Larry Vickers: Observations From A Combat Marksmanship Trainer


Read the whole thing, which opens:

The following are some thoughts I would like to share based on traveling the world while training various military, law enforcement and civilian personnel in pistol and carbine marksmanship. Some of you may agree, some may disagree, but my goal is to really get you thinking about what I said when you’re done reading this.

Muzzle Brakes

Muzzle brakes are great in a three gun match, but almost completely worthless in the real world. If you ever need to use your carbine while in confined spaces, as part of a tactical entry team, or during nighttime fighting, then you have no business putting one of these on your gun. Period.

If you just go to a class and pound a bunch of rounds down range trying to look cool then it is tailor-made for you. So are Ronald McDonald shoes…

Get realistic training NOW, while you can.

Or are you naive enough to think HRC will permit non-LEO tactical training in her empire?

40 responses to “Larry Vickers: Observations From A Combat Marksmanship Trainer

  1. Mr Vickers,
    I read your entire missive/post/whatever. You make several good points. I know you don’t care what anyone else thinks, because you obviously have all the answers, so with nothing else to learn, why would you care? For anyone else who might be interested:
    4 simple points…
    1. You are such an elite, I better save up even more aluminum cans so I can one day afford to be bathed in your omniscience, without you having to raise you’re voice?
    2. Not only D can shoot. And a lot of those other guys use simple straight forward technique, not braggadoccio to train.
    3. I’m wondering why the sudden concern for me attending training…
    4. Seems like I’very watched you hawk muzzle breaks…
    All the best, mike

    • “Seems like I’ve watched you hawk muzzle breaks…”

      I was going to say the say thing.

      • Sgt. Roberts

        The BCM Gunfighter brake is unique to other brakes in that it directs blast forward as opposed to the sides, making it more compitable for teamwork.

  2. Uh, I have never seen or heard of electronic hearing protection. When TSHTF, I cautiously doubt I will be using electronic hearing protection. Where the Fuck does this shit come from? Really? Will I have time to check my batteries before the shit storm which is a fire fight commences? If they go down during the shoot out, can I call time while I change batteries? G*d save us from the technologically adept. For the record, I have ear plugs in my vest for using, IF I can, when I can. Having fired many thousands of rounds of pistol, rifle, machine gun, mortar, etc, I know the value of hearing conservation, and I don’t disregard others attempts to preserve their hearing. But the phrase, over the fucking top, does come to mind. At the range, I use ear plugs and ear muffs together. Works fine. I am not going out and spending $100 plus on EHP. For the same reason I use cheap optics for my rifle and such. If they break, I can replace them easily. Then, I have money for ammo, food, you know, that kind of stuff. Now please excuse me while I go over to and laugh at their latest water purification system that costs $1250.00

    • Grenadier1

      I dont agree with Vickers that NOT having EHP creates a dangerous environment for students , lord knows people took classes for decades before they were invented, but lets be fair. The cost of EHP has dropped to cheap as non EHP. I think thats really his point. There is no reason to take classes with non EHP when you can get a pair of Caldwells for 49.99.
      They do make hearing the instructor much easier as they amplify non-gunfire sounds.

  3. Sean, you obviously aren’t getting his point. He said, “This creates a borderline dangerous situation as you have a student who isn’t hearing half of what the instructor is saying” Your line of “When TSHTF, I cautiously doubt I will be using electronic hearing protection. ” has nothing to do with safety on a range. Are you going to be “square ranging it” during SHTF? I mention this because I have had the same issues (people not getting ALL of the instructions on a line), especially with people that double up (Muffs and plugs). Just because you do that on the range, where more than likely you are not receiving technique or safety instructions, does not make what Vickers said, concerning safety factor, any less valid, and yours is apples to oranges. I let those that want to wear the E Muffs on the ambush lane (magifies sounds, right?) go right ahead, and they learn that finding the direction of a shooter (especially when there are multiples shooting blanks) is very difficult, so when they go through the next lane, they do not use the E Muffs (because they learned from experience why not to).

