An Intro: I’ve had some previous experience with the M4 before, but this was the first class I took that was completely devoted to its operation. Even though it was only two days long, I still managed to pull a lot of useful information that I will definitely be using in the future. In any event, if you’re new to the carbine, or just want to polish up some skills, this is an excellent class to take.
The Instructor: Jason Falla has 6 years experience in the Australian commando regiment and a further six years in SASR. He has prior experience in counter terrorist operation, heavy weaponry, combat medicine, CQB, special reconnaissance and surveillance, and hostage rescue. In 2005, Jason relocated to the USA and worked for Blackwater for a period of 5 years as a firearms instructor before starting Redback One where he became the senior instructor and training advisor. His years of experience and mastery of the carbine really showed through his instruction.
The Weather: The first day was pretty chilly, and it stayed that way pretty much the entire day. The morning started cloudy with a light sprinkle, but thankfully this didn’t last. It definitely helped that we spend most of the day in the classroom, but more on that later. The second day was also fairly cold. It warmed up a bit as the day progressed, but a jacket was not unwelcome. Also, plenty of afternoon sun led to plenty of sunburn after the second day. What can I say? Blame my Nordic European ancestry.
My equipment: I used a Daniel Defense M4 with a DD forward grip, Magpul ACS stock, Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Applications Sling, Surefire Scout Light with Manta Rails to hold the pressure switch, and an Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic. For my choice of magazines I used Magpul PMAGs. For the purposes of the exercises, each mag was filled to 28 rounds. I also used a Crye Precision Mag Clip for one of my mags, which I held on the left shoulder strap of my rig. My rig is a Tactical Tailor 2 piece MAV complete with an X Harness, both in MultiCam, of course.
We were in the classroom for about 7 hours (including the lunch break). That’s not to say it felt like wasted time. Actually, the lessons were quite informative, starting with the training objectives and leading into topics like M4 safety, characteristics of the M4 platform, the cycle of operation, how to field strip your rifle, shooting fundamentals, and zeroing. It’s definitely a great introduction for someone who’s new to the M4.
When 1500 rolled around, we did a bit of shooting. Mostly zeroing our sights from the 25m line.
After an hour and a half of zeroing and confirming our zero, we fired at low percentage targets from the high and low ready positions with follow through and post engagement exercises. That ended the day.
More classroom! But it was only 30 minutes long. And it was about ballistics. Having a good understanding of how the combination of your rifle and chosen ammunition affects a target is very important information. FYI, be on the lookout for Barnes Triple Shock. Best round ever [for now].
The shooting exercises, in order:
-Shooting at high and low percentage targets at 7 meters. A good warm up for the exercises to come.
-Shooting from the standing, kneeling, and prone shooting positions, and the pros and cons of each. We also worked a bit on alternative stances, such as rolling from prone.
-Tactical reloading. We went over this extensively.
-Cadence drills. Shots at 1 sec, 1/2 sec, and 1/4 sec from 7m. This is where stance and trigger control really come into play. This was also the last exercise before lunch.
-My personal favorite, the malfunction drills. We worked on failure to feed, unseated mags, failure to extract, double feeds, and the biggest malfunction of them all: bolt override. Mortar that rifle, soldier!
-Turning drills. Pivoting left and right towards the threat. About turns towards the threat. This also doubled as an exercise in shooting weak side dominant. You can’t always have your left foot forward, after all.
-Shooting on the move, specifically while moving forward. You sacrifice a stable shooting platform, so keeping good control is all the more important.
-Shooting from cover at steel. We devoted quite a few rounds to this, about one mag per cover. We practiced leaning from cover, shooting under cover, shooting above cover, ect. As predicted, some of the students took a few pieces of the cover off. Not a big deal in training, but it’s always important to remember when shooting that you’re optic has about a 2in. offset from your barrel.
-The final exercise of the day was a qualifier from the 50m line. 50 rounds, 5 points within the target, 3 points if the shots hit the body outside the target, same with headshots when the exercise called for them, 250 max score. The shots were made from various positions at various distances. We advanced to the 7m line. I managed a 210. Yea, me!
If you’re interested in attending this or other firearms classes, visit redbackone.com to view their available training schedule.
Also, thanks to Redback One’s facebook for many of the photos used in the article. You can view them and plenty more here.