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Other Shooting Positions

Sorry I fell off the face of the planet again and for taking so long to get back to this. I’ve been incredibly busy with so much other shit. Anyway let’s just jump right in. I just want to do a quick discussion of the other shooting positions. You really only need three: prone, kneeling, and standing. There are a few others making the rounds in training circles and they have their pros and cons, but if you’re only going to master a few, master the three I just mentioned. 

Sitting position:

I don’t really like shooting while seated. It’s stable and all that, but it’s not a position I can personally get into and out of quickly. Maybe you can, who knows? It’s a good position to use if you need to make shots at angles, like from a top of a hill, or towards the top of a building. But honestly, getting into the kneeling position is faster in my opinion and if done properly can be almost as stable. I’d use the kneeling position if I couldn’t use prone for an angled shot personally. 

In case you still want to use it, here goes:

Start by standing and facing the direction of your target. Literally just sit straight down. Do not index your body toward the target. You can keep your feet apart, or cross your legs at the ankles. 

Place your elbows inside each respective thigh. Shoulder the rifle so that your head does not need to dip down for your eye to meet the sights. Get your support arm out as far as you can first, but just make sure you aren’t bending your neck so that you can see the sights. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

Squatting Position:

The prone position, as we learned before, is the most stable of all of the shooting positions. Squatting is another very stable position, when done properly. It is definitely more useful than sitting, at the very least I’m more likely to use this position. You may have some trouble with this position if you’re not all that flexible, but for most of us, it’s achievable. (Shooting does have some inherent ableism involved I’m afraid. If you’re unable to use this position specifically that’s totally ok. You can get by with any of the others that you can do. I just want to illustrate as many of them as possible.)

Stand facing the target again, except this time index your body with your support leg out front. Your feet should be flat on the ground, with your heels close together. Squat down. Place your weight on your heels, but don’t lean too far back or anything. Your elbows will rest on your inner thighs just like with the sitting position. Definitely practice this position A LOT before you fire a round while squatting. Your feet need to be close together, specifically at the heels. Your weight should be on your heels as well. Even an intermediate powered rifle might have enough recoil to cause you to fall backward in this position, thus the recommendation to practice.  You may even find that you can squat and shoot faster than you can kneel and shoot.

Kneeling Position:

There are a few variants of this one. I don’t recommend you bother with traditional competition shooting style kneeling. If you’re unable to assume the squatting position and the situation does not allow for prone or standing, this is the one for you.

Start by indexing your body again with your support side to the front. Take a small step forward with your support leg. Then sit down onto your firing side foot. If you can lay your firing side foot flat on the ground, that’s ideal. If you can’t, that’s ok too. You’ll be less stable if your firing side foot isn’t flat, but it’s also faster to kneel down without the foot being flat so again, pros and cons like everything else. If you’re unable to get your firing side flat (I can’t do it all the time.) just get as close as you can. 

The further back you can lean in this case, the better. Your support side foot should be as close to being under your butt as you can get it. Your toes should point towards the target. And as always, get your support hand out as far as you can on the rifle. The closer you can get your feet in a straight line the better as well, but don’t exaggerate it so you lose your balance.

Be careful when kneeling behind cover. You might inadvertently expose more than you have to because of the tendency to modify your position. If you’re kneeling behind a barricade you’ll probably be tempted to lean toward it and support your rifle on the barricade. That limited space might cause you to reverse the relative position of your support and firing legs, or cause you to straighten a leg into view. So, pay attention to what you’re doing while training. A good use of this position is to get behind something that’s too short for you to stand behind but would still make good cover. It’s a good idea to do that, just watch your body positioning. 

Standing Position:

You may hear people call this shooting “offhand.” But that’s usually a word used to describe a traditional shooting stance that we won’t discuss here. Modern adaptations of the weapons we train with call for a modern adaptation of the shooting stance. 

The old way of doing this had you stand with your feet shoulder with apart, but with neither one out further than the other. It was an isosceles type of stance. And before that, people would train to shoot standing with your body indexed as much as 90 degrees to the target, to minimize “how much your enemy could see.” If you want to train using these methods be my guest, but the recommendations are far different now.

Stand facing the target with your feet approximately shoulder-width part as if you’re going to use the isosceles stance. Place your support side foot slightly forward, not even a full step. Keep your feet pointed towards the target. Bend your knees slightly. You may want to experiment with how far apart you place your feet. A wider stance will be more stable. A wider stance might also cause you to take longer to move. Play around with it and optimize it for yourself.

Your support side arm should reach out as far as possible. Don’t lock your elbow, but get that arm out as far as you can. Keep your body squared towards the target. Keep yourself squared behind the rifle as well. This will help absorb recoil (And supposedly has something to do with presenting as much body armor as possible. That might be true, but I don’t always wear body armor and this is still the best way to mitigate recoil.) Shoulder the rifle so that your sights come up to your eyes and not so that your eyes need to move to find your sights. Your firing arm needs to be used to help pull the rifle towards your body just like the support arm, but it can be more relaxed in reality. 

** In this position and in all the others, don’t forget about things like cheek-weld and all the other things you need to do to keep the rifle steady. **

There are a few other positions we could talk about, mostly modifications of the prone or sitting positions. We’ll cover those eventually. But if you can get these down you’ll be well on your way. As always, I hope this information is useful and clear. If it isn’t, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

Take care. That’s all for now. 

More on MOA

Alright this time I’m going to attempt to further illustrate what MOA actually is. You have the thumb rule of 1 inch at 100 yards already, and that’s fine if that’s as in-depth as you want to go with it. But if you want to gain a better understanding of what this actually means, then continue reading.

How did we arrive at that 1 inch at 100 yards number? Let’s take a trip back to geometry class. If you never had a geometry class, that’s ok. You’ll just have to take my word for it I suppose? Let’s move on.

The diameter of a circle is the length of a straight line from one point on that circle to another point directly across from it, or 180 degrees away from it, since a circle is 360 degrees all the way around.

The length of the diameter of a circle divided in half is called the radius of that circle. Or, put another way, the length of a straight line from the exact center of that circle to the edge of the circle can be considered the radius also. So far so good?

Ok, so we know that a circle can be divided up into degrees, and is comprised of 360 of those things called degrees. Turns out, a degree can be divided further into even smaller units, called minutes. 

That’s what a minute of angle is, it’s the smaller divisions of a degree, and 60 of these minutes of angle equals one degree. It’s that simple. A full circle is 360 degrees, a half circle is 180 degrees, and a degree is made up of 60 minutes. Cool? Cool.

So when we talk about MOA or minutes of angle in terms of shooting related shit, how do we determine what a MOA equals?

The distance you’d travel if you walked all the way around a circle is called circumference. Another way of looking at it would be if you took the circle and straightened out into a line, how long would the line be? Turns out circumference of ANY circle is equal to 2 times the number Pi times the radius of the circle. Pi is roughly 3.14. (This doesn’t have to be all that exact.)

