Category Archives: Training and Leadership

Get Thee to Thy Range!


                                                   25 yards – mix of .45 ACP Ball and .357 SJHP – Clearly, more practice is required!

Life, if you let it, will get in your way when it comes to practicing those skills that will keep you and your family alive in the worst possible scenario.Don’t let life do that! Make and schedule regular time for your dry fire and range practice.  You’ll be glad you did even in the event you never have to use the skills you’ve honed. Why?  Because you’ll be confident you had the skills if you needed them.

Time continues to slip by us, and according to the MSM, 7 in 10 Americans believe some really nasty, spicy times are ahead.

Train now, train often, and stack ’em deep!

Part II: The Ideal Sidearm?

19 round capability (18 round mags & 1 chambered) coupled with a LONG history of reliability and superb ammunition choices, such as the Federal HST (my pick), make the Beretta M9 an excellent choice for a sidearm – though there are others equally as good or better, depending on personal preference and analysis.

In the original post, here, the point was simply made, “The ideal sidearm is the one you have in your hand.”

That’s true, in the most base terms, because if whatever you have is all you’ve got, then it is ideal when compared to having an empty hand.

When going beyond that most basic premise, the intellect should be employed to do a bit of pre-response analysis and tool capability comparison, both specification and performance wise.

Here’s a few questions that are also basic, but essential:

  • What is the nature of the threat you perceive you will most likely be faced with?
  • Is it a single threat, or will there be more than one, such as criminal activity coupled with self-defense against a predatory animal or simply self-defense against criminals or self-defense against predatory animals?

  • Do you have, or are you capable of developing the physical strength necessary to not only operate the sidearm chosen effectively, but navigate the physical stress you will be subjected to immediately before, during, and after the threat presents itself?  If not, are you willing to put yourself on a program to develop the physical attributes necessary?

  • If you anticipate a multiple threat scenario as most likely, does the sidearm you are considering have the ability to hold enough rounds for the initial engagement and then be reloaded quickly for subsequent engagement prior to the cessation of the threat?
  • Do you have the discipline to routinely practice techniques necessary for self-defense in both dry and ‘wet’ fire consistently?

  • Do you have the equipment necessary to carry your chosen sidearm in a legal manner (until it no longer matters, if every, carrying legally is the way to do it – that way you don’t end up in prison for otherwise lawfully defending yourself or others)?

  • What are the specifications of the ammunition you plan on using?  Is it capable of sufficient penetration and expansion when coupled with shot placement to stop the threat you’re faced with?

  • Have you planned to use the same bullet weight for practice as well as for ‘real world’ carry and self-defense in order to experience very similar recoil and point of aim/impact?

There are many more questions you can ask along these lines – remember – we’re narrowing down the countless choices of sidearms available based on our own personal circumstances.  So, should you be new to owning and training with a sidearm, will help you make educated decisions that could save your life or the lives of others.

Ruck Training Redux – A Program to Keep You Going

From an ‘old,’ but still very active retired Senior NCO:

Yup, here we are in Mid-Autumn.  Rucking is for good weather, right?  Somewhat, but you can still get in some good miles and keep yourself in good shape no matter the time of year.

The key to success in this kind of conditioning, at least in my experience, is consistency, not necessarily intensity.  Intensity will come later as your body gets used to the muscle work and adapts to it, and you want to improve more.  Time really is on your side here.  So, take your time, don’t go beyond what your body (not your ego) tells you is working, but keep at it.  It will pay off by increasing your fitness level and capabilities.

For you older ruckers (see what I did there?), something you have to ensure you do prior to starting a ruck program is to A:  Get checked out by the doctor, especially your joints, arthritis levels, and so forth.  If you don’t pass the physical, concentrate on what you can do without carrying a rucksack.  Get the auxillary going.  You can also help yourself (whether or not the doc passes you) as well by getting on a good supplement program, and no, I don’t mean the kind you can buy for $5 per thousand doses.  The purer the better.  The absolute minimum requirements are:

  • Trace Minerals – Mine are in tablet form and I take once a day in the evening.
  • Vitamin C – 4000mg a day, minimum.  If I’m traveling, 6000mg.  I take the gelatin pills, but have also taken the pure ascorbic acid powder in water once a day.  If you try that, do it incrementally to avoid ‘explosive’ cleansing.  Just sayin’
  • Vitamin D3 – 12,000 IU per day, split into 2 ‘shifts’ – one in the morning, one in the evening
  • CoQ10 – 300mg dose per day – heart health and all
  • Salmon Oil – Wild Caught, 2 per day
  • Saw Palmetto – Hey, I’m at that age where it’s necessary for prostate health….and other things.
  • Cromium Picolonate – single dose per day for digestion
  • Ginko Biloba – Memory, if I remember correctly

So, let’s say you’ve got the physical OK from the doc, you’ve been on some good supplements, altered your diet as described below, and you’ve also started your stretching, push ups, and ab conditioning, at a minimum, right?  OK….then here we go.

