The first months with carbine and rifle – from short to long to short

By on 8. March 2015

By Kimu Sensei

In Denmark you can use a rifle when you are in a shooting union and/or during hunting. Looking back I can see that the best solution to the negative political challenges with regards to the POMW Pistol, was that I took a rifle licence, and as the hunting license is a prerequisite for the rifle licence, I had to start with this.

Luckily an Internet-based solution had just been made available, so I signed up for that. Unfortunately I did not manage to practice on getting the license the first 3-4 months, as I was occupied with many trips, the IPSC matches and an incredible amount of reading on the rifle and LRS shooting.

I had signed up for all three compulsory attendance dates within one week, the first two were on the statutory safety and clay pigeon shooting with a shotgun. Unfortunately, it was such that I, just after passing the statutory safety and clay pigeon shooting, had to leave on an emergency trip, which resulted in a not optimal preparation of the third and most important test; theory and practical hunting license test. As I wrote to a friend:

“… I have now both the hunting and rifle licenses. I was somewhat under pressure during hunting test. I got home from a business trip in the morning. When I for the first time opened the hunting book in the afternoon I quickly closed it again when I saw how much I had to remember regarding laws, animals, hunting seasons and so forth. I had some strong coffee and got started. The next day I passed the theory test and hunting test – all in less than 24 hours 🙂 – not to be recommended… “

What I remember most from the hunting test, was that to my surprise that the 40 questions only took 4-5 minutes to answer, that I had zero mistakes. The one mistake I got during the practical hunting test happened like this: the jet lag, my lack of sleep together with a soon-to-be-over hunting test meant that I was a bit too funny 🙂 . So when the hunting expert was to test my depth perception with a startled goose silhouette asked if I was allowed to shoot it with the shotgun, I boldly answered “Oh no, for that one, I will use my pistol!”. The answer ‘no’ was correct, but not the part with the pistol, so without showing any emotions the expert said, without raising his voice; “… One mistake …” and proceeded to the next post. I reconsidered quickly my attitude and position, and went from being a cocky puppy to a true cold-blooded hunter. I passed the hunting test, and concluded that my preparation definitely had not been optimal, and that this would not happen again. But then there’s something else you cannot guard yourself against… 🙂

I now had a suitable rifle and telescopic sight and had been down in the local shooting club to prepare for rifle test. The first time I shot with a rifle, I left the 200 m range with a sore and blue shoulder. I was, however, quite pleased when I in the first series shot Danish second division and in the second series shot Danish 1st division. The second and third time I shot on a 100 m range, with an exceptionally good hunting instructor who quietly went through all of the “do’s & don’ts”. He also trained all of us who were in the process of getting the rifle license. We also practiced for the hunting test was also practiced sometimes for. There were no problems and everyone, including myself, assumed that it would be a mere formality to pass the rifle exam, which was to take place five weeks after hunting license was acquired. But that was not what happened as both fate and hubris to part of the play :-).

When I was about to pack the rifle, before going to Hanebjerg for the rifle exam the breech of the rifle fell on the floor and broke. Since I did not know how to reassemble the breech, I drove up to Hanebjerg and on the way I chased everyone, hoping that someone could help me. Several people tried, but with no luck. When it was my groups turn to be called out for the rifle exam, a 150 kg heavy man being responsible for the riffle exam took my riffle and pressed the bottom piece into a park bench, after which he handed the rifle back to me saying that it worked now – unfortunately it did not. Here follows my story to a friend;

“I failed at the rifle exam today for the following reasons (all of which occurred during the test – there had been small problems before the exam):

1). The breech could not be carried forward and locked. 1. This I got fixed, so that I at least could load the riffle.

2).  3 out of 6 shots were “clickers” (it could not load – but according to the rifle exam this is treated as a “clickers”, and every time I had to get the judges’ attention, wait 20-25 seconds and get a judge’s approval. 2. Overall 1 to 1½ minutes per 2. “clicker”.

