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US Service Rifle Small Arms Firing School (After Action Report)

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by Water Monkey, Apr 24, 2017.

  1. Water Monkey

    Water Monkey The man, the myth, the monkey Moderator Supporter

    After Action Report – US Service Rifle Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) 4/22 – 4/23 2017

    I’ve been wanting to do some CMP or NRA Highpower matches since I’ve gotten my Garand. However, I wanted some personal instruction on the positions (Standing, Sitting, Prone) as well as how the overall matches are run. When I found out the SAFS was offered and that this was exactly what they would be doing I jumped on board. I mean…. $75 for 16 hours of instruction…. You’d be mentally retarded NOT to take it.

    First off, Ed Walden ran an excellent program. He provided a tremendous amount of tier 1 level competitors and coaches to the program who gave one on one instruction to all 59 students in attendance. How tier 1? We are talking NYS riflemen team members, NYS riflemen team coaches, Distinguished Riflemen, President’s 100 award winners, and even coaches who assisted the military as civilians to enhance accuracy of the troops (I believe it was called the Designated Company Marksman Program).

    Day 1:

    Arrived at 715am at Peconic River Sportsman Club (Long Island, NY) and had a half day on classroom instruction on safety, how to acquire sight alignment, sight picture, how to score, how to run the scoring pits, shooting positions, etc.


    After the classroom instruction we were sent out to the firing line with individual coaches to work the various positions and dry fire (standing, sitting, prone) using the supplied AR-15 service rifle. I had switched groups to allow someone else to dry fire earlier in the day. I went out in the late afternoon and that’s when the rain started to come down. Having just purchased my shooting coat (ie stiff) and being in the rain I found it difficult to get anything done in the standing (off hand) position. Rain was getting into the sight peephole and my rifle buttstock was slipping off my shoulder as the gripping service was slick from rain.

    Also, it seems my sitting position is a little awkward. My front sight when I settle into the position is pointing extremely low at the target. After another instructor came over to assess it appeared my supporting hand needed to be closer to the receiver and turned in more. That corrected most of my issue.

    Prone was fairly easy. Using the same method to get my support hand closer to the receiver I was able to really lock down that prone position and get a solid natural point of aim at the target.

    After the dry fire practice you were moved to the 50 yard line for .22lr AR-15 training. Sitting and prone were used to determine if the student can advance to the full course tomorrow. Prone I shot very well but sitting was still an issue for me. The coach immediately identified my issue and corrected my firing hand’s elbow placement a bit lower which brought up my front sight to where it needed to be. After that I was hitting much better.

    Class was dismissed after the live fire exercise and the coach gave you the go-ahead to tomorrow’s live fire course.

    Not going to lie… felt kinda defeated that day. Not able to really settle into my 2 positions had me re-thinking this whole rifle match thing and disheartened.

    Day 2

    I arrived around 630am on the 200 yard firing line to receive my squad number and firing line number. I was fortunate to shoot first in relay # 1.


    My "I've been up since 5am eff everyone" look:


    Before we shot the coaches did a demonstration of how the match was run going over Standing slow fire, sitting rapid fire, prone rapid fire, prone slow fire with coaches in the target pits scoring targets and showing hits.



    After that relay # 1 was on the firing line, Relay # 2 was in the target pits and Relay # 3 were your designated scorers. Each shooting spot on the line had an individual coach to assist you.

    First round was a 10 round sight in process. My coach (Paul didn’t get his last name but he was really awesome and very funny) assisted in getting me in the bullseye in prone. NOTE: All shooting by students was iron sights ONLY.

    Next 4 rounds were scored for the mock match.

    Round 1 - standing (off hand)…. Ugh not looking forward to this part. I set up, get my rifle buttstock in my shoulder…. And it effing stayed put! Ha imagine that, no rain and my coat actually worked. My wobble was still pretty…. Wobbly but I was able to actually keep my firearm on target unlike the previous day. 10 shots slow fire and I pulled one off target that I called. Breathing and just taking the shot (according to my coach) is the key. Overall on that portion I did better than I expected to do.

    Round 2 – sitting (rapid fire) – being noobs they gave us 90 seconds to pop off 10 shots. Still not very satisfied with my position. Needs work but I was able to have the knowledge to position myself where the front sight is aligned with the target better instead of being pointed in the dirt in front of it. However, my scores were less than my standing. I need to work that position a lot more… sitting should be getting me much better hits than standing.

