Having fun learning


Oleg Volk
April 29, 2007, 12:59 AM
Steve Fisher (http://www.michigantrainer.com) and friends (Barbara, Jim) came to town last weekend. Amish Bill came up from GA. Steve taught a carbine course for me and my friends. I learned quite a few things:

Equipment breaks, carry a backup.
Operator errors multiply with complex gear.
Good ammo and magazines are essential.
Durable and simple works
Complex reticles are too much under stress
Forward grips help to keep heat away from the support hand
Rear pistol grips are essential for rifles
Slowing down to make hits is better than hurrying to miss

Gear opinions:

Suppressors ++
Tango down forward grip +
(New) EOTech +
Aimpoint ++
SLR15 "Commander" +++
Glock +
M&P handgun ++
Magpuls +

Three-point sling -
Same, used as two-point +

Sig 225 - DA/SA transition a problem
SU16CA as a fighting gun - Railed forend MUCH too flimsy, LOP about 3" too much for 6'1" me, charging handle next to hot stovepiped brass when the forend binds the piston, sights too low for co-witnessing, no pistol grip. Suprisingly, no overheating problems and no blowback with suppressors. AR15s have a problem with blowback.

Steve is hilarious -- I've never laughed as much as I did that weekend. He is also a very organized, helpful teacher. He had backup gear, coordinated everything nicely. I learned a lot and so did the others. I took few photos because I was too busy learning. I very much look forward to his pistol course. The class was low-stress but fast-paced. I recommend Steve most highly as an instructor.

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Oleg Volk
April 29, 2007, 01:00 AM
Other participants.

This course reinforces the concept of training and testing gear ahead of time. It is possible to miss with a rifle at almost contact distance and even the most reliable gun can fail or break outright. Fast response is needed, especially at close range. usually, that reponse is with pistol, but would be with a muzzle or bayonet strike. One of the students had an SKS and, with its ten-round blind magazine, it made bayonet drills a reasonable idea.

April 29, 2007, 01:07 AM
wow. no offense to the guy in the under armor. but ya... id advise a t shirt next time

sounds like a good course. i hope to take a carbine course with my EBC/UBC ( evil black carbine/ Ugly black carbine) that said you all can guesse what kind of carbine it is

bill larry
April 29, 2007, 01:11 AM
Thanks for sharing Oleg. What were your thoughts on the guy that brought the SKS? Any trouble keeping up with the EBR's? I'm always interested since thats my carbine platform.

April 29, 2007, 01:21 AM
Sounds like a lot of fun, Oleg. I am going to try to run a .30-30 leveraction through a course to see how it does when I get a chance.

Operator errors multiply with complex gear.

One of the main problems I have with the AR-15 platform is the control complexity/arrangment. Forward assist, charging handle in wierd place, bolt release, etc. I like the AK's arrangment of the safety/selector, the bolt on the right side of the reciever, and the mag release. Three controls in all. The last time I tried shooting an AR-15, I kept fumbling for the controls, or using the wrong ones. An AK just feels natural to me.

Equipment breaks, carry a backup.

Yep, every gun can fail. Even the simpleist break-open shotgun.

Complex reticles are too much under stress

I've always wondered how shooters dealt with optics that showed a lot of stuff like Bullet drop points, etc. I just want a simple red dot that is usable even if the batteries fail.

Durable and simple works

Keep It Simple, Stupid is one of my mottos

April 29, 2007, 09:42 AM
Hoppy - are you referring to the guy in blue with the molle vest? If so, that blue shirt is superior to a regular t-shirt. (It's an Under-Armour clone) Not only did it provide better protection from the sun, but it wicked away perspiration most efficiently. Sure - it looks a little funny... but its comfy.

April 29, 2007, 10:16 AM
The guy with the SKS did a great job..he had some challenges, but used more common sense than most people. He came with the gun he owns and will use for some defense, and without plans to become a ninja, and adapted all the lessons to his own personal situation.

April 29, 2007, 10:48 AM
Remember this,

who cares about what the person is wearing....... or what they look like in it.

its how they did in class and how they ran there gear, what they learned, and what they remember.......

