Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter Operations in the Coast Range Mountains of BC

It seems to me that there are some inconsistencies with regard to knowledge and equipment requirements when effectively operating in the coastally influenced mountainous regions of northwest British Columbia. This article will attempt to address some possible knowledge and equipment gaps.

It’s winter time and by now you have field stripped your summer 24hr and 3-day packs and rebuilt them to suit the inclement winter weather and equipment requirements of your area. If you are in High Level Alberta or Lynn Lake Manitoba, your 24hr and 3-day packs will look different in comparison to mine which is constructed for coastal winters. If you haven’t given consideration to re-building your gear and equipment for winter then you haven’t a moment to lose. Consider dedicating some-time this weekend to get yourself prepared. The type, application purpose, manufacturing quality & ergonomics of your equipment will vary based on your individual experience, confidence & knowledge.

My Background: I have been working in for the last 25 years in the mountains of coastally influenced northwest British Columbia. The experience and equipment that I have is vocationally tailored for the purpose of working as a forest resource technologist in remote locations during all seasons. My equipment requirements changes significantly depending on the season and the terrain that I am working in. I routinely inspect my equipment for wear and damage as I greatly depend on it for my work and for my safety. I place the same importance and forethought into my Ranger equipment as I do to my vocational forestry needs.

Mild & Damp VS. Cold and Dry – The Coast Range Mountains

Since I have been a Canadian Ranger I have had conversations with my interior based counterparts during northern coastal exercises about how surprised they were to feel chilled. More often than not they attribute their condition to fatigue and laugh it off. You should listen to the signals your body is telling you. These clues could be telling you that you are not appropriately attired or equipped. People in the interior of BC are acclimatized to operating in -15 to -30 Celsius winter weather conditions on a regular basis so why are they feeling chilled on the coast when it is only -5 degrees Celsius? It’s because damp cold needs to be managed differently than dry cold. The bottom line is that moisture reduces the insulation value of your clothing and the type of clothing you wear must change to suit the environment.

Coastal winters are very mild and damp in contrast to the very cold and dry interior winters. Geographically this line can almost be drawn on a map by utilizing the Coast Range Mountains of BC which permeate from the Yukon to Washington State. High humidity and fog are normal elements along this mountain range during the winter. The Coast Range Mountains act as a physical barrier to warm pacific weather systems which are heavy with precipitation and help to define the dark and overcast winters up and down the entire length of BC’s mountainous maritime and sub-maritime areas. This is a transitional zone between low pacific and arctic high pressure fronts. The result is a snow-belt zone where it is not abnormal to observe 100 – 200cm of snow within a 24 hour period prior to receiving heavy rain. Under these conditions roofs collapse, trees break, transportation corridors close, power lines break and avalanches are widespread. Coastal winters can be unpredictable and Rangers operating under these conditions should be prepared to test the limits of their skill and their equipment. 
Area in red – Coast Range Mountains of BC

For your consideration:
ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT Essential equipment is similar to a PFD on a boat or a seat belt in your truck. I recommend the following with a view to considering them essential equipment when operating in the Coast Range Mountains of BC. This is not a complete listing of clothing or equipment but rather a few suggestions for your consideration when you compile your winter kit in preparation for winter.

RAIN GEAR (Tops and Bottoms)
Helly Hansen (HEAVY RUBBER)  http://www.hellyhansen.com/
Do not go cheap on rain gear. Rubber coated products are durable and 100% water proof. There are two types of Helly Hansen rain gear and they are used for different applications (light & heavy). I recommend heavy rubber gear if you live or work in coastally oriented areas of BC. Best used in areas common with thick brush such as high density 2nd growth forests, salal, huckleberry, wild crab apple and black hawthorn. These woody schrubs are VERY COMMON in coastally influences areas which will rip your rain gear to shreds unless you attire yourself with heavy rubber Helly Hansen rain gear.  Your rain jacket should be one or two times larger than you would normally wear so you can wear your tac vest or cruising vest underneath your rain jacket. Keep things dry - keep them light. Your vest and equipment won’t turn into a block of ice the next time you hang them up. 

WOOL PANTS & SUSPENDERS (treated with paraffin)
Choose wool pants with a very tight weave. I use surplus Swedish army wool pants which are quite resilient and accept a paraffin wax treatment very well. These pants are one or two sizes larger than I normally wear so I can tuck in sweaters to the waist band and keep things from getting too tight. The paraffin wax treatment is optional but recommended for working in wetter climes.

Keep a spare set of wool socks in your pack.

People sweat and you must wear underwear that will whisk moisture away from your skin. This stuff works.

Remember you need layers in insulation that can be removed and re-applied as required. This is where you regulate your body heat. Pay attention to your temperature and do not allow yourself to sweat profusely. Pay attention, this is an important one.

Make sure they will fit your snow shoes before you purchase these. Do not buy cordura or leather uppers unless they are rubber coated. If you cannot stand in 8” of water without getting your feet wet then source another set of winter boots. These boots have to be 100% waterproof. Silicone or Mink Oil treatments are not sufficient for coastal winters. If you rely on substandard foot products you will become a liability to the Rangers that are depending on you.

Key Note: If you're in deep snow (even on a sunny day) wear your rain pants. It will stop snow from entering the top of your boots. Don't let your feet get wet.

To choose the type of snow shoes you need you need to understand the type of snow and terrain you will be working in and on. Coastal snow is usually heavy, deep and moist, frozen corn snow or capped with a layer of partially frozen slippery snow. The terrain is often steep or hummocky if working under a forest canopy. There will be large hollows under each tree, or clump or trees, with high and deep ridges of snow on the periphery of each tree’s crown or drip-line. Quite often the snow hides juvenile trees that once stepped on reveals a hole that your snowshoe and leg disappears into suddenly. This is the nature of the beast up and down the north in the Coast Range Mountains. This calls for a specific type of snow show.