So for the 100 yards example, let’s run the numbers and see what we come up with. If you’re shooting at a target 100 yards away, imagine where you’re standing or kneeling or sitting or whatever, is the center of a circle. And that 100 yards is the distance from the center to the circle itself, so the radius of this circle is 100 yards. We said that the circumference equals 2 times Pi times the radius. So when the radius is equal to 100 yards, our circumference all the way around this circle would be equal to 628 yards. Let’s convert that to inches. One yard is 3 feet. And one foot is 12 inches. So 628 times 3ft is 1884 ft. And 1884 times 12 inches is 22,608 inches. With me? Awesome.

We know that there are 360 degrees in every circle. And that each of those degrees is made up of 60 minutes. So if we multiply 360 times 60 minutes, we now know that a full circle is made up of 21,600 minutes. 

So for our circle with a radius of 100 yards, we know the circumference is 22,608 inches. And since we also know that this circle is comprised of 21,600 minutes, we can figure out what the relationship between inches and minutes is for this circle. We simply divide the two numbers. 22,608 divided by 21,600 equals about 1.047 inches. Meaning there is 1.047 inches in every minute of angle for a circle with a radius of 100 yards. So is it really one inch at 100 yards? No, but it’s pretty damn close. 

I hope that makes sense. It’s so simple but it confuses everyone at first. If it’s easier to just remember 1 inch and 100 yards and not where the number comes from that’s fine. I only put this out there in case anyone is curious about it. 

The more important thing to remember is how to apply this. Meaning, at 300 yards, one MOA is now 3 inches. At 500 yards, 4 MOA is 20 inches. At 25 yards, two MOA is ½ inch. I care more that you understand that part than the derivation of the number itself. But as I said, I hope this was helpful.

I’m unsure of what to write about next time. We need to talk about other shooting positions besides prone so that’s probably what it’ll be. Til next time, take care comrades. 

Zeroing the Rifle

Ok so first off let me just apologize for taking so long to get back to this. I’ve had a lot of shit going on and I know no one reads this but just in case someone is, I’m sorry for dropping off the planet for a bit. Anyway, let’s get into the topic. This will be a discussion on zeroing your rifle. But first, you’ll need a little preliminary information.

When we refer to Point of Aim (POA) that means where you held your sights for a given shot. Point of Impact (POI) is where the round struck the target regardless of your POA. The goal of shooting is to have the POI be where you intended for it to be. You may be able to have your POA be the same as your POI depending on how far away the target is, or you may have to adjust where you aim to get the desired POI.

Accuracy is a measure of how close your POI is to where you actually intended for the round to hit.

Precision, which is what all the previous entries of this blog have been trying to encourage, is related to how repeatable your shots are. That is, how “tight” your shot groups are.

You can have accuracy without precision and you can have precision without accuracy. But your goal from here on out in learning to shoot will be to combine them and achieve both.

Why would the bullet strike a different point on the target other than where your POA was? To understand that, we need to have a very simplistic understanding of ballistics.

It might surprise you to find out that the flight path of a projectile after it leaves the muzzle of your gun isn’t a straight line. It shouldn’t surprise you when you consider that gravity immediately begins to have an effect on the bullet the second it leaves the muzzle. So what that tells you is that a bullet starts to fall immediately after it leaves the barrel. So how does it even hit the target, let alone hit where you want it to?

It’s difficult to see in real life, but you need to understand that when you fire a round, your rifle will be pointed at a very, very small upward angle. You won’t notice it. You probably won’t even be able to see this unless you’re really looking for it. But, it’s true. The way your sighting system works, be it iron sights or a red dot or a scope, is that it ensures that there is a slight upward angle when the shot is fired. Since the rifle is at a very slight upward angle, the bullet leaves the muzzle traveling in an upward direction. And since gravity immediately makes the bullet start to fall, the result is that a bullet’s path takes the shape of an arch. (Arrows do this too, hence the words archery and archer…)

So the idea is to adjust your sights so that for a desired distance, your POA equals the POI of the shot. When that is the case, you can say your rifle is “zeroed” for whatever distance it is that satisfies that relationship.

What this means is that if I place my front sight right in the center of a target that’s 50 yards away and the round hits the target right in the center of that target at 50 yards away my rifle is zeroed for 50 yards.

This will not just happen. You may coincidently have a rifle that’s zeroed for whatever distance right out of the box. But, more than likely you’re going to have to make the adjustments yourself so we’ll talk about how to do that.

I’d imagine at this point you’re wondering what distance to zero at and how to adjust your sights to do so. So let’s get into the procedure for this. We’ll need to introduce one more technical concept to make the discussion easier. I’m going to short change you on that definition for now but I’ll make the next entry a better explanation of it because it’s pretty important.

Minutes of Angle, or MOA, is what I’m talking about. For now, let’s just think of it as 1 inch per 100 yards. To say that is an oversimplification of this concept is the understatement of the century but for now it’ll help us get through this discussion.

So to clarify, 1 MOA at 100 yards is 1 inch. So at 300 yards 3 MOA would be 9 inches. At 25 yards, a half inch is 2 MOA. Got it? Good!

The reason I bring this up now is to talk about some considerations for your particular rifle and optic. Adjusting your front sight might be a change of 1 MOA, or maybe ½ MOA. Your red dot might also change by ½ MOA per click for example. I don’t know. You’ll need to figure that part out. The paperwork that comes with your red dot should tell you, or it may be printed on the knobs that adjust windage or elevation. Find that part out yourself since there isn’t a standard value.

For our purposes here, let’s assume that we’re zeroing a rifle with iron sights. And let’s assume that each click equates to 1 MOA. (A click is one movement of your sight’s adjustment knob. For the front sight, there will be a mechanism that you’ll need to depress in order to rotate the sight post called a detent. Typically rotating the front sight post clockwise will cause the sight to move down.)

Hopefully you can shoot a tight enough group at this point to be able to zero your rifle. Let’s assume you can. You’re ready to zero this thing. You go out to the range and shoot 5 shots at a target that’s 50 yards away. Your POA was at the center of your target and your shot group is concentrated 2 inches above the bullseye and 2 inches to the left as well. So, diagonally the shots are all 2 inches up and to the left. So you need to bring your shot group 2 inches to the right and 2 inches down. How do you do this?

What is 1 MOA at 50 yards? ½ inch? Correct! So how many MOA is this shot group off from center of the target? 4 MOA up and 4 MOA to the left? You got it! We said each click is 1 MOA. So we adjust our front sight to make the shots go down 4 MOA. So 4 clicks. Here’s where it can get a little tricky when you’re new to this.

For the AR platform, your front sight adjustments will change elevation, and the direction you move it will cause the POI to move in the opposite direction. If I move the front sight down, the POI of my shots will go up.

If we want to move the POI down 2 inches at 50 yards, and we know this is 4 MOA and requires 4 clicks, we now know we need to move the front sight up. They make sight adjustment tools but for an AR front sight you can just use a round. Use the tip of the bullet to depress the detent and rotate the front sight post 4 clicks in the counter-clockwise direction. You might see a curved arrow in a direction on your front sight that says “UP” but the direction is clockwise. That “UP” is saying that the bullet will go up, not the front sight. Remember, there’s an opposing relationship here. YOU MOVE THE FRONT SIGHT THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION YOU WANT TO THE BULLET TO GO.

