

Precision-Rifle-Series-Shooters

A terrific AAR, sent by a reader:

“Clusterf**k” —

That is the one word answer I uttered to my wife’s one-word question as she eyed my weary face and body covered in smelly sweat soaked clothing, and asked me, “Well?” She was inquiring as to the outcome of my weekend session as an untrained spotter for an ex-combat veteran sniper during a competitive team event that we were using for training and evaluation. She tried to suppress her laugh.

For the past 8 years I have been training in various aspects of both long-range shooting and SUT. Some of my skills are self-taught and for others I have been receiving various forms of “professional” training, some good and some not so good. (Here I come Max and Mosby for the real deal.) I have noted over the years, that everyone seems to do things differently to achieve the same end. But I have become leery of these different standards (means) amongst FreeFor, preppers, and ex-mil types to produce similar outcomes (ends.) Nearly every ex-mil type that I encounter still believes that come CWII, they will be able to call for support, med-evac, or endless supplies of ammunition, and that meals and MREs will miraculously appear when they get hungry. Most preppers are not any better since they somehow believe that tactical skills, endurance, and SUT principles will just flow into their minds and bodies on that fateful day when SHTF. So, for the past two years I have wanted to do some real world testing and evaluation of what it could be like to mix various sorts of training and experience together under less than optimal conditions to see what the outcome would be and to glean some wisdom for future more likely real events.

My experiment parter for this exercise, Bob, and I have known each other for several years, and we are good (I will bring a shovel type of) friends, but we have never engaged in an activity where outside influences, stress, time limits, and the dynamics that come with a competition can impart on a relationship. Bob and myself have both been out of the military for nearly two decades, and we generally practiced our skills separately, and therefor each had our own methods. So when a few months back a two-man sniper team competition was announced, we decided to enter and see how well we could do. Even though we generally did our own thing separately, we did have good ideas on the other’s individual skills based on previous experiences we each had witnessed in the other. We figured our chances were good for the competition. Bob would be the “Sniper,” and I would be the “spotter.” Bob would bring his own equipment and I would bring my own equipment plus some extra items for supporting Bob in his roll. We had some long discussions on exactly what to bring and how we would configure ourselves.

On that fateful day a couple of months back, we arrived separately at the venue, attended the match briefing together, and pulled on our kit for the two day event. From this point on, nothing else went smoothly for us. Our biggest issue was lack of effective communication, both with each other, and with the event staff on the parameters of each stage. We were unable to complete a single stage without Murphy getting involved. From serious weapon malfunctions, to which targets to shoot, or what part of a target to shoot, to poor wind calls, and various forms of misunderstandings at every stage, we did not do very well. We suffered from procedural deductions, failure to engaged target deductions, and wrong target deductions. We probably even received deductions for constant bickering during the match.

Not to be completely negative, we actually did shoot quite well (when the guns were running.) But when you lose 60 points in procedurals for putting all of your rounds in your neighbor’s target, plus the loss of 50 points because you did not put them in your own target, it simply doesn’t matter that they were all inside the X-ring at 500 yards. The same goes for when you put two in the X-ring of a series of moving targets, but you were supposed to put one in the head of each. We even succeeded in stalking the closest unseen (just under 200 yards) of any of the other teams to the observers (recently retired ex-ranger snipers) with Bob, a 20-year out of practice ex-sniper, and myself who has never stalked anything more than an errant sock behind the dryer, and this even after we had wasted more that two-thirds of our allotted field time moving to a faulty location (do to a lack of effective communication and understanding of the stage course.) Of course, we missed our one an only shot at the target do to a brain malfunction on both of our parts, resulting in an equipment malfunction.

This particular competition for Bob and I resulted in some things I expected as well as some things I did not. I did expect that two individuals who were not trained under the same conditions (one military and one mostly private) or to the same standards would not be able to work very well together. I did expect that we would have poor performance for the competition. I did expect that we would hit the targets at which we aimed (even if we aimed at the wrong targets.)

What I did not expect was the significant firearm malfunctions, mostly to Bob’s primary bolt-action. Then eventually the back-up he used started to malfunction as well by the end of the match. I also did not expect the significant communication gap between us. This accounted for at least half of all of our issues on target selection, wind calls, holds, leads, or simply how to progress on the stage, etc. The biggest issue I did not expect was our lack of understanding on individual stages. The staff did their best to introduce Murphy to all of us. Even the best teams suffered from the shenanigans of the staff, but we seemed to have more struggles than most. It eventually became obvious to me that Bob was accustomed to having hours, or even days, to read over and absorb an Ops Plan before embarking on pre-training before deployment. On the other hand, I would quickly absorb the individual stage Ops Plan, read aloud by the staff, with only minutes before starting a stage. I assumed that Bob was doing the same thing, only to find out most of the way through day two that he was not grasping what he, or I for that matter, were supposed to be doing on any given stage. Without my knowledge, he had been relying upon me to instruct him through the stages. (While debriefing after the event, he told me that he had had the same spotter his entire military career, and that his spotter had always briefed him and kept any operation on task. This would have been great information to know ahead of time, even if that manner of thinking is less than optimal.)

