AAR - Sig Saur Academy Rifle Skill Builder
Class: Sig Saur Academy Rifle Skill Builder
Location: Sig Academy, NH
Ammo required: You should have brought more than you did…
Instructor: Scott Reidy
Gear Used: Bushmaster AR, Spike’s Tactical .22lr Conversion, Black Dog Mags, GG&G sling mounts, Original SOE Sling. Federal Bulk pack .22lr ammo. Blade Tech belt mounted AR mag carrier (just one – additional mag carried in rear pocket)
Glock 19 was carried, but not used as the class was for rifle, not pistol.
Adventure Medical Kit Hunter pocket trauma pack with quick-clot (right rear pocket) & CSMgear McMillan Tourniquet (shirt pocket)
It was a beautiful day in New Hampshire. The weather was perfect. Mid 80’s with a breeze. Minimal humidity. Considering I’ve never done any firearm training in good weather, either having it excessively hot or bitter cold, it was a very interesting experience not getting heat stroke or frostbite while shooting.
Of course, I went and messed it up by getting up at 3AM to drive from Bridgeport, CT to Sig Academy, so things were 100% normal for me so far.
If there is no suffering, I would not be having any fun at all.
Let me first start off by saying Sig’s facility is impressive in size and completeness. Classrooms. Indoor range. Short outdoor range, rifle ranges and more I didn’t see.
And EVERYTHING was clean. Very clean. I’m not just talking about the classrooms or the landscaping. If you are looking to take a course with your girlfriend, wife or significant other, yes…the range’s outhouse was clean. Sig’s facility management people are not slackers, and it shows.
The safety briefing was complete. They ID’d the first responders, gave emergency directions, and gave duties to people who weren’t directly involved in trauma care (Get on phone to 911, inform them it was a training accident because when you mention gunfire, you get cops when you need paramedics….give the location which range they were on and having people assigned to go to the gate and guide EMS to the injury), and they had a full medical kit on the range.
Then we started shooting.
You will notice my comment above regarding ammunition requirements. Dear me, we shot. Did I mention shooting? Because we shot…
We started by reviewing sight offset, then adjusting for it. We next proceeded to zero our guns at 50 yards. Scott was very helpful in adjusting my sights till he saw my groups were hitting where they should.
Then we began drills from close range (5yd to 15yd), practicing presentation and weapon manipulation.
We went further out to 25, 35 & 50, did advancing and retreating while firing and proceeded to pivots right and left, and sidestepping and firing.
It was well run, paced so you were challenged, but not overwhelmed and at any time if you had a problem the instructor was available to assist.
We then ran some timed drills…I’m slow. This was the first time I’ve ran a rifle seriously since spring of last year. I’ve shot at the range, but haven’t done drills in a long time.
Yes, I do practice reloads with snap-caps & the like…but it’s not the same as a day of shooting.
We closed out the day with barricade drills shooting steel. My lack of practice showed, because I was taught to be able to switch shoulders when shooting from the left side, and I just couldn’t do it. (I need to work that…)
Someone’s short barrel AR’s muzzle blast got too close to the plywood and blew a piece off with the muzzle blast.
Eye protection. It is a good thing. Everyone had theirs on as they should have. No problems, but dam, what a demo of the power unleashed in a 5.56mm rifle’s muzzle blast…
People can joke about it being a poodle shooter… Respect the muzzle blast, or hope the ER has an eye surgeon on call.
The Spike’s conversion kit rocked. I had a few stoppages, but that’s the price of doing business for $18 for 500 rounds of ammo. Most stoppages were cleared easily, one required the rifle to be opened up but was cleared easily.
It needed to be run wet. .22lr is dirty, and while the kit is chromed, oil is a good thing. I would have used lithium grease, but didn’t bring any.
Federal bulk pack ammo had no FTF or FTE’s on empty brass. A few failed to eject when the weapon was hot, but racking the bolt cleared them after a few tries.
O-SOE sling & GG&G mounts functioned fine.
