Hey, Bob! Do you wanna go to one of the best-equipped firearms training facilities on the planet as the guest of the world’s oldest gun company, and get two solid days of training from some of the best firearms instructors in the world?
I was very fortunate earlier this month to be one of the attendees to the first Beretta Tactical Summit, held at the elite Academi Training Center in Moyock, North Carolina.
Academi’s facility is the largest private training center in the United States, with all the cool toys and an incredible range of training capabilities.
The Beretta Defense Technologies group—made up of Beretta, Benelli, Sako, and Steiner—brought in a small group of shooting industry media to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the M9 pistol in the U.S. military, and to show use some of their other military and civilian tactical technology in both day and night shooting events.
Beretta spared no expense in bringing in some of the most respected firearms trainers in the world to run each 1/2 day training session, and you should really read their linked bios (below) if you aren’t familiar with their names.
John “Doc” Spears taught the precision rifle segment, Pat Rogers ran the carbine range, Ernest Langdon ran the pistol course, and last but not least, Steve Fisher ran the shotgun class. John “Chappy” Chapman ran the optics seminar and helped with the carbine course.
The writers were divided up into two groups.
To start the first day, my group went to one of the precision rifle ranges to shoot Sako rifles with Doc Spears. Rifles on the line included the Sako TRG 22, TRG 42, and the multi-caliber TRG M10. All rifles were chambered in .308 Winchester. There is some speculation that the TRG M10 would have won the SOCOM Precision Sniper Rifle (PSR) competition if it was a domestically-manufactured gun.
The Sako TRG M10 I found myself with is very configurable, and so I was easily able to adjust the length of pull and comb so that it fit me like a glove. My rifle sported a crystal-clear Steiner 5-25×56 scope with the Horus H59 “Christmas tree” reticle, which I’d used once before. We started out at 100 yards to get used to the rifle and make adjustments to the stock and the glass, but quickly moved back to 400 and then 800 yards, with Doc Spears making our wind calls for us.
I fancy myself as a rifle guy, and so I was absolutely eating up the instruction from Doc Spears on long-range shooting. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whiteboard for Doc to show us ballistic formulas, so he made do, writing on the side of a van that was transporting the rifles and ammunition. Here’s what that van looked like later than afternoon.
As the morning session at 800 yards was winding down, Doc had us engage in a little shooting competition. We got each got a shot at 800 yards, and if we missed, we were out. We’d then start the next round with the remaining shooters, with each shooter getting one attempt at 800 yards.
After the first few rounds it quickly whittled down to just two of us, as I went shot-for-shot against another editor. I honestly don’t know who it was, as I was in my “rifleman’s bubble” and never came off the gun, focusing on my shot, waiting for my turn.
We were very evenly matched.
Doc got tired of us matching shot-for-shot, so he started having us make our own wind calls to introduce more difficulty. My elevation was dialed in, and the winds were gusty at times, but light. I held .4 mils into the wind, aimed at the upper left shoulder of the target, and simply followed the foundational techniques we teach at Appleseed events.
I didn’t miss, and he got unlucky with a wind call, so I won the morning group. We got to shoot it again with NVGs at the same distance at night, and it was an incredible experience.
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After lunch our group moved to the ARX100 carbine. The ARX100 is the semi-auto version of the ARX160, which was a finalist in a competition to replace the current-issue M4 carbine which was cancelled. The controls on the ARX100 were a little difficult to get used to since I’m so used to running an AR-15, and I never did quite get the hang of running the controls without conscious effort. That said, we only got a half day on the carbine. The 16″ barrel was great for velocity, but I felt that the SBR version was balanced almost perfectly.
David Crane at Defense Review captured video of Chappy showing us the carbine’s modularity (and did a nice write up) on this very interesting carbine.
While shooting the ARX100 during the day was awesome, shooting it at night was simply surreal. Here’s what it looked like shooting the ARX100 with visible green lasers and tactical lights on steel.
Below is what it looked like when we were shooting with helmet-mounted PVS-14s and infrared lasers. The glow sticks that seemed to be hovering in the air were attached to the shooters on the line. Other than the glow sticks, all you could see were muzzle flashes, though you could certainly here shot after shot ringing steel.
After this, I’d love to do a dedicated low-light class with night vision equipment. It’s a whole other world.
But that was just the end of the first day of shooting. There was lots more to come.
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