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."