  4. I just love reading the truly enlightened words of people who have achieved all there is to achieve and have no inclination to learn anything new. Mr. V is truly a national treasure of accomplishment and enlightenment. I’m sure I’ll avoid any and all contact with the mighty Sir, and make sure I spread the word.

  5. Same guy that was selling 50 dollar slings to the Appleseed audiences?

  6. Cornerstone of my comment: Look through the style of presentation for the substance of the information. Don’t know the guy from Adam; he could be a real jerk. I. Don’t. Care. What I do care about is the information, and from various perspectives, he’s provided good information.

    Muzzle Brake v Flash Suppressor: Vickers is correct regarding night use. YMMV; I’ve found the Vortex unsurpassed. And, with a 5.56mm in a 14.5 or 16 in carbine, the need for a muzzle brake is a non-starter. Being that ‘real world’ is described, whatever he’s ‘hawked’ can be extrapolated to mean, ‘not for the real thing.’

    Electronic Hearing Protection: Great for training; not really expensive. Should have for range safety such as hearing important things like, “CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE!” Not so much for patrolling/field work/defensive situations. YMMV again; I prefer and recommend either Sure Fire’s Ear Pro 4 Sonic Defender plugs or the 3M Peltor Combat Arms earplugs. The former are more comfortable than the later, but both work great. I use them both, and will do patrol practice with them, day and night.
    Sacred Cows: Tactical reloads are fine; should be practiced now and again. Especially during dry fire. During range training, if the course calls for it, absolutely. If not, then ‘no.’ Many people are ‘dust cover nazi’s’ as if an open dust cover may indicate a ‘hot’ weapon. It makes sense to check your dust cover before you set out on a patrol, because many, many, many BCG’s today are Nickel Boron or Chrome, and shine a lot. Range time should be focused on increasing personal marksmanship, no matter the course of fire. Worrying about little things like the dust cover takes away from the overall objective of the range.

    Quality: Again, while not the most diplomatically phrased, he’s right. Good, solid basics is where it’s at. In my youth, we were drilled that, “Hits Count! Noise ain’t shit!!”

    Competition: Again, he’s right. Competition has a purpose; so does realistic training.

    Final thought, FWIW, don’t kill the messenger because he/she was less than a world class diplomat. If the messenger didn’t care, he/she wouldn’t provide the information, because the Return On Investment for ‘free advice/counsel/information’ is usually, zero.

    My .02

    • “Electronic Hearing Protection: Great for training; not really expensive. Should have for range safety such as hearing important things like, “CEASE FIRE! CEASE FIRE!” Not so much for patrolling/field work/defensive situations.”

      Boil down to: Use EHP for training.

  7. Let he who is without bullshit, cast the first stone…

    Take advice where you find it – subject to reasonable questioning of course.

  8. SHocktroop0351

    I think he has some legitimate points, like competitive shooting not being an ideal substitution for combat training, and his whole “quality over quantity” bit, but for the most part it looks like it was just a chance to puff out his chest and boost his ego. “The following are some thoughts I would like to share based on traveling the world while training various military, law enforcement and civilian personnel in pistol and carbine marksmanship.” “You may find out that in the real world the first makes the second largely unnecessary.” He has to constantly try and establish his “street cred” in almost every paragraph. I find I hear a lot of stuff like that when people are trying to establish themselves and give an impression to would be followers, you know, to sell stuff. How about instead of just critiquing everyone who isn’t as “tactical”, actually write something worthwhile that teaches them, rather than make fun of them for what they might not realize. Oh wait, then they might not come worship you at your class…It makes me laugh that he thinks he wrote some really novel, thought provoking stuff.

