SLR15 AR15 / M16 Instructor & Armorer Combined Course, Austin TX

SLR15 Rifles Law Enforcement Patrol Rifle & Handgun Instructor Course

When: July 25-29, 2016

Where: Austin, Texas

We conducted a 5-day (40-hour) AR-15 / M-16 / M-4 Armorer & Instructor Combined Course at the University of Texas Police Academy in Austin TX. Over the last decade, we have conducted numerous courses for the University of Texas Police Department, this was the first time at the Austin location, which is their Police Academy. The location offers a nice classroom, and a gun range right next door. The classroom is climate controlled, which the air conditioning was appreciated by all during the armorer portion, as it was 106-109F outside with high humidity since it had rained about 9” over several days. The range has an excellent berm of ground up rubber, and the concrete walls and baffles keeps everyone out of the sun & rain, which was nice as we had both rain & sun all week, with hot and humid temps.

We have been teaching a Combined AR15/M16 Armorer & Rifle Instructor Course for about 2 decades, as it is our thinking that anyone who is a firearms instructor, should also be an armorer on any weapon system that they are teaching on, as this way they have an understanding on what is going on under the hood of the weapon. For the first 2-days of the course we are in the classroom going through a complete Armorer Course, and the last 3-days are all spent on the range.

Rifles represented in this course were many, to include SLR15, Larue, Colt, Bushmaster, DPMS, Smith & Wesson, Olympic, JT-Doublestar, Rockriver, and a few custom builds.

Day-1 Armorer Course: On day 1 we start with going through the course manual that all students are given. Students were supplied with their own set of basic tools that are necessary to do 95% of the work on their rifles (short of restocking and rebarreling, of which wrenches and sometimes fixtures are necessary), Slip2000 "EWL" Extreme Weapons Lubricant and #725 Cleaner Degreaser, etc. A short session of nomenclature was covered, at which time covered every feature and exterior piece of the rifle to include all the hidden design features that most people are not aware of, and everyone prepped the rifles for disassembly work. Everyone was taught the procedure series of checks that we recommend.

We showed the proper way to field strip a rifle from the user level, how to teach it, and reduce the possibility of causing damage or premature wear/stress on the rifle. Proper maintenance was shown of where, what & how to clean things. We showed what firing pins designed for & covered all the things that you shouldn't be using them for. Once user level maintenance was covered, we moved into armorer level for maintenance, inspections, and repairs. We went through the complete bolt disassembly, upgrades for reliability, stress on parts, life expectancy, etc.

Note: This class had several rifles (2 Rockriver’s, Colt, JT-Doublestar) that needed better staking, which allowed us to introduce the MOACKS staking tools and they were put to good use.

We covered the three types of gas rings, proper installation, and replacement. The rest of the day was spent on understanding timing, and going through the entire lower receiver assembly, specialty tools and fixtures. All the rifles present had collapsible stocks, several didn't have their spanner & castle nuts staked and were built dry, which were all fixed by the students. We spent time on going through the cycles of fire, and the timing cycles of this weapons system, and what effects that timing cycle. Everyone disassembled their lower receivers, looked at sere engagements, pins, springs, how things worked & integrated, etc. The last portion of the day was spent with an introduction to timing, differences between .223 & 5.56, and cycles of fire.

Day-2: We started with a review of everything we covered in day-1, this included going back through explanations and demonstrations of timing, timing issues, dwell time, and how this pertains to how the weapons system runs smoothly, and when it isn't running then what it might be and how to fix it. This class had barrels represented were a mix of 20", 16", 14.5”, and 10.5", which allowed everyone to get a hands on look at timing and pressure issues. We covered different gas systems, pistons, and we supplied several variations, which allowed us to go through the different personalities of each, how each of these systems run or don't run, and what the advantages or disadvantages are. Everyone was shown hands on explanations of how each of these relate to timing/dwell-timing and diagnosis of issues.

A compete detail strip of lower receiver was gone through again, at which time we cover in great detail machining issues of what is good and what is not so good. We showed the quality differences between single stages triggers, and we also showed the differences in quality 2-stage triggers like those offered by Larue & Geisselle as compared to others. Lots of troubleshooting issues are covered during this section. Once done with machining, we go through all variations of full-auto and burst rifles. Everyone was shown the personality traits and troubleshooting for the full and burst systems. Once the lower receiver assemblies were completely put back together and things were working correctly, everyone was shown how to gauge the collapsible stocks, properly stake the spanner & castle nuts, then all made sure theirs were put together correctly and staked.