Observations and things I learned:

• Training together is IMPERATIVE. Buddy pair and up. If you are not training with your buddy, your team, your platoon, and/or your company, and to a set standard, you are going to have some serious problems when the operation starts. Common training will eliminate most communications issues and mission oversights.

• Make absolutely certain that you understand the Operations Plan from front to back, back to front, and while upside down with a bag over your head. Make certain your team also understands it as well as you do. Just asking them if they understand is not adequate; make them repeat it back to you.

• Everyone (with the exception of specialists) should be running the SAME equipment, ammo, mags, etc. We were required to have an IFAK for the event and during inspection I noticed that Bob’s was significantly different than mine. Nothing was labeled, and the items were in different locations than mine. Had I need to use his IFAK, precious seconds could have been lost trying to find or figure out what was what and where it was. I did not know his blood type and I didn’t see it labeled anywhere.

• Know your equipment and your buddy’s equipment. Know how your firearms preform in your hands. If your buddy is running a different platform, get to know it as well as he/she does, and ensure that he/she knows how to run yours. This simple overlooked fundamental lost us time, points, and caused an eventual match DQ for a safety not being properly engaged before moving. You should also have a broad background in all types of battle type firearms. The winning team was completely befuddled by a field stripped AK-74 that had to be reassembled. It turns out that quite a few teams had a problem here. Bob didn’t even have any idea how to do it. Fortunately I had it reassembled in about 35 seconds, which was the only stage in which we had any success.

• Check your equipment often. Near the end of the first day, we found the windage turret on Bob’s rifle was rotated out of adjustment by .3 MRAD with the wind. At close range, this would not be a big issue, but at longer ranges, this can be significant, especially when you only get one shot and the winds are high. We do not know when the knob became out of adjustment, because neither of us ever took the time to check it. We found the problem by accident.

• Your equipment should work. It turns out that Bob’s rifle, which was professionally built and had less than 100 rounds through it had not been completed properly. The loose chassis created magazine loading issues, accuracy issues, and bolt issues, all of which contributed to a loss of many points during the competition as well as aggravation and frustration for both of us. In real life, this would have put our lives in great danger.

• Accuracy is important. We were both hitting our targets. I was hitting 12″ movers at 500 in windy conditions with a .223, and Bob was hitting 12″ movers and fixed targets out to 800 and KD’s further out, when his rifles were running. At distances beyond 800, Bob ran out of reticle holdover but understood how to dial in mils to keep his holdovers. For long range shooters, this could be very important when under time constraints.

• Murphy is always lurking. Know this and prepare as best as possible for it. When Murphy arrives, stay calm and make the adjustments as best as possible. Learn how to improvise, adapt, and overcome. (Trainers should work to intentionally introduce Murphy to their students.)

• Know your limitations. I eventually admitted to Bob that I simply could not call the wind for him. I was too inexperienced to judge the value on short notice. We agreed that he would call the value and I would do the math and relay the holdover. This compromise put him on target for the remainder of the match once we switched to the back-up rifle.

• Just because Bob and I could communicate in order to complete normal everyday jobs together, that did not translate when our differing shooting backgrounds, styles, and training were mixed together. It could have been worse: Bob and I were born and raised in the same community and so we spoke the same local dialect of English, with all of its local figures of speech, slang, and accent. It turns out that one of the event staff was from another region of the US, and we never realized until late on the second day that he was asking questions of us for much of the match, since every question he asked started with the word “You.” Had Bob and I been from different areas of the US, the communication could have been even worse had we not been accustomed to the way the other spoke.

• Don’t ever assume your buddy or team is on the same page as you. On multiple occasions, Bob and I had differing ideas on how to accomplish a particular stage. We each assumed that the other shared our idea. Our lack of communication and detailed planning (even if only for a couple of minutes before the start of the stage) led to multiple complications.

• You will fall back to any previous experience or training. I was shooting at the wrong target on one of the stages simply because that target number was the same one I had shot at two previous events in previous months at the same range. Instead of thinking about what I was supposed to be doing, I reverted back to past experiences. How bad was this effect? Even though I was told that I had shot at the wrong target, I did it again because I actually believed in my mind that that target number was my legitimate target to shoot. I finally had to remind myself over and over which target was mine to prevent myself from continuing to engage the wrong target.

• Communication will improve with time. Once we started to realize what the other wanted and needed, we started having less problems. Two days is not enough time to work everything out, but we were improving. In a real life situation, it could be deadly to mix differing backgrounds without pre-training since you might only get one chance to get it right.

