Milcopp Tactical/Movement to Contact
7,8,9 June, 2013
I had the pleasure of attending this year’s Milcopp in Houston, MO at the Big Piney Range. We were really fortunate with some fantastic weather. High 70s and low 80s all weekend with a nice breeze that helped when it started to feel warm on day 2! It did rain like a mofo on Sunday, but as you can see no one has even mentioned that yet because it was still fantastic and we were too busy SHOOTING INSIDE A FRIGGIN CAR, MAN!
I want to take a minute here at the very beginning to make clear the level of safety practiced over the weekend. Two instructors and 8 students should be the model. GD4 and Dave did an awesome job of policing the line and getting time in with everyone. The use of blue guns, airsoft guns, chamber blocks etc up range really helped in demonstrating technique while being safe. I was pleased with the planning for the night and shoot house safety too. We all had on chem lights front and back (you could see both of mine at the same time because I’m so skinny), head counts were taken all the damn time, and other stuff I am forgetting as I type this. We did stuff dry before live, we talked about how everything would progress. Safety and planning makes this stuff doable and easier for the student to focus on the learning. That and we all go home happy and whole.
We covered a lot of material. I will break it down by day with highlights and my perspective as best I can remember. One of these classes I will remember to take notes throughout the day. I had some interesting gear moments that I’ll share as I remember they occurred. I was running an AK platform, and this was my first use of the platform outside of me blasting 200rds, essentially as a function check, a couple weeks prior. I’ll talk a little about my experiences and what I learned with the AK as it applies to me in about the most realistic combat training I’ll probably ever be exposed to. I ran a G17 pistol throughout, and as Dannus mentioned I ran my M4 at night (mostly because it somehow didn’t occur to me to get a light mount or pipe clamp for the AK. Doh). I’ll go through the challenges that posed too. Crypto has already posted a pretty accurate run down, so I’ll just add bits and pieces. I probably got some of the activities and days mixed up and won’t be able to mention everything, but this should be pretty thorough and give the prospective student or interested party a good idea on what went down. This is going to be long, and I’m not going to apologize.
If you are an impatient reader and just gotta get to the good stuff: well, it’s all good stuff, so read it.
This was gear check and people check day. I always feel more comfortable when we begin with some more basic material and then amp it up. We focused a lot on pistol this day, which is great IMO. I love pistol work because it is challenging for me but also I notice the most measurable improvement. Drills with shot timers made up most of our exercises. Crypto mentioned the wall of shame and it was a great way for us to measure our progress throughout the weekend. Honestly, I could probably sit there and do H2A and LRA and transition drills all freaking day. I wasn’t the greatest at anything, but I did score the best transition time for the weekend.
I also liked how this weekend focused on ammo management and mobility. This began on day one. We did practice and talk about tac reloads, but running dry is about like having a malfunction. Keeping topped off and knowing where you’re at with your system is a good philosophy I think. Know how to do tac reloads, be good at them, but strive for ammo mgmt. We did a little roll over prone and shoulder transition work, but again the emphasis was for efficient movement and ability to move with violence of action. This style suits me because it overlaps what I’ve learned studying Krav and other fighting styles: violence of action wins. In a physical fight, overwhelming violence often will make up for fuck ups or inferior technique. In the ‘shooter world’, overwhelming speed and violence means you have a better chance to get shots on target before the bad guy does. Makes sense to me.
It wouldn’t be a party unless I was putting holes in GD4’s nice barricades, so I made sure to do some of that. Shooting from offset (back from the barricade, not up on it) was another new style to me and made sense. Another tool for the toolbox.
Honestly, I wasn’t having much trouble using irons on the AK on day one. From low ready to A zone drills I was putting up times a half a second to ¾ second higher than most others, and that’s probably just me sucking. Redeyes was a laser shooter with his AR irons. When we do barricade work I always try to do shit the hardest way possible, because where better to try it and learn?? I made sure to be in support hand roll over prone for all the low holes and shooting off hand where ever I could. Shooting my AK lefty was a bitch, mostly because it was incredibly awkward to get my head left enough to see the irons. In general, I got a lot better hits when I decided to aim at the jaw. I’ve never been good at shooting height over bore, but this weekend I got a little better. More on that for day 2! . Also I learned that the AK has a reciprocating bolt that will bite the living fuck out of your right thumb if you have it in the neighborhood trying to support the rifle in rollover prone off hand.