The Arctic Trekker or Sherpa Snowshoe

Laced or Grommet designed snow shoes composed of an aircraft grade tubular aluminum frame with composite materials that will not swell with moisture. They are strong, they are reliable and I have walked many miles in the coastal mountains in these snow shoes. Harnesses must be sturdy for lateral and horizontal support to allow effective walking up and down icy hills. Harnesses must be supported by a hinge rod, heel claw and a heel plate to permit a positive grip.

If you have a GPS make sure you calibrate your pacing while wearing snowshoes. Your pacing will change with the terrain, the load you’re carrying and the snow conditions of the day.

The CF may issue you with the magnesium plated aluminum snow shoes. There are not always entirely appropriate for significant areas within the Coast Range Mountains of BC. If the terrain is flat and the snow is light, or fluffy, the CF issue shoes will work fine.      


Raincoast Hardhat (Brim 360o). These helmets were made for working in the bush. They will keep your head dry, water off the back of your neck, lamps can be affixed to these helmets and there is a wide assortment of winter liners and harnesses to choose from. The B.C. Worker’s Compensation Board prohibits industry workers from entering a work site with over-head hazards without approved safety protection equipment. In the Forest Industry you must wear a Hi-visibility hard hat on your head at any time you are within proximity to the tree line. I am completely sold on this product for use in the forests of coastal BC. I can tell you that wearing a hard hat – especially in winter climes while under a forest canopy is an essential piece of kit. I have been hit by snow & ice falling out of the crowns of these trees and I can tell you from personal experience that I probably would not have walked out of the bush that day if it were not for my hard hat. Canadian Rangers are not insured by WCB and therefore we are not required to wear hard hats while employed by the Canadian Armed Forces, however it is my due diligence to highly recommend this safety product to you. More information on this recommendation can be found in an article I published in 2006. Safety Equipment Recommendation for Canadian Rangers

Ansell Canada makes some wonderful products that you can work in wet conditions and keep your hands dry. They make a considerable variety of gloves that may work well for you. I use the Scorpio because it grips well on smooth surfaces. If you allow your hands to become saturated (prune appearance) they will be very susceptible to cuts, abrasions and infection. Wet extremities are also difficult to re-warm should you lose the heat from your hands.


Every first aid kit should have a few of these. Under normal situations I would not encourage anyone to steal from the FA Kit but if you’re in a survival application put a pair on underneath your work gloves. You’re saving a spare set of dry mitts for night time right? Try to keep your hands dry by stowing a few of these easy to pack items in your pack. Simple things like this can make a huge difference in your ability to function on the coast. Wear these under your normal leather work gloves. Impregnate your leather work gloves with silicone or mink wax to make them moisture resistant.


SCORPIO® WORK GLOVE 100% waterproof
Neoprene Coated
Interlock knit cotton lining and flexible neoprene coating stretch to provide a snug fit, and allow easy on and off
Two-piece lining eliminates seams which can cause hand irritation and premature wear-through
Dipped rough finish makes handling wet, slippery materials easier and safer
All-around utility and material handling glove—wet or dry

There are several items that are heavy that you don’t need to carry on your back. The belt rig is intended to expand your access to the tools you often need to access and move the weight of heavier items from your back onto your hips. Items such as water, hatchet, bush knife, pruning saw, karabiner, .303 British ammunition, etc... I have tried several different belt designs but have only recently found a belt rig system that works well for me. Things to look for are clasps that will slip loose under strain and belts that will bind into your sides while under weight.  The durable, comfortable and very affordable Canadian Tire Mastercraft Basic Padded Belt has an expanded surface area to distribute the weight across your mid-section and a clasping system that does not slip. At $14.99 you can’t go wrong and you find that your comfort of working in the bush is significantly improved.

Ultimately my favorite waist rig is the British P.L.C.E. belt order. The system disperses weight evenly across your hips through a cushioned mesh barrier upon which the belt rests. This stops the weight from digging into your flesh and still provides room for field knife, hatchet and a pruning saw. The system also rides fairly low and allows space for the user to don a ruck if required. System comes complete with a yoke and suspenders. I have moved to this system and I am very satisfied and very comfortable. 

Utility vests are rugged pieces of kit that allow you to access frequently required tools that the Canadian Ranger regularly requires. My personal favourite is a Cruising Vest which is covered with accessible pockets and pouches. These are usually constructed of Cotton or 500 Denier Nylon Cordura. I recommend Cordura construction as it will repel water rather than soak up water like cotton. These vests can be used to carry all of the components you need in a 24hr pack and can be used to supplement your 3 day pack. Many Rangers prefer tactical vests however in all practicality the cruising vest is probably better suited to Rangers for working in the bush. The pouches and pockets are much larger and the vest is much more comfortable to wear. Most of our operations are 'Overt' not 'Covert' so bright colours can be of benefit.


Due to the multitude of applications a hatchet can be used for it qualifies as essential equipment for the Canadian Ranger. I recommend that your hatchet possesses the following attributes:

1. High carbon steel for a sharper edge & prolonged periods between re-sharpening;
2. A slicing axe not a splitting axe (weight saving)

3. No double bit axes (the other side is needed as a hammer);

I have owned many axes and I highly recommend the Wetterlings small hunting axe. They are an excellent product and I have used this one axe extensively, for a multitude of applications, over the last eight years. The only thing I have replaced is the sheath which I found to be insufficiently durable. The head has remained firm and the blade can be made razor sharp.   http://www.wetterlings.com/

A small file or stone to sharpen your tools while in the field

Good for numerous sawing applications and a fantastic piece of kit for opening the rib cage on moose or deer in order to access internal organs and ventilate / cool the animal quickly.

I carry a 10’X12’ silicone impregnated MEC tarp in my 24hr pack. With this lightweight tarp I can effectively shelter two grown people and their equipment in driving rain. It is important to be able to remove yourself from the elements and hunker down for the night.

