Winter Class January 2012

Behind Lines

For those of you not familiar with him, Marco Vorbiev is an ex Spetsnaz who served in the Russian Afghan war as an SVD marksman. Last year I took his class to get some formal training on the SVD itself and to see what the class was all about. I walked away with a very different mindset on the SVD than I started with and learned a lot. This year I decided to take the class again as a little bit of a refresher and to see where I was at with some of the things I had  learned. I was joined by Nictra and Auzie, two of my good TX shooting buddies and we met up with C-4 from Arfcom. He turned out to be hilarious and fit right in. 

Like last year the class was held in Sayre PA but not at the same range as before. This year Voron from worked with a local farmer and got us access to his land, we ended up getting to shoot to 600m and had plenty of maneuver room for the infantry stuff.


Marco's style is professional and informative and he can dial his instruction up or down based on the experience of the student. This year we had 8 in the class, with a mix of LEO, ex military, one active Army and a couple civilians. Everyone learned something and I think everyone saw their shooting improve, found things to work on and got a better idea of how a DMR can be employed.


Day 1 consisted of meet and greet/introductions, class overview, safety brief and course content/overview. The first order of business in the morning was confirming zero and getting gear situated as needed, then it was run and gun all day with a lot of infantry maneuvers as well as a full day of live fire, which included shooting from the moving 'BMP' and movement to contact drills. As in my previous AAR the intent of the class is not about ultra precision - one shot one kill type's about getting the most out of a semi automatic DMR rifle under multiple target dynamic engagements. The drills were about speed and rapid fire rather than pin point shooting, and were designed to teach you to shoot with 'practical accuracy'. Of notable mention is the concept of double tapping or firing two shots back to back with a DMR, something that until last year I had never really thought of doing with a scoped rifle. With some practice it is quite effective and is intended to be used on most every target engaged unless maximum possible accuracy is necessary. 


One thing I like about how Marco teaches is the common sense attitude of the instruction...if you shoot too fast you will miss, so the natural thing to do is dial your speed in to the level where you can hit reliably during the double tap. I think most of the shooters learned what their sweet spot was and got 4-6 inch groups at 100 yards while shooting high speed timed drills at multiple targets, typically 8 targets/16 rounds in 24 seconds. 6 inches may not sound that great but again that is plenty good enough to score center mass hits out to 300m and further while shooting pretty quickly. Auzie really tore these drills up, on day 1 he shot some honest 2 inch groups using ball ammo and his Tiger. I've seen Tiger's do that from the bench but he had a knack for doing it at high speed.


Last thing We did after sunset was night fire with Marco's 1PN34 and 1PN58. I would have brought my 1PN34 again like last year but I accidentally pulled a wire from the AA battery mod and didn't have time to fix it before I left for the class. I think the guys who had never seen or really shot with night vision got a big kick of using them, they do work well despite appearing to be ancient 80's era equipment. I know I really like my 1PN34.


Day 2 was building and proofing a battle position, learning how to construct a camouflaged snipers nest, how to create a range card and then shoot, shoot, shoot all day long. 14 targets ranged from 200m to 600m and we had to continually engage random targets called out by Marco. We learned a bit about estimating wind and how to compensate for it, how to use hold overs and hold-unders to rapidly engage targets instead of adjusting the turrets on the optics. Again it was about practical speed and putting down a volume of fire to quickly overwhelm the engagement area targets. Another point to consider is that on day 1 in particular every drill we ran involved some level of physical exertion and was intended to put us in uncomfortable shooting positions with elevated heart rates. The intent was to show you that under real conditions you won't have the luxury of time and comfort to take the perfect shot, and that you must learn to shoot well with whatever you have at that moment. Good stuff IMO


We didn't get any snow unfortunately, the week before the class PA was in the 40's and it all melted. We did get to roll around in icy slush on day 1 but day 2 was colder and windier, particularly in the afternoon. Overall I think the weather was great and no one complained about the lack of snow. I'll also say a good word for the Gorka mountain suits we had, they worked like a charm.


