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Old 09-17-2012, 07:00 PM   #1
Serbonze
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AAR: Paragon 6 Applied Carbine I

Class: Applied Carbine 1
Instructor: Stony Smith with Paragon 6 Consulting
Host: Rocky Creek Ranch
Weather: 90s and sunny, wet

Instructor
Anthony “Stony” Smith has 7 plus years as an Army Infantry Airborne Ranger in addition to 6 plus years in Iraq doing PSD. He has multiple hours of shooting instruction for his own classes in addition to working as an Assistant Instructor for Ken Hackathorn and Larry Vickers. Stony has also been named as a Vickers Regional Endorsed Instructor.

Location
Some of you may read posts about this facility before. Rocky Creek Ranch is located in Myakka City, which is about an hour and a half south of Tampa. It is a 1500 acre private ranch with three separate ranges and several unique ecosystems. A tour of the property takes you from prairie to swamp, to forest. As a shooting facility, it is unique as they offer to the opportunity for the shooter to stay on the property in one of several different locations (lodge, bunkhouse, or camping) and meals are generally included (breakfast, lunch, dinner).

Gear
BCM 16” Middie Upper with 12” Centurion Rail and Battle Comp 2.0
BCM Lower
Eotech XPS2 / Troy front and rear BUIS
MS3 Sling
VTAC Battle Belt with HSGI pistol and rifle pouches
Glock 19 with Trijicon HD sights (orange front)

I left from work on Friday night, as I wanted to arrive early to get unpacked and a good night sleep. Arriving on Friday also allows a shooter to meet the fellow students and instructor prior to your first time on the line. I’m a rather introverted person, so I’m usually a little timid in situations where I meet a bunch of new people. However, since I’ve been at Rocky Creek Ranch enough times to have developed a friendship with the owner Chris Baden, and I was already familiar with Stony since this is my second class with him, Friday felt more like a few friends getting together and discussing firearms, training, and the current state of the world over cigars and beer on the porch. Paul from BCM provided Stony with some gear to use as giveaways, and I was lucky enough to receive a BCM care package with a hat, mouse pad, four posters, three stickers, BCM USGI 30 round magazine, 5 Round Mag Loader, and an Extractor Upgrade Kit! There were new skills and drills introduced over the two days, along with reinforcement of basic principles. I’ll only touch on a few of the highlights though or this AAR will be ten pages long.

TD1
The day started with Chris serving a breakfast of eggs, bacon, fruit, and as much water as we could consume to prevent dehydration. After breakfast, we packed up our gear and made the short drive out to the Blue Stem range. The first thing that we noticed is that it was WET. There was a huge storm the night before, and there was standing water in a few areas. After a safety briefing and the location of the nearest med gear and first responder information, we went out to the line. One of the first things that I noticed was the unique target set up. Most classes that I’ve watched or taken the targets are set up in a line one after the other. This class had three targets on a line spaced one yard apart. About two yards to the right was another target (which turned out to be the instructor target used for demonstrations), and then about 15 yards to both the left and right were two additional targets spaced about two feet apart. The four flanking targets had colored bandanas on them (red, blue, white, black). The set up looked like the below. Stony explained that the two sets of flanking targets would be used randomly throughout the two days of class. For example, during my scan and assess after a drill Stony would yell “RED” and then I would need to locate the target, neutralize it, and then continue on with my scan and assess. I thought it was a great way of keeping the shooter engaged throughout the scan and assess, rather than just turning your head left and right and going through the motions.



For this class, I decided to change my standard 50y zero to a 100y zero to see what all the fuss was about. I had read about the trajectory difference between the two, but I thought that this was really the time and place to test the difference for myself. We walked out to the 100y line; I got down into prone and was immediately greeted by lying in a puddle with swaying grass in my sights. I thought “this is going to be much different than anything you’ve done before”. My first group at 100 was pretty sad, but once I got settled and dialed in my groups came together and I was ready to move forward.

One of the first drills was a repeat from the basic carbine class, but with a twist. It’s a timed drill with 10 shots from 100y prone, 10 shots from 75y seated, 10 shots from 50y kneeling, and 10 shots from 25y standing. The twist on this drill is that a 25y run to the line was added. So for the first shoot, the starting line is actually 125y from the target. For the 75y seated you are running from the 100y line, etc.

Transition to Pistol. Stony teaches that if there is a problem with the carbine (malfunction, runs dry, etc) within 25y of your target, then you transition to pistol. The rationale is that this is not based on the shooter, but on the opponent most likely being armed with a rifle and is continuing to shoot. You want to be back in the fight as soon as possible, and not take valuable time to reload or fix a malfunction. The transition to pistol was the rule of thumb throughout the course, regardless of drill, unless otherwise instructed. The transition from carbine to pistol was an eye opener for me. I realized that the one point MS3 sling was not as great as I had originally thought it was during the VSM Basic. To me, it was difficult to get the carbine out of the way safely. I’m sure with a lot more practice it can be done without racking yourself in the balls, but I think a two point sling is a better option. Luckily for me, Blue Force Gear had provided Stony with some products as giveaways, one of which just happened to be their two point sling which we installed the next morning. I also learned that I need to work on my pistol skills. Static shooting in a lane at the local range is a far cry from transition to pistol and drawing from a holster after your carbine goes down and your adrenaline is pumping. A VSM Basic Pistol class is definitely in my future.

