Tactical Tip Of The Week
Grand Master Louis M. Chiodo
In this article, I want to focus on some issues related to long guns. Without doubt, the integration of long guns into a scenario opens up opportunities to win a confrontation quickly and decisively. However, the mere presence of a long gun does NOT equate to a decisive win if not properly employed by its user. Remember, WE are the weapon and the long gun is part of OUR total system. The rifle and its related equipment, our training, our judgment and will to win are parts of our total system. The long gun cannot do anything for us unless we are properly trained in the mechanics of its operation AND maximizing its capabilities by our ability to achieve combat accuracy in the dynamic environment in which it is deployed.
For a while now, I have been reading many articles and postings related to long guns. There are countless books and videos related to long guns. So, we are not at a loss for information. The big question is how much of this information is useful and the methods presented valid. We have been inundated with training courses that emphasize the “run and gun” format of training. Everyone is dressed out for a raid in Afghanistan and hundreds of rounds are expended with the purpose of helping individuals (law enforcement, civilian and military) learn how to use their long gun for defensive purposes. The question that always enters my mind when observing this training is, “how does this training relate to how that long gun will be used by the person being trained?” ALL training has to have the ultimate goal of being relevant to the individual being trained.
Before we can discuss long gun selection, it is important to determine what will be the mission of the selected long gun. Long guns can be used in a wide range of applications. While it is possible to select a long gun that can fulfill multiple roles, it is important to examine the way we intend to use our choice.
Here are some roles that long guns may be used:
- Home defense
- Law enforcement duty
- Private security
Each of these categories can have similarities and their roles can overlap into one another. However, there can be unique differences that separate each category and impact the selection of particular long guns based upon their role assigned role.
Training in the use and deployment of our selected long gun is a critical issue that must be addressed to maximize the capability of the long gun we select and our ability to use is capabilities.
One of the first questions you have to ask yourself as you select a long gun is what is its intended role and what environment will it be deployed. This will help determine what choices are best suited for that role and environment, what training will be needed to effectively operate in that environment and how to equip your long gun.
As an example, if you intend to use your long gun as part of your home defense plan here are a few specific questions you need to consider when you choose a suitable long gun:
- Do you want a rifle or shotgun?
- What type of mechanism do you want to use (for shotguns – pump or semi auto. For rifles – semi auto, lever action, bolt action)?
- What barrel length and overall size is best suited for you?
- What shotgun gauge or rifle caliber (including pistol caliber carbines calibers) do you want?
- If other family members may have to use the long gun, will they be competent with it? (What works for you may not work for them). How will recoil, size and weight of the long gun affect their ability to effectively fight with it?
You may have more specific questions but this gets the point across that much thought has to be put into the selection and several considerations must be weighed in the selection process. A similar process can be used for the other roles. Each role has its own special requirements.
Once you select the long gun and identify its primary role, your training should focus on the environment you will be operating in when it is deployed. Let’s look at some of the considerations that can guide our training:
One important consideration when selecting a long gun is to analyze anticipated target engagement distances from the threat when you deploy your long gun. Will you be in a Close Quarter Battle (CQB) scenario? Do you have to engage threats at ranges beyond CQB but within 100 yards? Does your environment include long distances to the threats?
Every one of these environments require specific training to maximize your ability to efficiently employ your long gun. One size fits all training doesn’t accomplish the goal of maximizing your capabilities with your long gun.
If your environment presents variable lighting conditions, your training must include specific training to become acclimated to operating in that variable lighting. Training in variable lighting conditions should be included in your normal training cycle. The only way to really develop fighting skills in low light and potentially black out conditions is to train in those conditions. This will not only allow you to become accustomed to the lighting conditions but also potentially lead you to a greater understanding about what additionally equipment you may need to effectively operate in those conditions. This experience will also help you set up your long gun to increase your capability to fight in this environment.
Proper methods of shooting around or over cover with your long gun are another important training consideration. Knowing the difference between cover and concealment as it relates to stopping incoming rounds is also very important. Whenever possible we should be behind cover (capable of stopping incoming rounds) or at least concealment so that you present a more difficult target to hit. Remember, many people won’t think of shooting through what is concealing you and focus on the small portion of your body that may be exposed. I have seen this happen to people who don’t receive proper training in how to shoot in a combat environment as opposed to a range training environment. If a small portion of their head is seen around a corner and the remainder of their body is concealed behind drywall or some other material that can’t stop bullets, it is easier to shoot through the material rather than attempt ot hit a small portion of a head.
