Tactical Shooting in the Rain
This weekend we attended a full-day Progressive Carbine Class taught by Scott Germain of Center Mass Weapons Training and Jon Green of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League (GOAL). This class was a follow-on to a similar class that we took with them a little over a year ago.
The carbine class was a hands-on, fast paced, live fire course for shooters that know the fundamentals of carbine shooting and want to improve their tactical skills. The training started with the combat mindset, then covered topics that included properly zeroing your firearm at 50 yards, compensating for “height over bore”, proper prone/sitting/kneeling/standing shooting positions, proper sling use, malfunction remediation, reloading techniques, shooting while moving, shooting under stress, “9-hole” and barricade drills, strong and weak side shooting, and speed shooting with accuracy.
For most people the most challenging exercise was shooting the “9-hole” from 100 yards since it forces you to shoot through small openings in a barricade from very odd angles. To make it even harder, since your carbine is not in the normal vertical position (in many cases it is tilted more than 90 degrees), you have to compensate for the fact that the bullet’s path to the target is not a straight line – but a parabolic trajectory. Because of this you really have to think about where to aim.
Another great drill was shooting 10 rounds into a 12” target from 100 yards in the prone position, then running to the 75 yard line and shooting 10 rounds into a different 12” target from the seated position, then running up to the 50 yard position and shooting 10 rounds into another 12” target from the kneeling position, and finally running to the 25 yard line and shooting 10 rounds into another 12” target from the standing position, The combination of the running (which increases your heart rate and makes it harder to acquire the target and aim), the different positions (which changes your geometry with the firearm and your optical point of view) , the different distances (which require you to adjust your aim point) and the different elevations of the targets made it challenging to keep good shot groups.
Even though it was raining 6 of the 8 hours that we were on the range, the instruction was great and it was a fun day.
You can find out more about Center Mass Weapons Training at:
You can find out more about the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) at:
Aerial 4K Video of Fall in Vermont
Since we are lucky to live in New England during Autumn, we get to see the colors that explode at this time of year by just looking at the trees in our yard. For those of you not in New England, here's a great aerial video from northernvermontaerial.com that shows the breathtaking beauty of the land:
Preparing for Fall Hiking
Well Autumn is in full swing here in New England. For some people that means that the happy days of Summer Hiking and Camping are over – for us it means that there are even more beautiful sights to see in the outdoors. But one thing is sure, hiking in the Fall requires different preparation than the other seasons. So here’s some tips from what we have learned over the years.
Be prepared for shorter daylight hours. Because of this you should plan to start and end your hikes a little earlier. If you are planning a half day hike (e.g. ~6 hours) you probably need to be on the trail by 10:00 AM to give yourself a little buffer. As Fall approaches Winter you probably need to even start earlier since here in New England sunset will arrive between 4:30 and 5:00 PM. When you plan your hike read your guidebook or trail map ahead of time and be realistic in assessing your group’s ability to complete the hike in the allocated time. As always, make sure that you tell someone what your plans are before you depart, especially if you are hiking solo. If your plans change, make sure that you let your contact know.
Be prepared for changes in temperature. Since temperatures can change 20 or 30 degrees during a Fall day make sure that you pack an extra layer in case your hike takes longer than you planned and the temperature begins to drop. Wear polypropylene or other wicking layers. Don’t wear cotton since it can soak up perspiration, mist and rain - and stays wet, making you even colder – especially if it is a windy day. On colder days make sure that you pack gloves and a hat – and perhaps a down or fleece vest.
Make sure that you have the appropriate rain gear. If you unexpectedly get caught out in the rain without a rain shell or poncho an adventurous hike will turn into a miserable outing.
Make sure that you have enough water. Because the air is cooler and moister than in Summer, many people fail to bring the water that they need to stay hydrated on fall hikes. Bring at least 2 quarts of water for any hike longer than two hours.
