Winter Wonderland. Not Really.

| November 19, 2014 | 2 Comments

Last weekend we had the opportunity to do a small, invite-only winter training sessions with QSI Training. It had been cold and snowy leading up to the weekend, and by the time we got to the range it had started snowing again. With temperatures never hitting about 16F and about two inches of snowfall during training, it was an interesting experience.

I did a quick test of my MPA 930SST, and then playtime was over. The majority of the training was around partner movement and cover fire. We did not use cover due to most of the “range toys” being locked away or snowed under, so we really concentrated on awareness and communication.

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The drills

We moved forward, backward, left, and then right. Lateral movement was accomplished via the “peel,” wherein the person farthest from the direction we wanted to go broke contact first.

In all cases, one partner was supposed to shoot while the other one moved and/or reloaded. Bonus points for reloading on the move. The ground was very slippery by the end of the day, and dropping a mag in the snow was not desired, so many people reloaded in place.

Communication and awareness were of critical importance. We primarily relied on voice commands, but used hand signals as backups. At all times we kept some of our attention on our partners. If they were moving, we fired. If they were firing, we moved. The communication aspect alone was very interesting to practice, and I need to do more of it next year.

We also practiced what happened when things went sideways. Almost every run had a failure or someone needed to stop their partner from moving. We practiced the “HOLD” command frequently.

Reloading and malfunctions

I used my slingbag and AR15 300 Blackout pistol for most of the day. I carry my pistol with a 20-round mag inserted, and a 30 round magazine in the pocket closest to my body. It was much slower to reload with this setup than with a chest rig or battle belt. I retain my magazines, and follow the “out with the old, in with the new” approach to magazine changes, but this method seems more acceptable when spare mags are within easy reach.

It seemed to take forever to remove the 20-rounder, stow it in my jacket pocket, sling the bag around my body, unzip the large rear pocket, and retrieve the spare. As I’ve written before, things may move around in your bag during daily carry, and I need to find a better way to anchor the spare magazine in my bag.

I proactively reload instead of waiting to run dry. This means I have one round in the pipe in case things go really wrong, but I am going to see if it makes sense to not worry about retaining the 20-rounder during a movement scenario. I hate to give up those extra rounds, but if I get killed while reloading proactive ammunition management doesn’t mean a thing.

The additional layers of clothing also made it difficult to move the bag around my body, and I may loosen the strap for the winter.

The She-Shepherd wore snow pants due to the cold conditions. These types of pants had few pockets, and the ones it did have were very deep and had a slant-cut. This added up to some magazine manipulation problems she didn’t deal with before. If you don’t train in your winter outerwear, you should. It does change things a bit.

She also ran a .22LR conversion in her SBR AR15. The CMMG kit is probably 90% reliable under the best conditions; with the wild fluctuation in operating temperature plus the reduced effectiveness of lubrication led to a lot of malfunctions. We switched her out to a different upper in .223 and she did better.

My .300 Blackout did great — until the moment when my castle nut rotated loose and my rifle went down. I was unable to pull the charging handle back and tried everything including the “pogo” to clear it. I wound up drawing my RMR-equipped Glock 19 and supporting my partner while he retreated. I am disappointed with how I installed the buffer tube on my weapon. This is a failure on my part, and this season has been humbling in regards to how little I know about the AR platform and its many, many idiosyncrasies we don’t have on AKs. However, I am proud that I scored a hit on a pistol popper target at 60 yards while firing one handed.

Shooting the .300 with the newer SIG SBX brace felt exactly the same as the old SB15, but in all fairness I had a thick fleece coat on.

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The footage is brief this time; the cold killed my battery life and I was reluctant to run my Sony RX100 Mark 3 for too long in the snowfall, even with my improvised camera shield. We were all shooting together later in the day, and so running my usual “chase cam” was difficult. I did manage to record a few runs, and you can watch them here:

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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2 Comments on "Winter Wonderland. Not Really."

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  1. ndjinn says:

    Story of my life. I live in Anchorage. 70% of my field training is in the cold. I teach winter survival and mountain rescue. Everything is harder when it’s cold and you are in the field. I was called out on a missing person search and it was -27 in my driveway. Imaging a 10 day Rigging for Rescue® out here (see link) There is a mountaineer hut called the Senate Hut to sleep in, but it’s 100% off grid – sat phone can connect in a 3 hour window. In March the temps are -5 to 15f all day every day in the Alaskan wilderness at the foot of a glacier in a steep valley with a few hours of daylight getting in. Yea the views are beautiful, but the scenery will kill you. My PJ buddies have it worse. they jump on squares up to -39F below before the mission is scrubbed. https://www.google.com/maps/dir//61.2950636,-148.9749824/@61.3054316,-149.0501837,25863m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      You are a BEAST. When we move some place warmer, I promise we will name a rest area at our private range ndjinn after you 😀

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