3). The third time they wanted to dump me due to a “defective and dangerous weapon”, and that I had not waited the 20-25 seconds before I reloaded. We had a hasty discussion before I was allowed to continue, but by then the time had passed and I could not complete all of my shots. This mean that I only had 4 shots in the centre.

The judges thought that I took it very nicely, and as they said it was not their fault that I met up with a defective new weapon”.

It was something of a defeat, many were surprised and many were in a “genuine Danish manners” joyous! But one should not be put off by some setbacks, but rather learn from it and get better. The following day to took my rifle to repair, and the very same day I made some calls to the people responsible for the rifle exams in Denmark, to see if anybody had cancelled and hence left an opening, since according to the hunting association everything was fully booked. A friendly guy from Sindal in the northern part of Jutland, said that I could just pay the fee and show up for the exam. Five days after I failed the first rifle exam, I passed it without problems.

Since it was my busy period of the year, I put emphasis on reading books and to practice dry firing every day according to my POMW Rifle training schedule, as I aimed to achieve both competence and understanding of what would enable me to fire 5 shots within a 1.25 cm diameter from a distance of 100 m, corresponding to approximately 3 cm at 200 m.

1 May 2012 I got my hunting license, mid-May I began the rifle shooting, 14 June I got my rifle license and by early August, for the first time, I shot 150 points out of 150 possible at a 200 m distance. A few days later I was very fortunate to receive an invitation, through my American network, to participate in a long-distance rifle shooting as the only civilian alongside scout snipers under education, and experienced snipers just back from Afghanistan. I could barely believe my luck, but opportunities like this only comes “once in a lifetime”, as the responsible instructor not just was anyone, but the sniper “boss” himself. So I would either get a few “pat-shot” or I would be tested thoroughly in a very competitive environment where your value is measured according to how well you perform under pressure. Here is directly from an email to a friend:

The coolest rifle experience by far! 3½ hours and 150 shots from long distances. I was traveling on business, but knew that I had to stick around, so I came to the US the evening before – a day earlier than anticipated. I was at my first training session in long distance shooting. There were not that many team members, only from XXX and YYY. The leading sniper Chief instructor  welcomed me with the following words “Welcome to the best shooting weather, which is the worst shooting weather”! I thought that the weather was fantastic, but a strong wind was blowing from all directions. I got to fire 15 shots with a new .338 before we found out that it was not sufficiently interposed when shooting from a distance of more than 500 meters – 550 yards. So I had to borrow an LRS rifle from the sniper chief instructor. A SOF sniper instructor, who is also a trained physiotherapist and very sympathetic, thought it was so cool that I could shoot and remain humble at the same time, that he gave me some really useful advices about shooting positions, that worked out from the first try. The sniper chief instructor boss fixed my parallax problem and gave me quite a few tips from the real world. It went just like I like it; when you shoot, you shoot, when you are being educated you are being educated and when you are having fun, you really enjoy yourself, by having fun.

The sniper chief instructor acted as both my teacher and my spotter – and you were quite right – he is amazingly good and really sympathetic man at the same time. I was really pleased afterwards, as I could not have done any better. I have been honest about this just being my second time with long distance shooting, with 37 pot-shots and 4 times in total 188 hunting rifle shot, with the Sauer, of which the longest distances were 100 and 200 meters.

So I could almost taste it, when the sniper  chief instructor was about to test me. I think, however, that it went well, as he continued for 3.5 hour, and subsequently a SOF sniper instructor was friendly enough to say “… that went very well … it is as rare to see a new shooter, (and here he laughed)… perform headshots from a 600 meters – 660 yards distance in his first shot, and then quickly empty the magazine and shoot the round steel target down… “. When I asked him if it was good he burst out laughing. Damn ZZZ, I had nothing to compare with – so now I hope that I have not embarrassed you – but I sure as hell did my best.