We took a dinner break and came back for some night and low light instruction. We covered the technique of ‘flash bulbing’ the area with the weapon light, searching from outside-to-outside-to middle. We discussed using the ambient light from the flash and just practiced making our brains see what was illuminated in that short time. We discussed light usage in house clearing, and how you really don’t want to flash the wall in front of you when you are scoping around a corner (because it blinds your dumb ass). Crypto mentioned us using pistols and a barricade with steel beyond. The idea was to flash from one side, transition (get off the x) to the other side and shoot the steel based on what you saw from the flash on the other side. It sounded harder than it ended up being, and we all got pretty good at this.
We did some moving and shooting in the dark this day too. Dave and GD4 had targets set up on 3, 9 and 12 oclock and we practiced flashing and shooting these targets on the move. Honestly, it’s hard not to want to keep the light on while you are shooting, so this was good practice.
As Dannus mentionedus, I ran my AR at night. Impressions of contrast between my M4 and my Maadi AK: My AK feels like a brick on the end of a stick in comparison. My little folding crutch doesn’t do much for balancing a front heavy rifle, so there’s that. Going from AK to AR means making my dumb brain remember which side the stupid safety is located. More on that in Day 2… Other differences: AK mags are heavy as shit. I put on my HSGI AO chest rig for about 30 seconds. The low pro rig and heavy ass mags combined to make the mags just tip out away from me. They did great in my belt tacos though. I used to run my AR mags bullet forward, but have moved to bullet back since that is best practice with the AK, and beer canning them for the AR is easy that way too. I was also running my EOtech on my AR, and that thing really is the cheat code. I’m cool with irons on the AK for now, but someday… The crutch really wasn’t uncomfortable for me. It proved difficult to get in a good shoulder pocket on the run sometimes, but really I wasn’t any more bruised up than I would have been from scraping an AR buttstock around would have done. As far as running the AK folded; stay tuned for Day 3.
We began with more timed drills from cold to compare to our cold times from day one. Pretty sure this is the day where my KCI glock mag made an appearance. I brought a few just to see how they ran, and to save some wear and tear on my factory mags since I’ll probably have to be buried with them here in Colorado. I was noticing the follower sticking sometimes halfway down the mag and therefore not feeding. A smack usually fixed this, but during one drill I had to do a tap rack bang (I think it was a transition from rifle to pistol from simulated dbl feed?) and my ‘tap’ resulted in the ‘baseplate’ disappearing and my ‘bullets’ pouring out the bottom of my friggin gun. While extremely entertaining, it proved to me the absolute shit-tasticness of KCI glock mags. I used the KCI’s to back fill my factory mags the rest of the weekend. Never did find the mag spring. It’s probably sailing over south Arkansas. KCI =/= good for real life.
We worked some movement and communication drills. We had 4 barricades set up down the line and moved with our partners between each and providing cover, working on communication (screaming), ammo mgmt. throughout etc. During this drill, Redeyes and I were dubbed official LAPD officers by the peanut gallery because we awesomely (and wastefully) pretty damn near put 4 mags on target between barricades one and two. By the end we were more efficient with our comms and our ammo, though I wish I had another day or two on this exercise.
I think this was the day we did hostage targets with various portions and angles for 4 different targets. Some were a bit of skull sticking up or to the side, one was offset linearly front to back so you either had to take a knee to not hit the hostage in the back or offset left/right. We practiced with each and then did timed drills with each to generate stress and see if we could get good hits. I was really surprised I was able to get hits with irons as well as I did. Redeyes was lethal like always with his irons. The whole class did really damn well on this section I thought. This is where I got a lot of practice remembering to account for height over bore so I didn’t shoot the hostage.
We also did comm loops with pistols as Crypto mentioned. Redeyes and I weren’t super comfortable and being all up in each other’s laps while shooting because we both consider ourselves more towards the novice level, but we did pretty well at communicating our movements to each other and getting shots on target. We were slower by quite a bit compared to the rest of the group, but I feel we made progress. I was ‘Steven Seagaling'
the crap out of it first run, but got comfortable at shooting full extension second time around with a little help from DSGD4 (sometimes you just need to be yelled at a little).