After lunch we went through the entire upper receiver assembly. One student brought his LWRC piston rifle, this gave us the opportunity to address the piston system, the personality and features of this type of system, to include stress and troubleshooting. When gauging, we found several barrels in class were not mounted correctly, which results in premature wear and stress, of which everyone was able to correct them. On all of the barrels pulled, none of them had been put together to the Milspec from the manufacturer. Every barrel that was pulled, was remounted to Milspec, torqued, and properly indexed. The end of the day is finished up with everyone inspecting and gauging things like headspace, firing pins, chambers, 4 gas seals, etc.

Here is an overview of what was covered on the first 2-days in the Armorer Course:
History of the Weapon
Cycles of Function
General Disassembly & Assembly
Identification of Common Problems and Parts
Identification of Group Components
Semi, Burst, and Full Auto Parts and Conversions
Complete Armoring Disassembly / Assembly
Barrel Replacement
Cleaning and Maintenance
Sight and Distance Considerations
Ballistic Issues
Barrel: Twist, Length, and Profiles
Gas System
Parts Interchangeability, including Brands
Firing Pin Protrusion
Trigger Jobs
Chamber Inspection and Issues
Troubleshooting, diagnosis & repair
Gauging, Inspections, Stress & Interval Issues
Accessories and Customizing
Tool Options and Selection
Iron Sights
SOP/MOD Accessories and Addition

Day-3 started at the range. We started with a discussion about cold & hot range concepts from the instructor perspective, when these are used, and everyone agreed to run a hot range for the class. We went through our range protocol of rules, commands, and got everyone on the same sheet of music of what is expected. Next we went through medical issues that a Firearms Instructor may have to deal with. We passed around several different styles of tourniquets and trauma dressings, then gave a hands on demo of how everything is used. We came up with a plan of what to do is someone was to get hurt. This also led into a discussion of the need for having proper safety gear like good eyewear, hearing protection, proper clothing, body armor, hydration issues, and gear/firearm issues.

We covered the fundamentals of marksmanship of check weld, sight picture, sight alignment, optics, trigger finger placement & press, trigger follow through, dominant eye, one eye vs two eye shooting, cheek weld, breathing vs breath control, etc. We then went through our protocol of loading, mag changes, reloading, tac loads, etc. When loading magazines into a firearm, we teach to firmly push a magazine into the weapon, then give the magazine a good tug/pull downward to confirm that the make sure it is firmly seated & locked into place, this is something that was instilled in me several decades ago (I and a Phil Singleton Disciple). We went through malfunctions on the rifles, how to deal with them, we showed traditional methods (like the S.P.O.R.T.S. method, of which we are not a fan of and why ), and then showed our preferred methods and why. We also showed armorer level malfunction issues that instructors may have to deal with.

We discussed zeroing and ballistics as it pertains to the performance of the rifle, along with what the AR15/M16 weapons system was designed for, and gave options of different zeroing options. We discussed as a group of options for zeroing as it might pertain to Law Enforcement distance engagements, and discussed actual Law Enforcement shootouts as it pertains to distances & gear set up, along with training. We provided multiple types of zeroing targets for both iron sights and optics, and discussed zeroing distances and external ballistics. Everyone opted for the 50yd zero. During checking zeroes, we showed how to use the different targets, and how to adjust their different iron sights and optics.

The rest of the morning of day-3 was spent on going through standing positions. We ran everyone through a series of standing position drills, which showed strengths & weaknesses, what is natural vs unnatural, what recoil actually does during the cycling phase and how the body mechanic works in correlation to physics. We had students perform a series of hammer fire, and controlled fire drills, of which drove a point home that everyone seemed to like controlled fire better. Lastly we used these exercises on standing foundation to show how the shooter controls full-auto, dispelled the myth that full-auto climbs and sprays, by the time we were done everyone was running wide open full-auto and keeping groups tight with no climbing or spraying.

We showed a sampling of different slings, different methods and theories for mounting, and how these are used. This included single point, 2-point traditional, tactical 2-point variations, and 3-point (my personal favorite). We then ran a transition drill where everyone got to learn that having a sling on a rifle is a viable tool, as a rifle without as ling is like having a handgun without a holster.

We started the afternoon with learning to work in a 360 degree world, and did a series of drills that drove this home. This lead into doing tactical reloads, and we showed several different variations of how to perform & teach them. It is theory that after being in a shooting, if you have extra ammunition present then you should do a reload when you have a lull in the action, before leaving cover, and before approaching a downed bad guy.