Training Progression Suggestion:

  • Start:  No pack walks for 1/2, 1, 1 and a half, 2 and 3 miles.  Again, incrementally.  Don’t push, but be consistent.
  • Light Pack:  1 mile walk with no more than 25 pounds X 2 days week X 2 weeks. or until you can do 25 pounds for a mile without too much trouble.  If you can only start with an empty pack, then do that.  Don’t overdo.
  • Medium Pack walk:  Up to 2 miles with 35 – 50 pound pack X 2 days week X 2 weeks or until you can do the 2 miles without too much trouble.
  • Initial Heavy Pack walk:  1 mile w/heavy pack (55 – 80 pounds) X 2 days X 2 weeks. – no time limit  (if 55 is your limit, then stay at 55).   Again, no time limit – the goal is completion.  This is simply conditioning.  Or keep doing this until you can do a mile and think you could have gone farther and faster.
  • Heavy Pack Conditioning:  Incrementally longer walks from 1 mile to 4 miles; 20 minute miles X 1 day X 3 weeks.
  • Breaks:  At the onset/sign of any strained muscle used in walking, take at least a week or 10 days off.  Remember, you’re in this for the duration, not some sprint contest.
  • Ruck Walk Maintenance and Improvement:  Random weight selection from light to heavy; intersperse running (if your body can take it – if not, don’t worry about it) with pack on for 100 meter increments (or as far as you can up to 100 meters) with at least 100 meter rest (still walking) periods.  See below.

Right now, my personal ruck regimen consists of the following:

Ruck Program:

  • “Heavy Day” Training:  65 – 80 pound ruck weight average – depends on the day, mood, distance, and other variables such as heat, humidity, and time available to train.  It will be anywhere from 2 miles to 10, average speed 16 to 17 minute miles.  The objective here is to carry a lot of weight for a long time.
  • “Light Day” Training:  25 – 40 pound ruck weight average – see above for varying weight differences.  Average speed objective is 15 minute miles or faster.
  • “Heavy/Light Day ‘Burst’ Training:  See weights and distance parameters above.  The key here is to intersperse sprints of varying distances between walking intervals.  It really does work.  Last year, my last ‘Burst’ session was with a 65 pound pack and 4 miles, averaging 13.3 minutes per mile. You can do better!
  • Clothing:  Long pants (always), good boots (I will use either my Merill hikers, or my Danners GTX or combat hikers outfitted with SOLE Softec Ultra Footbeds and Vermont ‘Darn Tough’ socks), wicking t-shirt, unbuttoned OG-107 long sleeve shirt (sleeves rolled up), DTG patched baseball cap, and an OD triangular ‘ranger rag’ bandage for sweat mopping.
  • Terrain:  Mostly sidewalks, with some gravel, some grass, flat to gently rolling ‘ripples’ (not hills, really).
  • Time of Day:  Typically right before afternoon rush hour; that’s when my schedule allows up to 3 hours for ruck walking.
  • First mile and a half:  Warm up – not really hard and fast walking, but increasingly fast, so that at the end of the first mile and a half, legs, core, lungs and arms are warmed up.
  • Second mile and a half:  At per-determined land marks (typically intersections), run at a full stride for 100 meters and walk the next 100 as fast as possible.  Starting out, I was able to do only 2, but as time goes on and strength and endurance came along, I’m doing 6 runs during this portion of the walk (this is burst training woven into a ruck walk).
  • Third mile:  Walk fast as possible; ensure hydration along the way.
  • 4th mile:  Run 440 meters (about a quarter mile) at ‘double time’ (not a full run; not a jog); walk the rest and recover.  Simply stamina training, and only so far as my body will allow.
  • 5th through next to last mile (could be 6 to 10, depending):  Walk steady; attempt to keep no slower than a 15 to 17 minute mile (15 minutes for light days; 17 minutes for heavy days).
  • Last mile:  Decrease speed and cool down.

In the days between ruck walks I do my PT (body weight & free weight exercises).

Nutrition:  No soda.  Period.  WAY too much sugar!!  Extremely small amount bread (meaning once in a blue moon), lots of green things and other vegetable; about 1/3 protein and 1/3 natural fat.  Alcohol mostly kept to weekends (and NEVER right after a workout!).

Rest:  7 – 8 hours nightly.

Hydration:  Minimum of 32 ounces of purified water fortified with stabilized oxygen daily.  During ruck walks, hydrate as needed, but don’t drink more than necessary.  In other words, don’t go through your bladder before the ruck walk is over.  After it’s done, and you’re in recovery stage, slowly hydrate until you feel like you’re good to go.

The Results of Communists Acting ‘For the Greater Good’

I received a couple of jpgs over the transom and thought, taken together,  they provide a quick and simple way to demonstrate what happens when you disarm a country or a people.  No long diatribe, just a couple of pics loaded with facts.

Right now, today, we have general election candidates and serving politicians (who are, in fact, communist) shouting from the rooftops to begin the wholesale disarmament of the American nation.  Well then, let’s see what these same actions have accomplished over the last……oh, say 119 years across the world.

Now let’s take the latest example, Venezuela, and examine it just a bit more closely:

Let’s see…..socialist president, check.  Socialist medicine, check.  Free college, check.  Ban gun ownership, check.  Opposition to socialist government imprisoned, check.  Food and healthcare become like ‘dark humor’ – not everyone gets it, check.  Constitution and elections suspended, check.

UNARMED CITIZENS (who most likely voted in the crap they’re getting) MASSACRED BY THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT, check.

The narrative hasn’t changed in over 100 years.  Show this to your left supporting friends and relatives and ask them to disprove it.  They can’t.

Then, go get yourself another AR or AK, a couple of cases of ammo, and get to the range.  And then, of course, do the other things you need to for preparation of the next few years.  If you think the unrest of the 60’s was severe, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.  Just pay attention to Venezuela.  Maybe look at what happened in Bosnia.

