Immediate Action (R)

The Rifle Drills course is an on-line curricula consists of 15 short instructional modules with quizzes.

The predecessor to the Rifle Drills Course is the Handgun Drills course which we encourage everyone to start with. By building on the foundation of the Handgun Drills course you will more quickly learn what works for you should you be afforded the luxury of enough time to retrieve your long gun.

In this Rifle Drills course, we will provide you with the study materials needed to begin mastering stress resistant gun handling techniques for the rifle. This course will introduce you to drills that you should practice at home (dry) and on the range (live).

The drill modules should be completed in order, after which the student can revisit any module at any time to refresh their memory. Students who complete all 15 modules and pass the quizzes will be awarded a certificate that can be posted to their profile page.

INSTRUCTIONS: Watch the video, read the narrative, review the still photos then take the quiz at the bottom. When done move on to the next module indicated at the bottom.

DURATION: 30 Minutes


RIFLE DRILLS - 13 IMMEDIATE ACTION What we are going to start covering now are malfunction clearances. A malfunction is something you can fix immediately, in the here and now - without special tools, disassembly or the replacing of parts.

With rifles, there are two basic malfunctions categories that you need to concern yourself with, because if you can clear these basic malfunctions reflexively, everything else will naturally follow.

The first reaction you should have when your firearm fails to fire is what we call immediate action, and it is named this because it is an action you perform immediately upon realizing that rifle is not working as expected. The need for immediate action is both simple to recognize as well as a simple fix.

You will recognize something is wrong because you will be pressing the trigger expecting your rifle to fire (go - "bang") but you don't the bang, instead you get something else.

There are generally two types of malfunctions the immediate action will clear for you:

1. A "type-1" malfunction where the hammer falls but you get a click instead of a bang.
a. This could happen because we did not load properly (we didn't do a chamber check/mag check, therefore there was no round in the chamber to shoot). This is the most common reason for a type-1, made by thousands of people everyday
b. After completing a chamber check magazine check, you failed to properly seat the magazine, and you didn't tug, so you will get your first shot, and then a type one malfunction. This is not as common as the above.
c. A bad round/primer which did not ignite. Fortunately, bad primers are very rare and we don't see these too often, especially not with proven (through your rifle) factory ammunition.

2. The "type-2" malfunction clearance, commonly referred to as a stovepipe or as we like to call it, the cheese grater where you get a mushy trigger instead of a click or a bang. Why the cheese grader? Because the stovepipe, while common, is not always the way the partially ejected brass ends up, it often ends up with the mouth of the spent brass facing forward towards the front sight as the base of the shell is held in place by the bolt, hence the cheese grater. Which can be caused by:
a. Dry bolt (improper maintenance)

Fortunately, you can avoid a vast majority of malfunctions by using factory new ammunition and by using the proper firearms-handling techniques you have been learning throughout this Drill Manual.

When a malfunction happens to you, you don't particularly care why it happened, you just want to fix the problem immediately so you can get back into the fight.

To set up the immediate action malfunction clearance, present out like you mean it, and start with an UNLOADED rifle (go through the proper unloading procedure for your firearm, and concluding with a proper chamber check/magazine check to ensure your firearm is indeed unloaded). If you have ANY doubts, go back to the chapter on Unloading (chapter 10) to confirm you know what you are doing BEFORE you proceed.

01.a Setup - Start with an UNLOADED rifle.

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Now allow the bolt to go forward on an empty chamber and then simply insert a filled or partially filled magazine, whichever is handy.

01.b Setup - Bolt forward on the EMPTY chamber, partially filled magazine inserted

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At this stage you will point in (as if you are engaging a threat), safety off, with your finger on the trigger and the slack out.

When you press the trigger you will receive a normal trigger press, but with a "click" instead of a "bang" due to the fact that you are (should be) performing this drill with the aforementioned setup of no round in the chamber and a filled or partially filled magazine inserted. This will exactly emulate the way a type-1 malfunction will feel and sound with it happens in real life.

02 Pointed In - Start at the pointed in position, and when you press the trigger you will feel a normal trigger press, with a "click" instead of a "bang".

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To begin fixing a malfunction, simply start by making your trigger finger go straight back to its tactile reference point, while keeping the rifle pointed in the direction of your target.

03 Finger Straight - Your finger should go straight and back on its tactile reference point.

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Next, bring the rifle in towards your personal workspace, and simultaneously, your support hand is going to release its grip on the handguard. To ensure that your magazine is inserted firmly you will then splay your support side hand flat open (fingers splayed out) and slap the bottom of the inserted magazine firmly.

04 Slap - Next, briskly slap the bottom of the magazine ensuring that it is properly seated.

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Next, tug firmly on the magazine to ensure that it is seated properly.

If it is not correctly seated and comes out in your hand, once again align and insert even and seat the magazine even more firmly this time

If for some reason you are having an extremely difficult time seating the magazine, it may be due to the fact that your magazine may be too filled with ammunition (filled to capacity and the spring won't give enough to allow for easy magazine seating against the bolt or bolt carrier).

This over filling could also lead to problems with an closed bolt loading, to remedy this, simply download magazines to 27 or 28 rounds, whichever works best for you.

05 Tug - Pull firmly on the bottom of the magazine to ensure it is seated properly.

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Now take your support hand, palm down (just as you have been doing for all of your other gun handling), grab the charging handle latch with your support hand's trigger finger and thumb

06 Palm Down - Support hand palm down pinching charging handle latch.

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Now briskly rack/flip to ejection port side.