Make sure that you have some food for energy. It’s always a good idea to have some high energy food with you on a hike, On a Fall hike it’s probably even more important since your body needs to generate more heat to combat the colder temperatures. So take some snacks with you.
Make sure that you take all of your normal Hiking gear – especially your First Aid and Emergency Supplies since your survival may depend on them if there is a problem on the trail and you have to spend the night in the wild.
Check the latest weather reports and trail conditions before you so. Since the weather can be more variable in Autumn make sure that you know what you are getting into before you start. If there has been wet weather lower elevations may be muddy and slippery, while higher elevations may have snow and ice.
If you are in a location that has Fall hunting seasons make sure that you increase your awareness while hiking and take the appropriate safety precautions. Pay attention to trail signs as you enter an area. It’s also probably a good idea to avoid hiking in the early morning or at dusk when most hunters are active.
If you make a fire make sure that you are even more cautious than usual since all of the fallen leaves (assuming that they are dry) increase the chance of a forest fire should something go awry. Keep fires in designated areas, fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
But whatever you do – get out there and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather and sights. You might even want to check one of the online websites that shows when the trees are at their peak Fall colors so that you can experience the full majesty of nature.
What Gear Do You Need Make it Through a Disaster?
Every year there are tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, snow storms, earthquakes and other unanticipated disasters that cause people to live without power, water and heating/air conditioning for extended periods of time, or cause people to have to evacuate their homes.
Although Disaster Preparedness is not Hiking, Camping or Shooting – there’s a great deal of overlap regarding the gear; especially if the disaster lasts more than a couple of days – so we’ve added a new section to our website that details what gear we think you need in the following areas to be ready for a disaster:
You can read all the information about the gear that we have on the Camping/Disaster Preparedness page.
The Ultimate Leaf-peeping Road Trip Through New England
Following up on our previous blog - If you're in New England (like we are) and want to go on a leaf-peeping adventure - the Outdoor Project's got you covered. They just published a great article with lots of wonderful places to see the full glory of nature - complete with details on all the locations.
Their list of great places in New England includes:
We've been to half of them and plan to hike the others soon.
Here’s the link to the Outdoor Project’s article with all the details to the leaf-peeping locations; enjoy:
When Will the Trees Get Their Peak Fall Colors in Your Neck of the Woods?
Since Fall is now officially here - it's time to start looking at all the beautiful Autumn colors. Luckily there’s a great online resource that you can use to see when the tree colors should peak anywhere in the US on a “Fall Foliage Prediction Map”.
Here’s what they are predicting for the upcoming week:
And it looks like they are predicting the week of 15 October will be the peak for “leaf-peeping” here in New England:
If you want to see what the predictions are for your part of the country, or a part of the country that you plan to visit to see the beautiful fall colors, then you can check it out the on the following website:
“Rex Specs” – What Your Best Friend Might Need on Your Outdoor Adventures
For those of you with dogs - you probably take them on your outdoor adventures with you. That can involve days of hiking/camping in the outback, hours in the water or in your canoe, playing in the snow, hunting in foul weather, climbing above the tree line, or even just hanging their head out of the car window on a long drive through the mountains.
There are probably times that due to the weather conditions you wear goggles. But what about your best friend? Well here's a solution - "Rex Specs"; goggles specifically made for dogs:
Rex Specs were developed because the company’s founders (Jesse & Aiden) dogs needed eye protection. A few years ago, both of their dogs were diagnosed with harmful eye conditions made worse by extended exposure to the sun. They were told by their vet that they either had to limit their dog’s time in the sun or find some sort of dog goggle. After a failed search for a dog goggle that could handle their adventures, they created Rex Specs.
If you have a dog that you adventure with you might want to check out their website:
Kittery Trading Post and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
With the end of Summer upon us we decided to take one last quick trip to Maine for a little outdoor gear shopping at the Kittery Trading Post and doughnut shopping at the closest Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store.