What about left and right, or windage, adjustments? This is what your rear sight governs. So let’s assume one click is one MOA again. (It probably isn’t, you’ll need to look that up. I’m just trying to make the math easier.) For the rear sight, the adjustments are the same direction for POI change. So in the above example, we wanted to move the shot group to the right 4 MOA. So find the knob that adjusts your rear sight, probably on the right side of it, and move the rear sight four clicks to the right. There will probably be some visual aid on the sight itself to tell you which direction to turn it.

FRONT-OPPOSITE, REAR-SAME. F-O-R-S. This is how you can remember it.

So after you make those adjustments you should find that your shot group’s POI now equals your POA. When this is true your rifle is zeroed at 50 yards. The process to zero with a scope or a red dot is similar, except you have two knobs to adjust instead of front and rear sights. One knob will be for windage, the other will be for elevation. Typically it’ll tell you which direction to turn to get the adjustment you want and what the click value (how many MOA per click) is. Just use the one inch per hundred yards thumbrule and adjust as we did in the examples above for now. We’ll get a better understanding of what MOA actually is next time. I’ll also make an appendix on zeroing an AK when I have time. The main difference on the AK or SKS platform is that the front sight can be adjusted to change both elevation and windage. You’ll need a certain tool to zero it. Moving the rear sight will only cause elevation changes and you’ll use it to account for targets at different ranges. This is one of the reasons I don’t like AKs as much. What if you lose the tool in the field and no one else has one? As long as someone has ammo you can zero your AR.

Anyway, back to the discussion at hand. What distance should you zero your rifle at? Ultimately, it’s up to you. I used to zero at 36 yards, which due to the flight path of the projectile also was pretty damn close to being zeroed at 300 yards. The bullet’s path is an arch so for a lot of cases there will actually be two zeroes. The 36/300 yard zero and the 50/200 yard zero are popular and are useful. Lately we’ve been using the 100 yard zero on our rifles and are finding it really nice to work with. The biggest reason is that the holdovers are easy to learn and you only have to hold high to get the hit you want. With the 300 yard zero there are times when you’d have to hold high and sometimes you’d have to hold low. There’s another concept that’s beyond the scope of this write up pertaining to zeroing called maximum point blank range. You can look into that on your own if you want. It’s a cool concept but I still prefer the 100 yard zero. But, whatever distance you do decide to zero your weapon at, the MOST important thing is that you learn your holds and practice them. Your goal should be able to make accurate hits from 0-400 yards. And you should be able to shoot 2 MOA groups at each of those distances. That’s what I’d recommend personally.

So let’s recap:

I stole the above images from other sites.

Know your rifle’s click value.

Know that the projectile travels in an arch and why.

Know what distance you want to zero at.

Be able to shoot a 2 MOA group. Use at least 5 shots per group when zeroing.

Know what MOA means (even the simplistic definition we used here will work for now.).

When you’re zeroed and can be both precise and accurate, learn your holds for close up and far away and practice, practice, practice.

When making sight adjustments, use the F-O-R-S for the AR platform.

I think that’s about everything we covered. Take care comrades. Hopefully it won’t be so long between entries next time.

Reportback From The Field: PDL-SL Engages In Field Training Exercise

“Let it be known that we have measured the scope of our actions and that we consider ourselves no more than a part of the great army of the proletariat.”
-Che Guevara, Message to the Tricontinental

Recently, a small portion of the membership of People’s Defense League- South Louisiana, completed a Field Training Exercise (FTX) at an undisclosed location somewhere in the Southeastern US. Spending several days in the wilderness, members of PDL-SL practiced communal living, military discipline, bushcraft, and dynamic shooting drills as well as shooting fundamentals. Practicing skills that are usually only available to members of fascistic or imperialist formations, such as the pigs and the US military, we seek to erode the monopoly on violence held by the ruling classes. In absorbing these bodies of knowledge into ourselves, we endeavor to disperse it into the communities of working and poor people in which we live. 

In the course of our FTX, we grew in comradeship, through communal living, eating, sleeping, keeping watch, and training, as we honed our skills that we believe are necessary for the defense of our communities, and for the advancement of the interests of the proletariat. We understand that as workers, we are caught in the midst of a class war being waged upon us by the ruling classes: the bourgeoisie and their lackeys, the pigs, the intelligence agencies, and the imperialist US military. PDL-SL members believe that armed workers are the only bulwark against fascist capitalist violence that is on the rise in the United States. Fascist violence and capitalistic pillaging will only increase to fever pitch in the coming years because of decaying neoliberalism and climate chaos. We see this now across the global south, in places like Bolivia and Chile. Workers, marginalized and poor people here are not exempt from these threats, simply by living in the imperial core, in fact, simply look around, class violence is all around us, particularly in so called New Orleans, a city whose commons were gutted by disaster capitalism. 

If we look to the experiences of nations such as Cuba, China, the former Soviet Union, and in our own time at the community defense formations of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, we see that fascistic imperialist violence, perpetuated by capitalists to fragment the working classes, is ONLY countered effectively by a populace of proletarians and lumpenproletarians who can successfully defend themselves with arms. Ironically, in the US, one of the most heavily armed societies on earth, the left of the United States has been, since the days of the New Left, a disarmed population; either willfully scorning the use and training of arms in the name of nonviolent direct action, choosing to outsource violence to the pigs, or, forcibly disarmed, as is often the case of revolutionary people of color in this nation. Instead, arms have been concentrated not only in the hands of imperialist/fascist state agencies, but in the hands of reactionary paramilitary formations of the civilian population, particularly those with white supremacist agendas.

PDL-SL cadre practice rifle fundamentals and buddy team movement drills under simulated strain.

 To counter this massive, imbalancing contradiction, PDL-SL seeks to build its membership into knowledgeable, hardened, disciplined cadre, skilled in theory and application of military tactics embedded within a left-wing theoretical framework, of warfighter skills for the people, not in service of capital and white supremacy. With this reinforcement of tactical community defense skills within its cadre, the PDL-SL will diffuse its knowledge into the hands of working people, as we already have begun doing, through our Firearms 101 courses, self-defense classes, and community range days, to build a confident, armed, and class-conscious base of working people, here in the deep south of the imperial core. 

A small portion of the PDL-SL membership engaged in the November FTX.

The Last Stop before Zero.

You’re at the range. Your target is set up at let’s say….the 50 yard line. The range is “hot.” You carefully and safely get into the prone position with your rifle. You insert a magazine and chamber a round. Your selector is aligned to ‘SAFE.’ You align your sights, and your sight picture is a little off. You adjust your body a bit, and you’re on target. It’s just a simple, circular target. You’ve got your front sight right on the center of the circle. You notice the front sight dropping and rising as you breathe in and out. As you fully exhale and pause your breathing, your front sight always returns to the center of the target. That’s right where you want it. You have your NPOA. 