The SKS shooter did well. very well he keep pace just fine. and made due with his real world gear..

avenger i have used a lever guns in class..... it is learning and slow reloading put it can be done... and trust me you will be faster by the time is over.....

as for red dot going down yes it happens........ thats why a lower 1/3 co witness for my irons in the window of the dot is my choice....

April 29, 2007, 10:57 AM
Booners post reminds me of something one of my instructors once told me.
Its more important what you take from a class afterwards than what you bring to it.

Oleg Volk
April 29, 2007, 11:11 AM
What were your thoughts on the guy that brought the SKS?

SKS worked reliably, unlike some higher-$ guns. Down side was the inability to top off the magazine.

April 29, 2007, 12:39 PM
it looks a little funny... but its comfy.

just looks like a jump suit :p with the blue on blue

April 29, 2007, 01:05 PM
thanks for the report.The one thing I might disagree on is that a pistol grip in essential on a rifle.

Barbara is very beautiful btw.:cool:

April 29, 2007, 01:19 PM
The pistol grip, on a FIGHTING GUN is very important.

The PG allows for one handed operation and use of that specfic platform

it allows you you still have control of the gun and use it in non standard firing postions and under and around cover....

it allows you the ablity to contol subjects and a long gun at one time if need be(not ideal but it does happen)

it offers more advantages over a non PG gun in a fighting capcity

April 29, 2007, 02:32 PM
Regarding a levergun in a fighting role, and I say this as my own opinion from my own experience having grown up handling/shooting leverguns. I also agree that an individual gets better and faster with practice. The instructors can see what they agree or disagree with in this.

1- If you don't have to, don't let go of the left hand's grip. If you're right-handed, your left hand stays on the forearm while you reload with your right hand. If you're left-handed, you're left hand stays gripping the grip/lever area while your right hand reloads. You'll be ready to fire a bit more quickly after you shove the last round in the loading gate.

2- If you're left-handed, have your extra ammo on your belt on your right side. Makes it easier to get to with your right hand... right side of belt to right side of receiver. This also means you don't have to change grips and flip the gun over to reload left-handed of the left side of your belt. If you're right-handed, it don't matter whether your extra ammo's on the right side of your belt or in the butt cuff on the right side of the stock.

3- No batteries, no problem. To that end, I'll take a wide aperture or ghost ring rear sight. For low light conditions, make it a high-vis deal.

4- While it's best to aim, I'd say do learn to shoot instictively (focus on your attacker(s) and point your weapon where you're looking... think Chuck Connor but with a lot more realism) because up-close and personal, like in your home in a break-in, you'll have time to point shoot, but you may not always have time to aim. Every situation sets up somewhat differently depending on the thought processes of your attacker(s).

BTW, for my leverguns, I prefer straight grips. To me, they make working the lever easier, but that's just my perception. For a semi-automatic fighting gun, I prefer a grip like the M1 Carbine, Mini-14, or M1 Garand. But if you look back over 2430 posts, you can see I'm not an AR guy.

April 29, 2007, 02:42 PM
I like the pistol grip when it comes to leverguns.

Sounds like installing some XS Ghost rings and having the action slicked up will make my 336 good to go for a class.

April 29, 2007, 09:44 PM

What was it about the SLR that you liked?


April 29, 2007, 09:55 PM
hm. i need to go to a class. how much should i spend on one?

April 29, 2007, 10:05 PM
Especially when used in the connotation of "fighting gun". The fellow with the SKS seemed to do well, and I'd like to think my M14NM would fit into the "fighting gun" role, as would an M1 Carbine, ostensibly "The Carbine" before M4geries became prevalent. Perhaps it boils down to what one is comfortable practicing with? Or do the anti-gunners actually have a valid reason to ban pistol-grip configured autoloaders? :confused:

Pee Ess: Barbara looks exceptionally determined. :D

April 29, 2007, 10:20 PM
the sks did well he is large guy with great strength. we really didnt run to many drills involving support hand only or the likes. the m-1 carbine and garand and m-14 all have been in my classes and have done well except in support hand only shooting (m1a and garand) unless rested on leg or cover to support it, non pg guns have there place for sure,....i was referring more to hunting type guns (if thats all you have then its a fighting gun).