Me. I didn’t work.
I need to get faster. I need to get a lot faster. I was running a super-heavy .22lr against other people’s light 5.56mm rifles.
Speed is a definite problem for me that needs to be addressed.
Running a rifle with iron sights in a class full of people running red dots is a great challenge. Iron sights are noticeably slower, and sometimes finding the front sight was a problem. The sun washed it out of my vision, and at times I was looking through the rear aperture, seeing a post…then having to confirm “is that my front sight? Oh, nope…Ah, that’s it…”
That’s not an excuse for being slow…or out of practice.
It is, however, an observation on why professionals are running red dots. They are faster, easier to focus on the dot with and in the run I did with another student’s gun, much easier to work with, especially on transitions & reacquiring the sight after reloading.
Situational awareness is much greater. Even if your situation awareness is reduced to the limits of your sight, it still gives you a lot more to see than the AR’s iron sights.
Will I get a red dot…probably not. I’m not a professional rifle user, and I’d rather spend the money on another class than on an enhancement to a weapon system that simply isn’t a daily carried item, or one trained seriously with all that often, and used seriously even less.
If I was a cop, soldier or someone who used his rifle often, it would be a necessity.
For me, I feel that the cash would be better spent on more training to get better with the weapon as it is now, or on a defensive driving or trauma care class, or get a stock that fits be a little better (Mine is a fixed position, fully extended Fake-Telescoping Ban State stock) than a red dot.
All optics I saw were zero magnification. Someone may have had a magnifier on his gun, but I didn’t get a chance to see that closely. It was a tube mounted behind his red dot, but like I said, I didn’t really look.
In thinking back, I also must have developed a really bad tendency to drop my gaze on a reload to make sure the rifle picked up a new round when I racked the bolt. A few times I loaded the Black Dog mags with too many rounds and it refused to feed. Downloading solved that problem, but I have in my head this image of the bolt being ran right in front of my face, so I must have been doing it a lot.
Claude Werner’s 1000 days of dryfire program is paying off. Accuracy and trigger control worked on a J-frame returned it’s investment on trigger control with an AR.
Awkward positions were only a problem in terms of body position, stabilizing the rifle and getting the sights. Once I had that, it was a point & click interface. Precision accuracy one hole groups – no. Placing shots in the face or 8 inch circle of the chest – Yes.
Fitness matters. Rifle drills are physical. If you are not in good shape, you will feel it. Jumping rope ½ hour almost every day and dropping 10 pounds this year paid off. I may have been tired due to the long day, but the class didn’t overwhelm me…and last year it probably would have killed me for lack of cardio.
Sig’s loaner rifle the guy next to me was using didn’t have a single stoppage that I could see. Ammo used was Federal MX193 in the loaner gun, as well as the instructor’s SBR. That SBR performed flawlessly as well.
Oh, it was nice. A piston SBR with a red dot…Sweet. Me Want.
The ammo requirement…The website said 300 rounds. They forgot to put in the words “Minimum”. Bring ammo. Praise the L0RD & Pass the ammo…but really, Ammo.
This was a very good thing. I would hate to drive 4 hours, then ****** and talk on the range instead of shoot, then drive home thinking “I wish we shot more…”
Believe me, thinking “I wish we shot more…” was the LAST thing on my mind as I drove home. What was on my mind was “Bring an extra set of car keys, you jerk.” Because I thought I lost mine during the class and lets just say I didn’t have good feelings about that…
Not that spending the weekend at SIG wouldn’t be cool…I’d just rather do it when I chose to than when I needed to.
Would I do the class again:
It was a great value, instruction was excellent, pace of the class was great, and it challenged the students on the drills.
For people who don’t normally work out with a rifle, I’d say it was an even better value than for people who use it regularly. It is a perishable skill, and unless practiced you will loose it.
It was a great progression from basics to more complex skills over the course of the day which blew the rust off at the same time as teaching & testing.
I hope they do a pistol skill builder & a trauma care skill builder as well.