In the winter it is important to be able to easily access water. A bug net full of clean snow hanging in close proximity to a fire will melt into cups or tins and provide a constant source of clean drinking water. Do not eat snow in order to rehydrate as you will quickly reduce your core body temperature. This is one of those lightweight items that will add huge dividends when you need them.
Being cold will elevate your stress hormones which in turn will make you produce more urine. To counter-act this you have to ingest more fluids than normal. If you become dehydrated your circulation is affected and your extremities will become more difficult to keep warm. Your ability to think clearly or work effectively is reduces as a result of dehydration. So have an effective and simple plan to keep your body hydrated.
In Conclusion
Shelter, fire and water help you to save the energy reserves in your body and use it as efficiently as possible. In the Coast Range Mountains these essential equipment items will assist you in that regard.
Staying warm in cold and dry environments is your most important priority;
Staying warm in mild and damp environments means staying dry as your most important priority, and on the coast that is a difficult task;
In general terms on the coast we are not building quinzies as a survival mechanism unless you’re in the alpine, sub-alpine or on a frozen lake. In coastal mountainous areas you are usually situated in, or near, forested terrain which acts an opportunity to remove yourself from avoidable wind exposure. Shelters are generally constructed from the native building materials such as small diameter logs, branches and snow.
Know how to insulate yourself from heat sinks. Stay Dry - Stay Warm – Stay Alive.
Determination to live, a positive attitude and a good sense of humour are characteristics of the kind of people that resource the Canadian Rangers. If you are of like mind and spirit consider joining the adventure.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

24hr pack or 3-day pack - A Ranger's best friend is a tarp

Hello folks
This short video very quickly tells why a tarp can quickly be your best alternative for a shelter arrangement. There are several adaptations and arrangements that a tarp can provide for you. In addition if you have an entire section of Rangers armed with tarps you can make a section sized shelter. Light and easy to store in a ruck. I use the light and durable silicone impregnated MEC Scout Tarp.

Food for thought.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Service Rifle Clinics? - For Your Consideration

DCRA / PRA: Serving members have two options for participation:
1. As a CF member, shooting with the support of the unit, or;
2. Entering in the "open" class as a civilian.

The first requires that the unit supply all equipment. The amount of support is unpredictable, and could vary from year to year, budgets and priorities being subject to change. Open class requires that the shooter supply all necessary kit. The cost to the shooter is significant.

CFSAC: Serving members have one option for participation:
1. we must participate with the support of the unit.

As a professional organization only the CF can define what it needs from its training. Civilians can advise and assist but if the personalities involved think it's their job to decide what is and isn't good training for soldiers and rangers then they are undermining the CF's aims. CFSAC is a concentration, not a competition. CFSAC is the CF's expression of the skill and proficiency expectations required from its military units. Provincial & National Rifle Associations are often led by civilians that do not necessarily have the same or similar training expectations of their service rifle competitions.

Going to a SR concentration or PRA SR competition cold is very intimidating. Training and practice opportunities are essential if new shooters are to be recruited. Skills need to be taught, and training (individual and group) needs to take place. There is nothing wrong with approaching marksmanship recreationally from a sporting aspect but let's separate what the military needs from things like CFSAC. Training for service rifle is fun and that's why I do it every chance I get but if it does not serve a training purpose then you are viewing service rifle from a sporting perspective. There is a difference between practice and training - it depends on how you intend to apply your skills (vocationally or recreationally - sometimes both).

When instructed in rifle marksmanship principles I listen to the lectures. Anyone can regurgitate the lecture material and the marksmanship principles. No matter who said it (even if it is dictated by a robot) the principles are real. It is up to individual's determination to prompt the coach, ask questions and learn. A critical factor when evaluating applicants for CFSAC.

One of the biggest challenges with the SR clinics is closing the variability of skill, experience and determination between shooters. Basic SR clinics should go all the way back to basics - not just zeroing rifles and running people through a stage or two. SR clinics should be almost like a summer baseball camp (like when you were a youth). It should be sequential and progressive in difficulty over time. Operational Rifle Butts with a functional com system is highly recommended with classroom availability.
There is no better 'outsourced' training opportunity for Rangers than the BCRA Service Rifle Competition.

Time availability is a major factor in participation. It takes a real commitment to be available on the dates scheduled for a season's matches. Service Rifle Clinics need to be well thought out, planned and scheduled far in advance so people can make their time arrangements. People have many obligations - professional, financial and family.
SR training clinics should compliment preparation for CFSAC not incur scheduling conflicts or divide resources.

Civilians and soldiers that want to be involved in SR shooting will come to a clinic that is well organized, runs good matches, treats the shooters well and gives good value for money. The military needs to be led by the end users "the shooters" being involved in the organization. The DCRA and PRA could easily be those organizations, the BCRA and ORA are leading the way from what I can see and have a good model so far. The BCRA has a serving soldier as the SR president and reservists in particular are perfect in that role.

Clinics need to establish sound basic marksmanship skills including effective position shooting. Physical conditioning over the winter is also a really good idea. Launching into "runnin' and gunnin'" type matches without sound basic skills is not likely going to be rewarding. It is a given that a competitive shooter will post good scores in prone matches however it is effective position shooting that results in higher overall scores in the aggregates.

Service Rifle discipline is not as straight forward as Target Rifle, Full bore or F-Class shooting where you must focus on the principles of marksmanship, wind reading and the methodological evaluation of internal and long range external ballistics. SR matches require a pile of cardio and gym conditioning. It is physically difficult and arduous to perform run downs then transition into advance and fire matches where you have to hold up your rifle all the while walking forward, shooting and reloading. It's a longer learning curve and can be intimidating as well.

Don't undervalue training and fitness in SR. Look at this year's results at NSCC. Several matches were won by LFWA soldiers firing issue C7A1/A2's and 9mm BHPs against high speed kit and very good civilian shooters.