Barb, just completed another carbine class yesterday and ran very hard and well..... kept up with the swat guys in class....... tough cookie she is

April 29, 2007, 10:26 PM
Hey, Oleg,

Where did you shoot?

West Meade

Oleg Volk
April 30, 2007, 02:17 PM
We shot on friend's land.

I think non-PG guns point more naturally...but they are not practical for me for extended fighting use.

SLR15 -- reliable, great trigger, well-balanced. Combination of short Sully stock, 16" barrel and full-length handguards and sight radius made it a winner. I like it better than my previously standard flat top 20". I did put a Sully stock on my 20" also and it helped balance a lot.

I will have to replace the MAD BUIS though -- the one I have folded by itself when the right was slung. Looks like Troy rear is the way to go for all of my rifles (won't fold by itself, windage knob not exposed to accidental contact.

Bartholomew Roberts
April 30, 2007, 11:51 PM
Oleg, I'm curious how you felt about the suppressor for training? What kind of round count did you have on it and how much did it contribute to heat issues? You notice any mirage issues?

Was the new Eotech the new model or just a new unit? If it was the new model, what did you like less about it than the Aimpoint?

Finally, what problems did you have with the 3-point sling? Getting hung up on gear? Obstructing controls/ejection port?

May 1, 2007, 12:04 AM
Completely worthless observation - the "bad guy" targets are what my Dept uses for qualification.
Looks like fun, wish I could have taken my Yugo there, too.

May 1, 2007, 01:09 AM
The Eotechs were early models

as for the 3 point i will let oleg tell you about that, I run and prefer the BFG LAV sling or a single point depending on your needs.

We used several targets those are fun though......

May 2, 2007, 03:13 AM
I was the fellow with the SKS. I walked away with a couple of observations.

1. 10 rounds is not enough in the scenarios we worked. I was at a huge disadvantage in some situations. I could not keep up with the stripper clips at the pace we were working. I had to focus on what I had available to me that worked, rather than thinking about the 20 extra rounds everyone else had. This proved to be important as we progressed. Focus on what you have, not on what you are missing.

2. Topping off an sks is not a smooth operation. You lose a round each time you yank that bolt back, and you lose whatever rounds don't come off the stripper clip. Spending 6 to get 4 is not an efficent use of ammo. The stuff you drop on the ground is worse than useless when you took the time to bring it. This goes back to focusing on what you have, not on what you are missing. Use what you have to the best of your ability.

3. The standard sling on an sks is not long enough for someone my size. I spent a considerable amount of time flailing about in my efforts to hold on to, or sling an empty gun while retrieving my sidearm.

4. The quick transition from rifle sights to handgun sights was disorienting and cost me valuable time in these situations. As I had only 10 rounds in the sks, I pulled my side arm more than anyone else. In the transition and the confusion as to the sight picture, I tended to flip the safety back on for some reason. I have been practicing this manuver and have improved, but still have a long way to go. Again, focus on what you have available. If nothing else sunk in, this did.

5. A pistol grip would have been advantagous in many of the situations Steve made us work. Lacking that option, I had to learn a few new techniques to maintain control of the rifle during transitions. Uh, yeah don't hold on to it in your left hand, while you are trying to bring a side arm into action. That only took me about a dozen tries to see that it doesn't work.....

6. Mindset is the key to survival. Whatever situation you find yourself in, use the tools you have. Gun, no gun, with the right mindset your odds improve dramatically. This was discussed during mag packing and rest periods. The more we discussed it, the more I thought about it during the sessions, the clearer it became to me. Mindset is not being mad or pissed off, it is the determination to make it home again, regardless of the situation. When you think like this, you begin to see what works and what doesn't. Would I try to top off or even reload an sks in close quarters? No. would I use every tool available to me to hinder my opponents objective? Hell yes! A bayonet at 25 yards might look funny, but at 5, it gives me one more option I would not have had otherwise.

