I’ve spent more than 20 years using sniper rifles, so it’s difficult for sniper schools to “surprise” me, especially those open to civilians. Often more marketing than substance, they regularly disappoint me. So, when I was invited to Armageddon Tactical Solutions’ “Sniper Experience” course, I felt a mix of emotions. My excitement to get back on a precision rifle was tempered with my typical skepticism. It did not take long, however, to turn my skepticism into a very broad smile.
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Armageddon Tactical Solutions is a full-service training company based in Phoenix, Arizona, that can teach operators to use most weapon systems. The company offers rare tactical and operational training courses ranging from wilderness reconnaissance to scuba diving. While some courses are restricted, many are open to the public. The staff is former and current military operators.
The Sniper Experience course I attended was led by Jon “DQ” Geib, a former Army Ranger as well as a proven military sniper and competitor, and Chase Stroud, a world-class precision rifle shooter with numerous wins on the Professional Rifle Series Tour. These men provided an incredibly broad and experienced perspective.
The course took place at the Legion Operator Training Facility, which rivals some of the military bases I’ve visited for previous training. Spread across 4,000 acres, the Legion facility includes a 1,000-yard known-distance (KD) range, a 2,500-yard unknown-distance (UKD) range and much more. There are drop zones, a shoothouse, 360-degree bays—you name it, they have it. For lodging, the Legion center features nicely appointed cabins. State of the art, Legion may be the best-kept secret in the training market.
The Sniper Experience
Armageddon Tactical Solutions’ website says you will “train like a real U.S. military sniper,” and we did. Copious amounts of PT, head games, low crawls and 15-mile “rucks” were thankfully absent, but all else was indicative of current training doctrine. This class was five days long and included lodging, food, ammo and pretty much everything else you would need. At $4,000, it’s not for everyone, but it is all-inclusive. Future classes are priced at $2,800, but the course is one day shorter and you bring your own ammunition.
For this course, Caracal USA provided me with a CS 308 sniper rifle. Equipped with a U.S. Optics LR-17 scope, it was well suited to this class.
The first day started on the 1,000-yard range, with students getting solid elevation numbers from 100 to 1,000 yards. Armageddon strongly emphasizes using computers or smartphones. It is the way of the future, and it’s current military doctrine. It was easy to use my phone and Applied Ballistics software. Once dialed in on stationary targets, we engaged moving targets out to 800 yards. The Caracal CS 308 proved incredibly accurate, making it easy for me to get solid hits on targets out to 800 yards. The U.S. Optics LR-17 was also incredibly helpful at these ranges, thanks in part to its built-in level.
With targets dispersed at irregular ranges from 194 to 2,500 yards, the UKD range is a precision rifle shooter’s dream. It remains the best way to learn to read the wind and range targets. Several methods were covered during the course. Hitting an IPSC-sized target at just shy of 1,400 yards is a great confidence-builder. My cold-bore hit at 870 yards again demonstrated the accuracy of the CS 308. Those shooting .300 Winchester Magnum rifles were getting regular hits at 2,000 yards—very impressive.
Stroud covered position shooting on barricades and from alternate positions. He’s an incredible shooter that also happens to be incredibly entertaining. His insight helped during stressed courses requiring movement and unconventional positions. Taking plenty of notes and pictures, this course will comprise my training regiment for this next year. It was an excellent primer for competitive precision rifle shooting, and it offered truly solid basics.
One of Armageddon’s staff members, a current Special Missions Unit member, nicknamed “Pistol Pete,” provided carbine, shoothouse and tactical training. His training was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We fired carbines on a stressed obstacle course and from a helicopter. A car was also provided to perform some ballistics testing through windshields, car doors and engine blocks.
Nivisys provided night optics, including a prototype thermal sight. Picking up heat signatures at close to 1,000 yards was amazing. Using the latest night-vision gear provided a perspective most never see. It also provided the chance to see how clear U.S. Optics’ scopes are. Caracal’s Jeff Spalding was able to engage targets out to 866 yards with no night-vision aids and out to 1,170 yards with a clip-on Nivisys NSV-80 unit.
The nighttime ATV course was a blast. Driving at speed through corners, back roads and in the sand using night vision is incredible. Surprisingly easy, it proved why our military “owns the night.” Using what amounts to 20-year-old PVS7 NVGs with great success, it is hard to imagine how it’d be with the latest night-vision.
We spent the last day shooting from an MH-6 Little Bird helicopter with a suppressed carbine. We attempted some increasingly fast runs on a stationary target. Starting at 10 knots, we moved up to 20, then 30 knots. It was increasingly difficult; this kind of shooting is definitely an acquired skill. In fact, two current Army Ranger instructors in attendance had never done this kind of shooting before. That just goes to show how rare this experience was. Pistol Pete and Jon “DQ” Geib showed us how it was done. At 10 to 30 knots, they never missed their first shots and seldom missed after that. Coming in at 80 knots and flaring, they hammered the target. It was very impressive. I’m really glad they are on our side!
If you’ve decided to save your money for a training school, attend this one. Armageddon Tactical Solutions has done a fantastic job of mixing practical training and just plain fun. The atmosphere and attitude is excellent, the instruction is professional, and the experience is incredibly positive. The staff’s experience and credentials are unmatched. New shooters will remember this course forever; experienced shooters will take back truly useful information.
I might have started the course as a skeptic, but I quickly became a convert. This Sniper Experience class was incredibly fun and useful. It provided tons of memorable experiences. Definitely take this course if you can. You will definitely not be disappointed, and you just may learn something!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- Armageddon Tactical Solutions: atacsol.com; 757-447-5868
- Caracal USA: caracal-usa.com; 205-655-7050
- U.S. Optics: usoptics.com; 714-582-1956