Civilians pretty much dominated the deliberate matches with highly tuned rifles while the soldiers did very well in the rundown, rapid and snap serials. Results are on the DCRA site. It was competitive, fun, and good value for the time and money.

Service Rifle clinics are do-able but teaching them to civilian shooters is a different game, and the training plan has to fit into evenings and weekends.

Information Transfer
I've been to shoots over the years where 1, 2, and 3rd place are the same 3 people, and no matter who else comes out, it's going to be those 3 people. Those "kicking butt" shooters who "always win" should perhaps take a step back once in a while, and instead of always competing, perhaps take a supporting role in the matches that they're at, and let some of the newer shooters take a taste of the winner's circle. I'm not saying to drop a few shots to make them feel better, I'm suggesting instead standing behind the line, no rifle in hand, and offer coaching advice or transferring knowledge instead of shooting yourself.

- If you help build them, they'll keep coming back.
- If you keep beating them, they won't come back.

Keeping it Fun
One of the most popular service rifle serials is Falling Plates. These are short serials where results are quickly established and team work is absolutely mandatory. Falling Plates is simply a series of ten 12"x12" plates per 4 man team.

Multiple teams start at 300m unloaded. On command teams run to 200m load, ready and fire. First team to knock all their plates down wins. Clinics should be serious in application but there needs to be the occasion where the competitive nature of SR shooting takes precedence.

For Your Consideration
The new CFSAC Course of Fire has been labeled by some as 'the be all and end all' of service rifle shooting, and this may be true, BUT if people want to learn how to apply basic marksmanship principles under some modicum of stress then there isn't anything better to start with than matches 1-12.
The new COF might be fun for senior and experienced shooters but I wonder how much fun it is for those that haven't yet grasped the basics?
Consider passing on instructing the advanced stuff in your clinic unless it is subsequent to establishing the fundamentals. Throwing a bunch of new people into Bisley type matches isn't going to make them better shooters. It's too overwhelming to learn and quite stressful. We should be building people up, not knocking them down.

* What type of target am I shooting at?
* How long is the next exposure?
* What position do I need to be in?
* How many shots do I shoot at each exposure?
* How do I load my mags?

It's too much for newer shooters to digest and STILL focus on what is important...which is the marksmanship.
Ref: Steacy, Jasper, Browne, Kean, McKeigan, Barney G, Greentips

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Military warns soldiers not to post info on Facebook

This is an old news item but is probably a good idea to post this here as a reminder. This blog conforms to what is posted here.

Monday, February 25, 2008
CBC News

The Defence Department is advising Canadian soldiers not to post personal photos and information on social networking websites like Facebook, citing security concerns.

The advisory was circulated in a memo obtained by CBC News. It warns soldiers not to appear in uniform in online photos and not to disclose their military connections.

"Al Qaeda operatives are monitoring Facebook and other social networking sites," the memo says.

"This may seem overdramatic … [but] the information can be used to target members for further exploitation. It also opens the door for your families and friends to become potential targets as well."

The Defence Department says it is also concerned with postings of photos and information from the battlefront in Afghanistan.

On Feb. 14, military official Brig.-Gen. Peter Atkinson warned against such battle scene postings.

"The insurgents could use this information to determine their success or their lack of it … and determine better ways to attack us," he told reporters in Ottawa.

Military families are already heeding the Defence Department's advice.

Samie Marchand-Whittle, whose husband is in the Canadian Forces, has closed public access to the Facebook page she maintains for military families.

"It's scary to know that they could find out personal information about our families, our children, where we live," said the Edmonton mother of two. "It is really scary."

But Sunil Ram, an international security and defence analyst, questioned the military's warnings about posting information online.

"What we're really talking about is censorship more than anything else," he said on Monday. "This is the military's attempt to control the imagery of what is actually happening on the ground."

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Preparing YOU and your RIFLE for Service Rifle Competition

It has been my observation that many Canadian Rangers are not well prepared for service rifle competitions. It is simply a style of shooting we don't do very often. Having said that there are some things you can do in your home community before travelling to shoot BCRA/ORA service rifle or CFSAC.  A good portion of the preparation and readiness required to win is directly related to establishing the proper zero and sight picture, one of the tiers of successful marksmanship.

Please note that the following is not the conventional method of zeroing your rifle for field duty. This is for competition applications only.

The traditional method of zeroing the lee enfield rifle was designed to ensure that ‘point of impact’ (POI) was the same as the ‘point of aim’ (POA). It is arguable to say that while this zeroing system works well under conventional circumstances it does not provide the best results in service rifle competitions.

I will identify why this is the case and propose an unconventional zeroing system that wins championships.

The first thing I would like the reader to do is to “keep an open mind”.

Shooting with open sights at targets ranged between 25m and 500m is both entertaining and challenging. Regardless of the distance you are shooting at the key factor that wins matches is a ‘consistent site picture’.

The traditional method of engaging targets is by aiming at the centre of mass. This works fairly well out to 200m but starts to fail the shooter between 300m and 500m. At these distances the shooter is no longer able to discern the centre of the target. The shooter is faced with making a guess where the centre is or to change sight picture and make unnecessary site adjustments. This does not bode well for consistency, accuracy nor does it achieve results on the trophy podium.

The Mission is to train Rangers to shoot at the base of the target with a point of impact that is ten inches high. The centre of the V-Bull on all 12.59 targets is exactly ten inches up from the base of the target. At all times, regardless of the distance to target, the shooter will be able to acquire sight picture on the base of the target faster, with more comfort and achieve more consistent results in deliberate, snap and rapid-fire serials.

Try to think which sight picture (conventional or competition) would serve you best while examining these photos.
Conventional: At 200m things are able to see the centre of mass but you're starting to experience eye strain.
Competition: The base of the target is clearly visible (V-Bulls are easy peasy)

Conventional: At 300m you are having extreme difficulty accurately discerning the centre of mass
Competition: The base of the target is clearly visible (keep shooting V-Bulls!)

