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Thread: Range Observations

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    Member OKElkHunter's Avatar
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    Default Range Observations

    I was at the range this weekend and have come to the conclusion that there are many, many, many, and so on many people that have jumped on the AR/AK bandwagon that have absolutely no idea what they have or how to use it.

    I say this because I witnessed numerous handling and operating errors each time I go to the range. This weekend, I just happened to be sitting next to a group of people that were firing ARs. After watching them misfeed numerous rounds and jam their firearm a few times, I decided to help them out a bit. One of the guys was trying his best to load the AR and instead of locking the bolt to the rear, inserting the magazine and then releasing the bolt with the bolt release button, he was trying to feed the rifle using the charging handle causing him to misfeed and damage several rounds. The guy before him did the same thing, but finally got the round chambered. Anyway, after watching this happen several times, I got up from my bench and stopped the guy, gave him a class on loading the rifle, and "Waa Laa", he was loading and firing with no issues. The guys switched places and the next guy had watched and listened to my instruction and promptly loaded the rifle with no issues and then a cease fire was called. He dropped the mag and cleared the rifle; he even locked the bolt to the rear. He then sat the rifle on the bench without putting it on safe. I told him to put the rifle on safe and he looked at me and asked, "Where’s the safety", I quickly showed him the safety and he thanked me for all of my help. Once the cease fire was lifted, they got back to shooting, and spraying me profusely with hot brass. I again stopped them and pointed out that there were brass deflector fences available at the range shack, I also gave them a tip to look for far right benches that would not have anyone on their right side, especially when rapid firing. One of the guys decided that he would be the deflector and stood with his back to the side of their bench. Well I guess he decided that the brass was really too hot to be a human deflector and they slowed down their shooting, shot up their remaining ammo and packed it up at the same time I finished up and packed up.

    The big ban scare has definitely helped fuel the mass purchase of the infamous "black-gun" and added billions of dollars to the gun manufacturers' businesses. It is very sad that many of the firearms are a lot of citizens' first and sometimes only firearm. For all of us experienced AR/AK type firearm owners, I would like to encourage you, when you see these new gun owners at the range, to take a little time and educate them on how to properly operate their firearm. Although the range was packed that day, and I really just wanted to test a couple of loads and get out of there, I spent extra time helping these guys learn how to operate the firearm so they, and everyone around them, would have a better range experience the next time they went to the range.
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  2. #2

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    Admittedly I picked up one too. While not black or .223 I now have an AR10 (Sig Sauer 716) and learned how to operate it before I went to the range. But you are correct, I see many people there that don't even know how to lock the bolt back.


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    Crap that's scary.

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    Re-institute the military draft and a lot more shooters would become familiar with such weaponry.

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    Except that the military is turning people away in pretty large numbers already.

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    I believe Thunder Ranch teaches the use of the charging handle to strip a round off the mag. I usually use the bolt release, but either method works for me with my ARs without jamming.

    It's great that you showed them some good things, esp. the safety items!

    Just got American Rifleman today and I thought it said that last year 1 out of 6 rifles bought was an AR.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OKElkHunter View Post
    I decided to help them out a bit. One of the guys was trying his best to load the AR and instead of locking the bolt to the rear, inserting the magazine and then releasing the bolt with the bolt release button, he was trying to feed the rifle using the charging handle causing him to misfeed and damage several rounds.
    I've never had trouble loading my AR by simply pulling back the charging handle then releasing, any chance you could explain the difference and why the method you described is preferred?

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    Good for you for teaching them. There is nothing wrong with owning and shooting one but a lot of people have no clue how to use it and might not know how to ask for help. I have been rewarded with helping people at the range by them allowing me to pick up there brass. Win win for sure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by VernAK View Post
    Re-institute the military draft and a lot more shooters would become familiar with such weaponry.
    After the Vietnmam inexperience, the Army is NOT going back to that. Besides, I've seen plenty of soldiers (non combat arms) who werenot models of safe firearm handling, and, if you compare the Air Force BRM program to that of the Army...pretty anemic.