Meanwhile, we started working shoot house technique and philosophy. We began slow with door penetration technique and worked communication drills. We had 2 barricades set up next to each other to sim a doorway, and we all practiced moving through quickly while putting shots on target. There were airsoft rifles on hand for the training and I think we all appreciated them as training tools. By the end of the day, Redeyes and I (team Beards&Irons) were getting pretty good at exploding through doors together and we were getting our communication down. Dave and GD4 set up various scenarios for us, and somewhere out there is hilarious video and photos of almost all our faces going “AWWW FUUUUDGE” as we realized we just BB’d the crap out of some poor defenseless cop or soda drinker. Pro-tip: If you are ever on the receiving end of a house being cleared, get the hell on the ground. Don’t stand there with your hands up, and if you are at Focker’s (AKA Ice T) house, don’t look anything like a cop! (I kid). The experience was really an eye opener and humbling to us all I think. Focker learned a bunch of stuff the hard way for all of us this weekend and took it like a champ. Good man.
We ran baby snakes this day (? Day 3?). Crypto’s fancy artwork pretty well describes it. 3 men down range, one shooter moving between. It was a little creepy but I never felt uncomfortable. My tight ass AK safety slowed me down, but I got it on and off and I can move pretty quick so I felt effective. Really awesome drill.
We broke for food again.
And soon it was dark.
So here I am, back on the AR. GD4 and Dave had set up a pretty awesome shoot house scenario for us. We were more or less in a 180 degree shoot scenario. We would approach the house singly, and proceed to enter and clear. Did I mention it was dark? I’ll talk you through my run as I remember it. Targets and ‘debris’ was altered between runs for each person. I don’t remember the second half as well as the first, but this will give you the gist of the experience:
Door was centered on the room, I cleared left corner first (and then here made a mistake) cleared center next and then cleared right. Right wall had black male with overalls and a gun aimed at me, so he got perfed. At right side straight ahead was a doorway to an adjacent room and a target peeking around. I didn’t see it at all on my sweep. Target was white male upper torso in dark clothing with a gun that would have been empty by the time I got bullets in it. Here also was where I ran into AK to AR issues. When I FINALLY saw that target and brought up to fire I tried to sweep the safety off on the right hand side, and well, the safety on my AR is on the left. The target spooked me and my brain quit working. So that target may have had time to reload, empty that mag too, and then text his girlfriend about the chump he just smoked. Moving on to me being more successful with this drill: doorway opened to a room with chairs and shit in my way. I did better with this sweep and buttonhooked that corner and saw badguy with hostage. Badguy was exposed with head and shoulders to the upper right. Headshots for that wanker. This is the target where everyone just hosed him with light while shooting. Best practice would be flash, aim, flash again and take that shot. I swept right and saw the toddler with the gun. This sucker threw me for a loop and I stood there flashed the lil’ bastard about three times before moving on without shooting. Up next, hallway exit to the left. I lucked out in my flashing down the hallway and didn’t blind myself on the mirror at the end. I saw it, and rushed the hallway to the next corner. Button hook right if I remember right to pregnant lady with a gun. I shot her right away. I feel like there might have been one more target, but like I said, this was the gist of it.
It’s dark as shit, you don’t want to give away your position, but you also don’t want to be standing in front of a target you don’t even see for 30 seconds either. The chairs in the way were an awesome way to insert more realism. Huge learning experience and a highlight of the weekend for sure. Again, mega props to Dave and GD4 for keeping this high and tight throughout. One within arm’s reach behind, the other then behind him.
We all left that night with noggins bursting from all the stuff we packed into that day. It was pretty damn awesome. But here comes the boom:
We began again with timed drills. I think we all fell off a little from fatigue but were still doing better than initial timing on day one. It’s just a damn good way to warm up though.
We then ran drills with folding chairs to simulate car situations. Pictures here will do a better job explaining than I ever will, so look forward to those. Essentially, we were being super conscious of our muzzles and buddies and getting comfy shooting right next to each other.
We then moved on to the car. This was some awesome shit and I’m pretty sure I’ll do an inadequate job of describing what it feels like.
First, we explored some of the results of bullet trajectory through glass. There was some good science going on with our defensive loads until I showed up and tried to hit the box and not aim at the box. Comprehension failure, but all in all we saw how well heavier calibers did and Dannus’s magic bullets (he had hornady crit duty, I think mine are crit defense) were pretty much super awesome through glass.
We did some experiments with rifles and pistols through the car doors, and from rear windshield to front windshield. What I learned most of all was I’m not replacing my windshield over a stupid little crack. We shot the heck out of it and still couldn’t kick it out with any kind of ease. That and if I shoot through the windshield, keep shooting.
We then had targets set up in front, left and or right of the vehicle. We practiced extricating ourselves from our seatbelts and bringing both platforms to bear. I learned I’m quick as shit getting the folded AK out and firing (see video), but was piss poor at being able to use the sights for good hits (see vid of me point shooting like a d bag). I quickly went to stock extended and used pistol as driver initially and transferred to rifle as time and cover/concealment allowed.
This was some balls out stuff. To be honest, it’s kind of a blur. It was very loud and glass exploding into your face, your buddy dumping mags right next to you, and you are supposed to be communicating to each other to move, reload, shoot, etc. I would have loved two more days of this (a week for the rest of my life) to get waaay better at having the mental capacity to communicate and still send hate.
I’m giving this day the shortest write up, but there’s no way to really explain more about what happened. It was a shorter day, but we were laying it all out there and I really feel I learned a lot about myself and got a bit braver. It took me a long time in kickboxing and boxing to really be able to have a conscious thought while in a fight. What I mean by that is the body goes straight into pure function and it takes skill and experience to be able to have high brain function while in the middle of a fight and to actually plan and execute while fighting. I found a lot of similarities here. I was functioning, but my brain could have been a lot more involved. More practice and exposure would be the key to my improvement here as it has been in fighting. Again, safety procedures and choreographing were great at keeping us all safe.
Miscellaneous gear and other comments:
Damn fine group of guys to train with, students and instructors. Mike got some teasing for being the ‘old guy’ (not that much older haha). He was a little slower getting out of the car and having guns up, but he shoots very well and is just a darn good guy. He ran a Para 1911 again this year, and he’s a model for ammo mgmt. He was constantly working his mags on the line and was just wicked good about running his system all weekend (same as last year). His pistol broke during a car drill, but like a boss he had spare parts and rejoined us shortly. Makes me a believer in being able to run a 1911 platform and I’m going to have to learn it one of these days.
Rain: We all eventually got soaked. I’m re-upping on my tech wash/dmr reapplication as we speak. My jacket is a REI Taku (I don’t think they make it anymore, ~9 yrs old, taped seams, yada, good shit). It did a good job until about hour three of some good rain and then failed spectacularly in totality.
AK mags rust. I’ve got a few I’ll need to repaint next time I get a chance.
AK is a pretty reliable platform. I had one actual double feed during one of the later car drills and freaked GD4 out when I dropped it and went for my pistol without it on save. I later found a large chunk of mud in it that arrested the follower somehow and I have no idea what that did to cause a dbl feed, but there you go. I was laying down a lot of rounds with it and I didn’t have any problems with it’s reliability. The balance is different than the M4, it’s heavier, reloads are tricky, but I’d pick it up in a heartbeat, even though it did punch me in the face more than a couple of times. I just got around to cleaning guns yesterday, and it was frankly very clean. You can see in the pics all the crap that would fly out of the barrel every round. My barrel was sparkling clean when I ran a patch through it. I was using wolf hp’s too. Chamber area/trigger area was also clean. The piston was dirty and that’s about it.
My g17 is a beater I picked up for $400 last year. It didn’t come with a box and is worn to absolute beauty. I did change all the springs and the slide lock lever/spring when I got it. It ran like a champ, and other than the KCI mags: no issues. I love that gun. I put 10-8 night front and standard U rear on it (and my carry 19). They were great and the rear is ideal for charging the gun on your belt or whatever.
My M4 is a BCM up/Spikes low with a ACT trigger and not much else for upgrades. It’s reliable and my number one son. I run an eotech on it and love that thing too.
Lots of us were running HSGI and it all did just great. I love that I can run AK/AR on it and also go between my Sig or Glock for mags too. Just damn good gear.
I’m going to look at a little extra padding or something to wrap around the buttstock end of my Ares slings. The way I run them the padding end is right on the edge of my neck and rubs a little raw by the end of three days (especially when wet). First world problem and about as low priority as you can get.
To sum up/the holy crap TLDR:
Great instruction, great safety practices, great time, great people, great range. Go get it.