Other Training Considerations
As with our handgun training, long gun training can follow the same template that I have discussed in previous articles. We have to build our training around several factors. We have to account for the physical and psychological status of the individual at the moment of contact where the training methods that the individual has been indoctrinated in must be used to engage a threat. If we are in a CQB environment where contact with the threat can be spontaneous. We have to account for the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) being activated to some degree. The engagement rate of fire will be rapid and the engagement range can be anywhere from arms length (or closer) to approximately 10 yards.
Training for the CQB environment will require very specific training that may not be a requirement if we are training to engage targets at 100 yards with our long gun. The key to developing valid training is that the methods taught MUST match the environment that the individual will have to apply those training methods.
Another important element of training with our long guns is to integrate them into force-on-force (FoF) training. Other than having to be in a live combat shooting, the only way to determine if our training works is to put it to as close a test as possible in a training environment. This is especially true if your primary use of your long gun will be in the CQB or home defense role. I have seen individuals that go to the range and train regularly and would be considered proficient shooters have difficulties when attempting to apply their training in a FoF environment. To the extent possible, try to receive training in a FoF class and if possible, train on a regular basis in that FoF environment.
Of course, longer range shooting requires different considerations than CQB. With the aid of airsoft long guns we can still practice long range shooting by analyzing the capability of the airsoft long gun and its potential accuracy at given ranges. We can have role players at ranges that allow for acceptable accuracy with the airsoft long gun we are using and limit the area targeted to simulate longer ranges. The thing to keep in mind is that in the law enforcement environment patrol rifles are generally used at closer ranges than might be expected. Also, in the civilian community the most probable use of a long gun will be more in the CQB role. So FoF training doesn’t require an airsoft rifle that has very long-range capability. Try some FoF training with long guns. You will be hooked. It is not only meaningful but also fun.
There are many thoughts and opinions about what long gun will be “best” for a particular role. You can spend all day reading everyone’s opinion about what YOU should have as your long gun. If the writer of the article prefers shotguns you will get information about what is the “best shotgun” YOU should use. Well, they don’t know you, they don’t know YOUR specific needs and they don’t know how you will integrate that long gun into your specific scenario. So be careful about what you read and the perspective of the person writing the article and providing advise.
Here is an example of what I am eluding to in the above paragraph. Let’s say you have a pump shotgun that you are very familiar with, have used it hunting, have practiced on the range extensively with it and the fit an d feel of the shotgun is just right for you. You need a long gun in the role of home defense long gun. Well, what’s wrong with using the shotgun you are intimately familiar with, shoot it to the point of being proficient with it and have confidence in your ability to hit what you are shooting at with it? The answer, NOTHING!!
Regarding the “hardware” – the shotgun discussed above – can we possibly make it more efficient for the home defense role we are assigning to it? OF COURSE WE CAN. If you want to make it easier to maneuver with in close-quarters, you could simply install a shorter barrel when not hunting with it. Having a simple butt pouch to carry extra shotgun shells can help you have immediate ability to reload if needed. This can also be useful when hunting. But if all you have is the longer barrel for the shotgun, it can still be used in the home defense role by adjusting how you deploy it and understand the limitations of having a longer barrel.
The point is there are many long guns that can be used effectively in more than one role by simply using it “as is” or slightly modifying it to meet a specific role. You may only have a lever action 30-30 rifle that you enjoy shooting. You are proficient with it and have confidence in your ability to hit your target with it. This can be a great long gun to use in a number of roles. As with every long gun, knowing its capabilities and limitations must be evaluated. Capitalize on the strong points of the system and find ways to minimize and overcome the weaker points of the system. Learn the better ways to use the system tactically and you can turn a long gun that you like and are familiar with into an asset for the particular role you have assigned to it.
I used the example of a pump action shotgun and 30-30 rifle because they are common in the gun community. These aren’t specific recommendations but my intention is to open our minds to the concept that we can make more common less “tactical “ looking firearms work effectively in many roles.
I will pick up on the “hardware” issue in the next article and more fully explore the topic as it relates to selecting the long gun and the accessories that can be used to enhance our ability to maximize on the capability of our selected long gun.
Louis M. Chiodo