  9. Michael Clare

    Mason Dixon tactical,
    Contrary to popular belief, Mr Vickers is not the firearms training Messiah, except maybe in his own little world. I’ve been around firearms training in about all disciplines for 40 years, never had a problem with foam plugs or muffs, as long as I maintained control. This included firing orders of 25+ shooters, live fires at company and battalion level etc. I certainly don’t need to hear that if I dont have ehp, I better save my allowance or go looking for alumiminum cans. That is just insulting and I don’t care who it comes from. I especially don’t need to here it from Mr Vickers who hawks products from his sponsors, then bad mouths everyone that isn’t Mr Vickers who have the same product that he models for profit. And the implied get training now or are you naive is BS scare tactics, coming from a firearms trainer. Conflict of interest much? I may not be the man that Mr Vickers thinks he is, but I don’t patronize and insult everybody that isn’t me.

    • Who said anything about a “messiah”? He knows stuff, just like others “know stuff”. I said he was right from a safety standpoint, because e Muffs do make it safer. Company and Battalion level live fires is not the same as calling a line of shooters on a square range, besides, you know as well as I do that the military uses loud PA systems when calling the line, and if it’s a live fire assault, you have multiple safety’s running with the shooters. As an NCO, I’ve called a line, and I’ve run as a safety on live fires. Safety is paramount to running a range or a shooting class, and if you are not prepared to make your line as safe as possible, you shouldn’t be running a class or calling the line. When it’s your ass on the line, whether as an NCO, or worse yet as a business owner, you do everything within your power to make those you are teaching safe, PERIOD! So tell me, how many safety’s did you run with your firing line of 25+ shooters?

  10. just plain todd

    how the fuck did we become back to back world war champs without all this shit, or the word “tactical” ? and a 6th grade level of education maybe 8th grade at best among the majority of troops? seems to me wwII was the last war we won. since then, third world shitholes been kicking our ass long, wide and continuously. i like cool shit and training too, but there is a point where some group of farmers can kick a world powers ass without it. every time.

    • Jimmy the Saint

      World War II was probably the last one we fought with an actual strategy. Since then, we’ve pretty much ignored the idea of having a planned-out endgame, so we run around winning lots of fights, but accomplishing little, since we don’t really have a clear definition of what constitutes “victory”.

    • Placation of civilian “leadership.”

    • So….you’re carrying an 03 Springfield to shtf right? Good enough for Alvin York right?

  11. just plain todd

    the PTB know what victory is…….in their wallets. its what Ike warned us about on his way out. there most definitely is a strategy today. its just different. but, the good news is, we know how it ends up.

  12. Here in fucked up NY , we have managed without brakes or hiders since ’94. The two inches of either one are now two inches of extra barrel for same OAL. That extra two inches gives more velocity, less flash as more / all the powder is burned in the barrel – what a concept – and the sound is farther from your face and directed toward enemy. He makes some good points and combat mindset will never be replaced by gizmos and ‘classes’. Anyone who is prior service knows the drill.

  13. Bucephalus

    Any training accomplished without enough stress (movement, heavy loads, poor visibility, obtuse angles, uncertainties, the clock, cold, wet, hungry, hot, thursty, tired etc….) would have a tough time being 90%-100% sucessful.

    High Pay Off Training only comes as a culmination of many smaller units of training; it cannot truly be accomplished in one or two weekends… took 6 to 8 months to fully train a “Joe” back in the Cold War military era….ask any retired NCO.

    Anyone who is literally-offended by what this guy or any other person writes (believes, or says) needs to have their f-ing Power Distance Index adjusted down a few notches to the “thicker skin” setting….. It’s a classic one person argument; like the handgun trainer who says his training program is a better “bargain” than a second hand gun….really, is that his unbiased opinion?

    Some people’s self esteem is threatened by the decisions or actions (or inactions) of other people, but others are truly-blessed with a genuine indiference towards the techniques or practices of other shooters; that is the standard!

