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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Next week I'm supposed to take a new M9 course. The new protocol consists of all shots fired in 3 rd strings, 2 to the chest, one to the head. This is done at the 7, 15, and 25yd lines, reseting to double action after each string. I'm not a handgun instructor, much less a military or tactical instructor, But this really smells like some idiot higher up heard or read the buzz phrase "2 to the chest, 1 to the head" and thought it sounded cool. I have always thought of the tactic in question as an advanced technique, not a gimmick for people who shoot once every 1-3 years. I also understood it to be a close range tactic, definately not one suited for engaging a potentially moving target in combat at 25 yds. Even 15 is questionable outside of range conditions. As Anthony said, somebody seems to have a case of "when do we jump out of the flaming helicopters." Anybody care to comment or share an opinion on 25 yd combat headshots?
 

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My only comment is that the protocol will change when noone gets the military standard 70%, because all the 25m headshots score as misses. Mind you, it can be done, but not likely with a time limit without practice, practice, practice.
 

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USAF Handgunner,

I took that qualification course a couple years ago when it first came out - it hit Randolph AFB as the "new" course the same day as my re-qual. Actually I welcomed the change as indication that the USAF was finally paying SOME attention to small arms training, based on its experience in Iraq (note also the USAF convoy courses at Camp Bullis near San Antonio, complete with gun trucks and some live fire).

The Security Forces instructors explained that the reason for adding the headshots was that chest shots/center-of-mass shots were not always getting the job done - jihadis often had chest-mounted ammo carriers and other equipment that stopped rounds from penetrating, so you have to be able to go to another vital, but less protected target area.

As I recall, this most recent qualification course also added more re-loads and starting strings of fire from the holster. When I took my first qualification course in...um... many years ago
, the holster was only used for "administrative" handling i.e. holding the M-9 (or even earlier, whatever the .38 revolver was called!) between courses of fire. We started each string of fire with the gun already drawn and pointed down range--presentation was not part of the qual! So I was glad to see the course beefed up at least somewhat, however little.

As to whether you can make headshots at 25 meters - it may be an advanced technique in a beginner's course, but it is all the Air Force is going to give you, so make the best of it. If jihadi is shooting at you from some distance away, he is unlikely to get closer just so you can make a 7-yard shot. And you closing with him is not likely to be successful either. If you are taking on someone in Iraq, or wherever, with a handgun, you are already in serious trouble. The handgun, in any caliber, is really just for up close and personal emergencies, but if it is all you have, you better use it well. You are unlikely to be able to pick the scenario -- if you can, then you and all your buddies better bring rifles and machine guns and all the other "force mulitpliers!"

Having said all that, I have always thought USAF M-9 qualification course, in all its iterations, is pretty weak. Abninftr, there are in fact time limits, and I had no problem making the 25 m shots, body and head. I scored expert
, and I think everyone in my training class at least passed. Of course, the time limits are pretty generous, and the target is not moving, and is not shooting back at me.

usafhandgunner, I suggest you invest in some serious training with one of the private instructors. I personally went with John Farnam's instruction (http://defense-training.com/). He covers handguns, shotguns, and rifles, and has trained several marine units and individuals heading over to the sandbox, as well as other people who have to work in "hot" zones. Very good course, covers both tactical and administrative gunhandling, reloading, malfunctions, "barroom floor pickup" (i.e. picking up a weapon you've never seen before, clearing malfunctions, and using it). And his fee was very reasonable too. Of course, there are other choices, too, but grab one of them and learn it, before you really need it.

I retired last year and it is pretty nice. Wish you best of luck in the rest of your career. Work hard if you want to stick with it, the USAF is getting smaller each year, not bigger.


"Keep'em flying!"

elb
 

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The time factor would make a big difference for someone who only shoot once a year. Did you have any preparatory training or range time?
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
ELB and Abninftr,
Thanks for the input. I scored expert on the old course. I think you needed 30/36 on it. I don't know yet what the required score on this one is. I can probably shoot expert on this one too, but I am a gun junkie and shoot at least twice a month.

My issue is that, as ELB points out, the AF in general, even in Security Forces (Military Police/Combat Arms) small arms and other "warrior skills" are not taken seriously, in fact they are laughed at the same way recruits laugh at parades and other (to them) seemingly useless drills. The prevailing attitude is that weapons, the gas chamber and PT are for the Army, and we just go thru the motions when we have to.