Oh, and voting for Trump?  If you want to stave off what’s coming, you might want to consider it, unless you’re one of those sick bastards that wants to see this country devolve into its own hellish war.

One last thing:  A socialist is a communist who hasn’t found his/her AK-47 yet.  Mike Vanderbeogh said that, and it was right on the money.


What Specific Goals has the Communist Party NOT Achieved in the USA?

Posted at AP on 15 May 18.

Here’s a list compiled in 1958 by W. Cleon Skousen, in his book, “The Naked Communist”  and revisited in the book, “The Naked Truth: The Naked Communist – Revisited,” by James C. Bowers, of 45 communist goals that must be accomplished before the US government could be overthrown from a free state and transfigured into a communist state.

Examine it.  And once done, please describe any of these that have not yet been accomplished.  Then judge as where we are as a people and nation. I’ll be interested to read any comments on this post.

  1.  U.S. acceptance of co-existence as the only alternative to atomic war.
  2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
  3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament by the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.
  4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
  5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
  6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
  7. Grant recognition of Red China.  Admission of Red China to the UN.
  8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the Germany question by free elections under supervision of the UN.
  9. Prolong the Conferences to ban atomic tests, because the U.S. has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
  10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the UN.
  11. Promote the UN as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the UN as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other.)
  12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
  13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.
  14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
  15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the U.S.
  16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
  17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum.  Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in text-books.
  18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
  19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.
  20. Infiltrate the press.  Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policy-making positions.
  21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
  22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings; substitute shapeless, awkward, and meaningless forms.”
  23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaning-less art.”
  24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.
  25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
  26. Present homo-sexuality, degeneracy, and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”
  27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social religion.”  Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
  28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
  29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to co-operation between nations on a worldwide basis.
  30. Discredit the American founding fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
  31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of “the big picture.”   Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
  32. Support any Socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture — education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
  33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
  34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
  35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
  36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
  37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
  38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies.   Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.
  39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.
  40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
  41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents.   Attribute prejudices, mental blocks, and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
  42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use “united force” to solve economic, political or social problems.
  43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
  44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
  45. Repeal the Connally Reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems.  Give the World Court jurisdiction over nations and individuals alike.

Happy Wednesday….


Essential Skills: Converting Grid and Magnetic Azimuths – How and Why

Posted at AP on 5 Apr 19.

In the last post on Magnetic Declination, the impact it has on azimuth/bearing accuracy was described.  In this post, we’re going to look at the ‘how and why’ of converting grid (or map) azimuths/bearings to magnetic azimuths/bearings and vice versa.

First, a word about grid maps.  They’re not essential for ‘shooting’ an azimuth or bearing (from here on out referred to as either a Grid Azimuth (GAZ) or Magnetic Azimuth (MAZ)), but they are essential to plotting (determining & marking) positions on a map to within various levels of accuracy (meaning actual distance from the object or location being plotted).  That’ll be covered in one of the next posts on this subject.

For your convenience, you can use a ‘UTM’ ‘Universal Transverse Mercator’ AKA USGS 7.5 minute map.  They’ll either have ‘tick’ marks on them that you can use to provide your own grid (as I have done and commenters have suggested (Tip:  Use very thin map marking pens and don’t use red ink – red disappears when using a red light) or complete grid lines.  They’re ok to use; they’re typically in 1:24,000 scale, and you need to ensure your map tools correspond in scale.  More on that in the future.  Personally, I prefer and recommend maps that use the MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) which is similar to the UTM, but scaled in 1:25,000 & 1:50,000, which is what I learned land navigation with during active duty.  It’s a familiarity thing for me.  YMMV.  In either case, the listed Declination, or ‘GM Angle’ on the map (which may or may not be correct due to Magnetic North Pole movement) is for the center of the map, and depending on the what’s under or on top of the surface, the Declination degree may be distorted during your trip.  So, it’s good to check the on line or other sources for up to the date declination numbers.

The simplest way available to man right now is to get a compass that has an declination adjustable feature, such as the Sunnto MC-3 as pictured below.  Basically, once you determine what your Magnetic Declination is, you simply use the provided tool, adjust the declination reading to correspond with that number (either East or West) and use your compass on the map as well as when shooting your azimuth.  No mathematical equation is necessary because the compass itself has the declination already accounted for by your adjustment.  In the compass image below, you can see the declination window at 6 o’clock on the compass, or specifically, at Zero degrees.  It’s the little black pincer looking thing.  Underneath the compass is a small standard screw slot that an accompanying tool will adjust to whatever your declination is, East or West.  Once the degree is in the center of the indicator, you’re set.  None of your azimuths need conversion until such time as you use a different compass – one that can’t be adjusted similarly.

If you’re not using that type of compass, you’ll always have to use the mathematical equation to convert both Grid and Magnetic Azimuths back and forth when navigating.

When you’re figuring out the azimuth to get from your start point to a mid or end point on your course, you really need one of these things to determine your GAZ.


It’s called a ‘protractor’ and using it is pretty simple:  Place the center over the point on the map you’re using to determine which azimuth you’re going to travel on, square the protractor to the map’s grid, place a small tick mark in the center of the protractor (they usually have a hole for that purpose), and use some sort of straight edge to line up the center point and the azimuth (use the INNER RING of degrees, not the outer ring), place a tick mark, move the protractor out of the way, and draw a straight line from the origin point to the azimuth line.   You should have written down your Grid Azimuth (GAZ).

