Apparently I need to clarify something so let’s take a moment to talk about what I AM and what I’m NOT because some of these social media companies don’t get it.

I’m the guy practicing archery in the backyard wearing cut up left over camo pants and a t-shirt while shooting a second hand bow. I’m NOT Instagram famous with a closet full of new hunting camo and this years new bow someone sent me to “promote”. There ain’t no production company here, just me and a iPhone.

Half the time I don’t have a clue what I’m doing on here much less a “social media strategy”. I share my story because the things I post make me smile, might help someone trying to learn or because I want to! Not because I think I’m anything special or want to be Instagram famous.

More than once I’ve thought about deleting social media because 90% of it is contrived BS by failed strippers with daddy issues and “gun fighters” who somehow got lost on the way to the recruiters office during the last decade plus of war. Then I remember this is MINE and I don’t owe anyone anything. I can post about how my son makes me a better man, share precision rifle training pics or talk about the fact that archery gives me chance to meditate and decompress.

Social media “likes” don’t equal respect and they don’t pay my bills. So here’s a quick tip if you’re following me and happen to be a social media company. I’m a little bit red neck, a somewhat reformed knuckle dragging trigger puller and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay you to “promote my brand on Instagram”. I’m just another guy trying to be a better man each day, do what I love and avoid looking like a complete jack ass most times.

The other day I noticed a novice shooter on a forum ask for some recommendations on a good entry level precision rifle. He had a $1200.00 budget and wanted feedback on Remington 700’s vs Savage production rifles. After noticing someone recommending a Mosin Nagant and saying “Ask Vasily Zaytsev…” as justification for why a Mosin was a good choice in 2015 I decided to step in. Has the Mosin put plenty of bad guys in the dirt? Yes. No argument there. Is it a realistic choice in 2015 for a shooter interested in long range precision rifle? No.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard guys say “Well MY _____ rifle shoots sub MOA all day long with any ammo!” as if that singular example makes up for all the other testimonials why that brand suffers from quality control issues or other problems. I encourage novice shooters to look for performance trends, not exceptions. I also tell them that 9 times out of 10 they need to ignore what they read on the internet or what Joe Bob says at the local gun store. Until you can verify what someone is basing their opinion on I would recommend taking it with a grain of salt. The end result of the conversation was a simple recommendation to get out and train instead of asking a bunch of random strangers online for their opinion on a rifle.

The best place to see what works and why it works is a training class or a competition. Both typically have a high round count for a short period of time which tests the shooter and the equipment, they are geared to focus you towards efficiency and evaluating your performance under stress. That’s going to give you a good idea of what works in a very short time. I’ve supplied students in the past with loaner rifles from Ashbury Precision Ordnance Barrett Firearms and Surgeon Rifles so they can see firsthand what matters and what doesn’t. I also encourage students to “test drive” each other’s rifles during classes so they can see the difference between various manufactures. If a rifle starts to malfunction I’ll use that as a learning point and show the class what they want to be aware of and try to avoid.

Beg borrow or steal (ok maybe not steal but you get the general idea) whatever you’re interested in buying before making the investment in a rifle or optic that doesn’t meet your needs. By hitting the range with other shooters at a competition or attending a class you get the opportunity to see firsthand how something performs and more than likely see why some things should be avoided. If you’re interested in hitting the range and seeing what some of the top shooters in the nation are using organizations like the Precision Rifle Series, National Rifle League and the 3 Gun Nation  Long Range Division all make it easy for new shooters to get first hand experience with what works and why.

I’ll take first hand experiences over Joe Bob’s “expert” opinion any day.

When I was deploying I was constantly searching for a good load bearing solution. I wanted a chest rig that allowed me to carry everything I wanted, was easy to pull mags from and didn’t interfere with shooting from the prone or alternate positions. I tried a lot of options but couldn’t find exactly what I wanted.

Last year I picked up 2 Velocity Systems/Mayflower R&C chest rigs and decided to run one as a dedicated LR loadout and one for 5.56 carbine use. The Gen V UW Chest Rig Split front is the closest I’ve seen to exactly what I wanted and the surprising part is it’s not intended as a dedicated precision rifle rig. The modular design allows me to swap between FN SCAR 17 mags, Magpul Industries Corp. AR10 mags, and with some adjustments I can run AI style .308/6.5C 10 round steel mags. Additionally I can carry a Terrapin LRF, Kestrel Ballistics device, med kit, multi tool, basic survival / emergency items, a flashlight, pistol mag and there’s still room for note taking materials, snacks and a water bottle. Basically everything I would need for a short term patrol, back country day hunt or a precision rifle class.

I can unzip the front and easily drop to the prone position or alternate positions without it interfering and it’s small enough I can stow it in a backpack with room for a jacket or wet weather gear. It’s a slick setup that has earned a permanent place in my go to gear list at this point. If you’re looking for something similar I’d definitely recommend taking a look at it.

 

Instructor Demos: Some do and some don’t. I’ve always preferred to demonstrate the techniques I teach. It’s how I was brought up as a young NCO in the Army and I feel it’s the most effective way to show students what I want them to accomplish. It’s also “free reps” for me to practice the fundamentals or specific techniques that I may have missed in my last practice session.

As a instructor I’m never above the fundamentals and it’s just as important for me as anyone else… possibly more so since I want to avoid mistakes while teaching. Will they happen? Of course! I’ve missed, flinched and forgot to check the dope on my gun before and I used it as a teachable moment. No one is perfect, despite what their YouTube or IG videos may lead you to believe.

I hope students coming to my classes aren’t there to watch me shoot, instead they’re there so I can help THEM shoot better. But it’s still important to show them I use the same techniques and how they enable me to perform better each day.

For more info on upcoming classes email me at awilson@aporiflecraft.com or visit aporiflecraft.com

 

Almost 2 years ago Alexandra I Wilson and I were packing up to leave the NRA Whittington Center where we had been teaching to head out on a new adventure. We decided to snap a quick photo on a back country trail. We stood side by side holding hands with packs on our backs and rifles at our sides. I wanted a photo showing how we were ready for whatever adventure came next and we would conquer it together. We didn’t know it yet but Alex was pregnant with Gunnar, our first child.

This weekend we took a new photo. The three of us standing side by side and walking down a trail. Being a father is the greatest adventure I could ever have. I’ve spent 19 years as a Soldier. I’ve gone to war, lead men in combat and trained a new generation of warriors. None of that compares to seeing my son walking on a trail beside me learning to embrace adventure.

I know I couldn’t ask for a better partner than my wife. I also know we are still prepared for wherever that trail leads us and we can conquer any adventure we face. Anything is possible with a rifle or bow in hand, a pack on your back and family beside you.

 

The first time I was introduced to a shot timer was 2006 during a Viking Tactics Inc. carbine course. My Brigade CSM brought in the VTAC crew to teach all the junior NCOs how to effectively run ACOG’s and Aimpoint M68’s. it was a great illustration of how you can quantify your performance and build a plan to improve.

Over a decade later I’m still using shot timers to teach and track training progress. Despite what you may have heard on YouTube a shot timer is for more than just sub second pistol shots. It’s a great tool for precision rifle work when you’re working on skill development. During class I’ll teach the fundamentals, allow students to progress through a couple drill and then put them on a timer. When that beep goes off guys tend to forget what they should be focusing on and rush to make shots. The shooters who ignore the clock, focus on executing the fundamentals typically get better results with a comparable time. Rushing to take a shot at 100 yards and missing doesn’t prove anything. Shooters can also see how improving their technique allows them to get in and out of positions or manipulate the rifle more effectively and get a better time.

None of this is new and it’s the same reason we use a shot timer while training with a pistol or a carbine. The only difference is we are changing the platform and extending the range. Shot timers are also handy when you want to encourage some friendly competition for the purposes of bragging rights.

 

Last week I was talking with the President of Ashbury Precision Ordnance MFG about all things hunting and he asked the question “Where do you go if you want to learn to hunt?”. The idea being most of the outdoorsmen we both know learned to hunt from their Father, Grandpa or other family members. Gather around the fire at hunting camp and you’ll typically hear stories about hunting being a skill that’s passed down from generation to generation.

What happens if you don’t have that opportunity and you find yourself wanting to learn later in life? The answer I generally get is “I read about it, I watched every hunting show I could and eventually I just went into the woods and started doing it.” There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to successfully hunting wild game but that’s one reason Outfitters and guides are a popular resource for new hunters. You don’t have to go it alone, you can work with a guide to increase your chances of a successful hunt and to see what works in the woods. Another option may be attending a professional guide school to learn in a “classroom environment”. I haven’t had the chance to talk to anyone who’s gone that route but it’s something I’m curious about doing… might as well put that GI Bill to use!