My job is now CAT C, meaning we shoot once every 36 mos. And to answer abninftr, we had about three hours classroom, no practice fire. We just shot our 36 rds to Qual cold. Not nearly as big a deal as with a rifle, but still, I spent three rds figuring out that my weapon shot (or i shot with it) high and right. And you may find interesting this was in officer training, and actually qualifying was not a requirement to commision, though on Active duty you must qual to deploy. We never even touched any kind of long gun. So the point of this ramble is, though most of us could do it on the range, I think its a bad idea for people who shoot only 36 rds every three years. The AF has a long history of trying to fix problems with the latest greatest gimmick, and I think they're ignoring the obvious that we just don't shoot enough.

As for training, I think I'm gonna go to blackwater later this year. Anybody got any experience with them?

And I'd still like to know whether the rest of you are very keen on attempting 25 m head shots under combat conditions. Personally, though its no big deal on the range, I don't practice it as SD/Combat SOP. I'd rather have a body shot than a missed head. If the jihadi doesn't go down I might make the decision to go for the head... or just throw more lead at the body.
 

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Abninftr - if your question was directed at me, yes I have lots of unofficial pistol practice under my belt - that always helps. :) In my particular qualification courses, the instructors always gave us some dry fire practice, and five rounds to check poa/poi. But overall the course is not very demanding. The time constraints don't allow you to fumble much, but they are not overly demanding. I would not say that anyone who passes it, even with an expert rating, is really qualified to use the pistol in combat. And since in NONE of the deployed locations in the mideast that I went to (I did not go to Iraq or Afghanistan, just surrounding countries) were we allowed to even have firearms (body armor, but no gun), I guess it didn't matter! We depended on the local military and the SFs to keep the bad guys away. I didn't get shot at in any of those locales (frankly I was more worried about getting clobbered in the local traffic), so I guess it worked out.

elb
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What did you do in the AF, ELB? Just curious.
My next scheduled deployment is to the mid-east, but outside of Iraq/Afghanistan. It will be low threat too. As a matter of fact, I have friends who recently returned from locatons inside Iraq, Mortartitaville included, and they were unarmed as well. In fact, i have known troops who were given a hard time for carrying a medium sized knife over with them. You know how the AF is; We need a HQ approved safety class to use a dinner knife, lol. But I'm off track. That's a conversation for chairforce.com, not this forum.

You probably won't be suprised that last week, while I was near the guard shack leading to our Pro-level 2 aircraft, I sat down on a picnic table with another MSgt. A female SF SSgt, sat down scross from us to take her break, an pronptly unslung her rifle, with mag inserted, and laid it on the table top pointing right at my chest. I said "hey watch were you point that, Sgt," to which she replied "the safety's" on. I left the area, and later when shaking my head and telling others about the Clueless SF girl, several of my collegues said that's what I get for sticking my nose in SF business. They thought that since I'm not SF I wasn't qualified to tell the guard how to handle her rifle. I love being in the AF, but sometimes I just have to shake my head and wish I was in the Marines.
 

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usafhandgunner.

Your question (what did I do in the AF?):
- I was a comm officer. Did a lot of different duties under that AFSC.

Your comment ("We need a HQ approved safety class to use a dinner knife, lol.")

- Heh!

elb
 

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I just finished another class from Louis Awerbuck- the master at messing with one's head.
The main thing he teaches us is that we screw up ourselves.

Some things I've picked up from him in this, and prior classes:

-He despises firm yardages in quals, and thinks 15 yards is the "magic" number in police qual problems.
Put a shooter at 15 yards, tell them to make a head shot and he will blow it.
Put him at 10 yards, and he will make a 3" group, but can't hit the 8" head at 15.
Put them at an "unknown" distance (which is actually 14 yards, 35 inches), and he will make the shot.
Put him at 16 yards, tell him it's 12 yards, and he will make it.
We think too much.

-Place two shooters of equal ability in front of two targets of rectangular cardboard- one blank, one with a 1" black circle in the center and tell them to shoot. The blank target shooter will have a tiny group and the one with the aiming point will have a mess.


-He does things like gets everyone shooting well on a full frontal target, then bends it over until it's half-size. All of a sudden, we who were shooting baseball-size groups are shooting basketball-size groups.
Overthinking.

-We are shooting three-inch groups on paper, then he cuts a 6" circle out of the target and says to shoot through it. We can't.
Overthinking.

What am I suggesting? If you want your shooters to make 25 yard head shots, try to find a way to do it without them knowing it.
Don't tell the yardage. Don't use a range with yardage lines/indicators. Don't use a target with a normal head- try to make up an oversized head, but with an outline of a regular head on it that they can't see, so when they shoot to hit the giant head they should have a smaller-than-head size group in the center.
Can you do this? Probably not.
But if you can't do the quals this way, can you find a way to set this up beforehand just to show them it can be done so they don't talk themselves into thinking the quals are impossible? Might help, can't hurt.
 
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