All of these things have led me to a foundational conclusion:

When SHTF or there is some type of collapse or military/police action and you, your friends, and/or your community have to go into self-defense mode, don’t expect things to work out the way you expect, at least not initially. If you have not been doing realistic stress induced training with them, when the real stress of life and death comes calling you should expect a lot of poor communication, low unity on most issues, mismatched and outdated training and equipment standards, injury, and death. The problems and issues that Bob and I experienced during the two day match would have likely resulted in one or both of our deaths had any of the stage presentations been real.

In the end, we spent one weekend and a not so insignificant amount of money on ammunition and match fees in order to learn some valuable information, which may one day save our lives, and yours.

64 responses to ““Clusterf**k”: Lessons Learned

  1. ouch! this hits home like a 300 mag in the nose. how many of us could do even this good? mr. murphy’s school of hard knocks, here we come.

  2. The old axiom,”Practice makes perfect”, seems to apply. Muscle memory,anticipation of your partners actions,etc. This is great information. It’s amazing that you encountered all of these obstacles and no one was trying to kill you at the time. Quality hardware is great.Without proper instruction and training,pretty much useless. I have my work cut out for me. Thank you.

    • Let me offer a little correction, “PERFECT practice makes perfect”. Simply getting out and doing something all the time is not enough. If you are fucking it up the whole time when its go time you will continue to fuck it up.

  3. I think that is a great article. Thanks to the writer.

  4. outlawpatriot

    Yeah, I can second the dudes assertion. It is amazing what happens when a gig becomes real. Throw in a little swamp, lost commo and a wrong trail and you gotta problem. But at the end of the day, endeavor to persevere.

  5. super information, thx a ton………

  6. when the combat starts all plans come apart and nobody “rises to the occasion” rather….they sink to their level of unpreparedness.

  7. Great report. So much for grabbing a rifle and a couple of buddies and wreaking havoc and despair on OPFOR, eh?

  8. the fukkn A-team

    The ONE thing I have absolutely learned about americans is that everyone of them have their own idea of what high standards are. I have also learned that the 99% are all so whacked out of their tiny brains, weak bodies, and empty pockets it’s pathetic. Seriously, It blows my mind. They will however add a nice mix of clusterfuck OPFOR will have to sort out. And so it will go…

    • the fukkn A-team

      by Preston James

      Yes, it’s time to strike at the Root Cause of all the Evil that has engulfed the United States of America Our Republic and most of the World.

      icelandic-rothschild

      The City of London Banksters have used their main Cutout the Federal Reserve System to engulf the whole World in a sinister Web-of-Debt of US Petro Dollars that has led to numerous continuing wars accompanied by mass-death, maimings and unimaginable human sufferings…

      …The solution that 137 nations have selected, many more coming all the time is to establish their own Development Bank called the BRICS Development Bank (which will eventually operated without the use of any Rothschild produced money especially the US Petro Dollar). Some of the nations which have joined the BRICS have already started direct trading of oil, natural gas and other commodities without the use of any Rothschild manufactured money or use of the US Petro Dollar…

      READ IT ALL.

      http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/11/16/its-time-to-strike-at-the-root/

  9. As much as I love to keyboard commando this sounds like a great reality check.

  10. That is one of the best posts I’ve ever seen, here or elsewhere.

    Well, I guess some of the lone rangers out there might want to spend some time working with other guys. When it’s time to rock and roll, you will not mesh with the other patriots like Lego blocks.

    Great info – thanks!

    • Unfortunatly too many of the “lone wolves” will use this to further their fantasy that they should just go it alone. I second that notion. That way when they get themselves killed it will just be their dumb ass and not a perfectly good spotter as well.

  11. Great report.
    Neither this guy nor his partner were very smart, but now they’re both very wise:
    they know what they don’t know.
    Which is a lot more than many people start with.
    They also know why entire military branches all train on the same weapons, the same equipment, and the same techniques, over and over and over, to avoid exactly that kind of cluster-ex, and they know that
    “failure to plan, is planning to fail”.

    If they apply all that new-found and painfully acquired knowledge and rectify their earlier errors, they’ll do much better next time.
    But in the mean time, I give the author props for honest self-critique.

    As such, it’s valuable for anything: vehicle bug-out planning, starting a fire on a cold rainy night, dealing with an unexpected medical emergency, or anything else one can dream up. Everything is come-as-you-are.

    • Boon Vickerson is out there

      Hows that axiom go?
      There are the knowns
      There are the unknowns
      Then there are unknown unknowns

  12. Great read, yes in true SHTF many plans will got to hell at once. Murphy always shows up and he is usually optimistic. Managed to get some pod casts in of FO with Sam C this weekend. Good stuff all, thank you.

    I think we’re getting close. I have been wondering what the purpose of the Ebola psy op was, perhaps it’s here? The guy in NE is going to die in all likelihood. Cold weather is here now. Dunno, more psy op? Or true FF is upon us?

