I was recently contacted by one of the SOFREP Team Room members via e-mail, informing me that he was located in Kingsland, Texas and wanted to know if I would be able to help them out with a little shooting instruction for a short class. The e-mail also stated that they would like a basic instruction in combative pistols and accuracy, carbine accuracy with a splash of combative application, and a strong base of knowledge with regards to the precision rifle.

After a few e-mails with Vic, I wrote out a basic package deal that outlined everything that I wanted to cover with them. The package would not only give them a strong base of knowledge, but leave them with a confident understanding of the weapons systems and how to employ them in a practical and self-defensive manner.

The first question that I ask all of the men and women who come through a class is, “Why are you here, and why do you want to learn how to shoot?” The first answer is typically the same: “I just want to learn how to use them and understand how they work.” After a light smile and asking them again, I get the answer I was looking for and knew all along: “Because I want to know how to defend myself if the situation arises.” There is nothing wrong with the second answer, in my book. Let’s face it; pistols, rifles, carbines, etc., were all meant to do one thing and one thing only.

After some good solid talk time with Vic, we set the date and location of the class. It would be held on a private ranch in the open terrain of Kingsland, about an hour and a half drive from my house. Not a problem at all.

Nick Irving

Arriving onsite, and after getting lost for a few minutes on a long two-way road, I was immediately met with open arms. The guys and gal on the range informed me that they had a going bet of what I would be arriving in, Ford, Chevy, etc., which were all wrong as I arrived in a lifted off-road Jeep, a typical Texas-style vehicle. The SOFREP Mafia class absolutely makes my top ten list in the uplifting and positive attitude category.

It was nice to meet some of the SOFREP readers and members, truly supportive of the community and the guys within it. We chatted for a brief moment while the guys got out their “tools” for the class, and I’ll be the first to say there is nothing I like more than seeing diesel pickups loaded with M4 carbines with various scopes, pistols ranging from Glocks to 1911’s, and various long rifles.

The day started with a ton of note taking and Q&A. Feeling confident on the knowledge I put out, I let the guys run with it and had them give me their best shots on targets. The shots weren’t anything I hadn’t seen before, a typical large spread of bullet holes surrounding the target. It happens all the time, even with a Special Operations sniper cell I worked with a few weeks prior to the class. I told the guys, “Look, this isn’t half bad at all. I wouldn’t let you drop your sights on me at that distance and shoot! It’s just something that we have to work on.” Setting up some more targets and situating the guys, I worked with them individually and got them sorted out.

Nick Irving adjusts a SOFREP Team Room member's scope

It’s rare that you can sit down with an individual, explain something, show them how to do it, and five minutes later they’re doing that exact thing, especially when it comes to shooting. But by mid-day, all of the guys were out-shooting themselves with the long rifles. They understood exactly how to adjust a scope, range find using MIL’s, and understood and could explain to me various sniper formulas, etc. I was extremely impressed.

Finishing up the day, I decided to have the guys take a long shot on a target with only one or two rounds to see how comfortable they were with precision shots at distance. The results were not what they wanted; they felt that they needed a solid day working the scope and rifle to get a first round hit on a small target, something they hadn’t done before. My only response was a slight grin, followed by saying, “No worries at all. By the end of tomorrow, I’ll have everyone performing head shots at distance, no matter time of day.”

I knew I wouldn’t eat my words; these men and women were far better than they thought they were. As some reassurance, I told them that not every shot that I took was a first round impact. Sometimes I’d miss altogether, or it could take 3 or 4 shots to hit a target. There’s nothing easy about putting a dumb piece of copper jacketed lead into a small target at various distances. It takes practice, practice, practice, and a splash of luck.

Packing up some gear for the next day, I decided to make training a little more practical and realistic, something fun and something they could really take away as an “I did that” type of experience. I brought out my friend BOB, a plastic three-dimensional mold of an actual human torso and head, and placed a nice shirt on him. Taking BOB back to the range and setting him up at a nice distance (a little more than 3 football fields away), I gave the guys a bit more instruction and had them perform the MOA calculations, wind adjustments, etc., and told them to shoot the head of the target. This doesn’t seem like a hard shot at all, but the class had no prior experience shooting this far at a target measuring 5″ x 8,” and that can weigh on a shooter’s confidence.

Talking them through the motions, talking them through their breathing, I had them shoot. “Impact!” I yelled out, watching the trace and tail end of the bullet fly into the left eye of the target. Just to make sure it wasn’t luck, I had them do it a few more times. All were impacts.

The next drill was for them to hit an exact location on the target that I called out. I wanted the guys to shoot the collar-bone of the target repeatedly, and one dead center of the heart. Without fail, all shots impacted exactly where I wanted. The confidence that they earned was more pleasurable than seeing the shirt on BOB shiver as it was impacted with rifle rounds.

Nick's Friend, BOB

Wrapping up with a few more drills and tactics, we moved on to the carbine and pistol. The class had little experience with these weapons, so I gave a good solid block of instruction before demonstrating and performing multiple tasks. Once again, I was ecstatic when the class performed every drill I asked, to the T. There is nothing like seeing a student, male or female, hit a human-sized target repeatedly center mass at 25 yards one-handed, while performing immediate action drills and simulating wounded arm drills.

This class goes in the books for me as being one of the most memorable classes, and most importantly, a safe one with a great group of individuals.