With your trigger thumb you take the selector to ‘FIRE.’ And with your sights aligned, the front sight in focus and where you want it, and during your respiratory pause, you squeeze the trigger straight back. 

The shot breaks, you blink because you’re still not entirely used to it. But you’re wearing eye and ear protection so all you have to worry about is getting better. You’re doing this safely. You follow through with the trigger and think you know where the front sight was when the shot broke. 

You let out some tension on the trigger, letting it go forward slightly. You hear a click and know that the trigger is reset. You still have your NPOA and your sights are right back where you want them. You’re controlling your breathing properly. You took the time to get a good cheek weld and build a steady prone position. You repeat everything and take another shot.

You keep up this process until you’ve fired several shots. Let’s say you fired ten. You place the weapon back on safe, remove the magazine, and cycle the bolt to remove the chambered round. You lock the bolt to the rear with the bolt catch and visually check the chamber and the magazine well to make sure they’re both clear. This weapon is clear and safe.

You get up from the prone position and place the rifle facing downrange on the bench or facing up in the rack. You’re ready for the range to go “cold” so you can go down range and check your target.

The range is now cold and everyone has cleared and benched their clear and safe weapons. No one is touching their rifles and you can now proceed down range. 

When you get to your target, you see the same number of holes as rounds you fired (thankfully.)

But NONE of them are where you aimed. Why is that? 

If your shot groups are tight, meaning your shots are all close together, that’s way more important than anything else right now. At this stage in the game, you need to master the fundamentals. That’s what knowing how to shoot actually is, a mastery of the fundamentals. 

So, how close should your shots be to each other? How do I get my groups to actually be on the bullseye or center of my target? 

If your shots are all over the place, you’re not following the fundamentals. Something is off. Breathing, NPOA, not following through, not focusing on the front sight, something…

We’re getting close to a topic that’s more on the technical side of things. We’re talking about how to zero your rifle, which requires an understanding of a few fundamental concepts as prerequisites. So you need to be able to shoot a good group before you should go any further.

As far as how close together your shots should be, that depends on how far away the target is from you. If you’re shooting at a target that’s 50 yards away, from the prone position, with good NPOA and trigger control and all the other things we’ve talked about, I’d like to see you shooting a one inch or less group. Meaning, the cluster of holes on your target is no bigger than one inch wide in any direction. That might not seem reasonable starting out, and that’s ok. If you can’t do it, keep working on it. If your groups are two inches at 50 yards, that’s ok. Just keep trying to get better. 

So let’s do a recap of all the skills you need to have so far:

-You know and understand the importance of the universal safety rules for handling a firearm.

-You understand the 5thrule as we’ve outlined it and know to keep the weapon on safe unless the sights are on the intended target.

-You know how to safely load and safely clear your weapon.

-You know how to properly assume the prone position.

-You know how to properly align your sights and get a proper sight picture.

-You know how to find your NPOA.

-You know how to focus on your front sight.

-You know how to execute proper trigger control and follow through. You’re able to call your shots.

-You know how to do repeat this process and fire a tight group.

In the next entry, we’re going to talk about some of the more technical concepts you’ll need to understand. I hope you’re up for it! In the meantime, keep practicing and working on getting those groups tighter.

Stability is Key. Prone Position:

The prone position is the most stable shooting position. The word prone simply means lying down. We are going to discuss how to get into the straight-leg prone position. There’s another form that requires the trigger side leg to be bent and brought up to the center of the body. It’s good to know that one too but straight-leg is easier to assume and is much more common these days.

Face the target and lie down on your stomach. Propping up the back of your support side elbow, shoulder the rifle in your firing side shoulder pocket. Be mindful of where your muzzle goes! Don’t let it wander somewhere you don’t want the rifle to point, and also keep it out of the dirt.  Grip the rifle with the support side hand and pull it towards you but don’t muscle it. The support hand can even be open, as if it’s just a platform. I don’t recommend you hold the rifle that way, but you can. Try to get your support hand as close to the muzzle as possible. But the support elbow should be as directly below the rifle as possible. Or you CAN use the magazine as a monopod. Anyone who tells you not to do this is perpetuating a myth. You want your body to be straight behind the rifle to help mitigate the effects of recoil. If using a sling as a support, ensure the front sight does not fall and rise diagonally when you breathe in and out. If this occurs then try to get your support elbow more under the rifle. As you inhale, the front sight should drop, and as you exhale, the front sight should rise.

Concentrate on not using any muscles, just bones as support.

The support arm should not be too flat. It should also not be too bent. Make a slight “V” at the elbow.

Your legs should be spread out a bit and feet should be flat and relaxed, ankles touching the ground, not sticking upward. Spread your legs as much as is comfortable, but no need to spread too far. The idea is to be stable. Shoulder width apart or a little more should be sufficient. Do more if you feel you need to. Your trigger side elbow should be on the ground. You may find it helpful to index your body in reference to the target, just be mindful of your muzzle and the direction you’re firing of course. But remember, keep as much of your body directly behind the rifle as possible. Your middle, ring, and pinky fingers of the trigger hand should grip the pistol grip firmly, pulling the rifle towards your body. Where does the trigger finger NOT go until you’re ready to fire?!?! Remember your safety rules!!! Stick your neck out. Drop your cheek onto the stock and slide it down to get a good check weld. Your nose should be right at the charging handle. 

Move your body (NOT THE RIFLE!) to get your sight picture. You should have aligned the front and rear sights first. Keep your support elbow in place as a pivot point, and move your body sideways to adjust your sights horizontally. Then move your body forward or backward to adjust your sights vertically until the sights are on target. (Imagine something similar to doing “the worm” but nowhere nearly as dramatic.) Your entire body should be relaxed now, especially your support arm. Do you have good NPOA? Once you do, proceed with the rest of the taking a shot process we’ve already outlined. 

Practice getting into this position and dry firing. See if your sights move off the target when the “shot” breaks. Learn this position first if possible.

And, as always, if you have questions hit us up.

The Final Piece(s) to Taking the Shot.

So last time we talked about the steps you need to take to make an accurate shot up through the point where you find your NPOA. That portion of this process is crucial so make sure you have a good grasp of it. So you’re at the point where you have aligned your sights, have a proper sight picture, have found your NPOA, and are ready to continue taking the shot. What’s next? We will eventually discuss things like cheek weld and where to put your support hand, etc. I want to cover the rest of these fundamentals first.

You can’t shoot accurately while you are moving (at least not yet). Breathing causes movement, so you will have to stop breathing at some point to make an accurate shot. This is why you will take the shot when your breathing takes a pause. That split second where you have fully exhaled but haven’t starting inhaling yet. That’s the opportune time to fire the shot. With proper NPOA your front sight will be right where it needs to be at that time, and you are completely still but relaxed. You can prolong this voluntarily, but do not do so for too long. As you hold your breath, your vision will actually start to deteriorate.

While prone, as you inhale, the front sight will dip, and when you exhale, it will rise. Use the natural action of breathing to help hold the elevation. When the front sight reaches the desired place on the target, simply hold your breath at that point. You can increase accuracy even further by completely relaxing the respiratory system.