  13. Damn good points. Especially note the part about both having been in the military and having gotten out about 20 years ago. As such, they would have had at least the same very basic training. When I was in, I saw different methods in even basic things, such as crossing a danger area, minor differences in hand and arm signals, etc. Even differences in distance covered by bounds can cause problems if not trained together. Now imagine adding, besides the pressure, a mix of untrained/semi trained civilians, and recent vets. Behold the mother of all cluster effs. BTW, hand and arms signals have changed in those 20 years. Also, younger people tend not to understand the physical limitations of middle aged people so that will also cause problems. Point is, all of these things can be sored by training together in advance but won’t come off by themselves. Even a 5 minute discussion/rehearsal is far better than going in cold together if that’s all there is time for.

    • Interesting Observations. When I first joined they were just phasing out the old khaki uniforms for the new BDUs and as I was leaving the service they were just phasing out the BDUs for the new ACUs (which are now on the way out as well). I know much, much more than just uniforms have changed since my days as a private waiting for the Commies to roll through the Fulda Gap. Talking to soldiers today, I feel as if we weren’t even in the same Army…yeah, there are lots of things to be overcome where training is concerned.

      • Actually khaki was the wrong word, they were “Olive Green” uniforms (OG-107) uniforms…Alzheimers is setting in early!

  14. That one is in my top list for contribution of the year.

  15. Blood type: each of you get it tattooed on the inside of your left arm and make sure everybody knows where to look.

  16. Milo Mindbender

    Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. These are words to live by, and being aware of them, I have tried to Murphy proof my training. Success will be graded on a very steep curve, but I can hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Not much else I can do nowadays, due to alphabet agency infiltration, and general poor PR handling.

  17. Well done passing on your experiences at the event. You took what sounds like a massively frustrating couple of days and detailed it to everybody else. If your event had gone well, you never would have mentioned it. You’ve done more for the common good by relating all those pitfalls that got large quickly in the heat of the moment.

    I’m reminded of the fact everyone has to realize sooner or later: You don’t get there reading manuals. You get there by practicing and doing. It’s much better to run thru things now when failure is just a not so funny story to tell.

    Thanks.

  18. “The winning team was completely befuddled by a field stripped AK-74 that had to be reassembled. It turns out that quite a few teams had a problem here.”

    I understand how this happens given that some weapons aren’t so common *on the surface* in some regions. This will only become worse in recent ban states, but there are less restricted states where you just don’t see everything in stores and/or the local range.

    I assume most people reading this are familiar with AR15s and Rem 700s. I would recommend adding AK, SKS, FAL, G3, and M1 to the list to become familiar with as those will cover others that are similar to them. As far as handguns go there are many guys who know Glock and M9 but can’t even begin to take apart a 1911. Also, doesn’t hurt to know shotguns. Keep your eyes open and see what’s in your area. If your local PD or State Police buy Sig 55#’s or Beretta ARX-100s, learn how to take those apart. There are minor tricks for each.

    Even if you don’t have access to the real thing, there’s Youtube.

    For some other skillsets in CW2 FUSA/SHTF I’d also recommend learning how to drive stick, a diesel tractor, changing a small motor pull-cord (think generator), using a chainsaw, etc. This was basic man knowledge just one generation ago and it’s amazing how many people can’t do any of it today.

  19. Boon Vickerson is out there

    There is a positive note to this.
    At the very least these guys are trying not only working to become good at it, they got off their ass and did it, and they understand their limitations with a perseverance which sets a great example.
    It is an admirable undertaking. A lot of sweat, time and resources, never mind dedication.
    My hats off to the author.

    Bravo!

  20. O/T Seeking info about diesel engine that burns transmission fluid in an article that appeared on WRSA about 1 year ago (?). I think it was some fella had a 90 Dodge truck that he burned some transmission fluid in. Anyone keep it? Thanks!

    • Mike, OD here in Georgia, too. Not sure about the article but my son and I experiment with running our diesel f250 truck and e350 van with filtered waste transmission fluid and waste motor oil. I’d be happy to share the knowledge with you.
      I’m sure the PTB hate the fact that older, mechanical diesel engines are quite capable of running on off road diesel, kerosene, waste trans. fluid and waste motor oil, not to mention waste veggie oil. Transmission fluid is also just as good as Diesel Kleen for keeping injectors clean and lubed and cheaper too.
      Here’s an article about the subject, he cuts the waste oil with gas but when we started out, we cut it with off road diesel. http://survivalblog.com/guest_article_staying_mobile_in_a_collapse_situation_by_mc/

    • Mike; most any older diesel can burn non synthetic ATF. That is what I use to flood spare injection pumps, injectors, and tubing for long term storage, and if you aren’t concerned about getting dye-sticked by the authorities, a lot of folks add a pint or so at every fill up. It is red, however, and that color will get you a hefty fine if the DOT people find it in your tank in an on-road vehicle.

    • There have been discussions on the zerogov forum about this. “Chris” is the guy to see there; he knows as much as anyone on the topic, plus a ton about making a vehicle EMP-proof.

  21. Great article, thanks!

  22. CRAWL, WALK, RUN.

  23. “Everyone (with the exception of specialists) should be running the SAME equipment, ammo, mags, etc. We were required to have an IFAK for the event and during inspection I noticed that Bob’s was significantly different than mine.”

