Two Sides of the Coin: Bravo Team’s routine Patrol

Bravo Team of the J.U. (Justified Union) patrols the outskirts of the green zone, which is still a contested area. In order to bolster confidence in its allies to renew the trade agreement, the J.U. has amped up it’s presence on the outskirts, especially along the primary trade routes. Ordinarily, a routine patrol is a task beneath Bravo Team’s talents; but things have been quiet lately. Bravo Team has grown hungry for live action & command recognizes that training against simulations only won’t keep the team sharp over the long term.

Bravo Team calls it “walking the dog.” They slowly patrol a pre-determined route along the main trade route equipped with an FAV (Fast Attack Vehicle). The vehicle is there mostly to carry extra gear & communication equipment. It’s not even big enough to carry all members of the patrol. Two members walk alongside each flank. The small patrol barely averages 3 mph; but it’s a short segment & the slow pace gives the operators a chance to examine the area more carefully.

Their goal is two-fold: to establish a visible presence & to scout the area for potential hazards once hostilities recommence. Where are the bottle necks? What areas are vulnerable to ambush? Where would a potential enemy hide? What would I do if the roles were reversed? After all—there are two sides of every coin. On top today; someone else tomorrow.

Contact is unlikely, based on intel. But, unbeknownst to the intelligence section, a simple but determined danger lies in wait.

As the patrol arrives to less than 50 meters from the next chokepoint, this determined enemy aims his Dragunov sniper rifle at them. The Dragunov is a large caliber sniper rifle that could have been deployed accurately well before Bravo Team approached the chokepoint. The sniper, from his elevated position, still believing to have the advantage, squeezes the trigger.

“Zhhhhhhoooooommmmm!” The high velocity round whips just feet above its mark. The proximity of the shot makes it easier for Bravo Team to pinpoint the point of origin. In a fight, there is always an advantage in throwing the first punch–assuming you land it solidly, of course.

The flipside to throwing that first punch, however, is leaving yourself opened for the counter-punch. The element of surprise works once–then it’s a fair fight after that. If you’re going up against someone who is faster, bigger, or punches harder than you do—you may not want to throw that first punch. In theory, you have a 50% chance for success & failure—a coin flip. But that’s all academic. In the real world, there are other factors that play a role in determining the outcome.

“Contact, left side: one tango, sniper rifle! Returning fire!” Maddox is the newest member of Bravo Team. It’s possible he’s auditioning as the permanent replacement for the rock star Bowman, who currently serves as driver while he tries to recover from a recent injury.

Maddox’s MP-5 submachine gun variant fires light recoiling shots in semi-automatic fashion. While it’s not the ideal weapon for this situation, the relative proximity of the sniper & the light-recoiling 9mm round in semi-auto mode allows him to return effective fire almost immediately.

While Bowman holds down the right flank, a hidden danger emerges from the left. A second insurgent breaks cover, armed with a 12 gauge shotgun.

While robust & versatile, the shotgun is not the ideal weapon for this situation. However, the fighter has misdirection & the element of surprise on his side. Moreover, his shotgun is loaded with rifled slugs today for greater effectiveness at range. He knows he doesn’t have the firepower to win the fight; but he has enough to leave a mark. The 8 large slugs are enough to make one or two of these men suffer for their pride & arrogance. The 12 gauge is large enough to test the resolve of the J.U.’s alleged military might.

The 2nd insurgent’s first slug strays slightly to the left, impacting just above the driver’s side wheel-well. He racks the action to load another slug while the Bravo operator tries to locate the origin of fire.

It doesn’t take long for the experienced operator, Master Chief Compton, to locate the new shooter. Compton takes aim just as the insurgent cycles the next slug. It probably only took a split second in real time, but for a moment, it was as though time stood still. In that instant, the highly trained veteran & the angry but novice insurgent were locked in a stare down. It was like a scene from one of those old Western flicks. And then . . . two triggers drew backwards.

“BBBBrrrrrrppppp!!!”

(Insurgent 2) Arrrrhhhh! Three shot bursts! I wasn’t expecting that!

The insurgent’s second slug impacts a little higher, entering the driver’s side hood where it’s stopped by the engine block. Unlike Maddox on the other side, who’s MP5 sub machinegun is configured for semi-auto mode, Compton’s weapon is set for 3 shot bursts. The rapid succession of projectiles catches the insurgent off guard as he dives for cover.

Just as it appears Bravo Team will make quick work of the amateurish ambush, a 3rd insurgent emerges from cover from an elevated position. While he is only armed with a pistol, the small FAV is close enough to be at risk. At last, it becomes apparent why the 1st insurgent waited so long to take the first shot despite having the long range weapon: he had intended to draw Bravo Team into a kill box! Suddenly, the amateurish ambush seems a lot more sophisticated.

