I promised a full-on after-action report from this past weekend’s Minuteman Rifle Course, and here it be.
BLUF: John Murphy has made some slight refinements to the MRC, and it remains the best value around for a carbine shooting course. The compressed two-day schedule supports the right amount of classroom and range work, and the round count is about right. The price is highly competitive, even with an increase in the near future. (More on that later.)
First change: we rendezvoused at the Culpeper motel where previously we would have done the classroom work. Instead, we convoyed right to the range and used the shed he’s constructed there. Saved a lot of time and movement. That was a welcome addition.
There were thirteen students on deck, more than I can remember on previous classes. I was one, as so was our own loyal reader and my fellow Marine, “Maj W DC.” I was pleased to see a familiar face from another class, Nate the Forester, who is a great guy and an accomplished marksman, and John’s assistant Ryan. Both would be good ones to have on your side in a fight, and most definitely NOT good ones to have against you in a fight. There were retired and current military, and this time mostly civilians, including a librarian and a fencing instructor. All shot pretty well, some with iron sights (one of them with an AK). There were nine ARs, three AKs and one FN SCAR. Everything ran well, although MAJ W’s M4 (actually mine) had some hiccups which we have diagnosed were due to magazine issues.
Maj W lays it down from the 25, early morning on Day 2.
After the morning presentation in the range shed, we broke for show and then quickly regrouped for zeroing, first at 25 to get on paper and then at 50 to confirm. After that, we moved into firing drills all afternoon from all ranges, including the 100. The zeroing went very well, much better than I had ever seen it happen in an FPF course, and that put us ahead of schedule. Everyone had a good opportunity to refine their dope and get ready for the full day of shooting; I don’t think anyone felt rushed or pushed. We broke for the day feeling confident and ready.
Day 2 began under cool and overcast skies, which had Maj W and myself scrambling for USMC-issued lids, gloves and sweatshirts. On Day 1 we were introduced to the 5-5-5-5 drill, which involves 5 rounds each into 6-inch circles from standing, kneeling, sitting and prone. These twenty-round strings formed the backbone of the course, as they were executed time after time, incorporating position changes, re-loads and immediate action drills.
“THIS IS A FIRING DEMO!” John Murphy demonstrates the pivot, and executes a mag change en route.
We moved up and down the range, shooting fast and close, then going back to the 50 to slow down and add precision. We shot while moving, while pivoting, and later while the target was moving. Again, it was neither too much nor too little. If we needed to run a drill again, we did. The day ended with the finale– a 5-5-5-5 on steel at 100, with a final head shot on paper. The class did uniformly well, and although I don’t think anyone cleaned it a couple shooters came close. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong.) I whacked the steel pretty well but shanked the head shot. The fencing instructor, shooting a borrowed Smith & Wesson M&P 15-T with iron sights pretty coolly aced the head shot.
Yours truly shooting Vlad the Impaler at the 25. Vlad and the red dot sight ran like a champ.
Gear notes: my Romanian AK ran and ran and ran. I had two misfires from some Wolf ammo, but the Golden Tiger never let me down, nor did the steel mags. Both are highly recommended. I used a Diamondback Tactical AK rig, which served just fine, although the straps seemed to bite into my shoulders a little. Honestly, I think that was more of a function of me having transmogrified into a full-time staff pogue than a problem with the gear. There are some corners in the TAPCO folding stock that need some Dremel-ing down, and that weird Combloc scope mounting rail on the gun has got to go. Other than that, any issues with accuracy and manipulation were self-induced and had nothing to do with the gun.
My own Smith & Wesson M&P 15-T had some vexing stoppages on Day 2. This had never happened before, and I had have put some rounds through it. I realized that Maj W was using my old USGI mags that had been fully loaded– and ready for TEOTWAWKI– for about a year or two. Therein lies the problem. The feed lips must have spread out under the pressure of the rounds. My zeal for preparedness has almost done me in. Henceforth I’ll junk those old ones, then rotate one or two full mags for ready use. That was an expensive lesson learned cheaply and one that would have gone un-taught had it not been for this course. Lesson learned.
Now for the news: as of 1 June, John is moving the Minuteman Rifle Course to a new location (check his site for details), while the pistol courses will remain in Culpeper. Also, the price for Minuteman Rifle is going up to $350, and the price for the pistol courses will be $300. Even with that, it’s still the best deal going in this area. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, FPF Training is Gunsite quality instruction at a fraction of the price and a compressed format. Highly recommended. And I can’t wait for my next one.