    This is the one that gives me chuckles when I see dudes trying to train together and it looks like Jed Clampett’s clan trying to fuck monkeys who are trying to fuck a football.
    Standards have been developed in blood and they are worth following. Having a group with a very simple order of drill and equipment based on tried and true standards that other smart people figured out for you just makes sense. Start simple, master the simple, and build on that as a team.
    Here’s a good primer going back to the days of the Continental Army for developing / adopting standards.

    This was a great writeup. I love the ones where people get kicked in the nuts by the Great Ninja of Humility. The test of a man is if he takes his bruised ego and dials it in or not. Sounds like the author and his bro are going to do the smart thing.

  24. I need to clean my rifle now. I haven’t used it for 5 years.

  25. Speaking of Charlie Foxtrot situations, Ferguson seems to be percolating nicely. Found this on opferguson twitter feed which if follow just for temperature taking purposes. The “race war” meme seems to be wining there ATM.

  26. A few years ago I had to come to the reality that Im not a young guy that’s gonna be able to “Run and Gun” like I did in my youth. As Dirty Harry said I had to “Know My Limitations”. I think EVERYONE could use a good gut check NOW when its cold and not when its all real and hot
    Since then Ive come to the understanding of what my role can be. I can be a good “Gray Man”. I work in the medical field and I can bring that skill set
    and I know how to listen and fade into the background. I can be a Support type. Room, food, ammo, or just a place to hide and recoup.
    So I love this article. I WISH EVERY Keyboard Rambo could be forced to go through 2 days like this. It might save a lot of lives when SHTF. Its easy to be small and obscure and get carried away on an anonymous keyboard but when it gets real is NOT the time to realize that you EFFED up beyond all logic.
    Lastly, I KNOW my equipment and I KNOW what I can do. I KNOW that I cant Run and Gun, but I do still have the Trigger Finger of a teenager. MY Advantage IS distance, BUT I know also that I CAN NOT make the “Mile Shot” I KNOW that I will have to plan and scheme and watch and be VERY selective in my OPS. I KNOW that planning is gonna trump ALL my skills. I will have to hit and fade away and GET GRAY In a BIG hurry.
    THIS articles shows me that Ive NOT planned for Mr. Murphy NEARLY enough in my training. THANKS

  27. A sobering, and humble post.. you’re hard on yourself and your partner. Good. Your greatest strength is that you are your own worst critic. Nothing an instructor can say to you can be worse than what you say to yourself. But don’t be too hard on yourself… If you tell yourself “I suck!” too many times, you’ll start believing it…

    And.. it happens to everyone sooner or later. Having Murphy kick you in the junk when you’re not expecting it is a gut check.. The best kind. Every failure is a learning experience. You didn’t fail – you just learned what didn’t work…

    I was attending a school while still on Active Duty. I practiced for weeks, must have gone through my kit at least a half dozen times, making sure everything was there and that it all worked.

    I ended up being my own worst enemy. No equipment failures, but…

    – Dressed for what the weather was, not what the weather was going to be. Straight up failure to plan. Proned out, I had a gore-tex upper on, but just BDU’s and long underwear on below the waist. A front moved in and a cold rain started falling. The depression I was in quickly filled up with icy, muddy water and I was soaked and shaking from the wet and cold in a very short time. Laying in 4 or 5 inches of icy, muddy water is not conducive to precision shooting.. Heh.. “shrinkage”.. 🙂

    – Next day, the rain cleared out, but the temp fell like a brick. I was dressed for it, but it was so cold I compromised myself by exhaling before the shot and fogged the eyepiece with my own breath, which promptly froze. Target waltzed on by while I was clearing the eyepiece. Oops.

    – I knew what I could do with my rig, but failed to account for the barrel heating up during rapid fire. Another straight up failure to plan. Started gaffing shots and had no idea why. Turned out, the barrel would heat up and start dropping shots at least 3 minutes low due to heat expansion… doom on me for not checking to see if there was a change in impact when the barrel was hot. My own damn fault.

    On the other hand, the guy I was partnered with was a decent sort and a fair hand with a rifle. But every once in awhile, the recoil of his rifle would cause the mag floor-plate to pop open, which dumped his rounds in the mud. After two or three times of this happening, 100mph tape to the rescue… it looked like crap, but worked.

  28. Dirk Williams

    Outstanding review. On 10/18/14 my group did a LEO/MILITARY training, on our private range. 30 AR 500 targets from 400y out to 1250 y in Southern Oregon.

    I ROed a Team of Army Ranger reserves, for the day. They used our gear as their unit is deployed right now. these guys communicated in such a way that even if the shooter could not see the target, the spotter could walk him onto the target in two shots.

    Have to admit, I was very very impressed with these guys. In talking with the other RO’s all were Impressed with just how effective and to the point the Ranger Snipers communicated.