A 3rd insurgent opens fire on Bravo Team. Intel determined that contact would be unlikely. So much for probability. That was all academic now. For the 3rd time today, a shooter takes an uncontested first shot at the J.U.’s elite force. For the 3rd time today, the J.U.’s elite force is caught off-guard. However, training & experience has allowed the team to react quickly & effectively. But even cats only have 9 lives! Will the 3rd time finally be the charm for the opposition force? Will the earth’s only military Super Power absorb a shocking defeat?

JOIN me NEXT SUNDAY for the conclusion of Two Sides of the Coin: Bravo Team’s routine Patrol!

Doppelgänger

He-Man meets Faker

We all want to believe that we’re special; that there’s no one else on earth like us. You know how disappointed you feel when you realize how common you really are? Well imagine how much more disappointing that must feel for the most powerful man in the universe!

Skeletor: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, He-Man! It looks like you’re not so unique after all!”
“Meet my latest creation—FAKER!”

Skeletor taunts He-Man as, through a magic, Fakers dons a human head that closely resembles He-Man’s! As the two gladiators skirmish, Skeletor reveals that Faker began as one of Man-in-Arms’ proudest accomplishment–a robotic training dummy imbued with the strength & speed of a true warrior. Skeletor’s minions ambushed a band of heroic warriors during a simulated patrol. Tri-clops made some modifications & then Skeletor put the finishing touches on the simulated life-form by channeling a portion of his own power into the robot. Surely, a warrior that was equal part machine, equal part conjured beast–could combine all the necessary qualities to equal & even surpass the fighting prowess of the most powerful man in the universe! Right?

After a brief struggle that, at times, demonstrated strength & speed from the robot that seemed to equal that of his twin human: He-man proves that things aren’t always as they appear.

In the end, looks are only skin deep. He-man’s true strength comes from his humanity–more specifically, the righteousness of his humane qualities. He-man knows how special he is without needing to be reminded all the time. He-man knows that what powers his strength in combat is the compassion of his heart. He-man is strong because he only chose to rely on that strength when absolutely necessary. And because his motivation is pure, the power of Greyskull coursed effortlessly through him, it’s truly deserving champion. When the machine in Faker begins to fail, the power of Greyskull does not. He man perseveres because his strength comes from a higher place outside of himself.

By the end of the brief conflict, it isn’t even close. He-man sends Skeletor scampering for safety atop this giant panther with his defeated robot servant in close pursuit. He-man had won; but Skeletor realized that he had uncovered a true weapon in the war for power. Skeletor had discovered the art of deception over brute force. He would perfect that weapon & deploy it again when the time was right. But for now, He-man had saved the day once again.

Overdue Calibration

It was election day in my state. I hadn’t been to the range since the Presidential Election of 2020; over a year ago now. My absence from the range was not politically motivated–Covid-19, protests that hinted of civil unrest, & growing popular support for the Democratic party had all conspired to render ammo difficult to find & expensive when found. My decision to avoid the range was a fiscal, not a political one. Nonetheless, I believe in the responsible exercise of the “Right to Bear Arms”–meaning, I believe in “exercise.” I wanted to assess proficiency with my primary defensive weapon–a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. This handgun is a 9mm pistol carrying a maximum number of 8 bullets. It is not an “assault weapon;” but provides an honest man a reasonable chance to defend his life if need be, especially give it’s suitability to carry concealed with appropriate license if legal to do so in your area.

I was sent to the hybrid lane. Given the long layoff, it took me more time to readjust to this lane’s touch screen controls vs the old-fashioned switch in my usual pistol lane than it took for me to rediscover my aim. Although my first shot was low, it was still straight center & in the target. This would have been an effective self-defense hit. My sight picture & trigger control had not fallen off much.

My very first shot after a year-long layoff at 5 yards was slightly low but still passable for self-defense.

Mag 1

I was using 3 of my 4 magazines today–my two extended 8-rd ones & 1 of my two 7-rd ones. The other seven rounder I was holding out of practice as I like to keep at least one loaded for a just-in-case self defense situation. Despite its 8-round capacity, I only had it loaded to 6. I was using an already opened box of Remington Range 124 grain ammo that I purchased during the Covid summer of 2020. Early on, my pistol tended to malfunction with 115 grain Winchester “white box” ammo. After talking to some RSO’s (Range Safety Officers) & a couple of friends who were retired police, I decided to focus on my grip & use 124 grain bullets when possible. The weapon has proven much more reliable since then, & today was no exception. Today would feature a malfunction free performance.

