Bad advice, when using piston powered air rifles.

A follow on to my last range report.

Noticeable that evening was one guy had a very powerful gas piston air rifle.
What was also VERY noticeable was the scatter gun results he was getting courtesy of the advice he was being given by the resident ‘ex-spurt’ who kept on telling the guy to use a rest when zeroing his new scope.

OK, what was going wrong?

Telling someone to use a rest with a spring or gas piston air rifle is good advice PROVIDING you instruct him how to use one, and preferably why!

One of the secrets of shooting these two ‘powerhouses’ is you cradle the weapon, and not hold onto it with any degree of force.

The why is because it’s impossible to fight the unique double recoil imparted to the rifle by the effect of a heavy steel piston flying forward. That motion gives you the familiar ‘shove in the shoulder’, followed shortly thereafter by the weapon trying to fly FORWARD as that air piston crashes into the air port which is directly behind the breech.

This double recoil happens with both the spring powered rifle and one that has a gas piston fitted. The only difference between these two is the recoil is HARSHER and FASTER with the gas piston.

So how do you hold it?

  • You aim the weapon using a natural point of aim supporting (cradling) the fore end without gripping the furniture (fore stock).
  • Your head is held using a consistent amount of pressure in your cheek weld. Same place every time.
  • The stock is tucked into your shoulder but NOT pulled back into your shoulder and,
  • When you squeeze the trigger, you must be very aware of not tightening your trigger hand grip or support hand ‘grip’ while you are increasing the pressure on the trigger and,
  • Being very attentive in maintaining an even direct (no sideways) pressure on the trigger.

Not forgetting that this system takes anything up to three times longer for the pellet to exit the muzzle when compared with a firearm, so you need to maintain your follow through way longer than a conventional firearm.

Easy eh? Like hell it is.

Only lets go back to supporting the rifle.
While it’s OK (and advisable) to use a rest whenever you can.
What you must be aware of is the support the rest provides must be for your support arm ONLY and NO PART of the rifle must touch that support.

If you are taking great care to let the rifle “do its thing”, the rifle will move predictably and consistently providing you aren’t trying to restrict the weapons movement on a rest, be that on a solid ‘wood’, bi or monopod, or backpack, support.

So, if you do use a rest to support the fore end, especially a hard rest, the rifle will fight you with way more force than you could ever hope to control.

Thus, you will miss, again, and again.
Only most people won’t like that and the natural inclination is to FIGHT the weapon for control which makes matters worse.

So what about slings?
The idea here is to lessen the load of the rifle on the forearm. It’s not to be used to force the rifle back into the shoulder. Sling use must be consistent because suddenly swapping from using or not using one will change your POI as the rifle will ‘ring differently’ under varying stresses. Don’t forget, these rifles like doing the same thing again and again, BUT if you are being inconsistent (sling one day, and a rest on the other) it will cause the rifle to fight you aka you will lose accuracy.

As for the scope? I’ll leave that for another day but will ask this.
Telescopic sights for spring or gas piston design are much more robust than those used for firearms. Why is that?

If Knowledge is king, part 2

I said I’d be looking at:-

  • Body language a bit deeper but only what you may encounter in the field.
  • What some people call ‘a gut feeling’, others call sixth sense.
  • Why profiling is not a dirty word, and should be your basic SOP
  • The dynamics of conflict management,
  • The protocols some are training and adapting for survival.

Well sort of.
First I want to talk about anger from you and towards you.
Not every situation dissolves into anger or non compliance, BUT if your physical approach is wrong, your instructions unclear or stressed, your chances of a successful encounter drop dramatically. Especially if one or both of you lose it!

I used to get angry as standard when talking to or ‘negotiating’ with difficult people.
To control that, I was told to:-
Ask once, explain once, repeat once, then act.
That worked. . . . Some of the time.

The rest of the time I used something I worked out by myself.
When someone is losing it or just being obstructive.
There is a good chance that YOU, OR THEY, DON’T FULLY UNDERSTAND
What is going on or what is being said.

So unless the scenario demands immediate action and you forcing control:-

  • STOP and REALLY LISTEN to what is being said by the other.
  • Step back if you can, give them space.
    Have you ever noticed how some people have a trigger distance?
    Get within that distance and reaction can be instantaneous.
    What I’m talking about is proxemics or personal space.
  • Use non threatening body language.
    Which still means you make ready for conflict, just not OBVIOUSLY!
  • Slow everything down.
    That allows the other person to calm down and think (unless that person is a complete idiot). It can take a while (some experts quoting 20 minutes) but for me I’ve found it’s never been more than a couple of minutes tops.
    An indicator of restored ‘balance’ is the person visibly loses tension, exhales deeply, or even gives a sigh, and the eyes ‘regain focus’.

But what are the effects of anger and can you identify them?

I like using smilies or, in this case , a grimlie.
They show the most basic things to look out for and gets past the “personal interpretations” of photographs.
So , Angry.
Tension in the face, eyebrows ‘scrunched’, mouth curved down and taut.
The eyes need a bit of work but they are usually narrowed and intense.
But there is so much more to look for.

