When I released from the reserves in 2008, I made a commitment to myself I would, at a minimum, maintain proficiency at arms to a comparable standard as that when I was in the military.
In hindsight, that was a remarkably low standard to set.
I was a Signals Operator (a Sig), and my radio and comms log were my primary weapon. I was in a combat support trade, not the combat arms.
“Soldier first,” they say, but the Canadian Army Reserves weapons standard for combat support trades was remarkably low (especially by civilian competition standards).
I practiced section attacks during Basic, did the annual qualifier, and even did “Fighting In Built Up Areas” Training (FIBUA) with the Calgary Highlanders one year. But I was still just a sig.
During the FIBUA ex, most of my platoon was killed by OpFor in the kill house. The Infantry 2Lt sent his last section to clear the basement of house and as I stacked up with them, he grabbed me by my manpack radio, saying:
“Not you, sig.”
His section was killed by and IED and we radioed HQ for reinforcements. Some grunts from another platoon cleared the house.
It was good fun.
With the exception of FIBUA, my training with the C7A1 service rifle never required the kind of speed we regularly require with 3-gun shooting.
In the army, when we got trigger time, the emphasis was more on “accuracy,” although even by civilian standards, the level of accuracy expected of a Reserve SigOp was quite low. Going off memory, the grouping component of some PWT’s I ran when I was a Private was best 4 of 5 shots in a 6″ circle on a Figure 11 target at 100 yards, prone, supported with a 3.4x Elcan gun sight.
That roughly equates to a 6 MOA group with 4 out of 5 shots. That’s a standard no serious civilian rifle shooter would accept (with many aspiring to the coveted “Sub-MOA” title). To be fair, the shoulder width of the average adult male is between 17-18″ and a 6MOA performance standard would be enough for a soldier to be capable of point shooting at an adult male up to 300 yards (aiming centre of mass). 5.56 mm terminal ballistics drop off considerably after 150 yards (depending on the barrel and ammunition), so the Canadian military standard wasn’t terribly unreasonable.
Today, I am reasonably confident I could smash the military standard with my Modern Varmint Factory (MVF) and my Trijicon Accupoint dialed to 3.5x magnification. My last range session, just on site-in I shot a supported, 5 round, 0.75″ group at 50 yards using garbage Norinco surplus ammo. That equates roughly to a 3 MOA group.
That’s consistent with my past performance out to 100 yards.
Regardless, as a part of my army training, though, my rifle grip defaults to a pedestal style grip (hand midway back on the bottom of the hand guard). Either that, or I default to a lesson I had from a somewhat famous CalHi (Corporal N.) to do a magwell grip because your arm will fatigue over time, clearing rooms. (I think it was Cpl. N who taught me that.)
My last range session was the first time in 3 weeks I’d fired my MVF, and reviewing the footage, it was apparent how I’m still susceptible to the training scars I developed from the army almost 15 years ago.
I was about 2 hours into my range session. Far from my optimal physical or mental state. I had ran 18 drills through my Roland Twins. My girls were being very cooperative, binge watching Sponge Bob Square Pants in the members lounge at The Shooting Edge. My mind and body weren’t 100% there.
When I picked up my MVF I didn’t think to dry run my technique and sure enough, I defaulted to my army training with the underhanded pedestal grip.
I was usually mid-upper third during my annual qualifications with the army shooting that way, and it’s just the way my mind defaults to when shooting a rifle. It’s also how the players in Counter Strike (the original) held their M4’s.
Regardless, these days, all the rage in 3-Gun and increasingly among military/LE operators is to shoot C-Clamp style.
Personally, with my training scars from the army, it feels awkward and unnatural. Having cleared a house with an airsoft gun recently (intentionally trying the C-Clamp), my arm got too tired within the first 10 minutes and I resorted to just doing the pedestal grip I’m more comfortable with.
That said, from the footage from my last range session, I’m not impressed with my recoil management with my MVF during my controlled pairs. There’s a bit more muzzle rise than I’m comfortable with.
Even with that, from my range session prior, where I did an assessment of the T97 versus the MVF, bringing the gun on target with the T97 felt faster, while the MVF felt sluggish. With the pedestal grip, my support arm has more leverage to bring the gun up than with the C-clamp (where the support arm offers little to no upwards leverage).
Still, reviewing the footage of my last range visit, my recoil management between shots definitely seems off.
In a future range session, I’ll have to do a Hit Factor analysis to assess the performance of both methods to see if there’s improvement one method over the other and if the trade off of better recoil management is worth less leverage in presenting the gun.
I only refer to my classic grip as the “pedestal grip” since I heard it from a video from Jerry Miculek: