Looking back on 2015, one of my most memorable weekends of training occurred in Daytona Beach at the Big 3 East Tactical Training Center while attending the MOTUS PAPM long-range precision 2 day class. I am constantly trying to improve as a shooter and I had heard about MOTUS before, so I decided to investigate. Once I found out that the guys at MOTUS would be bringing in a couple of “you cannot put these guys on film when you make your TacDaddy videos because they are real deal operators” kind of guys, I got excited. I’m not sure what it is about the “Secret Squirrel Instructor” mystique that makes me want to learn from guys like them – I have never served in the military and to think that I’m able to rub shoulders with these guys is never lost on me. When it comes to learning, you can not do better than get real world instruction from real world men who have been there, done that, and lived to tell you about it.
To top it all off, I got a call from my friend Ben “Mookie” Thomas and he informed me that not only was he going to the PAPM class, but to miss instruction from this specific “secret squirrel” would be a huge mistake! After some scheduling maneuvering, I was all set to attend. When I got to the class, I was lucky enough to have an additional instructor by my side. He’s another real world bad ass with unquestioned credentials – Quentin “Q” Carter. Q is my friend, a former scout sniper, and one of the instructors at Big 3 East. Earlier in the year, I had attended a long-range class taught by Q and I was pumped to follow-up that experience with another opportunity to shoot long-range with him again.
The facility for this outing was the Big 3 Training Center in Daytona Beach Florida and we all want to thank our host CJ Johnson, Ancel Robinson and the entire crew for what was an outstanding weekend. With classroom facilities, a bunk house and ranges to facilitate most types of shooting you’ll want to do, it is the premier facility in Florida and the Southeast.
My Rifle And Why
My rifle for this event was the Head Down Operator rifle chambered in 5.56 / .223. I dropped in my Geiselle SBA 2 stage trigger. I really love that 2 stage trigger. When you’re in the zone and truly focused on shooting long-range, the trigger is everything just before the shot. Getting comfortable with that and the wall of the second stage was paramount and I can’t say enough about those triggers from Geiselle. Other than that the rifle was stock from Head Down, with a 4x ACOG from Trijicon with a green chevron reticle affixed on the flattop rail.
I decided to forgo the “long-range” rifle for a few reasons. I had already used my .308 Model 11 from Savage and was fairly familiar with how it shot up to 500 yards. Secondly, I knew that Q was bringing a .308 semi auto from Head Down, and that there would be a few other rifles I could use if needed on site. Most importantly, I wanted to become proficient with the ACOG and that rifle up to 500 yards. I knew that I had it dialed in at ranges up to 300 yards, but wanted to see how far I could stretch it out, specifically to see if it was feasible as my “go to” rifle beyond that range.
The one piece of new gear that I had with me specifically to test and use during this outing was the Warrior Assault Systems Elite Ops Cargo Pack with hydration bladder. Thanks to my friends at Chase Tactical, I was able to procure a pair of these for personal use by Q and myself. See the video for the full review but let’s just say that it definitely served it’s purpose during the incredibly hot weekend we had here in Central Florida, I was soaked in sweat pretty much all day both days and hydration was a huge factor in keeping us all on point and as cool as possible.
One of the things that was amazing to me this during my first outing with MOTUS is this – these guys have every conceivable piece of gear that you could possibly want while at an event like this hanging out and shooting. They literally had it all: badass little chairs, shooting mats, and portable refrigeration units. I’ll be getting into the collection of firearms and optics in just a moment …
Class was succinct and to the point. We focused on the basics…..no need to get into the coriolis effect quite yet. My major takeaway was paying closer attention to my body position. One of the key focus areas of instruction was the alignment of your body in relation to the rifle and the target. The difference here was that we spent time RELAXING our entire body prior to focusing on the next steps, aiming, breathing, trigger pull, follow through. I equate it to getting ready to shoot, then taking a mini nap, completely relaxing your entire body. After 10-20 seconds relaxing, lifting your head up to see if you are still properly aligned – that is a new technique that I will always use in the future. It is quite telling, your body tells you if you are correct every time. We covered the basics and followed a written manual to completion in the classroom, and after a brief break it was time to sight in our weapons. First from a bench at 25 yards, then prone at 100 yards … did I mention is was hot and steamy?!?!