Now on to GAZ to MAZ conversion.

For now let’s say you’re using a USGI Lensatic or other compass that does not have the Declination Adjustment feature. The graphic below demonstrates for both East & West Declination.   You need to know that if your declination is East, it means that Magnetic North is East of your location.  Conversely, if it’s West, Magnetic North is West of your location.


If you plot your grid azimuth on a map and it reads (for example), 180 degrees (GAZ), and you know your local declination is 15 degrees East, and you wish to convert your GAZ to a MAZ, simply subtract the Declination of 15 degrees and you’ll have a 165 MAZ, or ‘magnetic’ azimuth that you can use with your compass.

Now, if you want to convert a MAZ to GAZ using the example above (in that you have a MAZ of 180, simply add the 15 degrees declination to the 180, and you have a correct GAZ.

This equation must be memorized if you don’t have a declination adjustable compass in order to stay accurate and end up on or near the coordinate you’re aiming for on the last leg of your navigation.  The consequence of not converting or adjusting for declination is not reaching your objective…..or worse, getting hopelessly lost, which might be terminal, depending on your location and the scenario you find yourself in.

And really, that’s all there is to it.

Next time:  Plotting Coordinates – Why and How


Essential Skills: Magnetic Declination can RUIN Compass Accuracy if not Accounted for…

land nav map 1

Originally posted 12 Mar 2016 and reposted on AP on 23 Mar 19


Comments on a post back in 2016 on another site on Magnetic Declination disagree with, or at least minimized the importance of magnetic declination with the general feeling that, ” …’15 degrees’ isn’t that much of an error” or, “15 degrees will only result in a little bit of extra walking..,” or “I can get where I’m going…”

Now, I’m sure that guys and gals out there who’ve been hunting in one area or another (no matter how large) all their lives and have well used topographical 7.5 minute maps can get from point A to point B and so on with a cursory look at their map and shooting a general bearing with their compass.  The primary tool they use is familiarity with the AO (a good thing) and terrain association with the compass used as a back up.  Ergo, they may not think they need to worry about declination.  And, in that particular scenario, those making claims like that are most likely 100% correct…until they get into territory they aren’t familiar with.

USMC Land Nav

Before we begin, let’s define Magnetic Declination:  All compasses used today point to Magnetic North, not True North.  The difference between the Magnetic North and the True North direction is comprised of an angle called magnetic declination.   It can be literally zero degrees or as many as

This angle is NOT the same in all places.  It varies based on how far away you and your compass are from the one place that your magnetic compass would be in line with True North.  An example might be someone navigating a route on the Gulf and East coasts of the United States would be subjected to a declination variance of 20 degrees West in Maine to 0 degrees in Florida), to 10 degrees East in Texas, If the trip started in Texas, and the compass was adjusted at the beginning of the journey, it would end up having a true north error of over 30 degrees by the end of the journey if not adjusted for the changing declination. 

A good source to get the exact declination, or GM angle, is

                           Diagram of Declination Errors

So how do you know if it’s an East or West Declination error on your map?  Simple:  All quality topographic maps will have the number on it.  Personally, I use the maps at – they’ve never let me down.  I also double check the printed declination against the declination web site above.

Experienced navigators backed up by the facts regarding magnetic compasses and the magnetic ‘North Pole’ will quickly tell you that if you don’t account for the local declination, you stand a great chance of not reaching your objective (which may be getting back to your truck or home or reaching and injured person or whatever you can think of) or becoming lost yourself.

Ok, let’s do a scenario  with a very popular subject, a SHTF scenario or some other situation where the person is using a new map and is unfamiliar with the territory.  Let’s say you or one of your folks is running a security patrol with your NPT with the task of linking up with a neighboring NPT at a particular location at a particular time.  If the NPT’s in the scenario don’t concern themselves with accurate grid azimuth conversion to magnetic conversion, lives could be at stake, and the link up will most likely not occur.

US Magnetic Declination Map

                                                                        US Magnetic Declination Map                                                                                                    Remember, the Magnetic pole shifts all the time so this is not necessarily accurate.

If you’re looking on your map and figure you need to take a 78 degree magnetic azimuth, and set your compass accordingly, and you haven’t either adjusted your compass for the local declination (difference between Magnetic North and True North, either East or West) or converted your grid azimuth to magnetic by either subtracting or adding the correct declination degrees, you will have a proportionate error when you shoot your azimuth (bearing)  to start your navigation that only gets worse as you go along.  Here’s the error factor of being off by various degrees computed to distance from the target:

1 degree of error at 1,000 meters from start point = 17.5 meters off target (or 19 yards)

5 degrees of error at 1,000 meters from start point = 87.5 meters off target (95 yards)

8 degrees of error at 1,000 meters (my AO) start point = 140 meters off target (153 yards)

10 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 175 meters off target (191 yards)

16 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 280 meters off target (306 yards)

21 degrees of error at 1,000 meters start point = 367.5 meters off target (401 yards)

That’s for a 1 click leg (1,093 yards).  Now, let’s multiply that to, say, a 7 click straight line walk.   Drum roll:  2,572.5 meters off target at the end of that little 7 click jaunt from the start point, not taking into account any additional anomalies you may encounter while trying to walk that perfectly straight 7 kilometer line you drew on your map.