Kittery Trading Post
Our first stop was the Kittery Trading Post, located in Kittery, Maine. For those of you that have not heard of the Kittery Trading Post – it’s a regional treasure that has been in business for 80 years; since 1938. During that time it has grown from 360 square feet to over 90,000 square feet. So it’s big – really big! So big that it carries merchandise from over 1,700 different manufacturers. https://www.kitterytradingpost.com/all-brands/
The store has three main levels where you can spend hours roaming and looking at cool gear:
We spent over $80 (how could you not) so we even got an 80th Anniversary T-shirt:
You can find out more about the Kittery Trading Post on their website:
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts
After our detailed perusal of all of the gear at the Kittery Trading Post we continued to head North to Saco, Maine where one of only three Krispy Kreme Doughnut stores in New England is located. Since New England is Dunkin’ Donuts territory getting some Krispy Kreme doughnuts is a real treat since they are so much better.
You can find out more about the Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on their website:
Needless to say, the quick trip was a great way to end the Summer!
Classes from Runenation
Since we like to learn new shooting techniques, improve our skills and challenge ourselves - we try to take various classes throughout the year. In the past month we have been fortunate to be able to take two classes taught by Ian Strimbeck of Runenation; one for pistol skills and the other for carbine skills.
The course covered the following areas:
The course covered the following areas:
Both of the courses were well taught and very worthwhile – especially since they both focused on moving, thinking and shooting from a wide variety of distances (from up close to 40 yards) – instead of stationary target shooting. Because of this dynamic you had to manage several different things during each drill: determining a course of action, moving from point to point, drawing, prioritizing targets, aiming, shooting, reloading, and malfunction clearing (if that occurred). This aspect made the courses both more challenging and more rewarding since they clearly enhanced your skills.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Pistol course was the “Shooting from retention” drills. Although I’ve shot many times from close distances (e.g. 1 foot), this was the first time I recall shooting targets while touching them to replicate what it would be like if you were actually physically holding onto an adversary while you fired your weapon. Needless to say, you need to have the proper technique to be effective and avoid shooting yourself.
The other thing that I really liked about both courses was that they made you think, focus and then shoot while maintaining accuracy – rather than just shoot. In fact, during many of the drills you didn’t know which target, or how many shots you were going to take, prior to starting the drill since Ian would call out that information while you were moving around the range. Some of the drills even included the “Stroop Effect” where the name of a color (e.g., "blue", "green", or "red") is printed in a color which is not the same as its name, as shown in the picture below. In these drills you had to examine the colored targets and then shoot the name of the color that was shown to you on a flip card once you arrived at the shooting location instead of the color that the name was written in.
If you have a chance to take any of Ian’s courses (since he travels around the country in addition to teaching at his home base in New Hampshire) I would highly recommend that you sign up since Ian’s classes are a lot of fun and will definitely help you improve your pistol/carbine technique, speed and accuracy.
You can find out more about Runenation, and the classes that they offer, on their website:
Is Steel Ammo Good or Bad?
Since we have an AK-47 derivative (Norinco MAK-90) we like to keep the "low cost/rugged" experience as real as possible by using steel case ammunition in the firearm; even though there is a wide variation of opinions related to using steel vs. brass case ammo.
Based on talking to other people that shoot steel case ammo, several detailed internet reviews and our testing at the range we found that steel ammo is a very viable option – but is probably not what we want to shoot in all of our firearms. In addition, we found that Wolf and Bear ammo are probably the best choices. TulAmmo seems to have significantly more issues with both reliability and cleanliness.
If you want to see a detailed comparison of brass versus steel ammo - then you might want to look at the detailed 40,000 round test that Luckygunner performed. You can find it here: “Brass vs. Steel Cased Ammo – An Epic Torture Test”
In addition, here are two great YouTube videos from the Military Arms Channel that discuss the pros and cons, and dispel the myths, about steel case ammo:
The Truth About Wolf Ammo
Wolf Ammo Demonstration
You can see more information about the ammo we use on the Shooting/Ammunition page.
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