  14. Me? Retired now and finances are a concern. Would like to go to a training session but it’s a time and money thing … range shooting is, well – fun or at least enjoyable but out here in the desert (EVERYTHING either bites or has stickers); while pretty in it’s own way, this environment belays the harsh reality of ‘shooting it out in real life’ in that if you’re going to practice, it better be on the ground, behind rocks/walls and moving through some pretty harsh landscape. Not exactly a day at the range and definitely not ‘fun’. The whole , ‘train like you fight’ thing …………..

    • “…the harsh reality of ‘shooting it out in real life’ in that if you’re going to practice, it better be on the ground, behind rocks/walls and moving through some pretty harsh landscape.”

      Plus 10!!

  15. SemperFi, 0321

    The greatest tool/mindset I never see covered is Discipline.
    Most of you haven’t a clue what it is, for others, you probably wouldn’t be alive today without it……eh Sean?
    Probably shouldn’t have mentioned it, next week someone will have a -Discipline- patch for sale……

  16. If you’re worried about the cost of electronic hearing muffs, for the past 10 years I’ve been using a Peltor electronic muff that I paid $12 for at Harbor Freight. It just has one side enhanced. I should probably replace the battery some time, or at least make sure it hasn’t started leaking.

    If you save long and hard, Midway has Caldwell stereo muffs on sale fairly regularly in the $25 range.

    Sporting clays is my game of choice. I won’t say I’m good at it, but I do have a lot of fun. The muffs work just fine on the range.

    My point is, they won’t break the bank if you want some e-muffs. I also like the fact that they enhance your hearing. When I’m out shooting in the desert, it’s nice to be able to hear if anyone is coming your direction.

  17. Michael Clare

    Mr MDT…if I disagree with Mr Vickers and his delivery, you have decided that I must not know what I’m talking about, eh? Did I mention running an unsafe line? Or do you try to negate my points by talking trash? What’s your magic number for safeties, 1-4? 1-10? What if its with indig forces? Limited personnel? Oh snap, are you the only NCO/retired NCO on this forum? Lets just agree that we disagree that it is a requirement to have to use ehp for a safe range. What about the other points? Don’t bother, because like Mr Vickers, I don’t care what you think…all the best, mike

    • Who cares about delivery? We’re talking about being as safe as possible, aren’t we? Comparing a Company level live fire to a line qualification is apples to oranges when it comes to using something like EMuffs. As far as the “what if?” Stuff is concerned, If I don’t have enough safety’s for a line, I reduce the number on the line, due to not accepting the chance of a safety issue. Simple

  18. Reality is a bitch. Most people will freeze up and get themselves shot when they come on to a hot human target that is shooting back at you. If by some miracle, you do shoot the dirty bastard trying to kill you, chances are you will have a sensory overload and become fucking useless.
    The smell alone of a bullet riddled carcass will make many people vomit. You will never be the same person after you have taken human life. Sociopaths ,contrary to some beliefs do not make good soldiers.
    The warden in Cool Hand Luke had it down .”Cause you gonna get your mind right.”
    Forget about all the hardware and get your mind right.That is your weapon.. Without that ,you are only cannon fodder.
    Be of sound mind and body with a greater purpose than spreading death and destruction. A man on a mission.
    Surround yourself with quality people.
    You don’t have enough ammo.

  19. Michael Clare

    You dont have enough ammo…well said.

  20. One thing to caveat about muzzle brakes that I think Mr. Vickers has pointed out, they tend to pair better with suppressors than compensators. From what I understand the muzzle brakes reduce wear on the suppressor as compared to flash hiders/compensators. SureFire also makes a non-NFA product called the Warden which I personally have run when not using my suppressor to save those in class with me from wanting to die. The SureFire muzzle brake when uncovered makes those on the left and right of you feel like they are being hit in the face full force with a badminton racket with every round you fire. I know this because I have stood next to someone firing mine uncovered and in addition to that smack in the face it was “the world is ending” loud when shooting even just from under an overhang let alone inside a building!