Now, for discussion’s sake, let’s make our walk shorter.  We’ll use the maximum variation in the US – 21 degrees East (Washington State) for a short, 3 click walk.  Drum roll:  1,102.5 meters/1,205 yards (even backing it down to the declination in my AO, 8 degrees, it comes out to 420 meters/459 yards – almost half a click – which is a LOT in a rural/wilderness environment).  Over a click off your target from the get go if in Washington State and drift, deviation, and pace count error haven’t been factored in yet.

That’s where you are; imagine where you will be when you think you’re at the end of your first leg.  The mind boggles.  For fun in this mental exercise, add a little thing called, “night” to the equation.  Now, for added flavor, consider when the map isn’t matching up to the terrain and you’re positive that your on the right azimuth, the disorientation (something that occurs with little notice) that can add to all the things you’re dealing with, and oh yes, human error in our calculations.

Good luck in reaching your destination as planned.

So now you should be able to see how important factoring in local declination into your map and compass work is to you.  There are a lot of good sources out there to teach you the skills, which aren’t that difficult in the first place.  All it takes is time and effort.  One way to learn or improve your land nav skills if you’re serious is to find a good local weekend course and register/attend.  Or go join a local orienteering club.   You’ll really be glad you did when you have the confidence of not only your equipment, but your skills in making them as accurate as possible.

declination map

The Sling – It’s for Much More Than CQB or Ease of Rifle Carry…

Excellent opening image above, isn’t it?  It demonstrates the use of a ‘deliberate’ sling on a 1917 Eddystone Enfield, chambered in 30-06.  The image below is an M-14 rifle nomenclature diagram.  Notice the sling is important enough to be included as part of the weapon system, and it’s set up properly for a deliberate (aka, ‘loop’) sling , too.  Following that is an image of a M-16 with one of the older cotton web slings, and it’s set up properly for a deliberate sling as well.  The sling, as taught to many generations of US servicemen, is an aid to accurate shooting.  Even the sling swivels are placed in strategic locations for optimum employment (more on this below).

As mentioned above, the US military (all branches at one point) used to teach marksmanship to include the use of the sling to all recruits (especially the USMC), but, as the years went by and training focus changed from accurate fire to area suppression, less and less time was spent on accuracy, and more time was spent on putting as many rounds into an area or location as possible, to the point that only the Marines continued to teach the sling.  Stands to reason, in the USMC, everyone is a rifleman, first and foremost.

In my own time on active duty, I believe my ‘generation’ was the last to receive any training in the use of the sling, and that was after arrival at our first duty stations, not in Basic Training, and then, not universally across the board.  I was lucky; had a few early Vietnam veterans and cross branch enlistees who took an interest in my shooting capabilities because I was on their squad.  And, about that time, the sling, to most people, became an item with which to carry one’s rifle on the shoulder, and these days, across the chest or abdomen.

HUGE mistake in my opinion.

                   Yours Truly Shooting a M14 Type Rifle with a Hasty Sling

To underscore the point, the primary purpose of a sling is not simply for carrying a rifle comfortably as some may think; rather, it’s an essential shooting aid that allows the shooter to achieve better accuracy in each shot than the shooter would without it.  1907 slings as well as web slings are now mostly used by competitors, re-enactors, and purists (which I count myself as one of the former competitors, now turned purist).  Mores the pity – the generations of younger shooters will most likely not benefit from such superb training as those who’ve gone before did.

Today’s slings (both issue and after market) can be single point, two point, three point, in terms of attachment, as well as variations thereof with slides and buckles to tighten or loosen the sling on the individual for ease of weapon deployment or carrying easier that has a byproduct of letting the troop use both hands for other tasks while retaining the ability to bring the weapon to bear in a threat.  They’re simply an evolution of a need brought about by a major shift in vehicle & airborne insertion into a battle zone.  They don’t have a thing to do with helping the shooter deliberately hit a target a long way away to the back burner.  So, in relation to accuracy, those type of slings pretty much suck as deliberate shooting aids.   One of the reasons is the points of attachment have changed along with the purpose of slings when shooting.

Most military grade or replica of issue rifles have two primary points of attachment for the sling:  On the underside of the forearm near its front end and the underside of the butt stock near its end.

Take the Vietnam issue nylon web sling (above), it’s WWII/Korean War predecessors made of cotton web, and it’s child – black cotton/poly mix (the worst of the lot, in my opinion).  All three good versions were able to be quickly employed as either deliberate or hasty configurations for the shooter to have a really good chance at hitting his enemy at maximum effective or beyond maximum effective ranges, or if closer and under great stress, have a better chance of coming out on top with a first or second shot hit.  In my opinion, the Vietnam issue is the best, because with use it gets softer and does not stretch at all.

Another that doesn’t stretch at all is the Turner Saddlery ‘all weather’ 1907 slings as pictured below.  In my opinion, you can’t buy a better sling than Turner, leather or synthetic.  You might find some just as good, but none better.

                                            Turner Saddlery Synthetic NM Sling in OD

                           US Marine Employing a Deliberate or “Loop” Sling with a M-16A2 Rifle

The front and rear sling swivel locations help reduce any pressure of the forearm against the barrel, which will degrade accuracy.   This can be mitigated, though.  How?  Easy – the barrel must be ‘free floated.’  Back when I competed in High Power, my match rifles, both Garands and M14 type rifles, were free floated to wring the most accuracy possible out of them when using or not using the sling.  Standard issue or replica rifles used are typically upgraded to match level in parts and construction, and the shooter learns how much pressure he can put on the sling before it’s a detriment and not a help in his shooting.  Here’s a very short video on the proper way to install a sling.