Other Guy’s Guns
The other super cool aspect of a class like this for a regular guy like me is the collection of firearms that shows up. Everyone it seemed, had a bad ass .308 bolt gun – I’m talking about these guys prized possessions, their favorite long range rifles. Like many of you, I enjoy the mechanics and esthetics of firearms, and the array of awesomeness on our firing line was simply impressive.
After a break for lunch we headed down the range, and posted up at a 300 yard mark. Out of all the shooting that we did I must say that at the 300 yard range I was truly able to dial-in, get comfortable, and almost call my shots.
As late afternoon turned into early evening and the sun began to set we got in a good couple hours on the 2 tiered 400 yard platform. This was a lot of fun for several reasons. Ben showed us what the Spike’s Compensator rifle is capable of with iron sites at that distance. At this point, guys began sharing common interests of each other’s rifles, and many of us got a chance to try that rifle that we had been eyeing and or envying all day long.
While safety was paramount, don’t think we did not have a great time just being a group of guys hanging out. The MOTUS brand attracts winners from all walks of life, and it was cool to see and be a part of the fun. Talking smack and having a general great time is the norm with the group of guys I was shooting with. The gang from MOTUS seems to be a collection of real men capable of giving and taking good lighthearted jabs at each other – a great part of the weekend that I must tell you I truly enjoyed.
We had a great time at dinner in downtown Deland, Florida and while most of us ended up getting some good rest and sleep preparing for the next day, guys like Ben and Wes ended up shutting down some bar singing Sinatra and sipping who knows what until the wee hours of the morning (again, FUN was the #1 objective after hours, so boys will be boys).
Out To 600 Yards On Day 2
One of the Great features at Big 3 East is the long-range platform. This is a two-story multi person elevated platform and at the time we were shooting there the rage extended out to 650 yards. Large sand and dirt berms on both sides and the ability to put targets wherever and change them whenever on the fly as we were shooting is an awesome feature at Big 3 and the crew was there to get us set up per our needs. *important note, the range now stands at 800 yards
A major consideration for an event like this outside in Florida is the weather. The blazing sun directly on you over any period of time during the day is what truly drains you. Once again, the MOTUS guys came together and were prepared for this as well. As we pulled our trucks up to the big tower, we realized that some tarps would be handy. Next thing you know the sound of hammers erupted and BAM – we ended up shielding ourselves completely from the direct sunlight. As I said earlier, one the great features of the long-range set up at Big 3 is that you can literally set up targets at any range that you prefer and the great staff there would jump on the four wheelers and the next thing you knew you had fresh paint on the steel targets from shootsteel.com. We set up a series of targets and our “secret secret squirrel” created a logbook and “lazed” the target distances so we had the data handy. As shooting commenced, each two man team took turns shooting and spotting at various ranges.
Basics, Basics, and Basics
On the tower that day we focused first and foremost on the classroom discussions about the basics. Body position, rifle position, target acquisition, elements, breathing, relaxing, target acquisition, breathing, smooth, trigger pull, follow through. It was cool to hear the encouragement all around from the group of guys at this point. Quentin was invaluable. He gave me great advice and adjustments all day long. Achieving the long-range shot with the a ACOG optic was truly exhilarating, and I couldn’t have done it without him. The rest of the gang had a great time as well. While I did see a few equipment frustrations along the way, there was nothing that could not be fixed. The bottom line was this – by the end of day 2 of the PAPM class, I believe everyone would agree that they had achieved a significant level of improvement from just 48 hours earlier.
I can’t wait for the next firearms training experience with MOTUS and look forward to meeting you if you decide to join us for the first time. To all of my new friends from MOTUS that I know will be joining us again sometime, I look forward to another fantastic learning and brotherhood experience and can’t wait to see you again!
The videos below share some of the insights mentioned in this article, gear and gun reviews, plus the highlights and fun. You’ll also get to see some of the skills that we were able to acquire at the class put on by MOTUS. I encourage you to check out the highlight videos and the entire playlist listed here:
For more information on the Big 3 East Training Center, check then out online.