Operation Bigfoot - Alaska Precision Rifle Training
Operation Bigfoot - Day 4
Posted by Frank Galli on Tuesday, June 9, 2015
As some may or may not know, back in the day I served as a USMC Scout Sniper with STA 1/2. At the time of my entrance into the sniper platoon, my Platoon Sgt was Marc Taylor. Hard Charging and known to lead by example, he was most responsible for forming the mindset that later carried me towards the precision rifle side of things.
Marc currently lives in Anchorage and operates Wiggy's Alaska there. (http://www.wiggys.com/clothing-outerwear/wiggys-alaska/) Every year I see Marc at SHOT Show in Las Vegas, and this year he suggested I come to Alaska to teach precision rifle class. Explaining to me there was a void in this type of instruction, I immediately agreed and told Marc to get the ball rolling and I would be there. A few short months and 36 students later, we were ready for a precision rifle class.
Traveling to Alaska is like going to a another country. It's pretty unique in several ways, but coming from Denver it's just a single non-stop flight. I was looking forward to the trip as the only time I had been to Alaska was during our flights to Okinawa as Anchorage was our stop over.
The plan in motion, Marc secured a 1000 yard range just outside Talkeetna AK. The Upper Susitna Shooters http://susitnashooters.org/ (http://susitnashooters.org/) recently added a 1000 yards to their range. Along with a nice classroom use we were ready to go.
Upper Susitna Shooters
This was to be a very different class for me, and I say that in a good way. Not a lot of the rifles and equipment we use in the lower 48 has made it up to Alaska. These guys are all seasoned hunters, and most of their equipment is geared towards that way of thinking. Here when I teach a class it's mostly focused around a PRS Match. Custom tactical rifle in calibers 6.5mm or below. Today, those would be in the minority. Everyone is shooting large caliber magnums usually some variant of a .30. For a precision rifle class that is a lot of punishment, and a lot or recoil. With the hunting style rifles you also have much thinner barrels, so sustained shooting could be an issue. I was looking forward to challenge.
It had to be at least a year or two since seeing one or more top feeding rifles in one of my classes. Here we had a majority of top feeders. It's just amazing the variety of rifles, so it's upon me to address this in a way that benefits the owner. I cannot default to, "well we do it this way", I have to get the students proficient with their equipment. I am happy to say they all stepped up to the plate.
We divided the students into two classes and tried to pair them up so we can shoot eight on the line, and give their partner an opportunity to spot for each other. This was a great learning opportunity for all. The winds were light, but enough to move the bullet at distance. As we because the range is cut into the heavy timber, you had extremely tricky winds. It was more than just a left favor, it could change on a dime for any given shot. I will also say, Alaska is the one place where the weather will truly change on a dime. We had outstanding conditions throughout the classes, but that means we had everything from sun to rain and help demonstrate the challenges of shooting a precision rifle at distance.
We identified some long standing issues, and worked to correct them and that is what class is all about. Making the students shoot better. It's tough when you see a buy a popular video out there, and what you see is not put in context. It creates it's own set of problems.
With a combination of paper and steel targets, we tried to balance the information as this was like opening up a firehose on them. They absorbed it like a sponge and each hour we saw improvement. I was truly happy with the results. We had guys on target who never dialed a scope before.
I want to give a special shout out to Jason from Targets USA, he provided all the steel we used, and it really helps a class to have variety in your target package. If you are in AK and need some steel targets, here is his website Targets USA (https://www.facebook.com/targetsusa)
Day 5 Operation Bigfoot
Posted by Frank Galli on Wednesday, June 10, 2015
A two day class is really a bare minimum, so moving forward we will be offering more instruction in Alaska. We already started signing people up for August.
The whole situation was a success thanks to effort Marc put in to secure a range, as well as accommodations locally. We had a local Bed & Breakfast, the Sheep Creek Lodge Inn provide rooms and food for both breakfast and dinner. (http://www.sheepcreeklodgeak.com/) That makes the class flow really well. We all met at 6AM and ate a hearty breakfast, then at 6PM we returned for dinner. Long days, but it's always 6 O'Clock in Alaska this time of year.
We try to focus on the fundamentals of marksmanship first and foremost. That to me is the foundation of all good shooting. We don't get fancy, we don't teach something propietary, we just try to get them to execute the shot correctly. I put on a 6 hour powerpoint with an eval prior to any instruction. Then we demonstrate what we are lookng to accomplish. After which it is all about fine tuning the shooter to correct their position. if you take anyhting away from the cool pictures, it's about the trigger, Trigger Control is usually the biggest error we see so we need to correct it.
Above we have Marc on the line demonstrating how we want to see each student execute the shot. The other images show just how well that example was followed.
Finally, and most importantly, thank you to Doug at the Range for supporting our efforts. These two classes would not have been successful with out Blair and Chet helping us out. They were great, Blair was tireless as our Range Safety Officer and manager, and A2 Chet was right there helping with the steel and supporting both Marc and Myself. Thank you guys for the hard work.
if you live in Alaska and want more details, we have more classes planned, contact Marc Taylor at Wiggy's Alaska:
8225 Old Seward, A
Anchorage, AK 99518