If you’re a more ‘modern’ shooter and have a sling installed on the standard USGI gas block clipped in with a plastic or light metal quick release buckle, and you’re putting pressure on your sling, you could easily break your attachment device or put enough pressure on the gas block to cause problems with your accuracy.  If you have a QR release on the side of the forearm, enough pressure may pop your QR swivel right out of its receptacle.   Either of these conditions are not good for your shot.  And Murphy ensures these kinds of things always happen at the wrong moment.  When installed ‘old school’ on older .30 caliber battle rifles or even M16A1’s, through A4’s, these things rarely happen because A:  the sling swivels are reinforced to take the pressure using a sling generates, and B: the sling isn’t putting pressure on anything that will affect the shot.  If you are going to use the current crop of slings, 99.999% of them were not designed to help you attain better accuracy, so it might not be a good idea to try it out on them.  Especially if you’re a ‘CQB’ type – you don’t need the sling for accuracy anyway.  Using a sling is strictly for making accurate shots out to ranges you don’t normally shoot at or when strict accuracy is necessary for a certain shot.

Me?  Sure, I’ve got rifles set up with the more modern 2 point slings, but I’ll always have at least one rifle set up with a 1907 or USGI Nylon sling.  Not so cool looking, but really high up there for making shots when it really counts.

Let’s hear your thoughts on sling shooting in the comments.



EEFI – Those Who Want You Dead Absolutely LOVE the Gift You Give Them….

First, what IS ‘EEFI’?  As most things military, it’s an acronym, and stands for, ‘Essential Elements of Friendly Information,’ and when enough is known and/or collected, allows an aggressor to piece together a picture of you and your operation, that while not secret or protected, leads to an understanding or a more complete picture of what you’re about, what your plans are, what you may have, what you’re thinking about, and most especially, where you might be vulnerable to an attack.  Most folks don’t realize when they’re having a great conversation about various subjects that they’re giving away a treasure trove of essential information that will help an enemy out.  Social media has raised the collection of EEFI to an unheard of level.  Think about it:  how many people post when they’re away from home, what weapons they have, when their kids are home alone, etc, etc, etc?

Any enemy, such as a home invader or kidnapper targeting low hanging fruit (those kids who’s parents tell everything about them on social media including where and when they go to school), communist organizations who don’t like you (ANTIFA, ISIS, BAMN, SPLC, etc), and so on can get a treasure trove of information about you on social media or simply by listening to what you say while chatting with a friend in a restaurant or on a park bench divulging facts really not relevant to anyone but you.

Besides Social Media, the commentary of countless blogs and forums are great for EEFI mining.  Someone wanting to target a particular person only need find where they post items, and sit back and take notes.  Additionally, most EEFI is provided innocently with pure intent, in discussions between, ‘like minded people’ (mostly on-line, but FTF as well) when others are listening.  When everyone’s having dinner at the same time, and the table next to yours (that you have no idea of their leanings or core beliefs) has a few hard core libtards having tofu and hear you start to talk about your ‘armory’ to a good buddy who’s just waking up to what’s likely to go down, and they mention it to a good friend who’s into arming Antifa….you could have an issue.

Don’t think it isn’t happening?  Think again.

“But DTG,” you say, “It COULD be disinformation being put out!”  Sure it could.  Live and on-line. But most likely, it’s accurate information, because the people flat out discussing or posting the EEFI are looking for validation from their meat space or on-line ‘friends’ on what they’re doing, what equipment/weapons/preps they have, and so on, and most importantly, are not trained INTEL folks who know how to sew disinformation.

Example:  Someone wants you dead for whatever reason, or more realistically, someone wants to pin point those in their immediate proximity who might be able to provide re-supply of ammo, weapons, food, clothing and such, should things, ‘Go South.’  All that person has to do is find out what username or ‘nom de guerre’ the person of interest uses, and what blogs, web sites, and forums they frequent, and simply sit back and take notes.

The following image applies to those who cannot help ‘blabbing’ everything they have, know, and are doing to prepare for hard times.  The enemy follows this dictum closely:

Field exercise:  Go through comments on any blog or forum you frequent, and you’ll see folks talk about how many and what type of weapons they have, how much ammo and what type, how much food, and so forth.  Then go to other like minded blogs and sites and read what people tell you about themselves.  It’s not hard to find them.  Really.

Bottom line?  When it comes to telling unknown people about what you could do to either survive a bad situation or repel marauders, there’s only one thing to say:

Not. A. Good. Idea.

It’s so prevalent and goes on so much, that when I was training a survival groups, I’d give homework assignments based on certain news articles on first responder organizations and ask them:  “What can you tell me about ‘X’ department’s capabilities based on what is in this news article?  For the next month, based on the first article, there should be at least two follow up news articles.  Whoever puts together the most complete capabilities description wins.”

In one department, we found out how many radios they had, what type they were, what the members thought about them, what a typical response time was, and so on.  If we had been ‘bad actors,’ we’d have had a great amount of information based on an ‘open source.’

I also gave an assignment for, “Predict the Probability of an Easy Home Invasion,” by people you know on Social Media who post everything in their lives on the various social media sites.  The group was able to find out who wasn’t home, who left their 17 year old daughter alone at home while they went on vacation, where certain families were going to be, when they would be leaving and when they’d return, who had dogs, who had dog sitters, etc, etc, etc, etc.