This rack/flip will help gravity and inertia eject anything that may be in the chamber at the time (like the spent brass of a type-2 malfunction).

It is important that you pull the charging handle all the way to the rear, and hold it to the rear while you flip. Once the rifle is flipped, then you can release the charging handle.

Because if you let the charging handle go too soon, you may not give any spent brass time to leave the chamber area.

07 Rack/Flip - Briskly pull the charging handle all the way to the rear while you rack flip, letting go, only once the rifle is finished the flip.

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CAUTION!!! At the end of this drill you will end up with a LOADED firearm (if you conducted the drill correctly), and while you do need to finish this drill with your finger on the trigger and ready to shoot (just as with the empty gun reload you will shortly learn), we strongly advise you NOT to make shooting after clearing a malfunction a reflexive habit.

To finish the drill, simply reestablish the support hand's grip on the handguard and finish as you began, in the pointed in position with your finger on the trigger, slack out and ready to fire (but do NOT fire).

07 Finishing Up - To finish the Type 1 Malfunction you will end as you began.

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To keep malfunction clearances simple, remember this:

No bang = immediate action

So if your gun doesn't fire when you would like for it to, your first course of action is to apply immediate action.

Next, I want to be perfectly clear: At this stage we do NOT want you to shoot (pressing the trigger to make the hammer/firing pin fall). Yet, you need to be ready to shoot with your finger on the trigger and the slack out of the trigger just in case you have to shoot to save your life.

We want you to understand that shooting is an intellectual action that you must decide to make at the right time for the right reasons, it is not a reflexive action to be performed automatically at the end of any weapons manipulation.

What we mean by this is that you are responsible for the rounds you launch down range. Let's look at a possible scenario to give this credence:

You and your spouse are clearing a room in your home when you identify a target and present to shoot. As you present the rifle you see your spouse reacting as well. You intend to shoot, press the trigger and you get the loudest sound in the world, click... You hear shots firing, you hear screaming and shouts. You know that you can clear a malfunction rather quickly, and sure enough, your training has held up and you clear the malfunction in about one second... What could have happened in that one second? A lot right? Sure, your spouse could have dropped the bad guy and the situation could have completely changed.

If you have trained properly, you will be able to withstand the temptation to shoot when you don't need to. But on the other hand, if you train yourself to shoot every time after a malfunction clearance, what do you think you will do when the pressure is on? Sure, the odds are that you will shoot even when you don't need to, then you become your own worst enemy by launching rounds down range that don't need to go down range. Remember: You will fight the way you have been trained.

To ingrain good habits rather than bad, you need to do two things, practice NOT shooting, and occasionally (when you are on a live fire range) practice shooting after a malfunction clearance. Even when you are not shooting you need to you fix the problem, and get back on target with your finger on the trigger and the slack out.

Remember that while malfunction clearances are reflexive, but shooting is not. Shooting is an intellectual decision that must be made by the shooter.

At this point you will undoubtably recognize that all of these gun handling techniques are either identical or similar to the basic drills you have learned up to this point. This is not an oversight, it is insight.

As we describe in the Strategic Manual "although cheng and ch'i are only two forces, the artful combination of them can lead to infinite possibilities..." Sun Tzu described the artful use of cheng and ch'i this way according to the Thomas Cleary translation of the Art of War:
"There are only five notes in the musical scale, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be heard. There are only five basic colors, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be seen. There are only five basic flavors, but their variations are so many that they cannot all be tasted. There are only two kinds of charge in battle, the unorthodox surprise attack, and the orthodox direct attack, but the variations of the unorthodox and the orthodox are endless. The unorthodox and the orthodox give rise to each other, like a beginningless circle - who could exhaust them?"

The same can be said of your basic gun handling techniques. Master the basics and you will be well on your way to mastering your firearm.

Unfortunately, too many good people will attempt to shortcut the process and ultimately become worse in their firearms-handling skills, all the while fooling themselves into believing that their gun handling skills are unique and cutting edge, when in reality, they are simply masters of crap because they didn't want to invest the time and effort into learning it right to begin with.

I can tell you from personal experience of successfully competing (and winning) at the national level of shooting, that most people look for shortcuts, secrets, and tricks in hopes of being able to shortcut the learning procedure.

However, I found out that true mastery wasn't attained in any shortcuts, secrets or tricks... true mastery comes from mastering the basics. You can save yourself countless hours and dollars by accepting that fact. By mastering the basics, you will be wealthier in experience, technique, and skills.

Finally, as I mentioned above... the immediate action will also clear the stove pipe (failure to eject) malfunction as well. So while there is no real difference in the clearing procedure, there is a difference in the symptom you may feel (and this is due to the bolt being stuck open because the brass is caught between the bolt and the chamber).

In the case of either malfunction, the clearance is the same: No bang = immediate action

If you remember back to earlier in this section, the symptom of the type-1 malfunction was a click instead of a bang, yet the symptom of the type-2 is a "dead trigger" where you feel little to no mechanical resistance, or you experience a mushy/spongy trigger press (which, also feels like a type-3 malfunction, yet you won't probably feel either too well under the chaos and duress of a lethal force encounter).

The bottom line is that the immediate action drill will clear 2/3rds of your malfunction clearances, for the other 1/3rd, there is the remedial action malfunction clearance, which we will cover next.