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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Weapons I'v Carried: Part IIIb

Weapon’s I’ve carried Part IIIb: Shotguns and submachine guns cont.

So you don’t think I’m a Rambett or anything like that, this is the final section of Weapons I’ve carried . . . for now.

During the DOJ Academy we were trained with the Benelli, 12 gauge, auto loading shotgun. It was long, heavy and the recoil was pretty strong. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7U8cjl8HlM ) Of course I was already sold on the Remington 870. I liked the pump-action. With the Benelli, all we had to do was muscle the nozzle on target and keep it there, while simply pulling the trigger.  Well, that and try not to dislocate your shoulder. 

The Remington 870, if jammed, could usually be fixed in the field. I’ve done it myself during an actual combat situation. Range Masters have told me if the Benelli jammed in the field, the only thing it could be used for, until brought in for repair, was as a club. This was one of those situations where it was obvious by the way they taught, even the Range Masters were not enthusiastic about the weapon.    

My training on the Benelli was short and to the point. I learned all the fundamentals but gained no enthusiasm for the weapon. The firearm instructors pointed out, several times if I remember correctly, that carrying the Benelli was completely voluntary. So I paid attention, because hey someday my life might depend on me being able to operate the Benelli.  But I was relegating it (the Benelli) to the bottom of all my contingency plans.

Now our training on the H&K MP5 (http://www.hk-usa.com/military_products/mp5_general.asp) was more involved and required a lot more hands on. This meant fun, fun, fun and more fun. The MP5 is a submachine gun, it fires 9mm rounds. The safety or select fire has two to four selections. Safe, single shot, two round bursts, and fully automatic. 

During the DOJ Academy we shot the MP5 quite often. The targets we were required to shoot at were one third the side of normal targets. We were told if we were sent to Assault Weapon School we would have to qualify on the smaller targets.

We were taught to hold and control the MP5 by holding the forearm (which encases the barrel) with our non-dominate hand and the pistol grip with our dominate one.  When we started, our elbows and arms were up and parallel to the ground. We would twist our arms down to our side while pulling the weapon stock into the pocket of our shoulder. This twist pull motion helped to maintain control while firing.

Our MP5s had slings. Because both the MP5 and HK53 were considered secondary weapons, if at any time there was a need to ditch the assault weapon, I could drop it and it would swing to my side as I drew my primary service weapon (My Glock 26, 40mm semi auto).  Thank goodness for the lefties that came before me. Someone figured a way to make the tangled belts into a viable sling for southpaws.  In fact when I ‘let it hang’ my assault weapon swung to my right side out of the way when I pulled my primary weapon.    

Toward the end of the DOJ Academy the Head Range Master had us all fill two magazines. He smiled and told us we could go fully auto with the two magazines – to get it out of our systems. Firing fully auto, we all quickly found out how hard it was to control the weapon. Yes, we had been warned, but until I fired on full automatic I didn’t understand why spraying a machine gun was considered a complete waste of ammo.

In order to carry the MP-5 after the DOJ Academy, I had to apply for Assault weapon school with the approval of my supervisor. Let me tell you, that was some serious fun. When we arrived at school first order of business was to qualify expert with our handguns. If anyone failed to do so they were sent packing. No pressure there.

We were not told this was a prerequisite and we came in to training cold – unprepared -- for a preclass qualification. The instructors told us our handguns were our primary weapons and if we could not fire them in an expert manner we didn’t need to be there. Two fellow trainees were sent packing.

At this training class the instructors brought both the MP5 and the HK53 to train on. I was told if I qualified with the HK53 I would be eligible to carry either weapon on-duty. So I took on the HK53.

Next we sat in a classroom and went over the MP5 and the HK 53 (http://www.remtek.com/arms/hk/mil/53/53.htm). We took them apart, learned how to clean them and put them back together.

The MP5 is a submachine machine gun. It fires 9mm (handgun) ammunition. The HK53 is a scaled down rifle that fires .223 (rifle) rounds. Main difference between the MP5 and the 53 was the HK 53 shot that .223 rifle round. This photo will show the difference between 9mm and .223 ammo. (http://www.arizonagunlist.com/gun_reference_material.html)

We went out on the shooting range and shot, and shot and shot. If our weapon was not on safe it was on fully auto, however we had to learn how to fire in two round bursts. Not as simple as it sounds.  The targets we had to shoot were small so our groupings (pattern which develops while shooting at a target)  were expected to be tighter (closer together).  Nothing short of expert shooting would pass the course.