If you were a bad person, wouldn’t EEFI be your, “Bestie”?  Dang Skippy it would.

Now, I’m not an INTEL guy by any stretch of the imagination.  However, I was trained to observe, listen, and read what an OPFOR put out as ‘news releases.’

Consider doing a couple things:  1 – When someone posts an article or question on things you might want to have, DO NOT post comments on what you have compared to the article.  2 – When doing your own preps and observing your own AO, actively listen to what those around you say and do.  Write it down for future reference.  Should something bad happen, you’ll have a better picture of what the folks who might be like minded have to help you help them.  If they’re not like minded, and are basically OPFOR, you’ll have a better idea of their capabilities and intent.

Remember, “Trust, but Verify”?

That’s something we should all do before we start giving everything away.


If bad people out there want information, make them at LEAST work for it.  Don’t make their jobs easier.  And make no mistake, there are people out there watching this and many, many, many other sites who wish everyone else in the readership very, very, very bad things, up to, and including death.

Remember that innocent discussions can be gleaned of valuable nuggets of information.  Essential information.  About you and yours.

Essential Skills: Achieving “Zero” on Your Rifle in 7 Steps – UPDATED

Originally posted in March 2015.

Just over 4 years ago, I spent an enjoyable visiting close friends in the Appalachian Redoubt and enjoyed a special treat by being unexpectedly asked to attend a Basic Marksmanship course as a ‘guest instructor’ (Range Safety Officer/Coach) by one of the primary instructors.  Every shooter participating was new or somewhat new (consciously skilled – can perform a task with either a checklist, coach, or with pre-thought on performance) to the platform, which were primarily various AR series rifles and carbines ranging from the most basic to complete ‘bells and whistles’ models. The home cadre did a great job teaching the class the ins and outs of basic nomenclature, the cycle of operation, malfunction drills, admin, tactical, and combat reloads, and so forth.  What became very apparent was that many in the class weren’t familiar with the zeroing process to include iron sight and optics windage and elevation adjustments, as well as the math to compensate for condensed ranges (1 click at 100 equals 4 clicks at 25), so folks with 1/2 MOA at 100 wheel clicks on their chosen optics had a difficult time figuring out how many clicks that would equal at 25 to move the strike of the bullet 1 inch.  Some were firing their AR’s for the first time.  Most of the AR’s were run dry; a few of the more experienced had lubed their pieces, and it showed by lack of malfunctions.  Personally, making sure the weapon is cleaned and properly (not overly) lubed before it’s shot the first time is part of ground school when I train folks, but not being there for ‘ground school’ I can’t say whether it was covered or not, but I digress.

AR Lube Points

Bolt lube

As is the case many times, the new shooters and a few of the not-so-new shooters had a hard time zeroing their rifles.  If coaches and new shooters follow the steps below before going to a rifle drill class, it will most likely be a much more enjoyable experience, and will get shooters in the habit of having their rifles zeroed at all times, against no-notice, ‘failures of civility’ as there won’t be time to zero then! For NPT members using a military pattern platform (AR, FAL, M14 type, Garand, AK etc), the  ‘general purpose’ zero, or ‘battle sight zero’, is defined as having the round impact on a torso sized target (20 inches X 20 inches) from the muzzle to the farthest point away from the muzzle that the bullet flight path crosses the line of sight and still effectively hits the target without adjusting the sight.  This is the definition of ‘point blank’ range.  Typically, that distance is about 250 to 300 meters with either the 5.56 or 7.62 NATO cartridges when shot at either 25 or 36 meters.  Other calibers mileage will vary.

Battle sight zeroAccuracy OCD Patients:  Many folks want their chosen platform to operate as if it’s a precision rifle and shoot MOA or better groups with surplus or non-match ammo.  Not a realistic expectation, and the shooter is bound to be disappointed.  While sub-MOA (Minute of Angle) accuracy is great, remember, you’re not shooting a precision instrument, especially if it’s “off the rack” (practical accuracy is what we are focused on as the objective of this post).

So forget precision shooting for now.

The idea is to get your rounds on target hitting vital zones as far away as possible without further sight adjustment.   Your groups will tighten with your dry and wet fire practice, learn to use a sling (hasty configuration is the most practical for NPT employment) especially if you perform dry fire 3 or more times a week for 10 minutes religiously.

Taking the time to navigate the ‘zeroing process’ will really help the new and not-so-new shooter to learn their rifle or re-familiarize themselves with it and it’s inherent accuracy (what it’s capable of based on it’s quality and how it was built/manufacctured) potential, strengths, and weaknesses.  Know that it will take a bit of effort, and more than 15 minutes, so don’t plan on zeroing your rifle the morning of a NPT qualification shoot.  All you’ll end up doing is annoying everyone else who’s done their homework prior to training.  An aside:  When holding a NPT qualification check (match), the participants must shoot their rifles without  benefit of ‘zero confirmation’ because that’s what’s going to happen in the real world.  You’re NOT going to have time to check your zero; you’re going to dance with the one ya brung. Here’s a sure way to make sure you can zero your rifle so you start hitting where you want to hit in your training:

Step 1:  Detail disassembly, cleaning, lubricating, reassembly, and function checking (especially with a new rifle, even if it’s just ‘new to you’).  Take your time.  If it’s a new rifle, get a manual or have someone who knows how to take it apart come over and teach you.   I don’t recommend YouTube videos unless it’s been made by a well-seasoned shooter who knows the platform your using inside and out.   Make sure you oil (thick or thin liquid) and lubricate it per specs (lube is typically grease or a semi-paste).  In the AR’s case, this includes the buffer spring and buffer tube. Get the best you can afford.  We prefer light coat of Gunzilla, but there are other really good ones out there, too.