The last half hour was one long “shooting arcade” with identifying targets and commands; shot over 800 metrers – 880 yards on 40 x 60 goals, continuous shots at a red cirlcle/watermelon as fast as I could (until it was shot down ) at 485 meters – 540 yards, quick repetition without moving the head from the telescopic sight of four goals in 455 meters – 500 yards, hidden targets, disappearing targets out to 785 meters – 880 yards (wood and branches moving in the wind, so you needed to time our shots) and fast adjusting of the telescopic sight according to the spotters orders. I hit everything I aimed at only needing one try during this final session. Otherwise it was like this out to about 700 meters – 770 yards for all 3.5 hours. Sometimes I needed one more attempt, as the wind went crisscross (this was what I have learned most from – I could even see it in the telescope). But I could not have done better.

Afterwards I had a really good talk with the SOF course chief instructor, the SOF sniper instructor 1 and SOF sniper instructor 2. They were interested in hearing where, and from whom I had learned to shoot like this, what my background was as they had thought, that I was a former Danish SOF sniper! and not just a martial arts great grandmaster with civil background. When they heard who had taught me how to shoot a pistol, they laughed out loud and said that now they understood, and I could sense that they relaxed, and that I suddenly I was accepted. As a farewell, I got a new invitation to at least 1, but probably 2 days, whenever it would fit in. The sniper chief instructor said that he knew only one way and it was XXX’s way, as it always work, anytime, anywhere in the world, and I gratefully accepted this offer.

I was really happy when I drove back to the hotel.. I did not know how well it went, and what the requirements are, since I am “Bambi on thin ice” with nothing to relate to, but I could not do any better that day, so THANK YOU!

On Sunday I got the following feedback from the sniper chief instructor: “…. It was a pleasure to be with you. You are able to acquire instruction and skills very quickly “. So naturally I was pretty pleased.

PS I am not quite sure about the distances as an instruction of 200 m – 220 yards from the sniper “boss”, as it seemed more like something close to the double distance comparing to the shooting clubs. I did see an exchange of looks between the sniper chief instructor and the sniper instructors when he gave out his commands. But if they are more or less fitting, I estimate that I now, with 99.9% certainty, can hit most targets out to about 700 meters – 770 yards with a first hit with a .338. This is probably something that most shooters can do, but for me it was pretty cool to translate theory into practice and see that it worked! But my SOF chief instructor in POMW Pistol was also pretty sure that I would do very well as I already shoot with a pistol at a good level”.

I got a lot of exercises from the sniper chief, which I have trained every day, through dry firing and practical training with regular hunting rifle, caliber 6.5 and 308W. At the same time, I also got the theoretical stuff into place and learning from others’ successes and failures, which meant that I came closer and closer to forming the POMW LRS essence. Of the more than 200 books I have read during the POMW project, approximately 60% of them referred to LRS and all its ingredients.

At the same time, I also got to participate in the first rifle matches, which to my surprise went really well. In the US there is a difference between pistol and rifle shooters, but certainly not as big as in e.g. Denmark. In large parts of the US, weapons are a natural part of their lives, as written in the US Constitution – for better or for worse. As with pistol shooters, there is also a difference in competences between “range shooters” and “practical shooting” shooters, who also are range shooters. In the United States, however, the differences in disciplines and competences are recognizes. The same is also true for rifle shooting. It is divided into range shooters up to 300 yards, up to 600 yards and then the LRS shooters, of which the terrain ELRS (Extended) are conceived as mythical and mysterious shooters. The ELRS are either SOF military personnel, Black ops. shooters, or are shooters with connections to either of them, persons researching them are former SOFs or Black ops. I have shot in all disciplines and with them all through intensive courses, and I have been very lucky with doors opening, confidentiality and trust, and with invitations to train with and be trained by some of the very best within their disciplines. To my own surprise, I have also done really well here.

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