In somewhere around 7 seconds, your vision begins to diminish while holding your breath. You won’t be able to see as well as you need to. You won’t be able to be as relaxed as you need to be. Don’t force the shot. Just wait and take another breath and try again. 

Our eyes can only focus on one thing at a time. You are now trying to keep your front and rear sights aligned along with your target. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the most accurate way to shoot your rifle is to focus on the front sight! Your rear sight will be blurry as will the target.  It is imperative that you focus entirely on the front sight post.

This will not be natural at first. You’ll have to make yourself do this. Concentrate hard on doing this.

(Note: Remember this assumes you’re shooting with iron sights. If you’re using a scope or a red dot you don’t need to focus on the reticle of the scope or the dot.)

Now it’s time to finally press (or squeeze) the trigger. Do not jerk the trigger. Squeeze the trigger straight to the rear using a steadily increasing pressure. The difference between a squeeze and a jerk is CONTROL. Jerking the trigger will throw you off target. If you notice your front sight moving all around the target and you have to jerk the trigger to try and get the shot off while the sights are in the right position on the target, you are not relaxed and therefore do not have good NPOA. Stop and establish good NPOA.

If you have to stop and find NPOA again, do not let the slack out of the trigger. Keep the pressure you’ve applied until the sights return to right spot, then continue squeezing the trigger until the shot breaks. It should surprise you! 

Ideally you’ll use the middle of the first pad of your trigger finger and squeeze from the lowest portion of the trigger possible. This will give you the best mechanical advantage. And it prevents the finger from dragging against the bottom of the receiver. You may need to adjust which part of the trigger finger you use depending on how hard it is to pull it. But the trigger must be pulled straight back.

Once the shot breaks, you’re still not done. Hold the trigger to the rear, and try to call where the shot went. This is done by making a mental note of where the front sight was when the shot broke.

Your goal is to hold the trigger to the rear until the sights are realigned on the target.

When you do start to let off of the trigger, only let it go forward enough until it’s reset. Trigger reset can usually be heard by a click and can also be felt. Practice this while dry firing so that you can still tell when it’s reset at the range.

It’s difficult to call your shot in reality. You’ll have a tendency to close your eyes as the shot is fired. Likely you’ll have already closed your non-dominate eye while firing. (Though I recommend learning to shoot with both eyes open down the line. For now, baby steps.) So your eye that you’re using to shoot will have a tendency to close as you fire a shot. Try to prevent that eye from closing. This will allow you to take a snapshot of where the front sight was when the shot went off.

Learning how to call your shots will be crucial to helping you get better. If you know where your shot went right after you fire it and you check the target and it’s where you thought it was, that’s a “good” shot. Don’t worry about it not hitting the bullseye or whatever. Remember, right now your goal is to focus on shooting tight groups anyway. If you know where your shots are hitting by being able to tell where your front sight was, all you have to do is keep working on proper NPOA, sight alignment, and sight picture. Your shots will start to go where you want them to once you have the fundamentals down. Make sure you follow through with the trigger as discussed here. If your rifle is zeroed, and you follow the fundamentals in this installment and the last one, you will be shooting quite well sooner than you think. This also illustrates why dry firing is so useful. There’s no recoil to make you involuntarily close your eyes. You can learn to take that mental snapshot when the shot breaks. There’s no recoil so you can keep your NPOA better. And you can hear the trigger reset after you follow through. Make sure you’re being safe when dry firing. Do it in a quiet place where there is no ammunition anywhere around you. Say out loud: “I am doing dry fire practice. No ammunition will placed into this weapon.” Or something along those lines. Make sure your sights do not move off the target while dry firing as your shots break. If you notice the front sight moving, figure out what’s causing it to move and fix it. 

So, let’s summarize the whole process of taking a shot before we wrap this up. (Remember, this is from the prone position, and may even be supported by a sling or a bag or a bipod even. The fundamentals are the fundamentals.)

-Align your sights.

-Get the front sight on target.

-Find your NPOA.

-Verify your NPOA.

-Focus on the front sight.

-Squeeze the trigger during a respiratory pause.

-Follow through and call the shot.

-Reset the trigger.

You can do this if you work these fundamentals. That’s all for now. Take care, comrades.

Shooting – Focusing on the fundamentals – Part 1.

This will be the first installment of actually talking about shooting. By now the assumption is you are familiar with the operation of your weapon. And hopefully (before you did anything else) you’ve become acquainted with the safety rules for handling firearms. I’m going to run through them anyway since it never hurts to think about them. Remember A-C-A-B.

  1. ALWAYS treat all firearms as if they are loaded. No exceptions.
  2. CONTROL your muzzle at all times. (If you’re not willing to destroy it, don’t point your weapon at it.)
  3. ALWAYS keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to fire.
  4. BE aware of your target and what is above, below, on the side of, in front of, and beyond it.

The 5th rule is a little bit more subjective. It’s pretty simple though. If you’re impaired in any way and cannot safely handle a firearm then don’t. This could include being too tired, being drunk, going through a stressful situation, etc. It’s on you to not endanger anyone you’re training with so please don’t be selfish in that way. Emergency life or death situations may require you to pick up a weapon. Otherwise, avoid doing so until you’re safely able to. Please! Also, notice using the safety isn’t a part of the safety rules. Your weapon may not have one. But if it does, use it. Keep the safety on until your sights are on target. When done firing, put the safety back on. You can think of this as the 6thrule even if you want to. Make this a habit. Make this almost involuntary. Let’s get into the topic now.

Natural Point of Aim (You might see this as either NPA or NPOA.) is the single most important item for a shooter to learn, and it is one of the most difficult. It’s a concept that describesthe place where your body would place a shot when totally relaxed. Think of it as just using your body’s bones for support, not your muscles. Your body has to be relaxed for precise shooting. As you breathe in and out, your muzzle (and therefore your sights) will move up and down. Your body will be in a more relaxed state when you’re done breathing out. For this reason you should obtain your Natural Point of Aim while after exhaling, during the pause before you begin to inhale. 

This process is particularly important when shooting from the prone position. If you’re not familiar with what that means, for now just visualize shooting while lying flat on your stomach. There’s not much to it. I’ll try to post a better description of the proper way to get into all of the more common shooting positions as soon as I can. There are plenty of youtube videos on this subject of course. However, since part of the motivation behind this blog is to provide access to this information outside of the normal gun circles I understand if you don’t want to research this on your own. Bear with us!

A couple things to touch on real quick: If you’re using a bipod or your magazine as a monopod, that’s fine. You may also be using a sling to support the rifle. Your support arm (Your support side is the opposite side of the trigger hand. So, since I shoot right-handed, my support arm is my left arm.) still needs to be relaxed. There is a whole process to firing a shot and finding your NPOA is just a part of that process. Since I think you should learn iron sights first, I’m going to assume you are. You need to make sure you’re aligning your sights properly before doing anything else. Then you can get your sights on your target. Don’t try to do this in reverse. You’ll have to use your muscles, maybe without realizing it. 

To get the proper sight alignment for your AR, it’s not too terribly difficult of a task. This will be the first thing you need to do in order to properly fire a shot, so it’s crucial that it’s done correctly. But, it isn’t hard.