    Round 3 – prone (rapid fire) – again gave us 90 seconds to pop off 10 rounds. Key is exhale, fire, inhale, exhale, fire with your natural point of aim in prone. I did well. Actually much better than either I or my coach had anticipated… even with a malfunction I was able to pop off 10 rounds quickly and nail most in the 9 and 10 ring!

    Round 4 – prone (slow fire) – My coach expected me to clean up that section based on the way I shot the rapid. I did my best to reach his level of expectation. I was nailing 10s and 9s on my shots. One shot the target pit operator did not move the board to show placement… we called down, score came back miss???!!! We called a re-call and the tower confirmed I shot the target next to me…. When I came out of position to load an individual round and settled back in my natural point of aim changed and I pointed at the target to my right instead and didn’t realize to check the target number down field. DOH! Besides the miss called I shot very well and my coach was very happy with that round.

    My body hurt from sustaining the positions and my shooting day was over. I spent the next 4 hours in the target pits and on the line assisting with scoring.


    After shooting my interest in the matches increased. I wasn’t defeated as I felt the day before and speaking with several coaches during the day was an absolute pleasure to tap into the knowledge base and hear stories from when they were shooting 20-30 years ago and getting into the sport. Once I finish my .308 Garand I will be on the line for a few matches this year before my busy season kicks in.

    Overall unfortunate issues with NYS

    Since the SAFE act was instituted actually acquiring a AR-15 in service rifle condition is impossible now. Those competitors who had before the act registered them with NYS to continue competing. Anyone new to the sport is SOL. The range has rifles to borrow for matches but the key to anything worth doing is constant practice and dry fires. If you don’t have access to said firearm you’re not going to progress in the sport. It gets me seriously angry and frustrated because being exposed to the significant level of instructors makes me fearful that as time progresses that resource available to new shooters will be gone eventually.

    Water Monkey
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  2. Bobster

    Bobster .30-06 Supporter

    Nice, well-illustrated write-up Monk! :) Glad you learned something AND had a good time while doing it!
    Water Monkey likes this.
  3. nitesite

    nitesite Average Guy Moderator "Philanthropist"

    WM, thank you for the review and overall impressions. What a great opportunity you were able to attend.

    Too bad it rained, and I know about brand new shooting jackets and slings.

    And the cost? Sheesh, that is a tremendously low fee for what you got and the biographies of the instructors are amazing.

    I'd be very proud to show off your score card.
    Rossignol and Water Monkey like this.
  4. Scoop

    Scoop .30-06

    WM, thanks so much for that. I love shooting rifles, but I am not a rifleman. I'd love to have this kind of instruction. You may have inspired me to hit up one of my fellow instructors to tune me up.

    In your 4th pic there was a Garand on the rack; was that yours?
    Water Monkey likes this.
  5. Rossignol

    Rossignol The Original Sheriff Staff Member Global Moderator Moderator Sponsor

    Excellent write up of your experiences!!! I'm proud of you, you did good!

    I wish this kind of resource were more widely available, though as I've mentioned to you before, I can't see a target at 200 yards without magnification. In any case, we just don't have anything like that around here that I know of.

    I'm really impressed and you can probably expect me to hit you up for some advice with my own issues.
    Water Monkey likes this.
  6. Water Monkey

    Water Monkey The man, the myth, the monkey Moderator Supporter

    No that was one of the coache's. He was the only guy shooting his Garand. We got to talking about it.... 308 national match, bedded stock with his reloads.

    It was a sexy piece.
  7. Water Monkey

    Water Monkey The man, the myth, the monkey Moderator Supporter

    For such a socialist shithole... It's got a solid shooting resource. Shame it's gonna die off if they don't reverse the laws.

    I'm no exper rifleman but I'll definitely share whatever I got.
    Rossignol likes this.
  8. Water Monkey

    Water Monkey The man, the myth, the monkey Moderator Supporter

    If I can hide the top half of my card I'd be golden lol.

    It was something to take in. The wealth of knowledge was incredible. I was introduced to 2 match directors and we talked about how I can get into the matches with what I got now.

    I may turn my final Garand build into a match Garand. And get it bedded and accurized by cmp.

    Wheels are turning.
  9. Water Monkey

    Water Monkey The man, the myth, the monkey Moderator Supporter

    Day one I was a little pissy. Lol

    Day 2 I got my juju back
    Djcala, Ron Eagle Elk and Rossignol like this.

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