Category Archive: Rifle

Recondo After Action Review I

Huginn’s Report
12 May 2019

A week ago I was a student in the 4-day RECONDO course, put together by Greg, and run by him and a cadre of instructors, all with Ranger, SF, Force Recon, JTAC, and similar backgrounds. It was a fully immersive 4-day weekend: no down time. Students bunked, ate, trained, and patrolled together, around the clock, for the duration. It’s incredible the camaraderie that can develop between a few dozen strangers in a short time in those conditions.

As you’d expect from Greg, the training started with basics and layered the complexity in, piece by piece. We learned basic small team and squad movement formations appropriate for various types of terrain and visibility during the first training session. Then after a quick lunch we got an intel brief that enemy activity was suspected in certain map grid squares, and we were sent out on LRRP as 4-man teams, to scout those squares and report back. We were immediately putting into practice the training we had just received.

The terrain was hilly, rocky in places, with quite a bit of tree cover in many places, but not much underbrush. There were some open areas with long sight lines to adjacent hills and the creek beds below. Up above everything plateaued and eventually the trees gave way to surrounding grassland. Plenty of oak and pine, with large crunchy pinecones and bone-dry deadfall on the floor. Creek beds, often dry, lined with rough volcanic rock, marked the low points between hills.

During the daytime, you could find good footing that was pretty quiet. My team did OK (compared to some others) on noise discipline on that first daytime patrol. We got to our recon objective, observed what we could, and got back to camp while there was still good light, reporting our findings to the TOC operators. They were collecting intel from all the LRRP teams coming back, and assembling a cohesive intel picture to inform the next missions. After some brief rest and some chow, we got another intel brief with more specifics and were all sent back out, right around sunset, I think.

Hilly, rocky terrain with some obstacles is one thing when you can see it. When there’s no moon, and tree cover filtering the starlight, that changes things.

Formations had to shrink to just about touching distance. One pace away you could tell your teammate was the slightly different color black shape in front of you. Beyond that, he was completely gone except for sound. The way you’re accustomed to walking when you can see doesn’t work at all when you can’t. And on the slope of a hill, sometimes with loose rocks and fallen logs, walking the wrong way in the pitch black can get you hurt. I have a few bruises and cuts as proof. (First night patrol, me as lead, I stumbled in the pitch black while leading my team on exfil, and ended up butt-stroking myself in the face. Kept all my teeth, but got cut and bled pretty good for a while. Learning achieved! On the plus side I didn’t yell out when it happened.)

Your steps need to contract to essentially heel-toe-heel-toe, and you need to slow way down. If you do it right, you’re moving slowly and quietly, but steadily in the direction you intend, while keeping track of your guys ahead and behind.

First night patrol was hairy, and in retrospect we probably picked the most difficult exfil route when returning to camp from our recon objective. My team was last to return, probably a couple hours later than most of the others, which meant we only got a few hours sleep before our next pre-dawn recon mission. That sucked, but oh well. Nothing to be done but sleep fast and get all you can before heading out, and try to do better on the next night patrol. Subsequent night missions went more smoothly, but were still challenging. Teams at times struggled with navigation, noise discipline, and control. At least on one occasion a team wandered apart by accident, and struggled to regroup.

After a few recon missions, we were getting a better feel for the terrain and a decent picture of enemy locations, numbers, equipment, weapons, and activities. Our instructor cadre, who had been walking with us on the recon missions, began instructing us on battle drills: react to contact and break contact. Continued instruction covered harassing and destructive ambushes, EPW (enemy prisoner of war) search and capture, and raids. These more complicated operations were combined with movement and control drills for larger squads, starting at 4-man, then 8, then eventually 12. As we got accustomed to moving with larger squads composed of smaller elements, and the different layers of leadership for those, we added the contact drills back in, as the increased squad size adds a lot of confusion when there’s gunfire, and that confusion can be costly.

Every mission started with a Warning Order from the OIC or TOC and required an Operations Order from each team leader, presented to one of the instructor cadre for review and discussion. Team and platoon leadership rotated throughout the course. Everyone had plenty of opportunity to lead. We used topo and satellite maps, as well as a terrain model the TOC guys built, to aid our mission planning. We were conducting 2-3 ops per day. When we weren’t out on missions, we were eating, napping, or getting briefed and prepped for then next mission. Early missions were all recon (6x 4-man teams) to build the intel picture. Midway through we did a VIP escort ambush and did EPW capture (3x 8-man teams), taking the prisoner back to camp for interrogation. With the additional intel he provided, we planned and conducted harassing ambushes and later simultaneous, synchronized raids (2x 12-man teams) on both enemy camps.

Throughout the weekend, our instructors pushed us to improve, and (from my POV anyway) pushed us just the right amount. I’ve done some hard work in my life, most notably commercial sockeye fishing in Bristol Bay. Parts of this weekend reminded me of that, because I was exhausted, scraped up, bruised, and bloody but the job wasn’t done yet and I had my team counting on me. You just keep going, and do your best to keep your team’s mission priorities in mind.

My main struggle was fitness related, specifically leg endurance. My tasks were made much harder because of that struggle, and it detracted from my ability to focus mentally, which of course compromised my team to some extent. I’m proud to say that even though I slowed down, I didn’t quit. There were guys in worse shape than I, and nobody quit. I think for a lot of people it was a serious gut check.

On the final day we did a couple very controlled live fire drills against cardboard enemies as 12-man squads. React to contact + break contact (bounding to the rear), then a destructive ambush + react to secondary contact beyond the objective. A 12-rifle ambush sounds as awesome as you’d imagine. ~350 rds going down range in about 8 seconds. Probably sounds better, actually.

Hopefully my glowing description above motivates some of you to join in the fun next time. Pro tip: make sure your stair workout is solid.

Intermediate Defensive Rifle Video

Hi Gang! Check out the latest video we’ve posted on YouTube! This video represents the Intermediate Defensive Rifle course offered at InSights Training Center. Click here to read more »

AAR – Intermediate Defensive Rifle 7/29/2011

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. Click here to read more »

AAR – Intermediate Defensive Rifle 7/30/2010

Last weekend, we conducted our 3 day Intermediate Defensive Rifle course at Cascade Shooting Facilities in Ravensdale, WA. We had three beautiful summer days with overcast skies each morning and sunny afternoons in the 80s.

The course was a mix of people: private citizens, law enforcement, and military. I had several returning students. For a couple students this was their third year in a row. It was a great mix of people and everyone had a positive attitude and worked hard. We had 17 students and then several of our instructors came out to shoot the course. In total, I had 24 shooters. Click here to read more »

AAR: General Defensive Rifle 6/26/2010

We conducted our two day General Defensive Rifle Course in Ravensdale, WA at Cascade Shooting Facilities on June 26 and 27.  This is a great facility that we use for our Intermediate Defensive Rifle course and more advanced handgun courses, but it is the first time we used it for GDR.

Both days we had perfect weather (there is no better place than the Pacific Northwest in the summer).  In the mornings it was slightly cloudy and then sunny in the afternoons with highs in the 70s.

The class was mostly regular folks with one cop and a sailor.  There was a mix of experience and skill.  Some folks were new to defensive rifle work and others came to the course with an excellent foundation of skill. Click here to read more »