Well I am back home, sore and happy from Jasons (RedBack One) Tactical Carbine course in Okanogan, WA.
Jason did an awesome job with this course. Had a mixture of military, swat, and LEO students. I was the only civilian (and the oldest person ever to take this course, according to Jason.)
Some lesson learned:
1. Buy top quality ammo, do not skimp...I bought some Silver Bear 62Gr ammo. Had about 1.5% failure to fire. Just kills you when you are doing a timed evolution and you pull the trigger and just hear a click. (More than my share of tap/rack/bang practice). I had 200 rounds of some 1980's Black Hills ammo. Had 2 rounds that gave of a big puff of smoke in my face, and something striking it. Sort of like a blown primer??? (I Suggest PMC 55gr. ??). Some of the green tip stuff is not allowed at some ranges on steel targets, or I would suggest some Lake City.
2. Get that little rubber filler to go between the grip and trigger. My finger was really sore after the 1st day. Fortunately a officer that I was shooting next to most of the day, had reconfigured his gun with a longer trigger guard, and gave me his little piece. Major difference the 2nd day.
3. Magpull magazines feel good handling, however if you vest/carrier allows you to double stack magazines, it will result in jerking out 2 mags, dropping one on the ground in quick reloads. Decide on what you need tactically, and train with it. Jason makes his own vest I think.
4. Practice quick sighting/firing on a 2" target on 7 yards. From the low ready, 2 seconds for 3 shots....Problem was with the Eotech (or Bushnell) that nice little 65 MOA circle, you instinctive wanted to center the target. (Maybe it is 50 years of looking through open sights, but that instinctive pull is strong to get centered) That will put you almost 2" low (a miss 1" below the black dot). Here I think the Aimpoint would have been easier. If you have practiced and have it in your subconscious, then any sight should be fine.
I bought a AimPoint Pro today.
The Bushnell Holo was solid and never moved after I got it adjusted over the receiver, and co-witnessed on the tip of the front sight.
5. Going through 1000 rounds in 2 days, with a lot of rapid fire drills, I never realized how much oil an AR15 needs to function reliably. I needed to oil mine at lunch, and clean at night and lube. I had a new LMT 14.5" A4 upper that had maybe 200 rounds through it prior to the class. Absolutely take ALL your AR15 cleaning gear with you when you go to one of these courses. We also went through a lot of pistol ammo. Jason has a "scrambler drill" that has you jumping back and forth between carbine and pistol, constantly reloading. You start with one in the chamber and an empty mag, then have 3 mags with only 1 round each. The clock is running as well.
6. Get in physical shape....Today my stomach/abdomen muscles are pretty sore. Picking up magazines, going to prone/kneeling/taking cover/shooting through and behind cover,/running/shooting while on the move, all these things stress the body. The 25 year old soldiers that were there, never even noticed, but us older guys were happy for a reload break and drink some water. Next time I will do some deep knee squats, jogging, and bend and touch your toes exercises. If this 72 YO body does not like it, well don't care, I need it to perform.
7. Don't poke your hand through a 4" opening with your handgun and fire it single handed, That drew some blood from the recoil.
8. Never had practiced support side shooting with a carbine before. Practice, and get comfortable. it seems really weird at first, but at the end of the 2nd day I was able to switch without too much delay. The Eotec was a savior here, as it will take more than a few hours to get the cheek weld sold on the left side.
9. Practice magazine reloads, and bolt release until it is without any thought. Do not put more than 28 rounds in a mag. Saw a lot of magazines drop out that people thought were seated.
All together, I came away pretty satisfied with my time invested. While I had some years of shooting HP and LR with the AR15, those guns were 14#, nothing like the M4 carbine. Also never did tactical reloads in HP.
10. The 3 point Giles sling slowed me up, Jason helped me convert it to a 2 point sling at the end of the 1st day. Spend some time living with your sling. It should be helpful, not something getting in the way. This is really critical when switching from right to left shoulder and back.
I feel pretty confident in operating the carbine after this course. Can I place 6 shots in a 4" circle from 10 yards in 2 seconds...YES, and I put 3 shots in a 2 X4 space from 25 yards in 3 seconds....YES. Both from a high or low ready position. If a bunch of "Home Boys" came to my home to see what they might like to take, would they be in a world of hurt....
In the final assessment test of 55 rounds carbine and 5 pistol, that started at 100 yards and moved to 25 yards, I was not the highest scoring, but I was not the lowest either. (But I was the only civilian)
(The next oldest person was still 23 years younger than me. The youngest was 48 years younger)
These courses are excellent to show you where you can and how to improve, and the comradeship was great as well. There is no such thing as gaining too much knowledge or skill.
The company that put this on, did an excellent job of improving everybody skill level regardless of where you are at. Everybody improved. I would highly recommend them.