Conventional: At 400m you can no longer see the centre, you are starting to guess now
Competition: You can just make out the base of the target (don't quit yet!).

Conventional: At 500m the target appears as a tiny grey dot - inpossible to discern the centre.
Competition You are now aiming at the base of the 4' frame
From this small graphical simulation you can see why aiming at the base of the target can be of assistance when in service rifle competitions.

For your consideration: Establish a base-line at 200m using a 12/59 ‘C’ target – engage your target using your conventional point of aim (centre of mass) with ten rounds before attempting the following zeroing process.

Then try it again while aiming at the base of the target. Raise your sights by five minutes of angle (approximately 10 clicks if a vernier rear site). Compare the two groups and you will probably find there is no significant difference, remember this doesn't really start to win dividends until you're between 300 and 500 metres out. What you might realize though is a reduction in eye strain in the ever continuing struggle to clearly see the desired point of aim.

ZEROING (Two Phases)
You will set your rear sight to 200 yards. We will start at 25 metres and adjust your front sight to the appropriate height and then fine tune on a 12/59 ‘C’ target at 200m with a 10” high POI.

If you are instructing this you may discover some hesitancy from the participants to attempt this as they will be stepping outside of their comfort zone. Once they start to see an increase in performance I am positive they will be intrigued and more receptive to further coaching in marksmanship discipline.

End State:
At the end of this zeroing exercise the participant will:
  1. Understand the importance of consistent sight picture regardless of the distance from which the shooter is engaging targets;
  2. Have zeroed and calibrated their service rifle to obtain a POI ten inches high at all distances;
  3. Obtained a higher degree of marksmanship confidence;
PHASE ONE – 25 metres
  • Rear Sight: Flipped up to utilize the 200 yard rear site setting;
  • Target: 1" horizontal X 1 ½” vertical black rectangle
  • Shooting Position: Prone Supported
  • Point of Aim: 6’Oclock position (base of rectangle)
  • Desired 25m Point of Impact: 1 3/8” above the point of aim (+/- ¼”) this will give you 10" high at 200m   NOTE: If you want POI to be the same as POA at 200m you want your 25m grouping to be 3/4" high on the square.
  • Grouping: 5 Shots
  • Only concerned with precise elevation – not windage
  • If a grouping is high then a taller front blade is required;
  • If a grouping is low then a shorter front blade is required;
  • Each front blade increment is .015 inches taller than the last;
  • One change of increment will vary the point of impact by 1/2" at 25 metres or 2” at 100m

  • Centre of grouping is 3” lower than the 1 3/8” desired POI (ft site too tall)
  • Front Blade is currently +090
  • 3” low / ½” size increments
  • Need shorter blade six sizes smaller which is +000
PHASE TWO – 200 metres

  • Rear Sight: Flip up to utilize the 200 yard site setting;
  • Target: 12/59C 
  • Shooting Position: Prone Supported
  • Point of Aim: 6’Oclock position (base of target)
  • Desired Point of Impact: 10” above the point of aim
  • Grouping: 5 Shots
  • Correct for elevation and windage as required
The end result will help to get you closer to obtaining one of these
Shoot Safely - Shoot Straight - Shoot Well

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Basic Range Commands

Brief the shooters on the Range Commands prior to making the range active. Discuss safety and the rules of the range. Identify the left and right arcs. Have the shooters repeat back so you know they were listening.

1. Change the flag Red (Range is Active)
2. Adopt the prone, standing or kneeling position.
3. with a 5 or 10 round magazine LOAD.
5. 25 yard grouping to the center of mass GO-ON
6. Assess if the line is finished
7. the line is finished
9. for inspection clear weapon
10. stand up sling your weapon
11. Change the flag to green (Range is safe)

At anytime, anyone can yell STOP if an unsafe situation becomes apparent.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Canadian Forces Sharp Shooters - Wainwright August 19th 2010

Training camp for the LFWA Combat Shooting Team at CFB Wainwright in Wainwright, Alta. on August 19, 2010. Video by Ryan Jackson / Edmonton Journal

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A letter from Connaught Range - CFSAC 2009 - Ottawa

September 14th 2009

Tomorrow is the big day. The competition begins and we are shooting for score.

In the morning we shoot matches 1 to 4 (200m), afternoon 5 to 8 (300m). Sept 15th we shoot matches 9 to 12 (500m). Each match has a deliberate, snap, rapid and run-down stage.

We haven’t actually been practicing that much. Range time simply has not been available to be honest. There are a lot of competitors and limited range time and thus we have had a fairly significant period to consider ways of improving and performing dry firing and timing exercises. We are critiquing one another on our styles, methods and techniques. Quite constructive and educational. I have received some coaching and have learned two important fascets of shooting that I was not deploying very effectively. Since I have adopted these lessons my shooting has improved. I shot a 12” 5-round grouping today at 500 metres in full factor 20+ kph winds. My point of impact was not perfect but the grouping in the prone unsupported was very good.
At 500 metres one cannot really see the figure 12 (face) target. The target itself at 500m resembles the period at the end of this sentence which makes a sight reference very difficult. Therefore I am aiming at the four foot target frame in the 6 o’clock position as my visual point of reference. What I have discovered however is that the bottom of the target frames are partially covered by the grass mounds in front of the rifle butts. Depending on the shooting lane you are in the mounds may be taller or lower and thus the two sighting shots before every deliberate are vitally important to make sight adjustments prior to shooting for score.

The other night I was trying to get wireless internet access over at the mess. I was plunking away on my laptop when I heard some chaps from the Royal Canadian Regiment talking about the Rangers and our shooting. I was in civies and they had no idea who I was.

What they had to say was very complimentary not just because what they had to say was positive but due to the fact that no Rangers (or apparent Rangers) were in earshot.