Malfunctions. We worked on several malfunction drills with an emphasis on the push/pull/rack/roll and we ran the rip drill many times in order solidify the steps required to clear a double feed. “Prom night” made me smile.

After the day of training, we retired to the lodge for showers and some rest before we went back out for the night portion. The introduction to low light shooting is a standard part of his class, provided the students are safe and demonstrate weapon proficiency during the daytime portion of TD1. Back at the range, we discussed weapon lights, placement, theory, and use. Stony pointed out that based on statistics, most shootings and gunfights take place in limited/low visibility. Basically, the bad guys usually wait until nighttime. He also reinforced that most people make the mistake of leaving the light on for too long and stand in one spot once they have identified their target (and themselves) instead of moving. Lastly, after a red dot and sling the light is essential for a fighting/self defense carbine.

We went back to the lodge and feasted on smoked ribs, pork and beans, coleslaw, and some sort of cake dough product that was a created by Odin himself. I was so exhausted that I then showered and went right to bed so I missed out on any late night activities.

TD2
The day started with another great breakfast cooked by Chris Baden. After making sure we were full and hydrated, we went back out to the range. I was very happy to see that all of the standing water had dried out. The first item on the agenda was to review TD1, and discuss and identify any changes to gear that we may want to make (see below). I was also lucky enough to pick up another piece of free gear, a Daniel Defense hat. Training Day Two was all about movement, and shooting on the move. We started with simple turns, and Stony pointed out that although we’ve been turning our whole lives, there is definitely a wrong way to do it in a shooting situation. We then reviewed forward, backward, and side to side movement and we practiced many times before shooting while moving in those directions. I was really surprised at how much bounce there was in the sight picture while moving, and it took a few runs to figure out that I needed to slow down to gain control. Just like TD1, a color would randomly be shouted for the shooter to engage the threat during the scan and assess. The final drills of the day introduced barrels as obstacles and consisted of “The Figure Eight”, “The Box”, and “The Cross”. These drills incorporated everything that I had learned to this point about shooting on the move. The one drill that really stood out is “The Box”. It had my adrenaline pumping and my heartbeat elevated the entire time. There are three targets, three feet apart from each other at the line. Seven yards back from them you have two barrels that are about 24 feet apart. Eight yards back from there, you have two more barrels that are 24 feet apart. The four barrels form a box. Starting on one of the far corners, you walk forward and put one round in each target, then you move around the forward barrel and move laterally toward the next barrel, while putting one shot in each target, rounding the barrel you are now moving backward putting one shot in each target, rounding the barrel going back to your starting position you are putting one round in each target. TD2 ended with a trip back to the lodge to shower, hydrate, and say our goodbyes.

Conclusion
Stony’s method of instruction really clicks with me.
I’ve focused a lot on carbine lately, and I’ve let my pistol skills deteriorate. VSM Basic Pistol is calling my name.
I like the 100y zero. I had held off trying it because I was lazy, but the theory behind it is solid.
Making the transition from a recreational shooter on a static range is a humbling but fulfilling experience.
Besides pistol, I was satisfied with my shooting. There is room for improvement, and I look forward to continuing to work on these skills.
Once again, the BCM worked as expected. I was able to focus all of my attention on the instruction, and not the weapon.
My middle finger was getting torn apart by the space between the ears of the trigger guard.
The BattleComp created a much larger flash signature than I anticipated, so I need evaluate the pros and cons of its use.
Training “scars” are real and will show up while conducting live fire drills. Don’t half-ass it while practicing.

Gear changes
I am going to add a pair of BlueForce Gear Low Profile Suspenders
My Battle Belt is riding to high on my waist. I need to lower it to be more comfortable
The G2X in the VTAC mount just didn’t work out right. I’m looking at the Surefire X300
Replace BattleComp with a flash hider
Riser for Eotech to allow for a 1/3 Co-Witness of irons
Possibly change out to an Aimpoint H-1

Some random pics...

Entrance to Lodge


Inside the lodge


Out at the range


Top of the berm


ETA: I experienced a lot of new stuff, so I reserve the right to get some of the terminology wrong.
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Last edited by Serbonze; 09-17-2012 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 09-17-2012, 07:54 PM   #2
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Sweet!! Sounds like a lot of fun
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:34 PM   #3
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Awesome writeup. You have to let me know when you decide to do a course again...I might want to join up.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:33 PM   #4
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Excellent AAR!

Definitely glad you had a good time, and it seems like you really learned a lot. Not just that, but it sounds like you learned the right things.