6. Mag changes have to be made where you can still see your opponent. Dropping your eyes to focus on a mag change makes you about as dangerous as a B-27 target stapled to a frame.

I watched several guns and a few fancy optics fail in our class, due to heat, repeated battery, and lack of lubrication. The sks never failed me, but again, I had to use my side arm much of the time to make up for the lack of rounds I could put through it. The second day, just to be funny I did slap some axle grease (no kidding) on the rails. I don't think it needed it.

Steve focused on techniques that will improve your odds. I realize that nothing is absoulute in the scenarios we worked and discussed. Steve's repeated efforts to teach us to use whatever we had as effectively as possible took a while to sink into my fuzzy old noggin, but through his efforts, I think I see things in much more realistic light than what I began with.

Overall the class Steve taught made me look closely at my tools, and how to use them effectively. I don't think there is any one answer for every situation, nor do I think you are screwed with an old com-block rifle, or that you have to have a EBR to survive.

Lastly, I walked away with an appreciation for focusing on the tools you will use, not on what others are doing. As we walked through these drills, I first thought of my disadvantage in having so few rounds and the time it takes to reload. By the time we were finished, I focused solely on the tools I had. I used a rifle and ccw rig that did not match the requirements of some of the scenarios. I actually look back and think that was an advantage to me. I had to quickly find solutions to scenarios I was not properly prepared for. I think that constant struggle gave me insight some of the other participants might not have received.

May 2, 2007, 03:34 AM
Oh, yea, one other thing. The sks might not hold as many rounds, but up close it will make for one hell of a bat. Try that with a SU-16. :-)

May 2, 2007, 09:37 AM
Spider - wound up with a bag o mixed brass in my trunk. I'll pass it along to you when I'm back in town.

Familiarity with what you have is a big deal. The batteries died in my old Eotech during a run. I transitioned to pistol then swapped for a spare rifle. In the heat of the moment it never occurred to me that I had a backup rear right mounted. I put it there 'just in case', but having never used it except for initial zeroing, I never thought to flip it up.

Paying attention to your supplies and spares is good too. I happened to have a spare pack of the special batteries it takes in the car. When I swapped them out that night - dead. Inspection of the packaging revealed a disturbing fact. They were stamped "Best if used by Jan". Right under that -- "2003" Grrr....

Bartholomew Roberts
May 2, 2007, 10:05 AM
Uh, yeah don't hold on to it in your left hand, while you are trying to bring a side arm into action. That only took me about a dozen tries to see that it doesn't work.....

Spider John, what wasn't working for you with that? I am curious because while I've never tried it with an SKS, I use pretty much the same technique with ARs and I haven't run into any problems yet. Is the SKS just too big to wrap your paw around the forearm? In any case, I'd be interested to hear more so I can learn from your experience instead of learning later on my own :)

May 2, 2007, 12:18 PM
Oleg, can you give us some more observations on the SU-16? I'm in ********** and evil black/pistol gripped guns are a no-no to purchase. I picked up a SU-16CA and have been very pleased with it. Just curious if you used it through-out the entire shoot and how it held up?

May 2, 2007, 12:35 PM
I have GOT to find a way to set aside some time and money to take a few courses like this. Okay, I'll be the guy messing around with an SKS or a lever action .30-30 but like the man said, learn what you have.

Oleg Volk
May 2, 2007, 12:43 PM
SU16CA and 16C. C fold up better but the grip is uncomfortable, esp. when firing from prone position. CA stock is better but much too long for me (I am 6'1" and the stock would have to be chopped by 3", which is hard to do with hollow plastic).

With the standard forend, 16CA is a fine, reliable gun. I did not have overheating problems. It did not have blowback with suppressor (which is why I considered it as a viable alternative to the AR15 which does). Iron sights windage adjustment is a little clumsy, but they work well enough. Balance is good. Lack of pistol grip is still a handicap.

Compact forend is trash. It is flimsy, flexes enough to bind the gas piston!
Trigger is rather heavy and the safety is ill-placed.
I guit using the gun about an hour into the course because I felt it would likely break. I used the 16C version previously without such problems -- the faults were all in the forend.

Overall, I liked SU16 better than Mini14.

May 2, 2007, 02:17 PM
Good to see some others got to take part in the Steve experience. You guys should come up here some time.

May 2, 2007, 02:21 PM

I NEED to do this class too. I will be one of the guys there with an SKS, or M-1 Carbine. Probably the Carbine as I have one in a synthetic stock. Drool.

Got any contact information for this guy?


May 2, 2007, 02:56 PM

May 2, 2007, 03:32 PM
i have been saving up the money to go to a tactical carbine and or pistol class for the last year or so. ive had the money twice now, but i put off the trip to buy another rifle/pistol/etc. i finally raised the money again, and i got called up 2 days ago to go to iraq may 20...lol. too late i guess. i will deffinetly have to enroll in a class when i get home. untill then i guess i will just have to rely on what ive learned from my drill sgts/team leaders.

i guess this should be a lesson to me, i shouldnt have put off something as vital and important as good training.

May 2, 2007, 10:17 PM
My hands are large enough that holding onto the rifle was not the problem. The trouble with holding onto an empty rifle is that it ties up a hand, a hand I might desparately need to reload the pistol. The technique that worked, or worked better than standing there holding a 9 pound brick, was to drive my left arm in to the sling from the left side and swing the butt of the rifle up to my shoulder with my right hand. this left me with the rifle should I find the time to reload it again, and freed up both hands to continue the fight. Again (Steve's repeated mantra here), use the tools you have to the best of your ability. I was tired when I wrote what I did last night and I rambled a bit, but I think the main point of the class was to think through as much of this as you can on the front side. You are gonna fail if you do your thinking for the first time when the SHTF.

May 2, 2007, 11:00 PM
I think the main point of the class was to think through as much of this as you can on the front side. You are gonna fail if you do your thinking for the first time when the SHTF.

Yeah, I remember the first time somebody asked me how you do a tap-rack-bang drill if one hand is out of action :eek: . Now I know a couple of different ways but that one really set me back at the time.

Oleg Volk
May 2, 2007, 11:07 PM
One thing that the common firing line precludes is the use of the gun barrel (hot!) as an impact weapon...

May 3, 2007, 08:03 AM
thanks for sharing, and posting the review of the weapon. sounds like fun and a great trainning course.

Bartholomew Roberts
May 3, 2007, 09:54 AM
The trouble with holding onto an empty rifle is that it ties up a hand, a hand I might desparately need to reload the pistol.

OK... I had not run into that problem because I use the 17rd CDNN mags in my pistol in training and I usually have the rifle on a single point. I can see where trying to reload a pistol with an SKS in one hand would be a tough manipulation. Thanks for the input - I probably wouldn't have figured it out on my own until I ran the pistol dry with a rifle that didn't have a sling.

May 3, 2007, 01:11 PM
Mindset is not being mad or pissed off, it is the determination to make it home again, regardless of the situation.

note to self: remember this

May 3, 2007, 10:42 PM
Spider john did a great job.

I made sure to run up the round counts a bit when i saw his gear, single stack 1911 and sks (10 rounder). I did this later in the day after basics were down.

I wanted to push him and his gear to the fullest and to make sure he got the most out of it. and really had a chance to run his choices...... and he did th emore pressure applied he rose up and did well..... he thought, he fought and he learned..... that is key.....

he ran his gear and ran it often the applied pressure of faster moving drills made him think and act faster...... and he did.

I tell you what, i wil lbe willing to put on a THR only class some were central or here in michigan full 2 day class if you guys think its worth it to you

May 3, 2007, 10:58 PM
I tell you what, i wil lbe willing to put on a THR only class some were central or here in michigan full 2 day class if you guys think its worth it to you
i would love to do something like that! definetly worth it!