AR rear sights are “peep” sights. You have a front sight post in front and the rear sight has an aperture that’s literally just a circle that you look through. Most likely, your rear sight will have two apertures. One will be bigger around than the other. For now, just use the smaller one. The bigger one is intended for close range engagements, among other things. However the smaller one is more precise. Use the smaller one until you know what you’re doing.

Center the tip of the front sight post in the rear sight ring. That’s it. See the following photo:

(This pic was taken off the internet via a quick search. I probably owe someone credit. Also, ignore the curved things on the sides of the front sight post. They’re only there to protect the front sight post from getting bent. They have no bearing on your shooting and shouldn’t be used when establishing sight alignment or picture.)

(NOTE: I realize that a lot of the info that we put out on this blog related to firearms is AR-centric. The fundamentals are the same regardless of what platform you’re using. Obviously the sights are different on an AR compared to an AK. If you struggle with anything related to your AK or SKS or FAL or whatever the hell you have, don’t be afraid to reach out. We’ll work with you privately or start posting things centered around other platforms when we have more time to do so. Thanks for your understanding.)

Keep in mind that you don’t have to have the front sight pointed exactly on the spot you want the bullet to impact the target. You do this step first so that you can move your BODY, not the RIFLE to get the proper sight picture. That’s your next step.

Once your sights are aligned relax your body. This is roughly your NPOA but you probably won’t be on target. So move your BODY (not the rifle) to place the aligned sights on target. Put the top of the front sight on the center of whatever target you’re aiming at. That’s how to get your proper sight picture. Do this by keeping your support elbow in place and use it as a pivot point as you move your body. Move your body sideways while keeping your support elbow in place for horizontal adjustment. Move your body forward or backward while keeping your support elbow in place for vertical adjustment. This will probably take a lot of practice at first. 

After you do all this it might seem like you’ve achieved NPOA. You should still confirm it. Close your eyes. Then take a deep breath in and then breathe out. When you’re done exhaling, open your eyes. If you’re still on target, you have proper NPOA and can continue firing “by the numbers.” When you actually shoot you should do so during a respiratory pause. So you have just mirrored that part of properly firing a shot. It’s still likely that you haven’t achieved a good NPOA yet so you need to repeat this process until it’s confirmed successfully.

It’s ok if it takes a few times of repeating this to get a good NPOA. You aren’t going to realize when you’ve been using muscles. That’s what confirming NPOA is all about and you’ll get quicker at it over time. Don’t skip it. Just get better at finding it. On-demand accuracy and fundamentals of shooting are for more important than firing 27 rounds in 4.89 seconds and not hitting anything you intended to. With a good NPOA, your sights willremain on target. If the sights aren’t steady, you’ll jerk the trigger as the sights move to try and get the shot off “in time.” You will not be accurate shooting this way. Practice, practice, practice and it will become fast and intuitive. Focus on accuracy now, speed will come with time.

Here’s another stolen photo from the internet that shows what your sight picture should look like:

(The tip of the front sight is placed where the shooter wants the bullet to hit. This is called “center-hold” and it’s the best way to shoot, as opposed to a “six o’clock”hold. Notice how the rear sight AND THE TARGET are out of focus. The front sight is crystal clear. That’s on purpose. Though it may seem counter-intuitive to focus on the front sight and not the target, that’s what you want to do. This will be covered in the next entry.)

Another important factor will also be trigger control/follow through, and we’ll talk about that soon as well. I want to do a write-up on the entire process of taking a shot, but I thought it would be good to introduce this topic now since it’s so important. Remember that starting out, your goal is to learn to shoot properly and have on-demand accuracy. You have to learn to shoot small groups before you can learn to shoot small groups quickly. It’s that whole “crawl before you can walk” thing. If you’re out shooting and your groups are tight but not where you were aiming, you probably just need to zero your weapon. That’s a separate process to learn that we’ll cover soon. But if you’re getting the tight groups that’s way more important for now.

Quick recap:

-Align your sights.

-Move your body to get on target. Breathe in, breathe out.

-Find your NPOA.

This is only a part of the process to fire a shot, but it’s crucial you absorb these concepts. I’m writing all this out as I have time. So make sure you read all of it before heading out to the range. 

Until next time, comrades.

Port Arms – Continuing with bare bones recommendations for those that are new to this.

Ok so there are a lot of topics I eventually want to cover with this, but let’s continue with the basic gear outline for now. By now let’s say you’ve got your rifle. It’s setup with either a scope or a red dot, and you have back up sights. You have a weapon light mounted on it, and you also have a sling attached. Good. How many magazines do you have? I’d recommend you have somewhere in the neighborhood of 12, but 6-10 is fine. Remember, you’ve already looked into your local laws before you even started down this path, so if you can’t have standard capacity magazines, you don’t. So if you’re limited to 10 round mags, you have even more of them than the suggested amount. What else do you need?

I’d recommend you do your due diligence in finding out about load bearing equipment. You may want body armor, and I recommend you have it, even if you don’t intend to wear it while training (or in real life). There are situations where it may be appropriate to wear it and there are situations where it may not be appropriate. A lot of that is personal and situational. We’ll get there but won’t discuss it for now.

A chest rig is a good idea for carrying your mags. You can get a cheap Chicom one off ebay for like $15. Your AR or AK mags will fit just fine, and you can carry 7 of them with this rig (plus one in the rifle, that’s a lot of ammo!). It has straps that tie off in the back but if you or someone you know can sew at all you can attach plastic locking clips to make it easier to don and doff, etc. I have a couple of them lying around and they are very simple and cheap but still durable. My personal philosophy on this stuff is that usually simpler is better. A lot of people in gun circles are always chasing down the next gadget. No need. Aside from the fact that it’s just capitalists doing their bullshit, I just don’t want more shit that can fail when I need it most. Keep it as simple as possible, but your setup still has to work of course. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some “Gucci” gear. But that’s because I’ve figured out what works for me and I’m committed to this. So spending a little more money for something that will (hopefully) last is justified in my opinion. You’ll figure out what works for you too.

Another method of carrying shit around, not just magazines of course, is the battle belt. Maybe you’ll see it referred to as a war belt or duty belt, or whatever. This can be instead of or in addition to your chest rig. I really like the belt option for a lot of reasons. Having rifle magazines, an individual first aid kit (IFAK), a knife, a canteen, and other assorted gear starts to weigh a lot. And if you’re already wearing body armor, you’re going to be bogged down. Distributing that weight around your waist is a great way to deal with this problem. If you look at actual soldiers throughout history, a lot of them just had some sort of belt setup. Also, if you just have a battle belt, you can lay down flat (go prone) when you need to. This way will be easier than doing it with a bunch of shit hanging over your chest/stomach. I highly recommend you explore this option first. Condor makes less expensive shit, but the sky’s the limit as always. There are a lot of brands out there. Just go for most durable at lowest cost. Shop around and ask your experienced comrades what they recommend. You can attach things like: a tourniquet, your IFAK, magazine pouches (pistol and rifle perhaps), canteens, a dump pouch (which is where you put your empty or partially empty magazines after a reload), a survival knife, a pistol holster, extra medical supplies, a compass, etc. It’s versatile and can be set up however you need it to be. And the weight will be better distributed than if all your gear is right there on your chest/stomach. 