Step 2:  Check the sights.  Make sure they’re mounted solidly with no ‘play’ in them. Set to mechanical zero.  On iron, this entails running the windage adjustment all the way to right or left, counting the clicks all the way across, dividing by two, and bringing it back half way.  Same with elevation.  New optics generally are already at mechanical zero, but used ones may need to be reset.  That may take more than just a few minutes.  You need to run both the windage and elevation wheels to their maximum at one end (take care with these, as over tightening the wheels can cause damage), and count ALL the clicks all the way to the other end of the adjustable space.  For both.  Then, divide in two, and move the wheels back to center.  You’re now mechanically zeroed and can move on to the next step.

Step 3:  Make sure your zero ammo is the same you would carry if SHTF.  Different manufacturers and different bullet weights will make your job harder.  If your SHTF ammo is 55gr Lake City ball, zero with that.  If it’s 147gr South African ball (7.62NATO), use that.  Later, after your rifle is zeroed and you’re doing drills, it’s a good time to start mixing the ammo with others of the same caliber, but with different bullet weights and countries of origin you have together randomly (that means don’t look at what you’re putting in the magazine) and see how your rifle shoots when it’s fed whatever you can find.  You know, the old, ‘any chair in a bar fight’ mindset.  That’s why I typically make sure my ammo is from only one or two manufacturers and it’s performance is similar.

Step 4:    Known Distance Range Familiarization Fire (AKA ‘getting it dialed in on paper’).  This is the only time I recommend bench shooting prior to actual training. Set the piece on either sandbags or a rest. Start close. 10 meters is fine. Make sure you’re hitting approximately where you think you should be. Use a smaller target, say 2 inches square, especially if you’re shooting irons. Shoot 3 shots, making sure you do a complete cycle as described below for each round.

  • Breathing Cycle – Deep, regular breathing, two in, two out, stop midway through the third.
  • Aiming – Get the sight on target and start to adjust your sight alignment and sight picture.
  • Sight Alignment – Top to bottom/side to side (irons); No side or top ‘shadow’ in optical picture.
  • Site Picture – Sight aligned on aiming point on target (some folks use different aiming points, but the principle is the same). Focus is on the front sight or the reticle, NOT the target.

Site Picture

  • Take Up – On a two stage military trigger, this is called, ‘taking up the slack’ and it will not discharge the piece. Make sure you know whether or not you have a two stage or single stage. Single stage trigger users MUST skip this step, because you’ll inadvertently discharge the piece.
  • Trigger Depression – Ball of the finger, straight to the rear, space between the rest of the finger and the pistol grip (otherwise, you’ll ‘drag wood/plastic’ and cause your round to hit in other areas than you desire).
  • Follow Through – Ride the recoil all the way until the rifle settles back into the rest or sandbag. Don’t take your face away just yet.
  • Target Reacquisition – Get eyes on the target again.

Repeat for two more rounds before you look at the target. Check the target, and if you’re on paper near the 2 inch target, you’re on your way. If not, adjust your sights using whatever increments multiplied by 10 (at 10 meters). If you have to move the sights 3 inches up, that’s 30 clicks for a 1 inch at 100 elevation adjustment. If you have to move the sights 2 inches left, that’s 20 clicks for a 1 inch. Your adjustment at 10 meters, though, will most likely be minimal.

You may have a group on the target that’s low, high, left or right. That’s ok. You’re on the paper. Now move the target to 25 meters and repeat the cycle.  Now you can start adjusting your iron sights or optics realistically. Remember, 3 shot groups is all you really need with semi-automatic piece for basic zero. Remember to let the rifle cool every once in awhile, because you’re also checking it’s inherent accuracy (all things being equal, the shooter, the rifle, and the ammo, how tight it shoots and the shape of the group) looking for that tell-tale triangular group indicating a consistent cone of fire.

Step 5: Achieve Battle Sight Zero. Once you’ve put three 3 shot groups center at 25 from the bench, it’s time to move off the bench and get your practical zero.   Set up a clean target, go back to your firing line, and take up a prone position. Support yourself with a ‘hasty’ sling wrap.  If you don’t have a sling capable of providing you with support, for this step you can use sandbags or whatever you have as a second choice. prone supported

Shoot another 3 shot group without looking at where you’re hitting, following the basic steps above. After the group is shot and you’ve cleared and grounded your piece, now go check your group and determine any sight adjustments necessary. Fire two or three more groups to confirm.  Once achieved, no more sandbags.  All you get is your sling.  You can effectively increase your accuracy using a 1907 or USGI surplus web sling installed on traditional sling swivels from any shooting position you’re likely to use.

Step 6: Practice at ranges out to your ‘point blank range’ with a 20×20 inch target. Note the different points of impact at different ranges. You’ll still be on target, but will most likely note that at about half distance to max battle zero, your rounds will impact high. This is simply because the round is at the highest point in the trajectory necessary to hit the target at the max point blank range.

Step 7: Do your dry fire. Make sure you do it painstakingly correct. It’ll make a difference come ‘Basic’ or ‘NPT Qualification day.