Speaking of good words, a big thanks must be given to Voron of Without him these classes would not be possible...he works tirelessly all weekend to keep everything moving, to help shooters get on target and to solve the inevitable problems that crop up. His generosity is amazing and he's good people. Thanks!



On to the pics:

Day 1 checking zero.

Practicing the combat roll in preparation for the dismount from the moving BMP

And the BMP takes off

Field manuevers

Ex Marine, Auzie, Nictra and Zen in the rear, rest of the squad is in the tree line ahead

Why did the Zen cross the road, you ask?

To get to the shooting on the other side of course

Live fire - movement to contact and engaging to the right, targets 50-200m out. We did this in relays a number of times.   

This is one of my favorite parts of the class, shooting from the moving 'BMP'. These pics are side to side shooting, we also did moving forward and backward again on a different part of the road. 

Day 2 on the battle position overlooking the engagement area. There were 14 targets from 200m to 600m.
In this first picture there are 8 of us hidden at the top of the position. We were close together for practical purposes and to maximize safety, but it goes to show what a little camo can do to hide a lot of guys in a small area if need be. I'm on the left of the photo for reference of the size of the BP

Showing my position without being under my poncho 

The engagement area, far edge of the treeline was about 700m or so

View from next to the PSO turret

View through the PSO

Auzie and the Tiger

Izhmash MP spotter scope (up to 20x variable magnification)

Auzie improving his position. We used hay for efficiencies sake but would have taken the time to use existing vegetation to match the position we were in had it been for real.  

I'd have to say the battle position shooting was my favorite event overall. We shot further than last year, had to deal with a 15-20mph wind with freezing gusts while being under a poncho with foliage on top and doing timed drills with random targets called by Marco. Random targets from 200m to 600m across the width of the engagement area isn't as simple as it sounds, wind and hold overs change because of the various distances and it's not the easiest thing to do under pressure that's for sure. There was a lot going on but I was happy with my results and during the process I learned a few things about hold overs and how to better use the PSO reticule at speed. Once again the emphasis was on combat speed shooting, not precision sniper shots.


Nictra with FAL

C-4 with his PSL

Marco showing how to do a transition with the DMR

J with Marco's SVDS. He used his own PSL in class and Marco commented that he was the best PSL marksman he had ever taught. Guy could definitely hit with it, I was impressed. 

C-4 with Marco's SVDS

My trusty NDM86

T and J, good guys. T was a police instructor and J was someone who had taken a lot of classes. Both squared away and I think they had a good time also. Yes, some of J's gear was white. We were expecting snow after all ;)   

T's 308 AR

Auzie on the rampage in Gorka-R with his Tiger

Nictra with FAL in Gorka-E summer/green colored mountain suit and me in Gorka-E autumn/brown colored suit with NDM86. Can't say enough good about the Gorka mountain suits...worth every freakin penny. Perfect for the wet and cold conditions we were in. 

Gear details for anyone interested:

The uniforms that Auzie, Nictra and I wore were Gorka mountain suits. These are produced by SPOSN in Russia and designed for cold weather and mountain use. They work...and they work extremely well. All you need to do is wear the appropriate layers underneither for warmth and the Gorka will keep you dry and protect you from the wind. I wore only one single base layer of thin smart wool and I was fine all weekend, especially when moving. The two tone OD colored one is Gorka-R, the greenish one is Gorka-E Summer and the brown one I had on is Gorka-E Autumn pattern.

For my chest rig I had's Hawkeye (who owns make me a new 10 mag SVD rig in the SURPAT pattern and it completely rocked. I was extremely happy with it and will be posting a separate review once it gets shipped back to me. I also used my old school LBE that I kept from my time in the Army and it worked as good as always, combined with the chest rig I had everything I needed with me at all times.

Once again big thanks to Voron from for putting the class on, like last year without him there wouldn't have been a class in the first place.

Thanks V!

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