    We didn’t see effective comms between the LEO’s, which we attributed to lack of training and frustration with distance and barriers between ranged targets and actual distance to targets. I.E. Targets over a bluff, which when not paying attention to detail were ranged at 450y, when the actual targets were on a second ridge back, and actually 100/200 y further then initial ranging by the teams.

    This AAR is representative of what we as RO’s witnessed at the range. In our own AAR the clear objective lesson learned by the RO crew was exactly what this gentleman has made so clear.

    Effective communications is critical. The agreed upon terms of distance determination and affirming of the distance, dope, and come ups, is critical.

    There is zero room for error in this application.

    Dirk Williams

  29. Prepping Preacher

    to try to get prepped is one thing…. to do one’s diligence at it by putting one’s self to the test is another… then, to admit to one’s self how dismal those testing results were deserves appreciation…. but to openly admit to a nationwide selection of others making efforts in the same direction for the same purpose, risking ridicule and taunting, makes this man(imho) the winner of the Stones of the Century Award – hands down…

    “reader”, thank you for the AAR and your willingness to put it out there for the rest of us(your critics can go pound sand)

  30. Colorado Pete

    Reminds me of my 20 years of hunting with my childhood buddy back in NJ. Got to where we could communicate well in the woods with hisses, squeaks, fingerwagging, and looks. Moved out here, got a new partner, started all over from scratch. Now he’s moved out of state, and I’ll have to find someone new and start all over. And time’s a lot shorter now. Bummer.

  31. I took a course back in 2004 and when it came down to the scenario of being under simulated fire and having to take cover, draw, and engage, I discovered that I had a pos holster. I was mad as hell but the former SS guy running the show stated that this is where mistakes NEED to be made and corrections made. I went out, bought a top shelf holster, chucked the pos in the trash, and never had another problem.

  32. Reblogged this on GraveMrWhite and commented:
    This is great info. You better read it Timberwolf. You and me got a date with a range soon.

  33. Very good insight. Are you and Mr. Bob still good? I’ve seen things like this rip friendships apart.

  34. A reminder of shadow engineering still going:
    http://fabbersmith.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/making-chips/

    Keep an eye out, three or four more posts to go.

  35. Great article and information. But if the SHTF your out anyways. Just KISS and take a few with you when your time comes.

  36. Excellent article. And I do not say that lightly.

    The author is to be commended for having the guts to do an honest ARR in a public forum. Those capable of learning from others mistakes will benefit greatly; those who can’t, won’t!

    I am far too old to be running about in the wild, but I remember starting out in high-power competition many decades ago, and the embarrassing moments I went through there. It is always a surprising reminder to those starting out, who have not participated in something as simple as a high-power match just how TARFU things can get without significant prior prep.

    Which brings me to a point- If you have not yet taken your SHTF rifle to a high power match, I strongly recommend that you do so. You will learn much about yourself and your rifle. Not saying you should stop there, but it is a good starting place. Inecpensive, too.

  37. Clusterf**ked

    I appreciated all of the positive responses to such a generally negative outcome. For Bob and myself, it was a learning experience, which has only made us wiser. I am appreciative that WRSA published it so that everyone else could hopefully learn from it as well.

    My primary reason for writing it was simply to show the unseen rift between us: lack of standards in training, and that such a thing could be deadly. (Had Bob and I competed as individuals, I am sure we would have done much better, sans firearm issues, but that was not the point of the exercise upon which we embarked.) As it stands now, there are several III% trainers out there, who all appear from the numerous AARs to be great at what they do. But if Squad A who were trained by Mason Dixon needs to work with Squad B who were trained by Max V, would they be an effective unit? Could they communicate effectively to get the job done? Would they all show up with the same type of equipment where interchangeability of mags, ammo, parts, and gear could be the difference between winning and a bunch of FreeFor funerals? If a logistics team shows up to the party in support with piles of XM855, magpul magazines, spare parts, and battle belts with mag pouches, are they going to run into hodgepodge mixed units running SKS’s, .223 barreled AR’s, and guys who are running chest and thigh rigs that they have trained with.

    I have been around a bunch of like-minded people for a lot of years. But the one primary issue I confront regularly is lack of basic standards in equipment, training, and communications. I think FreeFor, via the growing III% community, have the opportunity to correct this issue by adopting a set of standards: specific equipment, ammo, communications, and training. You cannot afford it? Well I (nor FreeFor) can afford to die because you cannot meet the basic standards, and no, it is not OK for you to run that AK-47 when the rest of us are running AR’s. Save your money and get the right stuff, otherwise join the support and logistics team.