I have a plate carrier with body armor, a chest rig, and a battle belt. I can just throw on the belt quickly and roll with just that if I need to. My chest rig can be worn by itself or I can disconnect the straps and attach it to my plate carrier. Versatility and simplicity. That’s what works best for me. I can change my particular setup based on the situation I’m in. NOTE: It would be a good idea to look up how to use MOLLE webbing. It’s fairly straight forward but if you’re not familiar with it it’s possible to do it wrong. You don’t want your mag pouches falling off as your patrolling, etc. Also, an older system, called ALICE does not play well with MOLLE. I’ll admit against my better judgment I tried to mount an ALICE item with zip ties on a MOLLE belt once. Thankfully it was obvious it wasn’t going to hold for long and I never did anything that mattered with it. I would have lost a piece of gear in the brush. Not smart.

Remember, these are just general guidelines to get you thinking about where you need to be. This all comes again with the statement that I’m not an expert and am merely sharing things from my experiences both in the military and with community defense work. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions about specifics or anything else. We just want you to be properly equipped if you’re getting into all this.

So to sum it up so far:

-Rifle (AR or AK most likely).

-12 magazines (Or more!).

-Sling attached to rifle. I use two-point slings.

-Red dot or scope. (Or just run iron sights of course.)

-BUIS (Back up iron sights).

-Weapon light. I recommend Surefire or Streamlight. Prices vary, but a surefire G2 will do the job if you can find a way to properly mount it. 

-Plate carrier, if body armor is something you’re going to use.

-Chest rig of some kind. Be able to carry at least 4 magazines, but no more than 8 really.

-Battle belt (Your setup may vary but you need an IFAK and extra tourniquet at a minimum. A lot of times I’ll put a tourniquet on my rifle).

You may be asking yourself, how much ammo do I need?!? That’s a great question, since we haven’t really talked about it yet. In prepper circles, it’s usually said you need 1000 rounds per weapon. I think that’s a good number over all. It’s fine to keep more than that on hand, but cost is always a factor so I think that’s a good goal when starting out. The problem is that to get skilled, you have to go shoot, A LOT. So….stockpiling ammo is hard when you have limited funds. Try to keep as close to 1000 rounds on hand as you can to start. Don’t store it anywhere too hot or cold. And keep it dry, avoiding humidity as much as possible. Down south, plastic wrap around the boxes being stored helps. I often leave ammo in my trunk to see if it’s still reliable. Usually, even with the oppressive summers we have, it still performs as it should. And I’m just using plain old 55 grain (basically just a unit of weight when talking about bullets) American Eagle 5.56. Nothing fancy. It’s always worked well in my rifles and out of literally probably 35,000 rounds of it over the last few years, I’ve only* had 3 misfires. The 62 grain green tip stuff hasn’t worked great for me. I had a rifle that didn’t like it, wouldn’t extract right for some reason. And it’s harder on your barrel anyway. Again, keep it simple. I do occasionally buy some more pricey 77 grain Hornady or something like that if I’m doing longer distance stuff. But even that is unnecessary for my main carbine. The XM193 55 grain American Eagle ammo is perfectly fine for any scenario I can come up with based on my geographic area.

Anyway, I guess that’s it for this time. I’m trying to build up the foundations quickly. You can go back and reference these later at any time and you may need to do some research on your own to fill in the gaps. Next time I think we’re going to get into some actual shooting instruction. All this gear stuff is important, but all of that is meaningless without fundamental skills and continued training. I’m hoping this can become a guide to get comrades up to speed quickly, so again, please give me any feedback you may have. Until next time…

*Misfires aren’t cool. But the statistics there aren’t too, too terrible. Make sure when learning how to manipulate your firearms you learn how to do deal with malfunctions. I’ll cover that eventually too. So much to talk about! 

Port Arms – Advice for those lefties that are (just now) getting on board with being armed.

This will just be a quick discussion about starting out in the gun world. I hope you find this useful. Feel free to provide feedback on what information is needed. I’m basically just hoping to answer questions since this is so new to a lot of comrades out there.

I’m going to assume at this point that you’ve got good reasons for wanting to get into this stuff. Maybe it’s due to the rise of fascism, it’s just a part of preparedness plans, maybe you just think it’s cool, whatever. I’m also going to assume that you’ve had the conversations with yourself that I’d recommend you do. You understand the dangers involved, both physical and legal? Do any moral questions about this come up? What are you going to do if the time comes you have to defend yourself or your comrades? Do you have children in your home? How can you keep them from accessing your weapons?

These topics are beyond the scope of this. If you want to have those conversations, email us. We’ll be glad to talk to you about the ins and outs of this stuff. What I’d like to do for now, is get into a little bit about what equipment you need, and why. These questions are very common. And, just as everyone has different reasons for wanting to get into this stuff, everyone has differing opinions on what gear to acquire. I’m going to talk about my own personal approach to these questions. My opinion doesn’t represent PDL-SL as a whole but it doesn’t differ too wildly amongst our membership. I should tell you that I am a combat veteran, as are other members of this organization, but that does not automatically make us experts on anything. So while I hope you find this to be good advice, please remember that nothing can substitute getting out there and getting experience for yourself. In gun circles there’s a term for this: DOPE. Look that up. Anything anyone tells you about all things gun-related will often just be anecdotal. Only you can decide what’s right for you. That said, here’s my take on some of these things! 

Ok, so for starters, what type of weapon should you get? That depends on a lot of different things but I would encourage you to consider a rifle (or more specifically, a carbine) as your primary choice for defending yourself and your community. (The difference between rifle and carbine can be ignored for our purposes in this discussion. Just think of a carbine as a smaller rifle, but not a pistol. Confused yet? Just wait….)

Rifles are primarily used for military applications, hunting, and “home defense”, etc. The reasons for this are they are portable, have manageable recoil (For the most part. Recoil is what some people call “kick.”), and are relatively easy to learn to use accurately. Handguns can be concealed easily but are honestly harder to learn to shoot well for most people. Shotguns have limited range and quite frankly, make more of a mess than is often necessary. I’ll elaborate more on that in future writings. But for now, let’s talk about rifles. 

So get a rifle if you’re going to do this kind of work. To be even more specific, I’d recommend a magazine fed, center-fire, semi-automatic rifle chambered in an intermediate or full-power caliber. That seems like a lot of words. Let’s break it down.

Magazine fed means that the rifle has a detachable little plastic or metal box that houses the ammunition. This little box is then inserted into the rifle and as the rifle fires it will use the ammunition you give it until empty. You can then detach it and place another magazine full of ammo into the weapon and continue shooting. Pretty simple. (Note, you should get standard capacity magazines which will hold around 30 rounds each. You should probably have at least six of them but preferably way more. We’ll talk about loadouts in another entry.)

