Sim-Trainer Intermediate Tactical Rifle Course
I jumped into the tactical rifle world in July of this year with the purchase of my Smith & Wesson M&P 15, and immediately took an introductory training course from Jeff Pedro of Sim-Trainer. Since then, I’ve been shooting several times a month at Sim-Trainer, Spring Valley Gun Range, and most recently at the Miamisburg Sportsmen’s Club – never more than 100 yards in distance. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take Sim-Trainer’s Intermediate Tactical Rifle Course, which is part of their Civilian Training Curriculum. I thought I’d take a moment to summarize the experience and expound upon the topics covered.
The is listed as being four hours long (though our class of about 12 shooters went an hour longer than that…which no one minded) and is held at an outdoor training facility specifically designed for the sort training we were doing.
The course began with some “warm up” exercises shooting three rounds at 25 yards. A key element introduced in the course is the concept of shooting in a prone position – something I had not previously done:
You’ll note in the above photo that unlike myself some of the brighter students had the foresight to bring along a mat along to lay on. Fortunately it was very dry so laying in the grass was no problem at all, but as a suggestion for future classes, Sim-Trainer might want to make mention in their course description that bringing along a mat or blanket would be recommended.
We started “warming up” at 25 yards from the target shooting 3 rounds at a time.
I seemed to grasp the shooting prone concept reasonably well:
Right off the bat, I seemed to be shooting as well or better than most in the class, and one of the instructors said I’d have “no problem shooting at 175 yards” later. While I appreciated the vote of confidence, I was skeptical that I’d be able to see the target at 175 yards, much less hit it with a rifle shot.
Next up came some training exercises which involved both standing and moving. Given the amount of hand gun training and experience I have moving and shooting, I didn’t anticipate this would be much of a problem for me…and it wasn’t really. Just make sure you take your steps both forward and backward in a heel to toe fashion, and refrain from crossing your legs when you move side to side. Here’s a short video showing demonstrations of most of the excercises we covered during this segment:
The final training segment involved shooting from a distance of 175 yards from the target:
Admittedly, it was intimidating at first. But we were given instruction in several techniques which help maintain consistent accuracy. Hand placement of the rifle, feet position when prone, breathing….all combine to reduce barrel movement. At long distances, slight changes in barrel position equate to changes of several inches and even feet in bullet placement.
Here’s my first target shooting at 175 yards:
I was quite astounded (overjoyed even) at this level of performance. My point of aim was directly on the red dot, and the shot placement corresponds directly with standard .223 ballistic performance, given my red dot optic was zeroed to 50 yards. Only two of my rounds weren’t “in the black.” About half the class had zero or very few rounds in the black – so I felt good about my performance.
Here’s my target from our second 10-round shoot at 175 yards:
On this body target, we were instructed to shoot in the large center square (center mass). Taking what I’d learned from the previous attempt, I adjusted my point of aim a couple of inches in hopes of landing shots exactly in the center of the target. Again, I was quite pleased as I had seven rounds land in-square, with two rounds grouping side by side dead center of the target.
Here’s my target from my third and final attempt at 175 yards. Those of us who seemed to doing a bit better were given smaller sized targets. This ended up being my best performance of the session, and I believe about the best in the class:
As I mentioned, I had previously not shot my rifle further than 100 yards, and felt that I was “combat accurate” (meaning I could hit someone somewhere on their body if need be) at that range. With the techniques I learned in this class, I feel it’s well within my ability to deliver head shots out to 200 yards with an unmagified optic.
If you’re in the Southwest Ohio area, and have the opportunity to take Sim-Trainer’s Intermediate Rifle course, I highly recommend it. If I have the opportunity, I’ll likely take it again in the future as it was such a good review of fundamentals and genuinely enjoyable.
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.