Archive for July, 2005

M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle

The verdict is in – pivot steering is the coolest way to do donuts. Yeah that’s right, today I drove a Bradley and it was sweet. I know, I know – lots of people drive Brads all the time. Somehow I made it most of the way to my 2 year mark (05AUG05), as an Infantryman, without ever even sitting in a running Bradley. That all changed today. Stupid grin++

Building the Foundation

In my last piece I spoke of the fundamentals of marksmanship, and promised a practice method would follow. Wait no more, here it is. The following will provide a few methods that are pretty well universally accepted as appropriate and effective means to taking the fundamentals, and building your foundation in marksmanship. As this piece is geared toward beginners, I will tailor my firearm suggestions to that end. While the same methods apply just as much to .50BMG as they do to .22LR, cost and the potential to develop a nasty flinch widely seperate the two.

For the purpose of general practice, and the development of good marksmanship skills I suggest the following pistols, rifles, and calibers.

Pistols:

  • Browning Buckmark, .22LR
  • CZ75 (Cadet), 9mm (.22LR Conversion)

Rifles:

  • Remington Model 572, .22LR
  • Savage 11FXP30, .223 Remington

None of these firearms will break the bank, and all of them fire widely available and inexpensive ammunition. As an added bonus, each of the listed firearms are of a high quality, and are more than accurate enough to boost confidence. The goal here is to spend a little and get a lot.

The Dime/Washer Drill:

This technique works wonders in the world of stability, breathing, and trigger control. The dime/washer drill is also free (or very close to it.) I would not recommend this on a striker fired weapon, so we’ll go with centerfire only for this drill. For this drill you’ll need a straight rod that fits snug in your barrel, and as the name implies a dime or washer (any coin should work).

How does it work? First thing’s first, clear your weapon. Drop the magazine and cycle the action, release the cylinder and press the ejector rod, do whatever is required to cycle the action and visually verify that the chamber is clear. Now, take the rod and place it in the barrel such that between 2″ and 4″ protrude beyond the muzzle. Now, take your coin, and balance it on the rod. Usually you can manage this solo with a pistol, but with a rifle you need a partner to do the coin balancing for you while you maintain a steady firing position. The goal here is to aim at a safe point, preferably a target with a solid backstop, and from a steady position, execute a smooth trigger squeeze. When your position, breathing and trigger squeeze all come together properly the hammer will fall and the coin will remain balanced on the rod. If you have a double action/single action (DA/SA) pistol, you might want to do this drill both through the double action pull, and the single action pull.

At the Range:

Once you have reached the point with the dime/washer drill where more often than not, the coin remains on the rod after the hammer falls it is time to head to the range for some live fire exercises. Still being aimed at new shooters, things like controlled pairs, weak side shooting, and other more advanced methods will be ignored for now. The key, as I see it, has been said many times before “Aim small, Miss small”. If you practice aiming at, and hitting small targets – aiming at, and hitting large ones becomes much easier. For new shooters, I’ll suggest a range of less than 10m for pistol practice initially, and 100m or less for centerfire rifle (50m or less for rimfire). You can use the same targets for both, download one here.

For pistol and rifle, I suggest the same practice routine, scoped or not. Load the firearm, and take time to get a good sight picture, and fire three rounds using the fundamentals of marksmanship and a consistent point of aim. Repeat this on each target on the page, and as many targets as you have posted. For a range session, do not continue firing when fatigued, shoot 30 to 50 rounds. Slowly firing three round groups will allow for two things – sight adjustment if necessary, and a means to gauge any problems with your fundamentals. Provided proper execution of the fundamentals, and a consistent point of aim, you should have nice tight groups on the paper. If that group is not in the center of the target, a sight adjustment is necessary to shift the group to the center of the target. Do NOT adjust your point of aim to put rounds in the center of the target.

That’s all for now, happy shooting. Next time, I’ll cover some more advanced techniques.

Inphonex VoIP Service

When I deployed to Iraq, it was my intent to have my own VoIP service to be able to call my family and friends whenever I felt like it. My initial choice was Vonage, their lack of support for users wanting to use VoIP with a softphone – say on a PDA or Laptop – without paying extra got under my skin. Couple that with the fact I was unable to complete calls over my lagtastic satellite connection here in Iraq and you have a no-go at this station.

Enter Inphonex, and you have a sane – and global – VoIP provider. This sanity comes in the form of options, the things that make users feel warm and fuzzy inside. They don’t care if you want to use a softphone, in fact they suggest 3 different softphones along with configuration guides. Their top choice just so happens to have clients for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. I couldn’t honestly give two cares in the world for the other two OSes, but Linux support that just works OOTB!? Hell. Yes.

It gets better. There is no extra fee for softphone use, in fact if you just want to use their service for SIP and nothing more – there is no charge period. Just sign up, and you can call any Inphonex user’s SIP number for free. If you want to use your Cisco VoIP phone, go right on ahead. Have an ATA and a regular phone? Cool deal, use it.

softphone
way cool

The Basics

My goal here is to fill a hole often left in training both new shooters, and seasoned shooters. All too often people ignore the basics, either because they never learned them, or because they are too caught up in the latest and greatest “tactic”. When it is all said and done shooting on a solid foundation, with proper fundamentals of marksmanship is key to success (and potentially survival). The following are the items I hit on every time I shoot, or introduce someone to shooting. I used these fundamentals long before enlisting in the United States Army, but found when I got there that the Army’s BRM (Basic Rifle Marksmanship) program was based on the very same points, in fact every major marksmanship program I’m aware of uses the same fundamentals.