The rest of the day was spent on foundational shooting positions, starting from the ground up. We present over 20 different shooting positions with variations. These positions are used for stability, use of terrain, cover, concealment, and to provide the shooter any advantage that can be obtained. We went through a series of different prone positions, sitting, kneeling, squatting, etc. We went through when to use these positions and why, demonstrated how to get into these positions, instructor level of how to teach these positions and getting into them, covered how to demonstrate from the instructor perspective of what these positions are used for, and covered instructor & range training issues. We ran through several relays of all these shooting positions, and carried into them the follow up of working in a 360 degree world, as if you fought your way into shooting position on the ground, then you should fight your way back up. We finished the day with an instructor lecture of why to run a fun drill at the end of the day, then we ran a couple of different drills. The end of day-3 was spent with a review and debrief.

Day-4 started with a review of range rules, commands, medical gear & procedures, and we went over what we did on day-3. We rechecked zeros. We also discussed working with shooters who have trouble zeroing, and showed several ways of how to deal with those shooters and get them tuned in. We went back through all the shooting positions that we did on day-1, and then added on by showing variations that may pertain to better use of cover, and may work better with different gear or sizes and shapes of shooters, then let everyone shoot from all these positions at varying distances.

After lunch, we reviewed everything we had gone through up to this point. We had students teach standing foundation principles. We went back through full-auto, how it is controlled, and dispelled myths of recoil management. We had everyone shoot more full-auto, and got them tuned to the point that they could run and entire mag one handed under control, not that we advocate doing this but it shows that with proper foundation the shooter controls the gun (not the other way around), and this helped show that the shooter doesn’t need to steer the front end of the gun if their foundation is solid as it pertains to body mechanics crossed with physics.

From there we moved into how to deal with multiple bad guys, showing traditional and our own spin on it, and where and why there may be differences in methods. This allowed a discussion of Boyd’s OODA loop, and Hick’s law. We then ran through some fail to stop drills of the traditional Mozambique drill, and we showed our theories, and with the use of a shot timer it showed differences, and the differences were correlated to Boyd’s & Hicks laws. The last drill of the day was our El Diablo that we have been doing for several decades, of which no shooters completed the drill on the first run, so we showed them how to do it. With a repeat of the drill, everyone not only made the time window, but we had two shooters that were sub 10- seconds. The end of day-4 was spent with a review and debrief.

Day-5 started with a recheck of zeros. We then had everyone shoot a couple of qualification courses. We showed different concepts of qualification courses, with a discussion of how and when to use them. Next was a discussion on department policies, qualification standards, and possible legal cases and issues that may come up in court. A review of the previous days was done, and we had students step up and teach portions of the fundamentals in front of everyone, and critiqued by everyone, we did this several times in this course to make sure that people understood the fundamentals, and how to teach them. We went through more courses of fire, showing examples of drills we use to build understanding and confidence, drills to drive key training points home, to how to work with problematic shooters.

The rest of day-5 was spent on movement shooting, pivots and turns of working in a 360 degree world. We showed how instructors should teach doing this with weapons control, and how these pivots/turns relate to the real world in things like applying them to structures. We went through movement shooting, showing several different concepts of forward movement, how to teach them, and where each would be applied. We taught several variations of lateral movement, showing different applications for each, where these are used for moving around objects & vehicles, clearing structures, and something that was taught to me about 3 decades ago of where you find yourself in the path of the train then get off the tracks. The end of day-5 started with the traditional cleaning up the ranges, a review & debrief, and everyone received their certificates.

Here is a brief overview on what is covered on the range days:
Patrol and Tactical Employment Considerations
Sling usage
Shooting Positions
Sight and Distance Considerations
Position Shooting
Moving and Multiple Targets
Transition Drills
Firearms Safety
Qualification Training Course and Test
Instructional Guidelines
Rapid Deployment
Employment From & Around Vehicles
Team Concepts
Teaching Fundamentals
Working with Problem Shooters
Policy & Procedural Issues
Ballistic Issues
Setting Up Rifle Programs

Range Gun Notes:
We had no rifles fail or have functioning issues due to lack of proper lubrication. This is due to that we supply all students with a sample of Slip2000 "EWL" Extreme Weapons Lubricant. We also had no issues with any of the rifles during the course, this I attribute to being able to run all rifles through the armorer course first, this helps ensure that everything is in proper working order and is lubricated.

Greg Sullivan "Sully"
SLR15 Rifles
(763) 712-0123