To sum it all up we have been shooting quite well. Of the fourteen 4-CRPG Rangers about half of us regularly hit V-Bulls, Bulls and the Inner rings of the target at all ranges. Thankfully I can count myself amongst those rangers. The fact that we are achieving this with open sights is sufficient to turn a lot of heads. The fact that we are doing this with 70 year old lee enfields with worn and copper fouled bores is another. These shooters were astonished that we were capable of getting any shots on target let alone reliably achieving high scores. Today at 100m Tom Nickel put five rounds under one target indicator at 100 metres. The target indicator is 3” across and covered all of his bullet holes. Many of us are achieving this kind of accuracy reliably. At the end of the day many C7’s will have scored less than the shooters on 4-CRPG. We have three good shooting teams, Red, Green and Black teams. We are forecasting medals for Red and Green Teams.

I was observing some of the other Ranger patrol Groups today. There are one or two good shooters in each group however they are the minority. In 2009 4-CRPG should do very well.

Had better sign off for now. I don’t want to get too confident.

For me winning or losing is not a priority for me. The only entity I am competing with is myself. So long as I improve and have fun doing it I can’t lose. If I get a medal in the process then that’s an extra bonus. Having said that I’m going out there to kick some Ranger ass.

Cheerio folks

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Burns Lake Boot Camp - Bear Defense Scores - Cdn Rangers

Bear Defense Course of Fire  282KB Adobe Reader required
August 9th 2010 - Burns Lake Bear Defense Competition Scores
Adobe Reader Required 124 KB
(Points) / (Seconds) X 100 = Score
formula applies to serials one and two only

Why Mental Training? A few thoughts...

It was very encouraging to see that, at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, there were many athletes working with a Sport Psychology professional as they prepared for the games. It has also been noted that many golfers on the major tours work with a Sport Psychology professional. Slowly but surely athletes, teams, coaches and managers are not only saying that they feel most sport is mental, but that they are doing something about it. They are hiring Sport Psychology professionals, reading books, and devoting time to team building and mental training.

Successful service rifle marksmen generally agree that the discipline of this type of shooting is 75% mental and 25% physical / training / method, etc... I have observed proficient shooters (myself included) lose mental focus while in competition resulting in demoralizing defeat, and in some circumstances, disqualification. The ability to shoot proficiently requires good form, technical ability, familiarity with the weapon, record keeping and good physical condition however the over-arching limiting factor that will define success is mental discipline. Mental discipline allows the shooter to focus on what they are currently doing but also allows them to visualize the next series of steps, movements and precautions before they are required to carry them out. To compound this all of these mental processes must be carried out while the shooter is under stress. Mental discipline is not something that can be learned in an afternoon, it is a type of conditioning that can often take years of training.

Some emphasis should be placed throughout your training regime to recruit a mental marksmanship discipline. Achievements are not solely based on talent and hard physical training, but on mental focus, establishing a clear vision of what the shooter wants to achieve and the desire to obtain it.

We do this by re-enforcing Relaxation, Using Imagery, Setting Personal Goals and using Positive Thinking in all aspects of our Marksmanship Training Regime.

Safety: All exercises will be performed under direct or indirect supervision by experienced RSO’s and ARSO’s. Safety is of utmost importance and is an over-riding focus for your training event. Range commands must be correct in order to avoid confusion on the firing point. Be consistent and assume that every range session is a practice for CFSAC. Make it real.

Physical: include physical exertion as a portion of your regularly scheduled range sessions. Morning warm-ups, stretching exercises and running should comprise a small component of your training regime once your shooters have the fundamentals of marksmanship principles established. Shooters should also be required to perform these physical exercises while carrying their service rifle, just like they would be required to do during Service Rifle competitions. Combine this stress with shooting and engage targets after physical exertion. Start small and work your way up.

Realistic Training: The intention is to be able to simulate service rifle and realistic field situations as closely as possible. The intention of the material and practicum are intended to have great training value in recruiting service rifle shooters and bring home more trophies.

Components of a Mental Conditioning Program: Identifying your unique requirements provides the biggest impact to your shooting performance. However, there are ways you can begin to improve your mental performance and here are a few suggestions on where to start:

Autogenic Relaxation – autogenic also known as self-generated training has the power to actually alter your neural pathways as you change your behavior. Autogenic relaxation is a kind of self-hypnosis that enables you to root positive phrases and mental images in your unconscious. It brings your mind and feelings into harmony with your body as you take on and adjust to new behaviors.

Visualization – visualization is your ability to imagine in your mind certain situations. It not only includes visually seeing the events happening but also allows you to feel like you are almost in the situation. All five senses are present in the visualization including sound, smell, touch, etc. Visualization is a powerful tool when used in a positive matter. However, in many cases shooters replay negative events causing a negative effect on performance. The more vivid the visualization the more it attaches to your memory.

Affirmations – Affirmations are positive statements that you can use to replace your negative mind-chatter. Using affirmations can be a powerful way to transform many of your old attitudes and expectations into positive and vibrant ones.

Muscle Memory – muscle/brain imprinting through controlled plyometrics, body and motor control training helps "train the brain" to react naturally and unconsciously when brought into a real shooting situation. Slow motions that imprint movements that are consistent with the shooting sport will improve overall efficiency.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

BEARS: Dangerous Beliefs and Misconceptions

A considerable portion of my time working in the forest industry has required that I work in locations that are often frequented by bears. Sometimes close bear confrontations are unavoidable and you never get used to them. I'm not terrified of bears but I really really respect their privacy.

About 15 years ago I attended a bear awareness course by James Gary Shelton. I consider this chap to be one of Western Canada's most experienced and educated bear awareness and defence instructors. So many of the indicators of bear behaviour that Mr. Shelton described gave me cold shivers because I recognized many of them.

Below are some of my notes from Mr. Shelton's bear awareness course. I often refer to them to ground myself in some of the basics of managing yourself in close bear encounters. 

Please give the following read some consideration if you spend any amount of time in locations frequented by bears (stay tuned for a primer on bear defense)...