The first major hurdle to a good foundation is just that, your foundation. By foundation, I’m talking about your personal shooting position and firing grip. You need a solid position and grip regardless of what firearm you’re firing, be it a rifle, pistol, shotgun, or M203 grenade launcher. Your firing position needs to be comfortable, and natural. It must also be solid. Whatever position you take up, strive for consistency, together with the other fundamentals, this consistency will pay in dividends on your target.

Once you find a position that is comfortable to you, check your natural point of aim. That is, the position at which you can be jostled or moved, with your eyes closed, and when you settle back into your position and open your eyes, you are still on target. Practice your grip and position to your natural point of aim and it will eventually become a thing of muscle memory. For myself personally, there is a specific position in the prone, and seated with my M16A2 in which I know by feel (both in and out of body armor) that puts my rifle on target with my line of sight. The same goes for pistol shooting in a modified weaver stance, there is an ingrained position where I know my sight picture will naturally line up.

This moves us on to the next fundamental, sight picture. Now, this will vary based on your style of sights, and weapon system. For this, I’ll go with a standard post and notch system. I will get this out of the way early – front sight, front sight, front sight. This goes for any iron sight system I can think of – focus on the front sight. Your rear sight should be slightly blurry and your front sight crisp and centered in your target, the top edge of your front and rear sights should be lined up. In time I will put some images of proper sight alignment, but for now a quick Google on the topic should turn up good information.

Your breathing pattern is important to marksmanship, erratic breathing will adversely impact your position, ability to focus clearly on your sight picture, and your trigger pull, ultimately resulting in a poor shot. This is not to say firing accurately under stress in impossible, far from it. In the Army we practice stress fires, by putting on full battle gear, and running at times several miles to targets where we have a two minute limit to engage 40 targets. It is important to be aware of how your breathing relates to your shooting. There is a natural pause between each breath, and this pause is the ideal time to execute your trigger squeeze. You do not need to hold your breath, just be aware of the natural pauses between each breath, and use these pauses to fire in.

Finally, you have your trigger squeeze, if you botch this part, the chances of hitting even a well aimed shot from a steady position, with proper breathing decrease greatly. The trigger squeeze should be accomplished through smooth constant pressure on the trigger, in one fluid motion, directly rearward to the trigger stop. There are many philosophies as to which portion of the finger to use, personally, I use the pad of my finger before the first joint.

Combine these fundamentals to make a good foundation as a shooter, and your results will show it. When training new shooters, introduce them properly, cover safety first, and then move to the fundamentals. Later, I will write about some techniques one can use to practice the fundamentals, and obtain muscle memory without range fees and ammunition costs being a factor.

UMD Video

For the first month or two of my PSP ownership I was pretty opposed to using it for anything beyond gaming. My logic was that if I had the best compact laptop on the planet, why would I want to view pictures or watch movies on the PSP? I went on like that for a while, at least up to the point my Mom sent me Hostage on UMD Video for PSP. What the hell I say – I’ll watch it. The quality was quite impressive on such a tiny screen, the audio was rather acceptable as well. Sin City is also coming out on UMD Video for PSP, and I’m gonna have to buy it.

Sin City preview on PSP

party like it’s my birfday

haha or not. 22 in Iraq, maybe today nothing in my sector will explode. I fully intend to play guitar for several hours when I get off work, and maybe watch a movie or 3.

A Regular Deal

Looks like we’ll be jamming regularly now. It’s a pretty good time, we play pretty much the same songs every time but whatever. The other guy wants to learn, so I’m teaching him what I can in the time I’ve got. Had some pics taken tonight, they’re up in my Gallery

Jammin’ in Iraq (again)

Last night was about 100 degrees. Not the best outdoor guitar playing weather, but would I let a silly thing like that stand in my way? Not only no, but hell no! Another good session – polished a few songs we worked on last time. Another soldier from another company joined the group and played along. Gave me the chance to do two things I love – play guitar, and teach someone else new things. w00t.

PSP Rules

For the last few days my Sony PSP has kept me occupied during the most mindnumbing hours of my TOC shift. FIFA Soccer, and Coded Arms getting the most playtime. I also have Dynasty Warriors, and Tony Hawk but they aren’t really played very much. Games aren’t the only reason the PSP rocks though, I keep some pictures of family and friends on it too. Back to my PSP.

nothing new

Nothing new at all. Really, not a single thing. I restrung my guitar for the 4th time out here. Given my typical routine of every 2 weeks, I’m actually doing pretty well on the conservation of guitar strings, not that I need to, I still have 5 sets left so I’m pretty sure I’ll make it through OIF3 without running out of guitar strings.

I may do some geekish babbling about how the Sony PSP totally rules later. I’ve had mine for quite a while, I’ve only just now decided that it really does rule on high. poor nintendo ;_;

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