PART 2 T1 Afternoon:
The Sentinel Concepts Practical Urban Carbine course is a course designed to work with students on skills needed to engage targets out to 300 yards. This is a series of topics and skills that are near and dear to me and my duties, responsibilities, and environment. I know Steve likes to push his envelope and skills; he has a pretty good reputation for practical skills relating to rifle work. I was interested in the challenges that Steve “Yeti” Fisher was going to provide. This is part two of this AAR series, covering the work in the afternoon. Part 1 can be found here: Sentinel Concepts Practical Urban Carbine AAR Part 1
The weather was in the mid-90’s during this portion of the training. It cannot be emphasized enough to make sure that one takes care of themselves during training. Healthy snacks such as dried fruit were essential along with plenty of hydration drinks. Water alone was insufficient. Electrolytes need to be replenished, and breaks were given often enough for people to have the opportunity to drink from bottles on their person if they wanted or to refill as needed. I know that I mentally lagged a bit still towards the end of the afternoon when I didn’t drink nearly enough. I’m curious to know how many of the other students noticed the same and what they could have done different.
Sling work was a key element of this course. A quality sling that can be adjusted on the fly with adequate mounting points is an essential requirement to get the most out of the instruction and rounds practiced. My patrol rifle that I used had mounting points on the stock, at the rear of the receiver, and at the front of the receiver. They allow for a sling to aid in maneuverability in FISH (Fighting In Someone’s House) environments, and provide the flexibility that a single point does. The forward receiver mounting location does not provide adequate tension for my Vickers VCAS sling unless I adjusted the rear to negate the ability to loosen it for maneuverability. I played a bit with my VTAC, and I was able to get the sling tightened up for decent tension, but the adjustment buckle was behind me further than I liked and was tricky to loosen in a hurry. I needed a magazine change at one point, and the carbine was locked to my body with sling tension. It is a training issue with the VTAC to incorporate that step.
Steve was very favorable to the MS1 sling from Magpul. He often maintained his support hand over the sliding buckle so that he could tighten or release it instantly. I noted that the design was very similar to my Vickers VCAS. The nice thing about classes such as these is that one gets the opportunities to witness and experience the gear that others use and run. People got to try out various optics and other gear setups such as the ones that Steve was using on his carbines. The MS1 was one such example, and I know of at least two that were purchased after this class as a way to solve issues that came up during the class that students didn’t know they had yet.
A point that I noted with some people that used padded slings, either VTAC or VCAS, was that the padding also limits the amount of rear adjustment. Mike Martin of AT Armor found that the padding limited his ability to fine tune his sling length to use the front slide tension to its potential.
Barricades were thrown into the mix for the rest of the course. Using them created problems to solve for many of the students as they fought their way through sling techniques and positional shooting. In reality, barricades themselves are aids in providing solutions to problems. Designs such as the VTAC barricades are used to simulate walls, shelves, and vehicles. Those surfaces provide rests, stabilizations, and ways to get the carbine solid, much like bags and bipods do in a prone position. Distance to a threat provides time, and time allows students to take advantage of getting into a good position, to use a sling, and to get the gun solid using whatever rests are available.
It was during demonstrations of how to use barricade surfaces to our advantage when Steve threw in something that was a huge light bulb moment for me. Steve spoke of additional ways to develop stability with our shooting platform in position. One such example is elbow placement during a kneeling position. The height of the elbow compared to the height of the knee might mean that they are too far apart to provide proper stability. Steve showed that use of a response pack, whether it is a medical kit bag, an active shooter bag, or some other backpack or bag, can be taken off of the shoulder, set on the knee, and the elbow placed on it to provide additional height and support in the position. Steve went further and had me kneel in a high kneeling position. He had me place my response pack over my heel, and told me to sit on it in a supported kneeling. The light bulb exploded. Something so simple had just made my life so easy on perimeters and points where I needed to sit and hold for a while.
The concept goes back to the shooting rolls that competition shooters used to place in the same manner under ankles. It is an example of how simple methods of aiding shooting skills have been forgotten.
Barricades have left and right sides. Students often were required to shoot from both the support side of the barricade as well as the support side of the body. The effect was more deliberate hits from students slowing down. Many challenging exercises and drills were conducted with a method to his madness. Steve deliberately and often induced stress and made students a little uncomfortable in order to build confidence.
The pace of T1 as well as the class in general was slower than some students preferred. The heat was one factor, but so was the intent that this class was not a shooting class, but a problem solving class. Those that grasped this were not shorted, as the time spent with the instruction and waiting for the turn to shoot off one of five barricades was used watching and learning from everyone. Something Pat Rogers did at the end of every training day was to go around and ask everyone what they learned as part of the discussion. Steve does that round-robin discussion after each training segment that he has. What takeaways the students are voicing are not only a sign as to what learning has occurred, but establishes additional reminders and reinforcement for the students who are drinking through fire hoses.
One thing I cannot stress enough is for people to take notes while they are there. It surprised me that that only a couple people did so. The time I spent taking notes meant that I had a way to remember so many of the little details and learning points voiced that I otherwise would have thrown away because they mentally were forgotten as more and more kept coming into my brain. Bring a good notebook and some pens to class. They are gold when you get back.
The heat of the day finally gave us some respite with an awesome summer shower from the passing thunderstorm. Steve’s curse hadn’t been lifted. Class broke for the afternoon in time for supper, with instructions when to be back for the night shoot portion of the class. That portion in many ways was the most enlightening of the bunch, and will be the start of part three.