1. Bear Behaviour Summary (adobe reader required)
2. Human Response to Bears

Dangerous Beliefs and Misconceptions:

1. “If you give a bear, exhibiting predatorial behaviour, it's space and back away quietly during an encounter the bear will leave you alone”

Predatory Behaviour from Bears is not as rare as you probably believe. You need to be as threatening and as big as you can in these circumstances. Don't be quiet and be prepared to fight.

2. “Its his fault he was attacked, killed and eaten by a bear because he was hiking in Bear Habitat”

Would it be sensible to claim that Native North Americans were attacked by bears because they invaded “bear habitat”? First nations had to enter nature to obtain what they needed for survival – and so do we.

Would it make sense to say that Moose get attacked by bears because they are entering “bear habitat”?
Humans have a necessity to work, live in and travel through nature – we are still a part of the ecosystem.

Even though most people now live in cities, there is a large contingent of rural field workers who exploit natural resources mainly for the benefit of those that live in urban environments.  Is it logical for city dwellers who live in wood-frame houses to claim that logging engineers asked to be attacked by bears because they were invading bear habitat”?

3. “If you leave bears alone – they’ll leave you alone”

This one gets people in trouble all of the time. You often hear a common theme behind discussions regarding bears such as
“All nature and animals are good and all humans are bad and bears don’t attack unless people cause them to.”
This is mainly prevalent in the big cities and most rural people know better

4. “If you play dead the bear will leave you alone” All through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s it was believed by most biologists that when attacked by a bear the best thing to do is to roll up into a ball and play dead. Most government pamphlets and literature advised people to play dead during an attack.
The statistics show that most attacks resulting in death were instigated by bears exhibiting predatorial behaviour. Playing dead is THE LAST THING YOU DO IN THIS SCENARIO!

Never ever play dead in a scenario involving a black bear - fight until you can't fight any more.

Grizzly Bears exhibiting defensive aggressive behaviour may dissengage from the attack if you play dead.

Regardless of species - if the bear is exhibiting predatyorial behaviour do not play dead. To do so only presents the bear with an easy meal. I can't think of a worse way to die.

5. “Bear populations are on the decrease and in many places in BC bears are endangered. This is due to harvesting of old growth habitat and over-hunting”
Bear Populations in the coastaly influenced regions of BC are on the increase as timber harvesting provides gaps in the landscape promoting lush vegetation growth and subsequently more available forage.

Other industrial activities like mining do not endanger bears because of the very small area of impact.

With the existing restrictions on hunting and logging in drier areas such as BC’s southern interior bear populations are not endangered.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is the CNo4Mk1* lee enfield "more accurate" at long range? FACT OR FICTION?

FACT (BUT WITH A TWIST): I can tell you with absolute confidence that starting at 500m the CNo4Mk1* really starts to shine in the accuracy department. Nope, I`m not on any medication... It's a phenomena I didn't particularly understand entirely until about 4 months ago. I’ll attempt to explain why the No4 enfield shoots better at long range.

I have chronographed variability in muzzle velocity within some IVI lots of +/- 120 fps with 175 grain Ball (FMJBT - full metal jacket boat tail) Mk8Z ammunition . That is a severe velocity spread (or standard deviation) and indicates possible issues with Quality Control at Industries Valcartier Inc. Having said that these were older lots from the early 1990’s. The good news is that IVI is now owned by General Dynamics Canada whom has significantly increased ammunition quality since then .

The way this works is as follows. Only caveat is that you keep an open mind . This might not be the answer you’re expecting.

Fast bullets exit the barrel sooner than slower bullets. There is normally some degree of standard deviation in cartridge formulation (powder charge, crimp strength, primer quality, etc) .

The relationship is as such: "The longer it takes for a bullet to exit the muzzle the higher the point of impact will be at shorter distances". “Why" ? you ask... As the slower bullet proceeds down the barrel the muzzle continues to rise due to recoil and barrel harmonics. This actually starts at the rear bolt lugs, through the action and continues on through the barrel. The No4 rifle is especially subject to this internal ballistics phenomenon – where-as the No1Mk3 SMLE is less prone to it because the forestock and nose cap play a limiting factor in barrel rise (where it doesn't in the No4Mk1).

Remember the No4 require 5 to 7 lbs of downwards foretip pressure for a few reasons, partially as a result of this and for shooting with bayonette attached.At short distances this translates why we can expect bigger group sizes when using poor quality ammunition. Slower bullets impact high and faster bullets impact low (vertical relationship not horizontal).

There is an exception though and this occurs at longer ranges.... Starting at about 500m the slower and faster bullets start to impact at the same point. Groups start to get smaller at long distance in relation to the shorter distances to target. Mind blowing stuff eh!
So in summary - YES the lee enfield is more accurate at long ranges when shooting low quality ammunition. It`s all in the ammunition! This phenomenon would not come into play if you had ready access to match grade ammunition.

Now do me a favour, call a Ranger buddy, get some ammo, targets and a shooting record book from your Patrol Commander. Go to the Range and HAVE SOME FUN!

Managing Copper Fouling

Hey Riflechair what is Copper Fouling and why do I care?

Copper Fouling is caused by copper jacket bullet material being left in the barrel after each firing
  1. Copper is soft and malleable and eventually lines your barrel (copper fouling tends to accumulate on the rifling first)
Copper fouling is accumulative and builds with every shot fired where-as Powder residue will accumulate to a certain point and then stabilize.

Copper fouling turns green once oxidation takes place - a active sign of corrosion. Galvanic Corrosion takes a serious toll on your bore
I've produced a presentation to instruct this material which I am happy to share with you.     

printable adobe reader pdf (1.1 MB)

Should I take copper fouling seriously?
YES! Copper fouling is cumulative with every shot you make! Imagine all of the years of use, the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of rounds expended and you haven't effectively removed any of this fouling yet? You need solvents designed to remove copper - CLP does not do this for you.