May 4, 2007, 05:26 PM
I'd definitely go. Booner, any of your students show up with a Kalashnikov variant, and if so, how did they do? (All my AR variants are 20" barreled) :confused:

May 4, 2007, 05:55 PM
Too bad Michigan frowns on my SBRs. I guess I'll just have to bring something FA if I want a nice, short barrel. :-)

May 4, 2007, 10:07 PM
Different guns I've seen at Steves classes were Cetme's, FAL's, AK, AR, M1A, M1 carbine, and I'm sure there are more I can't think of right now. How well they did didn't have much to do with the gun. Either you have your head in the fight, or you don't. Bottom line is, use the rifle you plan on using for SHTF. You aren't impressing anyone by showing up with a fancy gun, that runs like crap. If all you have is a lever gun, bring it. You will be better off with what you actually own, than if you borrow a "cool" gun that you don't own.

May 4, 2007, 11:18 PM
Thanks for the admonishment, I guess. I am seriously humbled after asking what I thought was an innocent question. :o

I mentioned the AK since I retired from the military last year after 20 years of yearly M16/M38/M9/M1911 qualifications, and was not impressed with my issued M16 experiences.

Now that I'm no longer an indentured servant, and capable of making my own choices, my go-to gun has become the infamous-but-reliable AK, from Y2K scare to hurricane looters and evacuations to bedside HD gun. It may torque some to no end, but I practice with it, I've successfully hunted with it, and continue to depend on it when needed. Had I not left Florida, I was scheduled to attend Sonny Puzikas' training in Sarasota. (I still may) If Booner will tolerate such a poseur amongst his Michigan guests, I'd like to attend and bring my HD/SHTF gun...

May 5, 2007, 03:08 AM
I did not intend to slam you. Please accept my apology. We get guys new to ACTS all the time worried about if they have cool enough stuff for the matches. You also see guys taking classes, for the wrong reasons. They don't have there head in it, and it shows. Just bring what you own, and you will figure out what works.

May 5, 2007, 04:06 AM
Now that I'm no longer an indentured servant...

G'98, congrats on that. ;)

Me? I guess I'd be in Mustanger98's levergun camp.
(Supplemented up close by the 870P.)

Indeed, use what you've got and "have fun learning".


May 5, 2007, 06:12 PM
Hey Nem, the levergun camp and 870 camp are nearly one and the same. I'm about in both... I understand you are too (already having a 336? as well as planning for the 1895G).

Bartholomew Roberts
May 5, 2007, 06:29 PM
I always thought levergun at a gun school would be a fun experience until I tried to run a Winchester 94 at an informal 3-gun shoot. That particular rifle's loading gate wore my fingers raw. I have a lot more respect now for Ashley Emerson's story in SWAT where he took a levergun to a carbine course and ran it for three days.

May 5, 2007, 08:57 PM
...already having a 336? as well as planning for the 1895GM'98, yes, I own a new 336A (haven't even got the XS GRs sighted yet, let alone broken in), and am now officially going to add an 1895. The latter might take a while - summer is my financially stressed time, so won't be until at least next fall.

Interestingly, my original desire was for the 1895G. I was drawn to its short carbine barrel, and of course it's similarity to my 336 (and 39A, even though the similarity there is less). But I was not so hot on the straight stock (I'm just a pg guy).

Someone (Mo, also a 336 owner) in the ".45-70 for deer" thread (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=3367733#post3367733) pointed out that the full-sized (longer barrel) 1895 has a pg stock, and that I could just have it cut down (like I plan to do for at least my 39A, and perhaps the 336, but not sure about the latter).

Well, that just did it for me.

Part of my motivation for all lever rifles is consistency in action. Practicing with one is like practicing with all of them. I hope that pays off for me someday in training classes like being discussed here. (And, working those levers a lot, even during empty practice, will help build up callouses to help prevent the kind of injury that Bart writes about above ... :uhoh: )

Of course, my rifles are hunting rifles primarily, but in a pinch, they could turn SD.


May 5, 2007, 10:02 PM
Gewehr98, you and what ever gun you choose to run is more than welcome,

BH2000 says a few good things

head in the fight and know your gear.....

May 5, 2007, 10:05 PM
I plan to. Firing up the Dillon this weekend for a thousand or so extra rounds of 7.62x39, as I speak! :D

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