Single Point slings: I came to the same conclusion with respect to transitions. A two-point helps to lock down the rifle when you do a transition to blaster. With a single point, it's like a swinging donkey dick. It works for SMGs and PDWs, but for a fighting carbine, it's not the most ideal setup if you run a sidearm.

Handgun shooting is always difficult, but it's even harder with a rifle hanging off of you. People really get bent out of shape about it, but it is something that people rarely practice, so it's not something to beat yourself up about too much. I've seen guys that were very good on their own shoot much worse with a rifle hanging off of them because it's a whole new variable added to the equation.

In re the light, consider getting the SureFire Z59 clicky tail cap for your light. It's an inexpensive option that will give you a constant-on capability. Or, consider getting the P2X Fury Defender, which is a single-output 500lumen light with a clicky tail cap. The X300 is definitely a more compact unit, though. The X300 Ultra is likely going to be a great option as well.

Grip: do you have any plans to change your grip to cover that trigger guard gap? If so, what have you looked at?

Low Light: How you do things in the day need to be able to translate over to the night. Doing things two different ways is confusing and unnecessary. Did you guys go over this aspect? Stuff like the use of tactile checks versus visual? Anything like that?

In re the 50yd vs 100yd zero, what specifically made you like the 100yd zero more?
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Old 09-18-2012, 09:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Handgun shooting is always difficult, but it's even harder with a rifle hanging off of you. People really get bent out of shape about it, but it is something that people rarely practice, so it's not something to beat yourself up about too much. I've seen guys that were very good on their own shoot much worse with a rifle hanging off of them because it's a whole new variable added to the equation.
Yes, absolutely. We talked about training, and the lack of the ability to train a lot of this material outside of a class. Even practicing at home will not give you the same skill set, and I would argue that it might even induce the "training scars" that we talked about.

Quote:
In re the light, consider getting the SureFire Z59 clicky tail cap for your light. It's an inexpensive option that will give you a constant-on capability. Or, consider getting the P2X Fury Defender, which is a single-output 500lumen light with a clicky tail cap. The X300 is definitely a more compact unit, though. The X300 Ultra is likely going to be a great option as well.
Not sure what light I'm going to get, I liked the X300 because of the size and weight. I haven't had a chance to really start to research them.

Quote:
Grip: do you have any plans to change your grip to cover that trigger guard gap? If so, what have you looked at?
Yes, but like the light, haven't looked at anything yet. It's only been a day. I have some information on the BCM grip, and the less severe angle sounds like a good start. My right wrist was starting to get sore, but I don't know if that's from the grip or if it's still insured from a few months ago.

Quote:
Low Light: How you do things in the day need to be able to translate over to the night. Doing things two different ways is confusing and unnecessary. Did you guys go over this aspect? Stuff like the use of tactile checks versus visual? Anything like that?
Terminology was different, but the same concept. The main difference was not staying stationary between the steps of scanning, identifying, and engaging. Keep moving so as not to make yourself a target.

Quote:
In re the 50yd vs 100yd zero, what specifically made you like the 100yd zero more?
I think it's the simplicity. It removes a step of the thought process while engaging and taking the shot. I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know, but for the sake of an explanation... They are basically the same out to 50y and then after that you need to decide on hold under for the 50y zero. This really became apparent after the basic class, as we were doing drills going from 100 to 75, to 50, to 25 and back. With everything else that I was thinking about, my shots were off. That's why I wanted to switch to the 100y zero for this class. I hope that makes sense.
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Old 09-18-2012, 11:56 AM   #6
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I just checked out some video reviews of the BCM Gunfighter, and it looks like it might solve my issues. Did you go with the Mod 1 or Mod 0? Without having a chance to actually use them, I'm thinking the Mod 1 since the back strap most closely resembles my MOE.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:15 PM   #7
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I went with the Mod 0 for all of my rifles, but that is because I have small hands. The MOE and BCM Mod 1 have too much backstrap to allow me to get my finger on the trigger correctly. If the MOE fit you well, then the BCM Mod 1 is going to be the right option.
I really like the more upright angle. The angle is much more like a 1911. Most grips are around 37 degrees, and the BCM is around 18 degrees. I noticed a lot less fatigue with my wrist, and I've read other reviews online noting the same thing.

BTW- what color grip are you looking for?
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:25 PM   #8
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I think im going to order a mod 1 black to try out on my sbr.

Reedo did you swap the grip on your spr too?

I read a lot of positive reviews on the bcm grip as well.
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:49 PM   #9
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The SPR is still sporting a MIAD, but I'm going to replace it with the LaRue APEG
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Old 09-19-2012, 08:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Reedo302 View Post
I noticed a lot less fatigue with my wrist, and I've read other reviews online noting the same thing.

BTW- what color grip are you looking for?
The fatigue is something that I wasn't expecting, but the two day class really highlighted the deficiencies of the MOE grip. I'm always looking at FDE.
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