The rate of copper fouling has a lot to do with bore condition
  • Clean and well maintained barrels foul less than dirty bores
  • Barrels free from corrosion and pitting foul less
  • Smooth bores accumulate less copper than rough bores
Internal and Exterior Ballistics
  • Chamber Pressure increases as the bore fouls
  • As chamber pressure increases POI will rise (example: water fouled bore)
  • Barrels sufficiently obstructed by copper and corrosion can cause severe pressure spikes and potentially pose a safety hazard (No4 pressure limit is 40,000 psi)
  • Badly fouled bores incur drag on the bullet and negatively impacts velocity
  • As grooves are filled with copper there is less purchase for the rifling to grasp the bullet and rate of twist is impacted (1:10 twist).
  • Reduced twist results in bullet de-stabilization upon breaching the sound barrier (bullet goes subsonic) resulting in cavitation and tumbling at long ranges
I have seen bores so badly copper fouled that the rifling grooves are almost completely colluded. Can you imagine the extreme pressure spike these actions must be enduring with every shot? Think of the recoil those sore shoulders must be needlessly receiving!

From a safety and a performance perspective copper fouling will have a serious impact on your shooting. I highly recommend you read the material I am providing and give serious consideration to paying more attention to managing copper fouling in your rifle.

The downloadable information provided above is supposed to supplemented by a presenter (me). However as I can't be in your living room to review it with you the raw presentation will have to suffice.

Tip of the Day: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has issued you one of her service rifles and the expectation is that you take proper care of it. Clean that rifle with pride and make that bore shine. What would you do if Sergeant Major Fozzard was to perform a suprise rifle inspection tomorrow? The condition of your rifle says a lot about who you are to the NCO performing the inspection. What kind of impression would you want to make?

Friday, July 23, 2010

A different take on Training

I have been studying some British military literature around ‘Small Party Taskings' and I discovered some interesting information on the systems utilized by the Special Air Service (SAS). The SAS are basing a significant portion of their force around Small Party Taskings with sections of four troopers each. Each section member is trained in a specialty discipline (i.e.: demolitions, medical, signals, etc.).

Could the 'specialist' model be applied to your team or volunteer group? Quite often our processes require tasks to be performed in the absence of a specialized discipline.

Some organizations base in-house training around the untrained team member, employee or volunteer. We often concentrate our finite training opportunities on developing basic skills.

While this occurs our high performance people are not always effectively challenged and if the model persists we risk losing them. We invest resources recruiting new people but not always on retaining our experienced contingent.

I think that an organization's leadership should spend 80% of their focus and investment on the high performing and proficient staff and 20% directly on the less skilled chapter. We do not want to ignore untrained workers but we shift the culture of focus to high performing people, celebrate and recognize their achievements and give less experienced individuals an example to follow. In other words leaders delegate a strong measure of training authority to adept workers. As a result inexperienced workers receive quality training through information transfer & mentoring from experienced & skilled members while at the same time providing experienced staff with a new challenge.

The untrained person holds some accountability to ensure they possess some basic knowledge and equipment and are asking appropriate questions. This conceptual idea isn't new but it is designed to provide a venue for high performing individuals who can become the training body that brings the team's over-all skill levels up. Accountability for a training plan can be delegated to members but ultimate responsibility to ensure the training is being effective rests with the Leadership.

All team members should eventually be proficient with basic skills and I believe that all people have a special enthusiasm for certain aspects of their organizations mission or vision. People whom proactively and consistently demonstrate enthusiasm for these aspects should have an opportunity to develop their ‘Field of Practice’ into a specialization.

We could offer a person the opportunity to choose a specialization from a list of skill sets that the leadership considers prevalent. There is an expectation that once certification in a skill set is achieved that the individual will be prepared to instruct the material and be available to develop internal capacity within the team. This represents an institutionalized advancement path for high performing people sponsored by Headquarters in partnership with the local leadership.

The ultimate objective would be to populate a team, and its sections, with a balanced portfolio of empowered workers that are well versed in skill sets appropriate to the conditions in their 'Area of Responsibility'. Additionally these individuals could be delegated authority to train and maintain a program area for the team.

It is important to underscore the importance of restricting specialist training to high performing and enthusiastic members only. If non-performers enter the advancement path ahead of our achievers the intent will have the opposite desired effect. Additionally once a specialization has been achieved, further specialist training in another field can only be permitted if that person can demonstrate that they have been successful in advancing the team in that skill set (or can demonstrate that they have made reasonable attempts to do so). It is encumbant upon the leadership to ensure that experienced members have been provided with the space and the opportunity to be successful.

Many of your members have been workers for a significant period of time and the challenge of remaining an ‘Engaged Worker’ can be a difficult one. This concept would provide people with an advancement strategy based on good performance. Over all I believe any organization would enjoy measurable benefits from investing in an expansion to the Basic Skills portfolio, especially in areas that could conceivably require a due diligence defence.

The program would provide incentives through its benefits to the team but equally to the nominated individual. Members that can call a discipline or program area “Their Specialized Contribution to the Team” are more likely to stay engaged and involved.

Engineering Specialist:
• Limitations and Statistics for of common military vehicles;
• Estimations if military vehicles can successfully traverse deactivated roads or brushed-in access roads;
• Turn around requirements;
• Safely cross bridge spans and box culverts;
• Assess & Identify wood box culverts and spans for potential reduced load capacity due structure failure;

Client Requirements & Logistics:
o Who are our Clients and how do Rangers fit in?
o Composition of a Company;
o Environmental Stewardship - Proximity limitations of refuelling stations and vehicles to sensitive areas (riparian, streams, etc..)
o Site Planning
o Native Resources & LARR Composition

Weapon & Marksmanship Specialist:
• SOP Carrying in the Field
• SOP Engage a target in the field
• SOP Night Watch
• Bear Defence
• Maintenance & Safety
• Coaching Techniques