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    Helping them was good karma for you. But it's not just ARs, I've seen many other guns being shot or trying to be shot, where the owners had no idea how to operate their guns. I don't think bad things I'm just glad there are more shooters. Try to help them when we can is all we can do. What's really weird is when you see current military that don't know how to run an AR correctly. Seems to me more range time is needed instead of cuts to our military.
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    Quote Originally Posted by limon32 View Post
    I've never had trouble loading my AR by simply pulling back the charging handle then releasing, any chance you could explain the difference and why the method you described is preferred?
    Becouse the spring is moveing the mass of the charging handle robbing some of the bolt closing force. It should work ether way but more likley to not fully close using the charging handle . . . A PITA if you don't have a foward assist on your rifle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    Becouse the spring is moveing the mass of the charging handle robbing some of the bolt closing force. It should work ether way but more likley to not fully close using the charging handle . . . A PITA if you don't have a foward assist on your rifle.
    Interesting never thought about that. I appreciate the info!


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    The problem with using the charging handle is operator error. Most people that pull the charging handle to strip and load (1) do not pull it back all the way, thus the spring tension isn't strong enough to slam the bolt completely forward and lock it completely, (2) they don't let the handle go and ride it forward, which amplifies the effect of #1, or (3) they haven't properly lubed a new weapon and everything is very tight, which also causes extra resistance as the bolt goes forward causing the bolt to not lock properly. Once an AR style rifle is well broken in, these problems are less likely to occur, but new rifles need lube and broken in to loosen up enough to prevent binding or extra friction resistance.

    When all of these failures to completely lock occur, the extractor will often not completely grab the casing rim and when the operator pulls the bolt to the rear again, the rifle fails to extract and picks up another round causing a double feed; there is also the problem of single round misfeeds that occur because the case rim is not fully engaged by the bolt, thus pushing the round at the wrong angle to feed, jamming the projectile into the case.

    I spent many years in the military training marksmanship and weapons training. I have probably seen and/or encountered every type of malfunction on almost every type of military small arm used between 1980 and 2004 and 90% of the malfunctions are operator error.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OKElkHunter View Post
    The problem with using the charging handle is operator error. Most people that pull the charging handle to strip and load (1) do not pull it back all the way, thus the spring tension isn't strong enough to slam the bolt completely forward and lock it completely, (2) they don't let the handle go and ride it forward, which amplifies the effect of #1, or (3) they haven't properly lubed a new weapon and everything is very tight, which also causes extra resistance as the bolt goes forward causing the bolt to not lock properly. Once an AR style rifle is well broken in, these problems are less likely to occur, but new rifles need lube and broken in to loosen up enough to prevent binding or extra friction resistance.

    When all of these failures to completely lock occur, the extractor will often not completely grab the casing rim and when the operator pulls the bolt to the rear again, the rifle fails to extract and picks up another round causing a double feed; there is also the problem of single round misfeeds that occur because the case rim is not fully engaged by the bolt, thus pushing the round at the wrong angle to feed, jamming the projectile into the case.

    I spent many years in the military training marksmanship and weapons training. I have probably seen and/or encountered every type of malfunction on almost every type of military small arm used between 1980 and 2004 and 90% of the malfunctions are operator error.
    And the other 10% are magazines. LOL, sorry not trying to down play your post, it just made me laugh.

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    Quote Originally Posted by deerhunter View Post
    Helping them was good karma for you. But it's not just ARs, I've seen many other guns being shot or trying to be shot, where the owners had no idea how to operate their guns. I don't think bad things I'm just glad there are more shooters. Try to help them when we can is all we can do. What's really weird is when you see current military that don't know how to run an AR correctly. Seems to me more range time is needed instead of cuts to our military.
    That's for sure. I've seen some downright scary things at the range over the years. A few stand out.

    When a cease fire was called a woman (not bashing women, plenty of idiot men with guns) put down the auto pistol she had been shooting. The only trouble was, the gun was still loaded, magazine in, and cocked! She did manage to point it down range. When I asked if she was going to clear the gun, she was confused and didn't know what to do.

    While not a risk to me, there was a guy who wanted to check his target on the pistol range. Didn't call a ceasefire, just headed down range!

    There have also been the assorted idiots that think they should adjust their scope, when everyone else is down range checking or changing their targets.
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    I do think this is broader than an AR/AK problem. I am amazed at how often I see people at the range shooting 2-ft groups at 15 ft range with handguns and don't know how to make the gun safe or even how to hold it.

