Sword Camp 2008: Firearms Day, Day Three

Monday was the day things went bang. Firearms, basic and advanced. We began with safety instruction and refresher by the lovely Lynda, emphasizing three basic rules: (1) Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction, (2) Finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot, and (3) keep ammunition separated from weapons until you are at the firing line with the range hot. We were instructed in how to check and clear weapons.

A walk down to the range and instruction in range safety protocols followed, including basics like safe direction and continuing to range commands Then Lynda took the Basic Firearms people off for more classroom instruction and the Advanced class (Marcus, Scott Kennedy, a gentleman named John Guest who I know and like from SF fandom, and myself) went off to the range to have fun shooting stuff.

My first gun of the day was a CZ-52, a Czech-made semiautomatic firing 7.62mm ammo. Pleasant enough, but what I really liked was the CZ Rami. Same maker, but firing .40S&W; short frame, relatively heavy, and with a ride (recoil quality) a lot like the short-barrel .45ACP semis I favor. It was instant comfort zone.

I also got to fire a Heckler & Koch CETME (G3) Battle Rifle. This is a semiautomatic assault rifle firing 7.62 rifle. Sal had done a trigger job on his that made the pull lighter than the recoil, so if you don’t ride the recoil just right you tend to get automatic fire in 2-to-4-shot bursts.

The challenge with this particular gun, therefore, is to get off just one shot, which I actually managed on my third try. Thank you, exceptional upper-body strength; one of its uses is for handling recoil gracefully.

After lunch we did fire and tactical-movement exercises in the woods with paintball guns. The mission was to double-tap every tree between approximately 4 and approximately 8 inches in diameter; this made target selection nontrivial. We did the exercise in pairs; twice in close formation with one shooter covering right and the other left, twice with ten-foot separation and each shooter covering a 90-degree frontal arc.

About three minutes into the first run I dropped into a hyperesthetic flow state. My senses became extra acute and clear, and I dropped into a repeating loop of track-fire, track-fire, track-fire with almost no conscious thought involved at all. This probably will not surprise anyone familiar with such states: I don’t think I wasted more than three rounds out of probably 50 or 60 paintballs I fired in the whole run.

My next three runs weren’t quite as sweet; I didn’t achieve continuous flow again and my accuracy dropped accordingly. Still, I was doing pretty well; point-shooting rapidly and with precision. Couldn’t do more than a walking pace, though, and had to stop and settle the few times I used the sights for a long-range target. I suck at rapid movement in rough country at the best of times, and if I had even tried it would have soaked up too much processing time that I needed for shooting.

I haven’t described a lot of incidents in this report, but it was a long, hot, effortful day. The end-of-day tourney got changed from the original format because the instructors detected that most of the campers were fairly exhausted. We did four runs of a VIP Escort scenario: One team has a non-fighting principal they most protect, the other team can win by touching the principal with a weapon. The escort team wins by moving the VIP through some number of rally points without his getting tagged.

Rob Landley played the principal in the first three runs. I was on his escort team for the first two, in which the attackers defeated us by using glaives and run-and-gun tactics. I dropped out, exhausted, after that; Lynda-the-instructor told us a few minutes later that all the instructors were pretty much expecting things to wrap up early as most of the attendees elected to recoup their scattered forces.

I’ve seen this happen on the night of Day Three in previous Sword Camps; it seems to be a natural pause point in the seven-day schedule. Tomorrow is Tactics Day; that should be interesting.

8 thoughts on “Sword Camp 2008: Firearms Day, Day Three

  1. I’m interested in the “hyperesthetic flow state” you mention. Would you equate this state to the budo (via Zen) concept of mushin (no mind or empty mind), which I’m sure you’re familiar with from your martial arts training? My karate sensei once told me about achieving this state while fighting in a high-level, full-contact karate tournament. His body began to “fight on its own,” with no interference from his conscious mind.

    Do you think this mental state would be an asset or a liability in a true combat situation, where the trees were shooting back? Were you able to effectively use cover, maintain good muzzle discipline, etc.?

  2. >m interested in the “hyperesthetic flow state” you mention. Would you equate this state to the budo (via Zen) concept of mushin (no mind or empty mind), which I’m sure you’re familiar with from your martial arts training?

    Yes. I was able to recognize it from the handful of times I’ve been in a similar state while fighting empty hand.

    >Do you think this mental state would be an asset or a liability in a true combat situation, where the trees were shooting back?

    Definitely an asset,

    >Were you able to effectively use cover, maintain good muzzle discipline, etc.?

    Maintaining cover was not really an issue. The exercise simulated an aggressive patrol in terrain without hard cover; our `protection’ would have been suppressive fire and constant movement. I was able to maintain muzzle discipline.

  3. About three minutes into the first run I dropped into a hyperesthetic flow state. My senses became extra acute and clear, and I dropped into a repeating loop of track-fire, track-fire, track-fire with almost no conscious thought involved at all.

    Shoot the wings off the flies!

  4. Just a quick comment concerning this one, Eric. The Cetme is a HK variant,made in Spain prior to the designer being re-welcomed into the German arms industry in the ’50′s. The trigger job was just intended to lighten the pull a bit: all other effects were unanticipated. :7

  5. Great Name = hyperesthetic flow state! Most serious combat veterans call it “time freeze zone” watching bullets coming at them while watching their bullets flow toward or hit the enemy. No fear or adrenalin rush is noticed… you just snap into the “The Zone” and no it is NOT the weight loss zone… Well maybe for the dead dudes left behind….it is!

    Rod

  6. >Most serious combat veterans call it “time freeze zone”

    Interesting; I’d never heard that term before. Hand-to-hand fighters from Japanese traditions sometimes call it “mushin”, or “no-mind” in English; as I noted before, I recognized it from a couple times I had dropped into it during tae kwon do fighting.

    In coining the term I did, I was simply combining the medical term “hyperesthesia” with the “flow state” concept popularized by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi.

  7. Yes, firing gun is a lot of fun if you get back to the basics of human survival, the amount of evil in the world and the number of people that would kill you just for fun. Watch Criminal Minds on TV for lessons of all the sick ###$$%%^^* out there that kill by strangling, with knives and by blunt beating… The you will know why I have a concealed carry permit.

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