Cold Weather Training


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This past weekend took the opportunity to conduct a cold weather live-fire exercise with some friends from my BOL.

This was at an undisclosed location in the Virginia mountains not too far from WV.
Sadly we were at one of the few places in the region that had no snow .. this would have added to the ambiance.. and I would have loved to be able to wear my German overwhites.

.We were at some elevation at the day started in the low single digits and never went higher than the mid teens ( not counting windchill)

Some lessons:
a) Camoflage uniforms go out the window and the hunting gear gets broken out for self equipped citizens when it comes to people just looking to stay warm.
b) When its cold not everyone shows up. We had a couple of no-shows.. Partially I suspect due to their wives insistence they must be "crazy" to spend all day outdoors in the low single digits.
c) Even if you are someone who never has problems with cold feet and so always wears summer boots even in winter as I do... When its this cold , dont.. I wore thick socks with summer boots and I would have been in trouble had I not been able to switch into other boots from my truck
d) When using my normal Tac Gloves (Wiley-Xs) which I originally thought would be way too thin/cold worked just fine.. not comfy mind you .. but not so cold it became a problem when firing (this was a key performance parameter)

As this was as much as cold weather test as a firing exercise.
Some more unsurprising and some surprising facts:

Some Rifles were intentionally left cold soaking outside over night (at 0 F lows!!!) :

-1 Rifle saw a loosed Optic that had to be rezeroed after re screwing it in.
- Lancer Magazines while fantastic magazines in normal weather seemed to introduce multiple malfunctions in single digits. The magazine springs acted really tired and those are tighter mags to begin with. Also it seemed the feed was tight.. maybe the metal lips contracted? Either way, not one but 2 out of 3 rifles running Lancers had repeat and significant feeding issues from these magazines. I usually much prefer these magazines over PMags but this was not a shining moment for them.
- We seemed to see the occasional short cycling on very cold guns that we would not see otherwise. The oil in them was thick as molasses. Even adding oil (mil issue CP) this oil seemed to act more like grease rather than oil.
- PMags had no issues in the cold.
- All optics used seemed to suffer some loss of zero when the rifle was cold soaked overnight, not just EOtechs, Aimpoints, even Irons too. For all optics however the loss was small enough that w/o rezero the weapons were still effective at the under 100 m ranges we shot for angle-of-man, which is all we usually need in our wooded AO.
Why does this cold soak matter and why we did try it?
Well imagine you are on a mission mid-winter either post- SHTF, or fighting enemies foreign or Domestic. You will likely not have comfy heated cabins to sleep in..... knowing your fighting gear can make the difference between success and death.
- The EOtechs battery ran just fine. I Started with an older battery to begin with and as expected had no issues all day/night.

-Since none of our guys needed any BRM (Basic Rifle Marksmanship) we focused on reflexive fire.
The course involved 5 targets named, unsurprisingly 1-5. They were arranged in a 150 degree arc wrapped around the shooter. Each target had two steel plates ranging in size from 4 inches ( 30m) , 6 inches ( 50m) and 3 foot silhouettes 80 and 100m)
One 50m target had the right most plate obscured by concealment ( a bush we dragged out) this was to practice Rhodesian cover shooting.
While somewhat hard this was to approximate responding to receiving fire from a concealment and estimating the location based on dust from firing or some other clue (in this case one could guesstimate based on how far the other target pairs were from each other

The trainee would be on the line flanked by a trainer (me) and a safety (usually our host an older but still highly mobile Vietnam Vet)
I will not regurgitate our entire course of fire which would be too much writing.. But the cliffnotes are progressively more complex updrills:

In beginning trainee would get a call for a single target and to hit either of the plates with a single shot.
This would be also done from right face, left face and back facing position. Head-body-weapon.
Every target consisted of two steel plates approx 3 feet apart. for single shot updrill from facing targets.
By the end trainee got 3 targets called and had to hit with controlled pairs on each steel plate (each target was a pair of steel plates) with the 2nd called target a smaller or more distance on to be engaged from the prone and the 3rd to be engaged from the kneeling.
This was to approximate a realistic environment of a) Getting fire and responding with quick return fire from the standing b) going in cover/prone to return more accurate fire and be harder to hit and c) discovering not all enemies can be serviced from the prone (the real world is rarely a flat range) and to continue to engage from the kneeling to be able to see over obstacle to vision that are so common in the real world.
Here one could see who works out cardio/core/legs and who doesnt.

When it got darker we had some opportunity for low(er) light fire as well.

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