    Put another way (and this is the logistics side of me coming out), if I were running a training facility, I would demand equipment standards, i.e.: 16-18″ barreled 5.56 AR-15 with a 200yd zero, chest rig/plate carrier that holds 4-6 magazines, (standardized) IFAK, pistol and holster, water carrier, etc. The fee for the course would INCLUDE ammunition and the use of provided III% standardized comms equipment. Because I know that all of my students would be using a 5.56 platform, I could purchase XM855 in bulk at a discount and pass this savings on to the students as part of the class fee, and I would know that everyone had plenty of ammo for the course. There is also the benefit that flyers will not need to worry about shipping ammo ahead of the course. With everyone running the same basic gear, it makes evaluation of the students easier since variances in equipment standards and ammunition selection can be ruled out of the equation, not to mention the psychological aspect ingrained in the students with the standardized training with specific equipment.

    And I do not buy into the argument, “Well, an AR-15 won’t work in my AO,” because it seems that our military does just fine all over the world running one set of standards for their riflemen. Just because you live in the desert SW does not mean you get a pass. If you cannot hit that target 1000 yards away, then you get the AR-15 to support the guy with the 300 WM who can. The guy in the thick forest can carry a shotgun along with his AR.

    Standards are fixed. We should work to find that baseline and then stick to it. All of us. We can train upwards from the base standards and make changes as necessary, but at least we can have a set foundation we are all working from.

    • That’s one lofty goal there, Cluster, and thanks for the excellent insight of your AAR.

      Normally I’d be inclined to say throw that goal out on the basis of it being unachievable, since unachievable goals are never rational. But in this case, I’d say that maybe it’s achievable, but it would absolutely require an extensive and reliable communications network, which itself might be an even loftier goal than the standardization.

      I mean what the hell…if you do something, do it right. The potential benefits could be huge. Of course, those who believe it’s all about sacrifice might have to change their tunes. Or become wishy-washy—it’s about sacrifice in that instance, but not this instance. Uh-oh, isn’t that what duplicity is?

      No matter. Personally I think it’s a helluva goal, less for what it does than for what it would take to make it happen.

      • Clusterf**ked

        Jim, I think standardization is easily achievable. At least listing the specifics of a standardization plan can be created and posted all over the III% community. Give people a chance to get with the program.

        Most everyone in my AO has at least 1/2 dozen rifles. Every like-minded person I know has a battle rifle of some type among their collection. Is it too much to ask that any III% Rifleman either add one more specific rifle to their collection, or replace one in their collection with a III’per rifle? Is it too much to ask that they zero that rifle with commonly available ammunition to a specific yardage? Is it too much to ask that they standardize to a reliable magazine carry method? Is it too much to ask that they keep and carry a common IFAK so that their life might be saved? Is it too much to recommend a reliable individual squad radio so that if they choose to carry one, it is the one that everyone else will be using? Is it too much to ask that they train and PT to a certain standard? Is it too much to ask that they obtain and keep a certain amount of ready to eat foods so that they can get through the initial stages of turmoil? Is it too much to ask that they learn and communicate to prescribed protocols?

        I do not think that any of these are too much to ask. In fact, I think that most people prefer to be lead, and that if trusted III% leaders lay out specifics, most people will follow. Of course there are those without the means to buy an AR-15 and all of the ancillaries that go along with it. They also do not have the money to attend standardized training, so we should not stop ourselves from creating a standard simply because some people won’t like it, some won’t do it, and some cannot do it. It is for those who can and will: the III%.

        With such standards in place, the supply and logistics teams can stock up on parts and supplies that are in line with the gear and equipment specified in the standards. As Grenadier1 pointed out, the other nine people who support the one rifleman need to know the standards too if they are even going to have a chance of doing what needs to be done.

        I personally think that standardization of equipment and training is the easy part. Standardizing the III% message, media, and propaganda is the part that will be difficult to achieve, but at least there are people working on it.

      • the fukkn A-team

        That’s NOT going to happen to any large extent. I think you should concern yourself with your team-and what works for you. If you haven’t been paying attention, the US military has gotten their asses handed to them time and time again, by stone age inbreds using sticks, stones, and AKs. The only reason US forces haven’t been completely destroyed is the air and artillery support they enjoy.

    • I agree with what you are saying about standards but as someone who has tried to drive standards in the corporate world I can tell you its doomed to failure.
      You cant get enough people to agree on what the standard should be to even set the standard. There are just an many guys who will tell you that the Glock is the best all-around pistol that should be the standard as there are guys who will swear up and down that the Colt single action is all that is needed for a basic self-defense handgun. This thread will devolve into an AR vs AK vs (insert STANAG 7.62 rifle of choice) debate. The conversation will get heated and fur will be rendered.
      The big FREEFOR training guys can profess that they will accept only AR’s and specific types of gear and most of the guys who really need the training the MOST will shut them out calling them gear snobs and lamenting over the fact that they cant run their Crapco SKS at the SUT class. I don’t care what gun you run and I don’t care if you are wearing old worn out commercial hunting camo or the latest multicam that’s all the rage in Kabul this year. All I care about is if your decision making skills can hold up under fire and if you are planning on doing stupid shit when the range goes multi-directional.
      Have a standard within your team and if you decide to run a .45-70 then you better buy .45-70 in metric shit loads cause that’s not what the bad guys are stacking high and deep.
      We CAN demand that training and procedures meet a specific standard and I think some of the efforts going around right now are working us to that end but gear is an entirely different subject matter.