Center-fire means there’s a component in the rifle that strikes the center of the back of a cartridge of ammunition, and that’s what starts the process to propel the projectile (bullet) down the barrel and towards the target. The cartridge will have something called a primer in the center of it. That’s what gets struck to fire the round. The primer ignites the gun powder, which then hurls the bullet down the barrel.

This is in contrast to rim-fire, which is where the firing pin (or hammer or whatever) strikes the outer edge of the back of the cartridge. These are fun to shoot but usually way too low powered to be of any real substance for defense purposes.

Semi-automatic means that when you press the trigger, one round is fired. When you do it again, another round is fired. One press of the trigger gives you one round fired. That’s it. Nothing more to it. Don’t get too wrapped up in it.

Intermediate cartridges are simply in between less powerful ones and full power ones. Battle rifles will typically be chambered in full power cartridges and carbines might be chambered in intermediate cartridges. The choice here depends a lot of environment. Full power cartridges will send the projectiles a longer distance, which could be good. They’re also heavier. A lot of them will penetrate something further than smaller calibers. You may or may not want that depending on application.

There are a lot of reasons for the following recommendation. Not all of them will be listed.

The weapon I always recommend to everyone who asks me this question is the AR-15. Ah yes, the infamous black rifle that liberals (and now conservatives) love to hate! This evil, evil little bastard is one of the most popular weapons of choice in the so-called united states. Why? Because they’re reasonably accurate, fairly cheap to build or acquire, can be altered to suit personal preferences, and shoot an INTERMEDIATE powered cartridge. That’s right…the AR-15 is NOT a high powered weapon. Not even close. But the ammo it uses (typically 5.56 though some will be chambered in .223 Remington) is available everywhere and isn’t terribly expensive compared to say .308 or something along those lines. You can do anything you need to do with this rifle, including defending yourself inside your home, believe it or not. 

Other choices are of course the AK-47 and all of its variations. These are popular for their lore. Long considered “the people’s rifle,” they offer a sturdy and reliable platform, fire an intermediate cartridge (7.62×39), and are readily available still. Though that is changing. Weird import laws have made them more scarce and thus more expensive in recent years. It used to be common to see these for sale for $300 or so. Now a decent one will set you back at least $800, probably more. And that’s bare bones without any recommended modifications. Compare that with the modern bare bones ARs available on the market, which can be acquired for $400 or less. Even when you put the recommended accessories on your AR, you’re likely going to spend less than what you’d pay for an AK. And it’ll be fighting-ready instead of “stock.”

You could also look at the AK-74 (similar to the -47, but with a smaller bore), Mini-14, or SKS. You could even go the battle rifle route and get a full powered rifle. Usually you’ll pay out the ass for the rifle AND the ammo. Get an FAL or an M1A if you want to, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Whatever you do end up with, make sure you learn how to properly maintain it. (Cleaning and lubrication.) Make sure you learn how to SAFELY operate it. It’s imperative to get out there and learn the fundamentals. Learn how to make that rifle do what you want it to do. 

So now you’ve got your rifle and you can safely operate and store it. What accessories do you need? You need a sling. I’ll say that again. You need a sling. A sling for your rifle is like what a holster is for a pistol. A sling is basically just a strap that you attach to your rifle and then put around your neck or over your shoulder to help you carry the damn thing. Trust me, walking around for 12 hours for any reason gets really old. And carrying things while walking around for 12 hours, even though they may only weigh 8 pounds, starts to suck. A sling will make it much, much easier to carry your rifle around. And it has the added benefit of being able to be used to shoot more accurately too. Use of the sling as a shooting platform isn’t as common anymore but it’s still not a bad skill to have. I’d personally recommend a two-point sling. There are one-points and three-point slings out there as well but I don’t like anything other than a two-point. The reasons for this are things like if you have to climb a ladder or lift some heavy object, you can keep your rifle on you while doing whatever task but it won’t hit you or be overly uncomfortable. You could even put it behind your shoulder or across your back if needed. One-points have a tendency to not be so fun when carrying a big box or something. If you have the same anatomy as me, the rifle always finds a way to smack you in a certain body part that isn’t the most pleasurable. There are other limitations too but just trust me and check out two-point slings and see what you think.

Many rifles will come with iron sights installed on them. In the case of ARs, at least the front sight will be permanently mounted a lot of times. If not, purchase a set of back up sights. This is more vital than a sling if you don’t plan to run an optic of any kind on your rifle. You need a way to aim the damn thing. Remember your safety rules? You can get a set of back up sights off ebay or amazon easily. Magpul is fine. Daniel Defense makes really nice ones if you’re feeling bougie. 

Notice that I referred to the sights in the above paragraph as back up sights. You can (and should) learn to shoot your rifle with just iron sights. There’s absolutely nothing wrong if that’s how you want to leave it. But I’d recommend you mount an optic on your rifle and use those back up sights as…..well, back up sights. 

There are scopes, red dot sights, prism sights, and a few other types. I like to use red dots on my ARs. You look through it and there is literally just a red (or now green is popular too) dot (like a laser that doesn’t actually extend downrange) that appears over whatever you’re aiming at. It’s really easy to just put a dot where you want the bullet to strike and fire the weapon. For this to be accurate, you’ll need to adjust your sighting system, be it a scope or irons or red dot, to make sure where you point the rifle is where the bullet impacts. This process is called zeroing, or making sure your rifle is “zeroed.” A discussion on that will get a tiny bit more technical than the scope of this article but since it’s pretty damn important to know how to do that I’m going to write something up about that in the near future. Learning how to properly shoot (breathing, sight alignment/picture, trigger control, etc.) so that you can shoot tight groups is your first goal. Then learn how to zero your rifle. Then learn what are called holdovers, or simply: holds. These are fundamental skills that will get you to about 90% of where you want to be with what we in PDL call ODA, or on-demand accuracy. (Words like “marksmanship” and “rifleman” need good substitutes.) Once you’ve got the fundamentals down and can make accurate hits in a couple of different shooting positions, you can move on to more dynamic things, like “runnin’ and gunnin’” and all that.

Last, you should mount a light towards the muzzle end of your rifle. There are all kinds of ways to do this. There are all kinds of styles and brands. Being able to see (and fight) in dark areas is all we’re trying to accomplish so the simpler the better really. This stuff does get pricey, and sometimes the quality gear is the expensive gear. But we all have to start somewhere. 

Along with that, something I’ll put in here really quick since it’s not entirely unrelated: Don’t focus on having 37 guns. You don’t need 37 guns. Just focus on having a rifle that you can shoot and move with. Spend your time and money on training, ammunition, and spare parts for that rifle. Spare bolts, gas tubes, and lower parts kits (if you have an AR) are examples of what I’m talking about. Body armor, a chest rig, battle belt, etc are all important too. But one thing at time.

We’ve touched on a lot of things but didn’t get too in depth. The big takeaways are get a rifle that is capable of doing what you need it to do. Learn how to maintain it so that it will do what you need it to do when it’s time to do it. And do your part in learning how to make it do what you want it to do. That’s all I have for now. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch.