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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Nearly Free State of Arizona
    Posts
    357

    Default AAR: Suarez Recce/DMR Rifle School - April 1-3, 2016 - Prescott, AZ

    It is a glorious Arizona Spring Sunday morning and MCSO and I are attending the church of the rifle. The temps are in the low 50's and we are overlooking the rifle range to our West with great sunlight illuminating the hills from behind us. I have just finished sketching out a new range card. The previous night the instructors moved many of the steel targets around, painted some different colors, and opted to shift our shooting position back about 35 yards and up about 5 or 6 yards. That isn't that far, but the whole facility suddenly looks different.

    MCSO is on the rifle and I am scanning for targets. Wait....is that one? It looks like a dark greyish green blob surrounded by slightly lighter grey green stuff way out in the distance, but a closer examination shows a couple of sharp straight lines and the color just doesn't quite match its surroundings. We have a target. I talk MCSO into the right area...we are staring down a narrow shooting lane with a hard stone wall on one side and a big bushy tree on the other. The target is there, but it is partially obscured by a large rock that covers the bottom 1/3rd to 1/2 of the steel. It won't be an easy shot given we have agreed to only shooting one round per target - they must all be first round hits...

    MCSO slowly swaps position with me. This gives him a marginally better view of the target, but more importantly allows him to naturally align behind his rifle in the prone position. He is using his rucksack as a rifle rest. He tells me he is now on target and asks "any idea how far that is?". I tell him it is 263 yards. As he adjusts his elevation a bit, I silently think that my purchase of the pocket laser range finder may turn out to be one of my best purchases of 2015. MCSO settles in and I watch his breathing become regular. He looks like he could stay in that position forever. He whispers "On Glass", I get behind my rifle and will spot for him using my scope. I let him know that I'm "On Glass" as well. He then tells me he is "On Trigger". I whisper "Send it" and the shot rings out less than a second later. I see a splotch appear on the target perfectly centered at the junction of head and torso. It was the first target of this exercise and he center punched it at 263 yards. This process would be repeated again and again throughout the day and from other shooting positions. In one instance, MCSO would make a first round hit on a 12" square target at 340 yards.

    What a day of worship at the church of the rifle


    MCSO and I were privileged enough to attend SI's Recce/DMR school this past weekend. The course was outstanding and far exceeded expectations. This is a bit surprising since I have very high expectations of all SI courses. I expect expert teaching. I expect challenging courses of fire. I expect a low student to instructor ratio......I expect a lot of things. As I said, this course far exceeded those expectations. I'll elaborate on each of these expectations in kind:

    1. I expect expert teaching - The course was taught by Gabe Suarez who was assisted by Jeromy Hasenkamp. Both of these individuals have Law Enforcement experience (Kamp's still being ongoing) with both having attended multiple sniper schools and have served in a police sniper capacity. They were knowledgeable about conducting precision shooting, the equipment needed to make precision shots at distance, and were articulate in conveying that knowledge to an eager group of students.

    2. I expect challenging courses of fire - This was a precision rifle course. All of the students and instructors had full 'rifles' with magnified optics sitting on top. Many of these rifles had bipods. They were not tactical carbines optimized for CQB. That said, we were expected to snap shoot at 7, 10, 15, and 25 yard increments (CQB range) from ready positions with the expectation set that we would only make face shots. We were expected to 'get off the x' in reactive situations and center mass punch adversaries while moving off both the left and right shoulder. Minutes later, the expectation was that we would put 5 shots onto a 7/8ths inch orange dot at 100 yards. Oh yes, it was challenging. The expectation is that we would employ our rifles in any scenario that the SI team could think up from nearly spitting distance out to 350 yards. We were expected to be reactive, point shooting targets in one breath while making absolute precision shots at distance in the next. While definitely challenging, we had the instruction to allow us to do it successfully.

    3. I expect a low student to instructor ratio - SI has always provided a low student to instructor ratio. The largest SI class I have ever attended had 20 students with 4 instructors. However, what could be better than that? This course was basically a 'private lesson'. Due to some last minute cancellations, there were only three true students attending the course. Combine this with two instructors and you have an unparalleled student to instructor ratio. Most schools would simply cancel the course and state that you can take it at another time. SI didn't do that. Instead, Gabe and team ran the course and 'filled in' the 'students' with employees. Therefore, we ended up with six students overall, as Mike Hekathorn, Bryan Miller and Josh (ShopMonkey) joined the course. It was awesome to get to know more of the SI team - they can all shoot.

    In this course, we covered the following core items:

    • Position Shooting (Prone, Sitting, Kneeling, Squatting, Standing, Partner Supported)
    • Fundamentals of Precision Shooting (Breathing, Body Position, Trigger Manipulation, Sight Alignment, Follow Through)
    • Equipment for Precision Shooting (Barrels, Triggers, Stocks, Optics, Slings, Rangefinders, Rucksacks, Bags, Wind Meters)
    • Reactive Shooting for CQB Distances (Snap Shooting, Shooting while getting off the X)
    • How to be a Good Spotter
    • Command Fire
    • Target Scanning and Identification
    • Making Range Cards


    I'm sure that we did quite a bit more. For me, it was the perfect way to blend the knowledge acquired at last year's carbine camp with new knowledge about precision shooting and then be tasked with employing both.

    Being such a small class, we moved very quickly. At the end of the first day, (which we all decided to call it 2 hours early as the AZ sun was doing its best to kill us) we had already completed all of the day 1 curriculum and half of the day 2 curriculum. Gabe would then reach out into the sniper curriculum in order to keep things moving and cover all three days. We also ended up shooting quite a bit more than we had planned. The original course design was around 200 rounds. We fired nearly that the first day. By the end of the course, each of us were at + or - 50 rounds from 500. For me, it was a great opportunity to get to know a rifle that had only been sighted in prior to start of class.

    A Note on Rifles: The three 'true students' (non SI employees) all were using rifles built by SI or upper receivers built by SI. These rifles proved to be sub MOA accurate with multiple types of ammunition. In the case of MCSO, his rifle shot sub MOA with 62 grn M855 'green tip', 69 grn Federal Gold Medal Match, and 77 grn Gorilla Match Ammunition. His rifle is the Suarez Mk12. My rifle shot near MOA with all of the same ammunition types (I suspect that it wasn't always sub MOA due to me and not the rifle). Mine was a Suarez Super Recce. These rifles can shoot!

    Overall it was an outstanding class and an outstanding value to get so much time and attention for the low price. I consider this to have been a great learning experience and 'tune up' for the Guerrilla Sniper courses taking place in Oregon later this year (if you have not signed up....you should do so soon...it is nearly full). I want to thank the SI team for, once again, making me more dangerous.
    “How can I shoot people? Shooting people is easy. It is the simple application of the fundamentals of marksmanship. The hard part is ensuring that I have the physical strength to prevail, the moral strength to know when it is right to kill, and the mental strength to articulate the aftermath such that I maintain my freedom while they experience what comes next in the afterlife.”

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    2,875
    Thank you for this in-depth write-up.

    Looks like bringing lots more ammo is a key to getting the most out of this course.
    "When one goes willingly into the darkness, all he will find there, is what he brought in with him".

    --Gabe Suarez, after the 7-11 shootout

    Proper development of the 'Warrior Spirit', training and physical conditioning before 'The Event' cannot be overstated.

    U.S. Army Rangers (1/75 'Old Scroll')
    CRG; 0-5 Feet CRG; PSP Pistol; FOF Instructor School; Combat Pistol Instructor School

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    136
    This was an amazing class I consider myself privileged to attend. My training experience with Suarez International has been second to none in the past and this was no different. ChrisNobody covered the After Action Report admirably and I will not add to that; however, I would like to address a portion of the class for which I feel very strongly: intangible confidence.

    I can say with confidence I can make a first round hit out to approximately 340 yards, make head shots out to 200 yards, and can keep my group within a 1" circle at 100 yards. That confidence is instilled by Suarez International-provided lecture, dry-fire practice, live-fire practice, known and unknown engagement distance, and stress and no-stress shooting, all from multiple shooting positions. That confidence is instilled by becoming intimately familiar with the weapon system and learning the effects of angle, mirage, heat, bullet weight and velocity. The Suarez International-provided skill sets and equipment mentioned has given me a sense of confidence that is irreplaceable and is only earned, not given.

    With this confidence comes power..the power to remove fear, the unknown, the doubt and the hesitation that may preclude a life-saving action.

    My thanks to Suarez International for instilling into the students a sense of earned confidence otherwise unobtainable.

    Intangible confidence - can't be purchased, has to be earned, and is priceless in cost and effect.

    UPDATE:

    ChrisNobody and I are special brothers. We absolutely love spending time with each other and are quite inseparable. The Command Fire module of the course was quite fun for us. In reflecting on instilled confidence, there is satisfaction in knowing beyond any doubt the two of us can send two 77 grain 5.56mm bullets simultaneously to strike the targets center of mass at 300 yards. Yes, this is fun, but this discipline makes us dangerous people - dangerous and confident I should say.
    Last edited by MCSO; 04-04-2016 at 11:23 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Nearly Free State of Arizona
    Posts
    357
    In this case, having the extra ammunition was great as it let us extend and deepen the content of the course. That said, we were never dumping rounds downrange. I would say that the 'fastest' I was shooting was when doing displacement drills (getting off the x) and I was shooting 3 to 4 rounds per iteration. I think the deciding factor was the size of the class. The instructors would set up a scenario / event, be able to explain it just once given the small group. We would then all shoot it at the same time and then be ready to do the next scenario. It just moved so fast. Gabe really never had to say 'huddle up'...he could just stand between the six of us and talk normally.

    I always recommend bringing more ammunition than called for. I generally bring an extra 50% to 100%. In this case, we went well beyond that. In the end, that was great as it gave MCSO and I the opportunity to try out the rifles with the 69 grain and 62 grain ammunition. There is nothing that brings a smile to your face like finding out your rifle will shoot MOA all day with 'cheap' M855 ammunition. Yes, it shoots to a slightly different point of impact, but it still shoots really, really well.

    I cannot say enough about the SI rifles. I didn't write it up (my AAR is already very long), but it was super easy to clean those rifles as well. I basically just wiped down the bolt and bolt carrier and ran a couple of patches down the barrel and it was done. The rifle ran flawlessly (all of the guns did at this event). They were easy to clean and they were super accurate. If you are looking for a high end AR, I would highly recommend it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    10,128
    I wish I had been able to get to this one, sounds awesome and this is a gap in my skill set that needs attention. Nice write-up guys
    Greg "Hyena" Nichols
    Instagram: tacfit_az
    Facebook: SI Instructor Greg Nichols

    #thinkinginviolence
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    Always entertaining, mildly offensive
    IANative: Indeed, when you grab Brent (or he grabs you), it feels like liquid unobtanium wrapped in rawhide... whereas Greg is just solid muscle wrapped in hate, seasoned w/ snuff and a little lead.

    http://www.warriortalk.com/showthrea...he-Obscenities

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western WA
    Posts
    6,518
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Nichols View Post
    I wish I had been able to get to this one, sounds awesome and this is a gap in my skill set that needs attention. Nice write-up guys
    My sentiments exactly.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Pistol Groundfighting, Texas

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    West Texas
    Posts
    754
    Sounds like it was a fun class. Makes me look forward to GS later this year that much more.
    "So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people." - Tecumseh

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Beyond The Wall
    Posts
    47,890
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    447
    20160402_143607.jpg20160403_100203[1].jpg20160403_124121.jpg20160401_091141.jpg

    1) I had a great weekend helping Gabe making students deadlier with their rifles.

    2) Quite a change from my typical Pac NW weather to the AZ heat.

    3) Students did some great work this weekend and were putting up some great groups

    4) Watching the command fire go off almost instantaneous amongst all the students after the block of instruction Gabe gave was phenomenal

    5) My hat is off to ChrisNobody....He came and stuck it out even though he was "a lot" under the weather

    6) I really appreciate the AAR and comments from ChrisNobody and MCSO. I look forward to our future training classes coming up in Oregon in Sept. I promise it will not be near as hot !!!

    If you haven't signed up for the GS-1, GS-2 or GS Combo make sure to do so soon. I think we are approaching the cut off. It will be EPIC. The input from Leupold, Dave Sauer, plus the attendance of Brent will be a good time. MCSO, Dave and I will be laying down a little sneak preview into the lecture series on the aftermath of a shooting SI style.

    Oh...Did I mention that Leupold is going to let students try before they buy at this class? If you let me know what scope you want to run for the class, Leupold will have it for the class, let you run it and then sell it at a steep discount after the class if you want the scope. I am also working on discount codes if you want to purchase something before the class. (Only for attendees of the class, sorry). see the GS-1/GS-2 thread under SI training opportunities in interested.
    Last edited by Jeromy Hasenkamp; 04-04-2016 at 06:50 PM.
    Kamp
    Suarez International Tier 1 Instructor
    UTM Master Instructor Training Provider and Independent Dealer
    Kamp's Suarez International Training Schedule
    (and no, unfortunately it isn't the summer camp for our kids we all want to send them to)
    Pacific Tactical Website
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    "Progress comes to those who train and train; reliance on secret techniques will get you nowhere."
    Morihei Ueshiba

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Nearly Free State of Arizona
    Posts
    357
    So, after a few days of reflection, I have some additional comments about the course not directly related to its presentation or delivery:

    1. Mid Range Head Shots - Going through this course has allowed me to identify a gap in my training and my planning. I feel completely confident in using my RDG (SI 419 & SI 417) for head shots out to 25 yards (and can probably push out to 35 if I had to). I know I can make 'body shots' out to 100+ yards without issue as well. However, given the changing nature of our threats, specifically the threat of a terrorist wearing a vest containing TATP (which could potentially detonate if impacted with bullets - stuff is really unstable), I need to think of how to cover the gap between 25 yards and 100 yards for headshots only. I frequently carry an AR pistol in the truck with me and I know that extends my head shot distance out to 50+ yards, but I'm still worried about the gap out to 100. I'm wondering if I should take the 1-5x optic off of my DMR and try that out on the AR pistol. That would give me up to 5x magnification at close to medium distances while still allowing a 'red dot like' standard. After 100 yards, I would go back to my DMR sized weapon.

    2. Magnification - I took a SI Super Recce to the DMR course. As I mentioned in my AAR, the rifle was outstanding. However, the optic I chose for the class was a Steiner 1-5. While this optic was light with super clear glass and very repeatable controls, I found myself having significant issues using my rifle/optic combo for scanning and target identification. Specifically, I could tell that there were 'heads' out at 100+ yards, but I couldn't identify what was on those heads. We did scanning and identification of terrorists from photographs. We named them based on facial features, etc... ("The Mole", "Angry Eyes"). When setting these targets up for engagement at 100 yards, I would have to rely on MCSO to tell me whether or not the head I was sighted on was the 'right' one (he had a 10x optic). If I were to be taking the course again this year (and I'm basically in this case given I'm signed up for the Guerrilla Sniper courses later this year), I would probably opt for more magnification. I may stick my Vortex on this rifle (4.5-27x), which is a mismatch given the optic weights 5 pounds on a rifle that is very light weight otherwise. That said, I know I can identify and discern between targets at greater distance with that much magnification.

    3. Short Range Optics - It is easy to 'point shoot' a DMR at anything under 10 yards for COM shots. However, given the risk of vest wearing terrorists, these really need to be snap shots to the face. This is beyond the realm of point shooting and is quite difficult to do at speed if you try to use the optic on the rifle (it worked beautifully with the Steiner 1-5). If I opt to increase magnification pursuant to observation #2, I won't be able to do this. What I may consider is matching what MCSO had on his rifle. He had a magnified optic (Leupold Mk4 3.5-10), but also had an offset RMR that was attached to one of his scope rings. MCSO was able to use this CQB optic to great effect at all distances under 50 yards. He could make headshots at 25 yards at will by slightly canting the rifle and then engaging through the RMR (he still had to account for height over bore). He also found that he was able to use the same method of engagement when shifting the rifle to shoot off of his left shoulder (this had been a concern). While this is an 'expensive step', there was clear evidence of success watching MCSO engage everything with head shots from 15 feet out to 340+ yards. Also, since all of this was associated with his primary optic (attached to the scope mount), he still had a set of backup iron sights that could be accessed if he removed the optic via the quick detach system.

    So, this is what I'm thinking a few days after the fact. I can't stress again how excellent this course was.
    “How can I shoot people? Shooting people is easy. It is the simple application of the fundamentals of marksmanship. The hard part is ensuring that I have the physical strength to prevail, the moral strength to know when it is right to kill, and the mental strength to articulate the aftermath such that I maintain my freedom while they experience what comes next in the afterlife.”

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