Then we had to do mock into entries buildings. The way we trained the third person through the door during the service of a search warrant held the assault weapon. Simply, put if officers were shot at during an entry it was the third person through the door who usually took the round. By replacing a handgun in that third position with a submachine gun the outcome was more in the officer’s favor.  

During my DOJ Academy training with the MP5, I shot decent enough to know I could pass the training even though my groupings were not as tight as they could be. The HK53 was different, both the sound (about as loud as a shotgun blast) and recoil (only slightly greater than my handgun) were greater when shooting the 53. I’m not sure why, but I held the weapon even tighter because my groupings were fan-freakin-tastic. For that reason, among a few others, I absolutely loved carrying the HK53.

I would have carried the HK53 throughout my entire career, but someone in power decided the 53 needed to be treated as a rifle. This meant long range firing, a new shooting school and finding elevated platforms to shoot from. Translation: a whole lot of precarious climbing. My brain said do it, do it. My body, being the realistic one, said ‘hey – you forty-something-year-old – try it and die.’  

So I went to carrying the MP5. Not my HK53, but I still had lots of fun shooting it and I remained on the entry team as the third person through the door.         

Today a lot of guns and assault weapons have ambidextrous safeties, Making everyone’s life easier.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Weapons I'v Carried: Part IIIa

Weapon’s I’ve carried Part IIIa: Shotguns and submachine guns

I split this final section into parts A & B, but hey we’re talking about the coolest toys and they needed a little extra finess.  

In the CHP Academy I was introduced to the Remington 870, 12 gauge, Pump Action Shotgun. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdW2TAfN3mQ). When I went to the CHP Academy back in 1983, women reported a week earlier than men. Because we (women) were at a disadvantage – we were the weaker sex, don’t cha know - we needed the extra training to make sure we made it through the Academy.

If I sound a bit snarky – I am.  There were definite perks in letting women go to the Academy a week before their male counterparts:

Academy Orientation – we had the run of the layout, of learning the schedule and inner workings, preview of Physical Training (PT), Weapons, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) and the all important one-on-one with women CHP officers at the Academy.

Now most of that was excellent training and we (women) definitely received an advantage going to the Academy early, but me being – well me – I only seem to really remember Academy Staff  members taking us (women) out to the EVOC track and showing us (women - only) how to change a freakin’ car tire. 

Seriously, first they gave us handouts to review and then we went out to the high speed track and received a step by step demonstration.

It wasn’t until years later I realized I had been insulted. At the time I was simply, but majorly peeved. I asked my female Academy mates if they had ever changed a tire and every one of them answered yes. Turns out, I was not the only one who had a brother or father teach them how to maintain their own vehicle so that brother or father no longer had to. 

Then to add fuel to my ire, when the discussion of our first week came up with the males in our class, a few of them readily admitted they had never changed a tire. One even said “That’s what AAA is for.”    

Me thinks I still be a bit peeved about that. I will take a deep breath and let it go . . . again.

Back to weapons training at the Academy.

Officer Danoff, a female officer who worked as a Firearms Instructor at the Academy, took the women cadets, during that first week, for orientation at the firearms range. She went over basic weapons handling, which included the shotgun. Ofcr Danoff showed us the best way to handle and fire the shotgun to prevent the weapon’s kick from beating the hell out of us.

Danoff showed us how to widen and balance our stance, place the shotgun butt in the pocket of our shoulder, to keep it seated there, and to lean forward slightly to minimize the kick. Until you fire an improperly tucked shotgun, you don’t realize just how much of a kick (or bruise) you can get.

Before that orientation was done I was acutely stiff, severely sore, but I knew how to properly hold and fire a shotgun. Later that evening we female cadets sat around comparing our first in a long line of deeply colorful academy bruises.

During the CHP Academy we shot both 00 buck and slug rounds. Let’s just say the slug rounds left bigger and better bruises.

The Remington 870 is a great tactical shotgun. There is nothing like the sound of ‘pumping’ a round into the chamber. Talk about psychological warfare. I have been present during group fights (usually gang or alcohol related) where officers tried repeatedly to get the combatants attention. One officer racked a round into the chamber of his shotgun and I’d swear every fighter came to immediate attention as if they were military trained.

This video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woIHhXBTQPs&feature=related ), has so-so sound quality, but you definitely hear when he engages the pump action. Truly that sound is distinctive and attention getting.  

I will stop here and post the final section in a few days.