By John Farnam
This from a friend in Europe who just finished a week-long Pistol/Rifle Course in the high country.
Orders were: low profile, no ‘camo,’ clothing, nor equipment. No chest rigs. Much concern here about ‘para-military’ training!
We were located at 3k feet in elevation, and weather was not friendly! Cold for the duration, 30s and low 40s. Non-stop wind. We enjoyed continuous rain for the first two days, hail at the end of the second day, and snow the last three days. Very little sunshine. Oh, and constant mud!
These conditions were ideal, not only to test my carbine and pistol, but my clothing and my spirit as well!
I had a pair of excellent Goretex boots. While my boots rendered satisfactory service, my socks were not adequate, and my feet were constantly cold, a good reminder to pay attention to small details!
I wore long underwear, BDU trousers, and waterproof over-pants. My legs didn’t suffer from the cold. However, condensation dampened my BDUs by the end of the day.
I had a polar undershirt, light turtleneck, fleece sweatshirt, waterproof jacket, and a poncho. By the end of the day, the poncho could no longer stop water.
Protecting my hands was an issue. I had neoprene gloves, wool gloves, and inner gloves. In the constant rain, my neoprene gloves and my inner gloves were wet, but not cold. Wool gloves kept my hands warm, but with them on it is not easy to recharge magazines!
The poncho was less than satisfactory, as noted above. In addition, many times it blew in front of my pistol as I was trying to shoot!
My Glock ran smoothly for the duration. My AR experienced two hiccups during our low-light exercises. I was able to quickly reduce both stoppages, but I’m still not sure what the problem was.
Using my carbine in the open with high, wet wind was challenging! Once on target and ready to shoot, a wet gust would invariably move my sights off target. Rain and snow were also challenging for the optics. We had to wipe them regularly, particularly at night. Aimpoint ran for the duration.
My AR is not equipped with a flashlight, so I used my handheld flashlight and the ‘Harries’ method. It ‘worked’ after a fashion, but the rifle was not stable. A mounted, co-axial flashlight is much better!
The issue of dumping magazines on the ground during the reloading process is something that comes up regularly. Our military instructors assured us that, in a real situation, when it is time to ‘pick up’ dumped magazines, they are probably at least five kilometers away and submerged in mud when you suddenly remember that you want them back! We thus learned very quickly to default to a ‘military’ reload and retain expended magazines, as they quickly become valuable, beyond measure! This applies to both pistol and rifle!”
“Smooth seas do not good sailors make!”
All training, worthy of the title is, (1) painful, and (2) dangerous. We can probably add (3) uncomfortable… as we see!