I find myself using many of the skills I learned in the Army as a Sniper when I head into the woods as a hunter. I also fall into the group of guys who read and watch every hunting resource I can find. I’ve become a huge fan of Steven Rinella – MeatEater because he’s a great story teller but he also takes a easy to understand approach to demonstrating the hunting skills he’s sharing. If you haven’t checked out his book “Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Game” I HIGHLY recommend it. The Meateater series can also be found on Netflix and YouTube. Steve does a great breakdown on skinning and butchering white tail in one video. Paying for a tag, pulling a trigger and killing a buck is the easy stuff… harvesting the meat and putting it to good use afterwards isn’t something you know intuitively. Other good resources are Gritty Bowmen and the Pro Staff classes Cabela’s frequently offers.

So now Morris has me all curious, how’d you learn to hunt?

 

Shooting isn’t always about tactics or training to be a DELTA/ SF/ Seal team 12 secret squirrel commando. For most of us it’s a way of life that we love and a way to put food on the table.

Before I became a Army Sniper I was a hunter. Before I carried a rifle in war I was a kid learning to shoot .22 rifles at deer camp. I grew up listening to the stories my uncles shared of tracking, working the ranch and hunting deer in TX. Shooting and guns weren’t “tactical” or “defensive weapons”. They were tools and part of our way of life.

I think it’s easy to get wrapped up with how “tactical” or #OAF you should be and we forget to embrace shooting as what it is. A way of life that lets you build great memories and enjoy yourself. One of the things I love about the Ashbury Precision Ordnance Riflecraft classes is the fact that we aren’t focused on being tacticool or operators. The classes are designed for you to learn marksmanship skills, have fun and create great memories with family and friends. To let a father watch his son learn to shoot and the value of his rights as a American.

Right now the best moments in life are getting to sit with my 9 month old son on my lap and spot targets as his mom hammers them with her rifle. As he gets older I’ll teach him to shoot, hunt and enjoy the freedoms we have as Americans. It won’t be so he’s “tactical”, it’s so he learns the way of life Alexandra I Wilson and I love.

 

Picked up a Sig Sauer P320 in trade since all the cool kids are getting them now that the Army announced it was picked to replace the M9. So far I’ve only put 250 rounds through it but I will say this… I like it a hell of a lot more than the M9. I’m still breaking it in so I haven’t made any final judgements but I think the grip is a massive improvement over the M9 and a Glock.

I’m running a compact with the medium grip and the grip fits and points better than either gun. I find myself rolling my support thumb onto the take down lever and using it like a “go fast pedal” on a race gun. The trigger feels better than a stock Glock out of the box and I like the built in “dry fire mechanism” or the ability to reset the trigger without having to rack the slide each time. With that said I’m still planning on picking up a Gray Guns trigger as a upgrade since there’s room to improve.

I’m seeing good results as far as accuracy but I’ve primarily been working inside of 15 yards and running ball ammo. I’d like to see what it’s capable of at 25 with quality ammo.

Things I don’t like… I’m not a fan of the factory sights. But one of the first upgrades I do to any gun is swap the sights for a setup that lets me get a more precise sight picture. I typically run a fiber optic front and a 10-8 Performance or Way of the Gun all black rear sight on my handguns. Looks like the Dawson rear and a fiber optic is currently the only similar setup for the 320 so I’ll swap that out after breaking it in.

Overall it’s definitely got my attention as a non Glock option and I’m looking forward to running it more. If I can beat on it and it performs I can see switching to the compact P320 as a concealed carry. #thearmymayhavefiguredsomethingoutfinally

 

Question for you, when you sign up for a precision rifle course do you expect to spend the majority of you time as the shooter, do you look forward to learning how to spot and call corrections or are you surprised if the instructor splits you into shooter / spotter teams? More than once I’ve heard students say they don’t own a spotting scope or they don’t know how to effectively spot for another a shooter. During precision rifle courses I try to split students into teams so they can take turns as a shooter or a spotter. This encourages each student to learn MIL/MOA corrections first hand and develop a eye for spotting impacts and calling corrections. While it can be frustrating as you start to learn it’s a invaluable skill in the long run. Students had the opportunity to see the importance of shooter / spotter communication and calling effective corrections during last weeks Ashbury Precision Ordnance Riflecraft course. More than once I saw spotters get every bit as excited as the shooter when a team made a good correction and got a hit at extended ranges.