Well folks, I told you I enjoyed the Long Range Hunters Course at BadLands so much that I'd be back! Last week they conducted a Basic Precision Rifle (Sniper) Course over four days. This is an in-depth course for those that are just starting in the tactical game. The course is offered to anyone who can successfully pass a NCIC (National Crime Investigation Computer) background check. Our class was pretty well split between LE, civilians, and a few of us with a military background. With all the happenings in New York and Washington, the mood of the class was a bit more subdued than the Hunter Course; but we still had a good time!
Everything began Thursday morning with the dreaded classroom. However, this is not just ordinary classroom work. You learn about the history of the sniper, with VERY good use of videos, as well as lecture. Some of the MANY subjects covered are responsibilities of each team member, minimum equipment requirements for a sniper team, the proper way to inspect a rifle for maintenance faults/defects, wind classifications and how to determine wind direction, rifle data book entries, mil-relation formula (can't we all just get away from math?? NO!) - and these are just a FEW of the subjects covered. OH, did I fail to mention the Pre-Test? This is a 35-question test given at the beginning of day one just to see where everyone stands. There is also a 50-question Post Test that MUST be passed with a minimum score of 80%.
Friday morning was more classroom work with major emphasis on mil-relation and range estimation. Later in the morning this is taken to "Range E" for practical exercise on unknown distance targets. THIS is a REAL eye opener; I'll say no more. Hey, other classes have to have some "fun" too! Friday afternoon was our first time on the range collecting data for our data books, acquiring zeros at different ranges, and learning about the infamous BadLands WINDS!
Well, things went on and before we left the range that evening Bobby warned us that we'd better have raingear for Saturday, as there was a forecast 40% chance of rain. Let me say this about that: 40% in Oklahoma means closer to 90%! Some of us went into Wichita Falls Friday evening to purchase the required raingear, and were glad we did! It started raining Friday night and when we got to the range Saturday morning it was a red, muddy mess! We just continued to march until we had been there about 2 hours and the rain hit HARD! Chickening out - hey it was so bad... how bad was it?...it was so bad we could barely see the 100 yard line, much less the longer targets - we packed it in until after lunch when the weather cleared. At that time we continued to gather our data and get our zeros down.
I talked in my review of the Long Range Hunters Course about the personal attention these fine instructors will give anyone having problems. This was REALLY brought out Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning when my partner started having problems getting a good zero at ANY distance. Let's just say it was a scope problem compounded by an ammunition problem that took some REAL work to get straightened out, but with the help of Steve and Bobby it got done. The problem still exists but is getting fixed! And my partner did qualify.
OH did I forget to mention rifle qualification? Yep, full qualification of 5 rounds on target at 100 through 600 yards! Again, more than that I won't say; you'll have to go to see!! Oh, this must also be passed with a minimum score of 80%. Get the feeling there is some real WORK involved with this course? You bet! But it's still lots of fun! Last but not least are the unknown distance shots: 3 targets, 1 round each. Each team has to dope it, dial it, and dump it (to steal a phrase). Each team member must do this little exercise - and of course there is the WIND!
Did I mention the WIND at BadLands? If you don't know how or aren't real good at reading wind when you get to BadLands, by the time you leave you'll at least have had some VERY GOOD hands-on experience in learning to do so!
As I have stated before, you cannot find any better instructors than the crew at BadLands: Bobby, Steve, and Mike. The quality of instruction is second to none. Bobby has military and LE experience, Steve has a military background and has been there and done that, and Mike has military experience in LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol). This combination is truly unique! Go to their website and check them out.
I've said it before and I'm saying it again: just because you're west of the Mississippi, don't think that all of the good training is east of the Mississippi because YOU ARE WRONG! BadLands is truly a great source of training that should be taken complete advantage of. Again, will I be back? You bet, at least through Advanced Phase 1. This old fart will need to do LOTS of training prior to Advanced Phase 2, but that's another story! Check their website for class dates, requirements, and cost (the cost will surprise you!). Above everything else: COME, SHOOT GUNS, WE'LL HAVE FUN (those that have been there will know where that came from!).