Review: Sig Academy 556 Operators Course - August 23-24, 2008
The course was held at Sig Sauer’s Academy in Epping, NH on August 23rd, 24th 2008
The instructor was Rainsford Deware. He went by Rance. Like most trainers, Rance is a veteran, and has law enforcement experience. Rance has a strong sense of humor, which came out during the class. This made the class and range time enjoyable. Plus he shared some of his experiences from his LE days, and how it related to our training. By mid morning he had a nick name for each of us. Being from Michigan, he called me “Michigan Militia” or “Gadget Man” because I had all of my Mag LuLa loaders with me, and my drop leg AR mag holder. Sure beat using pants pockets, as the other’s did.
Weather was upper 80’s and sunny both days.
Sig supplied the 556 rifles and ammunition for the class. Ammo was Federal XM193 on stripper clips. My Strip Lula got a real good workout.
I got to keep all the empty strips for future use. Gotta love a scrounger.
There were 4 students registered for this class. Including myself, one from Canada, and 2 from Providence Rhode Island. One of the RH guys brought his personal rifle. I wish I had asked about bringing my rifle. I was mostly concerned about the use of camera's. Which we were allowed to use.
Rance laid out 6 rifles and allowed us to choose the one we wanted to use for the class. He then went over the layout of each rifle’s set up, the merits of such, and the cons of each. He also discussed the merits of having a sling on these rifles, and helped adjusted the slings to the shooters. He then went over the nomenclature of the Sig 556, and basic operation in the class room environment. And of course Safety and what was expected from the students in regards to our safety, his safety, and range rules.
I picked a SWAT model with a Trijicon ACOG TW01NSN on top. One shooter picked one with an Aimpoint, the other picked one with iron sights. I think they were GG&G in the rear, and a Troy, or Sampson in front. Rance used one with an Aimpoint and a flip to the side 3x magnifier. All magazines were Sig’s 30 round polymer, with 3 for each student. We loaded up the gear into Rance’s car, got in ours and drove to one of the ranges located on their property. Once there, we loaded up the mag’s, and started with the basics. Zeroing the rifles. This was done from the prone position at 25 yards. No elbow pads, or knee pads, we got down in the dirt, the stones, and shot until we had a good 25 yard zero. That was probably the worst part of the class. Nobody brought any protection. 2 shooters were in shorts. All had short sleeve shirts on. My elbows got chewed up a bit. To show us what we were to do, Rance got into the prone with us. He used no pads himself, even though he did have knee pads with him. After we completed the zeroing exercise, we went to learning offsets. We aimed at the same spot on our targets at several different ranges, all less than 25 yards, to see what the offset was from point of aim, point of impact.
After that, we moved on to position shooting, with multiple shots. We shot from 25 yard’s standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone. Rance loaned his personal set of knee pads to the 2 shooters that were wearing shorts. After lunch we moved on the our aerobics training shooting. He had us taking 1 to 2 steps in 90’ moves from our position, shooting after each step. Then we added multiple shots to our moves. We also did a drill that when a shooter ran out of ammo, he yelled out “empty”, the rest of us shouted “covering” and shot at his target as well as our own target until he reloaded.
Then we finished the day with clearing drills. Failure to feed, failure to fully extract, (stove pipes) and failure to extract. (bolt stuck shut) Hold the rifle with your shooting hand, rifle pointed down range, and parallel to the ground. Pull the mag with your left hand, retain the mag, wiggle your fingers in the mag well to remove the rounds, or casings, reach under and rack the charging handle to clear, reinsert the mag, and do a tap, rack, click. If you did it right, it went boom. If it didn’t go boom, at that point in a real tactical scenario, you would probably be dead, or wounded. Out of the fight.
Each student shot about 425+ rounds on day 1. I was covered in brass specks, and powder residue. The Sig 556 rifle really throws the brass. Forward, and away.
Went and took a shower, ate at the Old Salt, and ran off to Kittery’s Sporting Goods in Maine to purchase some elbow pads, bug dope, and sun screen. I needed the elbow pads real bad, and they came in handy the next day. Also got to plant my feet in the state too.
Sig is not allowed to shoot before noon on Sundays, due to a local ordnance. WTF!
(But the local drag strip, which we could hear from the range, could race all day. They had no starting time restriction on Sunday morning. New Hampshire is supposed to be gun friendly)
So we were back in the classroom at 8:30am, and learned Sig’s way to field strip, clean, and properly lube a 556.
Went over the past days drills verbally, and learned what we were going to do on the range that day.
Started with warm up of some of the previous day’s drills at 25 yards. The we moved back to 50 yards, and saw how the offset went the other way.
Did some position shooting at that range. Then we moved to the 100 yard berm.
All the shooting the rest of the day took place on rectangle steel plates. We shot from the sitting, kneeling, and prone positions.
At one point, each shooter shot 1 round standing, kneeling, and prone in one sequence. More aerobics.
We then mover to the 200 yard berm, and shot prone from there. The drill was to see what the offset was at 200 from point of aim, point of impact at 100.
From 200 we mover back to 300. At this range we were back to point of aim, point of impact. We shot in the prone position here, and all of us didn’t have much problem hitting at that range. A good testament of the 556’s accuracy. We finished the day shooting at the steel pistol targets Rance set up, from the 300.
I did manage to hit one, and came close to getting a couple more. I had the range, but couldn’t see the windage hits to adjust my aim to get consistence hits at the smaller targets.
The final drill was policing the brass. Just like my Army days. Except we didn’t have to do push-up’s if we missed one.
We shot another 150 rounds on day 2. So we had about 2500 pieces of brass to pick up.
All in all, it was a good class, plenty of trigger time, and some good lessons learned.
Rance is a good instructor, so if you ever get a chance to train with him, it should be a good time.
He likes good cigars, and there is a well stocked smoke shop not far from the range, in Epping.
I did make the trip. Always can use a edge to soften up the teacher. Apples dose not get one very far these days.
The wife went along as a tourist. She went to Maine on Saturday, to plant her feet in the state, and then up to Portland to visit the Harley shop for a shirt.
We stayed a Lamie’s Inn. She liked it. Clean and cozy. We ate at The Old Salt, which is part of Lamie’s. Long lines, and very good food, but finding a parking spot was very hard on the weekends. Also ate at a sub shop up the street from the inn. We liked the food there as well, but can’t remember the name.
One thing I almost forgot to mention.
Almost all of us developed blisters on our middle finger of the trigger finger hand. I got mine half way through the first day's shooting.
This is caused by the gap between the pistol grip and the trigger guard, and the extensive amount of shooting we were doing.
I don't feel this will happen in casual shooting at the range. But in a training, high ammo count situation, it will happen.
I personally solved this on my 556 by installing a Magpul Enhanced Trigger Guard. It's made for the AR rifles, but will work on the 556.
The Magpul guard closes the gap.
For the record: I posted this same review on SigForum.