Ill start by saying this course taught me one very important lesson... I am not as young as I used to be!! That being said Ill go on!
Having never attended any kind of shooting school, with the exception of basic training, I was thrilled when the invitation came to attend this course for Sniper Country and do a review. For those who have never heard of the Bradshaw Pistol Academy let me give you just a very tiny bit of background. Abilene Texas provides the scenery for Mike Herd and his staff of instructors, who have been presenting classes, largely Tactical Handgun, Texas CCW and Tactical Rifle, for about 3 years. The physical layout may not be as fancy and elaborate as some other schools, but hey, what do you want fancy classrooms or range time!! Me, Ill take range time, every time! Currently there are a pistol range, which I must admit I didnt have time to look over, and two rifle ranges, one for distances to 125 meters and the second new range, I believe we where the first class to use this range, with distances to 375 meters. The part of these ranges you come to respect very quickly is the dust! West Texas red dust and dirt gets into and onto EVERYTHING so keeping your weapon and optics clean becomes a concern. And then there is the wind! If you didnt know how to dope at least a moderate wind before you get here you do when you leave! The only time we had winds of less than 10-15 mph was on the night shoot, more on that later. Mike and his crew run one hell of a fine school!
As our lead instructor Chuck Taylor has no equal. Im not here to list all of his many accomplishments so Ill just point you at his web site and let you read up on them yourself. Just suffice it to say he has been there and done that.
We started Day 1 with about an hour and a half of classroom instruction and discussion. We covered, what is urban precision rifle, zero and kit. This was the instruction part. Yes thats all Im going to tell you, if you want all the good stuff take one of Chucks classes!! Now as to discussion we talked about everything from semis vs. bolt guns to use of deadly force to pet loads for .223 and .308 and on and on for a bit.
Then it was time to do what wed all come to do shoot! One thing we all learned real fast was that if something can go wrong it will. One of the shooters had so many problems with rifles he went through three before his last one, a nice "custom" AR in .223, would finally shoot for him. While Im talking about weapons there where several Savages in .223 and .308, two Remington 700's in .308, a Winchester in .308 and a couple of AR/AR clones in .223. The optics ran from Weaver to Tasco to Leupold and a couple of oddballs in between. Another had scope problems, several had feeding problems at one time or another - this was exactly what youd expect from a "tactical" perspective! The old saying, "If something can go wrong, it will", so you had to be prepared for any eventuality, most of us were. Well here we where on the firing line and Chuck asks what our zeroes where. All of us stated we had 100 yd. zeroes so we started at 25 meters to dope our weapons for the shorter distances. We then repeated this same procedure at 50, 75, 100, and 125 meters. By now we where getting our first real taste of west Texas wind that constantly blew 10-15 mph from the west. We also learned that most of our shooting would be done from 125 meters. Now most of us are used to shooting at 100 yds. not meters and throwing in that extra 25 meters doesnt sound like much but change your way of shooting by that much and again you learn fast it does make a difference. By the time wed all done our calculations for these distances the day was over.
Day 2 started bright, clear and again windy so we really didnt have any weather conditions different than the first day, this was OK since our "dope" didnt change. Now we started doing the "real" work. Prone headshots at 125 meters became childs play. Now remember folks this is an URBAN course where most police shootings are somewhere around 75 to 80 meters, so for this course 125 meters was a "long" shot. After everyone was proficient at the "normal" headshots we started half heads coming from behind a barricade. After a while "eyeball" shots where the norm for most. Next we went to the "dont shoot the hostage" drills and again eyeball shots became the norm. Next the most physical part of the class reared its ugly head, different position shooting. Kneeling, sitting and standing to prone are the positions and we went from dry runs on each then to live fire from these same positions. Oh I knew I forgot something, getting into these positions and getting off a shot was TIMED! Three seconds each for kneeling and sitting, five seconds for prone. Now fortunately Chuck didnt make us use headshots, center of mass i.e. chest shots where very acceptable! Chuck took into consideration that some of us "older" students couldnt get into some of these positions. By the time we had done each of these positions about 4 times each it was getting late and suppertime. However our day was not over. After supper we went back to the range for low light and night shooting. Low light is exactly what it sounds like as the sun was setting wed shoot from the prone and do the best i.e. chest or headshots, we could do. This increased the difficulty, with each shooter, as it depended on your optics as to how well you could see and for how long! Also the wind died making our original dope almost useless! Next we started night shooting where you started from the prone then for 2 seconds the light from a vehicle where turned on then off. You had 2 seconds to identify your target and make the shot! Oh this was fun!!! Next we did the same drill but with lights from a light bar, flashing lights etc. Finally about 2030, 8:30pm for you non-military types the day ended. Tired?? Tired was the understatement of the year!!
Day 3 started just like Day 2 bright, clear, sunny and windy, but oh no mother nature decided to mess with us, she made the wind from the EAST when it had been blowing from the WEST all weekend!!! We did some practice getting into our firing positions then onto new material. We learned the way to use a hasty sling then get into our firing positions. After doing this for a while it was time for "long range" shooting. First we shot at 330 meters, we moved back from 300 as we couldnt see the bottom 6 inches of the targets due to a rise in the ground, but back at 330 it was no problem. By the way, all distances where measured using a laser rangefinder. When everyone was done with this drill the shooting line was moved to 375 meters for our longest shooting of the course.
Next we moved back to the 125 meter line where we tried shooting through different sized and shaped openings. No I wont say what size or shape - why spoil the fun!!
Finally the end of the day was a shoot off man against man headshots on steel plates, from the ready prone 4 shots in 5 seconds!! Now unfortunately for me time constraints forced me to leave before the shooting from the 375-meter line so I missed that and the shoot off.
Did I have fun? You bet. Do I recommend Bradshaw Pistol Academy and any course taught by Chuck Taylor? Without hesitation!!! Will I go back again definitely if theyll have me!!!
Id like to thank the
staff and class members for an unforgettable time:
Mike Herd, John Coffey, Andrew The Yuppie Stryker, John Ding, Ken Knox, J.D. Klingenberg, Duane Hufstedler, Mike Tson, and Leslie Simmons and of course Chuck Taylor, Ill see you all again!!!
- Welcome to West Texas (Might just as well be South Africa bushveld!)
- The "large" Gentleman was our host, Mike Herd
- Practicing postition shooting under the tutelage of Duane
- Proline Training's Andrew Stryker prepares to fire his Remington 700 VSSF (LOD stock) from the hood. Range; 125 Meters
- The Classmates
Back Row, left to right: Ken, John, Andrew and John.
Front Row, Left to Right: Chuck Taylor, Leslie, J.D., Mike, Duane.
- Sometimes prone isn't an option!
- 5 seconds to go from standing to shot - NOT a long time!
- Even when prone is an option the area you have to shoot through isn't!