    I got an AR because I spent thousands of hours with an M16--sleeping with it; shooting it; cleaning it; oiling it; dry firing it; field stripping it (sometimes blindfolded in competitions); and even showering with it (in the dry hot desert, you can do that when it's really dirty and it will dry out in minutes with no rust). This was years ago, but I can operate mine as reflexively and flawlessly as I can write my name or pick my nose (when no one is looking).

    Other guns, new ones, I learn about them extensively before going to the range. I strip and reassemble them many times and dry fire and operate any other components (bolt, slide release, safety) before going to the range.

    Quote Originally Posted by OKElkHunter View Post
    ... Once the cease fire was lifted, they got back to shooting, and spraying me profusely with hot brass. ...
    My father has a WWII-era left-eject Walther P38. He often pulls it out when that happens and sprays the offender back with 9mm brass. Kind of funny to me.

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    With all this talk it would seem pretty nice if we had a local basic arms coarse available to the novice. Not all shooters are hunters so the hunter ed course doesn't cover it all. I noticed there are plenty of classes that get very involved but also take 500 rds to complete. Not many people that I know are willing to let go of 500 rounds these days. Just a simple class that covers all actions, half day class, half day field. Minimal ammo needed. In my mind that should be offered at a discount when a firearm is purchased to encourage it. Just don't let anyone that runs Birchwood teach it...
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    Quote Originally Posted by alaskabliss View Post
    With all this talk it would seem pretty nice if we had a local basic arms coarse available to the novice. Not all shooters are hunters so the hunter ed course doesn't cover it all. I noticed there are plenty of classes that get very involved but also take 500 rds to complete. Not many people that I know are willing to let go of 500 rounds these days. Just a simple class that covers all actions, half day class, half day field. Minimal ammo needed. In my mind that should be offered at a discount when a firearm is purchased to encourage it. Just don't let anyone that runs Birchwood teach it...
    While I agree with you completely and I think this is a great idea, the issue I see is cost. It would basically have to be free to the gun buyer/owner or I fear they wouldn't bother. If you put yourself in the shoes of Mr./Mrs. I know what I'm doing Alaskan, if you then say btw we have this $50 class that teaches you how to use that gun. Yeah, I'm sure people would pick that up in a heart beat. NRA has basic pistol classes that are generally pretty cheap, but still cost money so people don't take them.

    It would be great if this could be offered as a free thing for people to come to on a regular basis to help teach new owners. Heck, I'd love to be involved with some group that offered that. I'd even volunteer time if it helped.

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    The hunter ed firearms safety portion does, indeed, cover exactly what you're describing, and it does last about half a day. They do cover all the basic actions, safe handling, and operation. (They do not cover AR15 specific familiarization.) There is a field course that is 100% hands on. There is no reason that basic hunter ed wouldn't fill the role you guys are suggesting.

    But you're right, if it cost money, most folks aren't going to do it. Heck, most folks (especially in the lower 48) won't even spend ten bucks on a trigger lock, so they leave their loaded handgun unsecured in the home, their kid or kid's friend plays with it, and bang, injured or dead kid. Sadly, those are the very folks who truly do NEED to have a firearms handling class, yet they're the very folks who, as you described "know what they're doing."

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    I may be misreading the sentiment here, but I don't think hunter ed covers the point. While it does give basic firearm safety, it doesn't go into how this particular gun works and why. It doesn't need to be a 3 day armorers course, but something like a "here's the tips and tricks" to your new ______. (fill in the blank). Just an informal non-certified group talking about how to operate an AR or an AK or a semi-auto or whatever. Since that style of rifle (AR more so than AK, but still both) is SO popular now and many people, even long time gun owners, are jumping on the bandwagon. I could be wrong, but I'm sensing it's not a "firearms 101" but a "So you bought a _____ and want to know how to work it." Really, this would be a cool thing to do.

    I've done similar "talks" at my church to help people understand the process to getting a CCW. (that was in Colorado before I moved) Turns out a lot of long time gun owners didn't even know where to start and that kept them from even considering getting a permit. I just wanted to help people get started. PS, I'm not a certified instructor so I made sure people knew this wasn't "class" or anything official. Bunch of friends getting together and nothing more.

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