This weekend, we hosted another Intermediate Defensive Rifle course in Ravensdale, WA at Cascade Shooting Facilities.  The course went well, mainly due to the outstanding people who showed up and worked really hard all weekend.  The course was mostly regular folks with a couple of action and former action guys mixed in.

IDR is a three day course, and in the past a large focus has been on extended range shooting with a carbine.  Due to the schedule at the range, we were not able to secure the 600 yard range.  As a result, we spent all three days on the 200 yard range.  While we missed some of what we have done in years past, we were able to more fully develop some of the gun-handling, movement and teamwork tactics and skills from previous years.  At the end of the weekend, no one felt short changed.

Day 1 was a beautiful sunny day in the high 70s.  After a discussion of the Universal Firearms Handling Rules, we hit the range hard.   Much of the first day is a review of our General Defensive Rifle class.  We spent most of the morning working on our shooting platform.  I find that most students work hard trying to mimic the instructor.  Unfortunately, the stance they incorporate may look similar to what the instructor is doing, but most people do not activate their muscles correctly, and the result is a platform that looks kind of correct but does not allow for true accuracy and speed.  We worked on some specific drills throughout the course that helped ensure that students understood how to correctly energize their body and drive the weapon system hard.

On day one, we also spent time establishing a good zero with our rifles.  Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we were not able to push back to 200 yards that afternoon.  But everyone was getting solid hits at 100 yards in the expected target zone approximately 1.5 inches high.  The day finished with dynamic movement and pivot drills.

Day 2 was again sunny and in the high 70s.  We started out in the classroom discussing pieing corners and some basic principles for one man room clearing.  We then moved to the range.  We practiced pieing and then shot around barricades.  We discussed the many advantages of being off and away from your cover and then did several drills shooting around barricades from different positions.  We worked on support side transitions and the importance of fully utilizing cover when time allows.

Before lunch, we did some pistol work on steel starting at 25 yards. I find that most don’t practice shooting at distance with the handgun and struggle with getting hits. We worked on some trigger control drills. Once tuned up we slowly pushed back to 100 yards. Most students were able to get hits at this distance if not standing, then prone. After that we pushed forward again to 25. This time everyone felt it was easy to get hits at 25. For some reason the target looked really big to everyone.

We did one hand only shooting with the rifle both strong and support side. We shot steel again at distance and finished the day working on dynamic movement.
One of the goals for the day was to focus on layer tasks and force students to think as they solved problems. One of the ways we accomplished this was by integrated PT into several of the shooting drills. Kudos to Greg (former active duty and current reserve prepping for a deployment; a skilled and motivated individual) for winning the final competition. This involved a fair amount of running and five well placed head shots in the small A zone of an IPSC target at 20 yards.

On Day 3 it was raining.  We took refuge under the cover at the 200 yard line for the morning. We placed the steel out at distance and started to go to work. The goal for the morning was barricades. We worked both single and two person drills on barricades. This involved a fair amount of coordination and skill to work around a partner in such close proximity. At first, it was awkward, but students picked it up fast and enjoyed the challenge. We did a bounding over watch drill and one handed stoppage reduction.  This was a big challenge and an eye opener to many.  Really running the rifle one handed is not that hard, but it takes practice and sometimes some creativity.

In the afternoon, the weather cleared a little and we moved back up close.  We performed several drills that involved partners, movement, and communication.  The goal is to force students to process and solve problems while running their gun.  Most people found this to be a fun challenge and the group was successful.  We ended the course with a culminating drill called the “Dynamic V.”  It involves four shooters all moving to the targets in a coordinated manner, each with their own job and specific targets to engage.  This was a fun drill for everyone and it ran seamlessly.  The complexity of the drill and the students’ ability to successfully execute it clearly illustrates how far they progressed over the weekend.

Overall, equipment ran pretty well.  At this point, most of the shooters were experienced enough that they got rid of all their bad gear choices.  Remember not to be married to your gear and let your tactics and skill drive equipment selection.

We had a Ruger piston gun with some serious problems.  There was a massive amount of carrier tilt.  At the bottom of the receiver extension, the metal was severely worn down (sorry, I forgot to get pictures).  Additionally, there was no buffer retaining pin.  It was unclear if Ruger forgot to put one in or if it sheared off due to the carrier tilt.  As a class we did a quick visual comparison of the bolt carrier designs between the piston ARs we had (Ruger, Sig, and HK). It was obvious pretty quickly that the profile, design, and machining of the HK superior.  Additionally, we had a student with a gun that was shooting doubles.  It was a stock “Weedmaster.”  He had this problem previously.  On the advice of the folks at “Weedmaster,” he had an armorer swap out the disconnector.  This did not solve the problem.  He borrowed a lower for the remainder of the class and plans to buy an entire Colt trigger group.  I suspect his problem will be resolved with this solution. We also had several popped primers from XM193.  The typical result was stuck bolts that required mortaring to open.

Thanks to everyone that came out to train with us for IDR.  I had fun, learned a great deal and look forward to the next time.