Despite a couple of low shots I was satisfied with the results from my first magazine.

Mag 2

A bit prematurely, I decided to test how well I had retained trigger reset discipline . I loaded my second 8-rd magazine with 7 FMJ bullets this time. I fired one slow shot as I had done all throughout my first magazine but over the next five rounds I managed to perform two separate double-taps. Results were decent but were nothing to get excited about. I was only shooting at a target 5 yards out.

Mag 3

I pushed the target out to a more serious 10 yards. I used my smaller 7-round magazine & chose the target at the top of the left column as it had not yet been punched. I noticed that I had to focus a bit more on my grip, initially at least, after dropping down the the shorter magazine featuring barely any space for my pinky to grip. Nonetheless, I managed two sets of double taps & two slow, deliberate shots over the course of the 6 rounds I’ve loaded. AMMO CHANGE: Since I knew the Remington Range 124 grain tended to cycle well through my pistol, I didn’t want to burn through the entire box. I took advantage of the opportunity to buy a new box of target ammo for a reasonable $23.99. (Because of the ammo shortage, many gun dealers/ranges only sell ammo if you are renting a lane for practice or buying a firearm.) I bought a box of Fiocci Line Classic at 123 grains. While I liked the bullet weight, I had not cycled this bullet through my weapon before. I wanted to test it for proper function. Starting at Mag 3, this is the ammo I used until I choose to fire off a single Speer GD hollow point that I found loose in my range bag.

Mag 4 & 5

Back to an 8 round magazine. I aimed for one of the bottom circles at 10 yards. I go back to double taps. I’m a bit low. (no picture). Dissatisfied, I reload the next 8 round magazine with 7 rounds. I use six Fiocci FMJs & the one loose Speer GD.

Here is a lower target following an assortment of drills from between 7 & 10 yards.

Mag 6

I loaded another 8 round magazine to six or seven then moved the target closer to the common self defense practice distance of 7 yards & practice double taps. I didn’t photography for accuracy as I was more concerned with trigger reset & quicker follow-up shots. While my accuracy at self defense ranges had not fallen off much over the last year without practice, the speed of my follow-up shots had. I wanted to redress that situation quickly m, if possible.

New Pistol

By this time, I had run through 6 magazines with my subcompact 9mm pistol. I had expended between 36-40 rounds using primarily 124 gr FMJs from Remington & Fiocci plus one lone Speer GD HP, also at 124 grain. Satisfied with the reliability of my ammo as well as my residual proficiency, I wanted to try some rounds through my “deep cover” pistol. In a post from November 2020, I reported that my beloved Kel-tec P3AT pocket pistol, which had served me dutifully since 2007 with barely any malfunctions, suffered a catastrophic failure that made me consider retiring the old warrior for good. But over the layover, I decided I didn’t want to give up on such a faithful companion so soon. I purchased a factory replacement recoil spring & guide rod thinking changing them out would most likely solve the problem. If not, I could at least try this $12 solution myself before contacting the manufacturer for a possible warranty repair.

My first shot with my little mouse gun was promising. Sadly, the promise would soon be broken.

Old Gun

I don’t remember if I was shooting from 5 yards or 7. But my first shot was decent considering how dramatically smaller this .380 ACP pocket pistol was compared to my “subcompact” 9mm. I was optimistic with my first shot but not yet satisfied. Over the next 5 shots (I had my 6 round magazine loaded to the max), I would try to dial in my aim. It wasn’t meant to be. On my 5th shot, I noticed the round failed to expel. I thought I had experienced a common jam when I racked the slide to examine the issue. What I discovered was well worse. I experienced the same catastrophic malfunction that I had witnessed back in 2020. Even with the new springs & guide rod, I was still hanging on to an old gun.

Oh well. This Kel-tec was no Colt. It didn’t have legendary status. It didn’t cost a fortune. But for what it was meant to be, it had done it’s job. I still plan to call Kel-tec about it for any warranty options I may have. But either way, I’m hanging on to this old gun for the memories of nothing else.

Notes & Observations

Since I had shot a little low at 5 yards to start & then a little high at 10 yards later on, I didn’t bother testing my proficiency at distance. For my primary CCW pistol, I want to see about half my shits strike the intended circle for a distance of 25 yards. That assessment would have to wait until next time though.

When I go through a layoff from the gym, the first thing to go isn’t my strength but my stamina.

When it comes to shooting, the first thing to go isn’t my accuracy but speed.

Moving forward. I know I can go a year without practice & still remain competent with my weapon; but that’s pushing it. A more reasonable time frame would be nine months max between sessions if I am to retain my speed with follow-up shots.

My overdue calibration was now complete. I passed.