      • outlawpatriot

        Disagree G. My militia unit is standardized on an AR 5.56 platform and a Glock 17 secondary. Now, we’re not bustin’ chops to say you gotta have it to join, but you’re expected to comply fairly quickly. We monitor. It is expected. Because we say so. Our uniform is ATACS-FG. Again, we don’t bust chops but you’re expected to comply and we monitor. Because we say so. Bottom line? At the moment, 100% compliance with uniform, 100% compliance with rifle platform. Only two without a G17 but they’re working on it and will comply shortly. We do the same with IFAK, food, water, ancillary equipment, etc.

        Standardization is one of the keys too an effective militia unit.

        Leaders just need to determine what that standardization is and enforce it. If you’re running a good unit, willing compliance is not that tough. Individualism is not the where with all. It can get you killed.

        We don’t want to get killed.

      • Ok, could we start with a smaller step, like, ‘training standards recommendations? That might be achievable.

      • That makes perfect sense G, but one thing troubles me—what if it’s wrong? Seems to me the possible (possible!) risks are too great not to try. Plus, the benefits–direct and derivative–are potentially huge. I know I suck at Pragmatism, but that risk/benefit calculation looks like a no-brainer to me.

        Of course that’s easy for me to say, being neither warrior nor tactician. Still, since everything about Rightful Liberty is WILLFUL, I’m not sure what the harm could be. At the very least, even the attempt would no doubt highlight other inadequacies, much like the AAR of the post.

        Your corporate analogy breaks down IMO because of a duplicity of goals there. In theory the profits of the corp are the singular ultimate goal, but in reality personalities come heavily into play. That’s why with a small business, or even a larger one with a sharp chain-of-command, no such problem over standardization is encountered. Right or wrong, it’s that way or the highway. I’ve no idea how that would look in this context. Might be worth finding out, though…another benefit!

    • Thank you for that AAR…That took some time and thought and some self sacrifice in that you could of spent that time to further your prepping instead of helping the rest of us out…In my line of work we have safety meetings every month and in it we have a time where guys talk about things that they did or had happen to them that are called near misses…Which means that they didn’t get hurt or wreck any equipment but came close enough to worry them…They tell of their experience so if we ever come across that situation we will have a better understanding of the risk and able to take precautionary measures so we don’t get hurt…Thank you again for sharing that we might learn from what you did right and wrong ..

    • Cluster, I’ve been struggling with this portion of your comment for years:

      “it is not OK for you to run that AK-47 when the rest of us are running AR’s. Save your money and get the right stuff, otherwise join the support and logistics team.”

      I never got around to getting an AR. They were always costly and seeing as I had an M1A and FAL, which I couldn’t bare to part with, I always ran an AK when I wanted to use something smaller. I could always hit everything people with ARs were hitting as I was an above average shooter, but I have been struggling heavily with the idea of selling all of my oddball guns (M1 Carbine, Garand, above mentioned, and others) and getting all AR platforms for the family. I know why I need to do it…but damn if it isn’t a hard mental nut to crack as I love them all! It would save greatly on logistics and parts as well and create lots of room…why can’t I hit the lotto?

      Thanks for making me take another look at that issue!

  38. Standards? You mean like a .243 LSR-FAL? 😉

    For logistical purposes, common ammo and detachable magazines is a good start. Mossberg MVP in 5.56NATO boltie uses ar-15 magazines. Kel-Tec SU-16x uses ar-15 magazines. SU-16 is NOT an AR-15, but is light and compact. How about piston-action ar-15 variant? Cooks, MXS, Transpo, Supply, Medical, Admin will mostly have weapons in racks, so non-standard but working will mostly be okay, until it’s not.

    The first word is Irregular. If irregulars are able to fight while advancing to the rear, making regulars earn the ground with blood supplies and time, irregulars are dong great! Traps. EFP’s. Video. Orphan care. Copy what works for broke-ass .org’s like Hezbolla or Scotland in 1946, not what Unka spends billions on to fail (ObolaCare- form 2 lines: over 60 or sick to the left, young and healthy to the right.). If it works it’s not stupid.

    • All true, but clearly the weak links in FREEFOR (aside from some of the philosophy!) are systems and communications. At this stage, the knowledge and skillset of the Good Guys are overwhelmingly superior to the Bad Guys. Not to jinx anything, but that’s the way it is. It ain’t too tough to outperform zombies.

      Apropos perhaps…a ton of hunters derive a boatload of benefit from the hunt, even when they don’t get a deer.

  39. A group of us are in the process of creating and implementing training standards within a segment of the “Tactical trainer community”. We want to get it right, and that is why you haven’t seen anything concrete yet (Just rumor). Some want to just throw crap out there, and see what sticks, but our approach is “Measure twice, cut once”, because when it is implemented, it’s not the time for guess work.