Physical Changes Behavioral Changes
Sweating / perspiring Pointing or jabbing with the finger
Clenched teeth and jaws (makes speaking strained) Swearing / verbal abuse (Remember, words only bruise your ego)
Shaking or tremors, Fidgeting Over-sensitivity to what is said
Muscles in tension, Clenched fists RAPID Invasion of your personal space.
Rapid or ‘snatched’ fast breathing
Hyper ventilating, which is all part of the fight or flight response
Adopting an combative stance. Watch those feet and make sure you have eyes on their hands at all times.
Squinting, Staring, or unfocused
eyes. Beware of tunnel vision, it can trigger a response if someone approaches the enraged from the side.
The Mind gets overloaded with adrenaline, then blanks as processing power falls to a feral level.
Flushed or a very pale face, raging
Blood pressure and heart rate, paleness can be a sign of a highly reactive person
Stamping feet or kicking things
Throwing their toys around.
Just make sure that you aren’t the target.
Voice rises in pitch (almost screeching) and volume of voice goes up
Loss of vocabulary as rage increases
Walking away is something a few do.
If possible let them as they are seeking space to unwind.

In within an “urgent” scenario, why someone is angry is of little importance.
They do what they are told , or else, BUT  it can help you to understand their reactions.

  1. They are aggressive by nature
    Some can just be over-confident, some are just complete prats.
    If safety is an issue and they are endangering you and others, you’ve only got two choices. Force compliance, or leave them behind.
  2. Previous aggression was rewarded or rewarding.
    Sort of goes in point one but it is also a sign of a bully or spoiled brat.
    They generally fold if pushed back HARD.
  3. They believe that aggression and/or force wins every time.
    Which also goes into point one and two.
    Bully or moron, take you pick. Push back HARD.
    1,2, or 3.
    Some fools will never learn unless it’s a painful lesson.
  4. They get frustrated easily or when dealing with authority.
    “Do you know who I am?” or “I’ll have you fired?” Heard them all before, been threatened by the best, but if you are in charge just smile sweetly and still say “NO!” to all their blustering.
    You’ll probably get a lot of verbal abuse from these people.
    Corralling has little effect as they will see it as an abuse of power.
  5. Life experiences has left them expecting hostility.
    Being bullied, being a victim of crime, maybe from a dysfunctional family.
    More a question of confidence than rage and can usually be talked around.
  6. They feel threatened by everything.
    This could be from life experiences BUT be careful. It is a sign of a chaotic mind which may have sloppy self-control. They can be unpredictable.
  7. They may live in a hyper-vigilant state.
    Training, life experiences, or suffering from mental trauma.
    Also consider it could be a reaction to combat stress aka PTSD.
    First question? Which service were you in?
  8. They suffer from pain, be that physical or mental.
    Been there, still living it, and sometimes if some prat is stalling you or causing you discomfort, I still get this overwhelming urge to deliver a slap (or ten) just to speed things up. Offer assistance.
  9. They can be tired, ill, or suffering from sensory overload.
    Traveling can be stressful, sleep disturbed, travel tummy, kids endlessly saying “Are we there yet”. Even the meek and mild have limits.
  10. They have had previous ‘problems’ with a scenario.
    Fear, bullying, loss, phobia, frustration, time issues, or even road rage.
    More wary than reactive, they can be talked around if you are reasonable.
  11. They are following the lead of others.
    Idiot see, idiot do. Peer pressure or the emotion of the situation.
    Separate from the feral, isolate them, and let them chill.
  12. They may feel justified in being angry.
    Wronged by events, poor standards, bad management, and process.
    Can generally be talked around if you express empathy.

Appreciating this list may help you pick up on the why, but the cure is generally the same. Let them calm down or force a state of calm before you enter into negotiations.

A lot has been written about expressing empathy for what they are going or been through. Give a little comfort and understanding to get what you need i.e. a compliant person. It does work, if you have time and adequate verbal skills.

There is always a ‘BUT IF’ with every list and for me it’s when a person is under the influence or drugs or alcohol.
Without a doubt, these two form the biggest triggers for trouble.
And two more. Fear and especially blind panic.

I have ZERO tolerance for drunks or druggies.
The chances of help, understanding, or empathy from me run from zero to zilch.

Fear and blind panic just need a firm confident, professional hand.
That and for you to keep an eye on them the whole time, or use the buddy system.
Bottom line is they are unpredictable and once lost, you may need to the needs of the many over the few.

A few may be confused by some of my reasoning so far.
OK, that’s fine, every situation os different.
That’s the problem with working with people. They come on infinite varieties, and varying intelligence. All I can do is quote what I’ve found in real life, and been trained to do.

Finally anger can come from highly emotive subjects like race and religion.
Professionally speaking, this shouldn’t be any difference to the listed reasons people anger. Except I live in the real world and the type of people who bleat about this are what some call a clear and present danger.
The secret is to identify the threat they may present, isolate if necessary, and be ready for the anger that will come.

I will cover profiling later.