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On the range with Jim Smith, Spartan Tactical and Vertx

A few months ago we reported on the announcement that Vertx apparel was partnering up with former SMU member Jim Smith of Spartan Tactical. As a part of this partnership Vertx was beginning an initiative that offered an all-expense paid training opportunity with Spartan to six active Law Enforcement Officers. The six officers were chosen over a range of criteria from Selfless Service to Tactical Proficiency. Thousands of applicants were nominated by fellow officers, team members and friends and were narrowed to the final six.

DSC_0532The final six officers ended up being a pretty diverse crew that hailed from all over. Not only were they from all points of the country, they carried distinct job titles and positions, including local Police Departments (metropolitan and rural), Sheriff Departments, the US Border Patrol and ICE. Jim and Vertx were kind enough to allow me to attend as well.

We all met Jim and his staff from Spartan Tactical on Thursday and were immediately off to the range for an easy afternoon of gear checks and re-affirming or adjusting zeroes.

Friday morning we started bright and early with pistol fundamentals, malfunction drills, shooting and moving drills and, of course, plenty of quality instruction from Jim. The students were afforded the opportunity to conduct drills that they wouldn't normally be allowed to train on due to department training doctrine, range facility limitations or otherwise. Jim's many years with a Special Missions Unit (he was wounded while rescuing crew members from his downed Blackhawk helo in Mogadishu in 1993) and his involvement with the training program for the Asymmetric Warfare Group and Federal Air Marshals no doubt contributed to the unique nature of some of those drills.

DSC_0600After we broke for lunch, the afternoon consisted of rifle and carbine drills, as well as a friendly competition shooting from 300, 200 and 100 meters. 

Saturday morning began with instruction from Jim on basic long-range shooting fundamentals and an inventory of the rifles, which included .308, .300WM and .338 Lapua in the new M2010 chassis all of which were outfitted with Leupold optics. (Personal thanks from me to Jim for letting us shoot all of his precision equipment.) We moved out to his square range to verify some zeroes and get a few familiarization rounds downrange from each platform before heading up the hill to the 1000 yard range. Once up the hill, we broke into pairs and continued to work on our long-range skills all the while receiving excellent tips and nuggets of wisdom from Jim and his staff.

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In addition to the 1000 yard range, Spartan Tactical also has a more “real-world” shooting course. It sits atop a scenic cliff face that overlooks a valley that transitions into rolling hills, with steel targets spread high and low. It truly provides a great shooting experience that is challenging and entertaining all at once. Everyone should have access to a range like that.

We moved to the cliff face Jim proceeded to break out the big guns…literally, first producting his Accuracy International AX50 .50 caliber rifle. Most [if not all] of the officers attending the event had never shot a .50 caliber rifle, so it was really great to see those guys get to shoot a weapon of that size and quality.

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Before we broke for lunch, Jim had one more trick up his sleeve – the ONE MILE shot. That's right, the Spartan Tactical course has the ability for students to engage a steel target at ~1600 meters. Everyone got the opportunity to shoot, but only a few of us were able to get on target. A 1000 yard shot is extremely difficult, for just about anyone. However, with the right conditions and equipment and someone like Jim Smith making your wind calls and corrections, it made for a once in a lifetime experience that the students (myself included) will never forget.

After chow, Jim and his staff set up a 2 gun (pistol/rifle) lane for the class to run for one last competition . 1st place won an A-Range Bag provided by Darrell Morrow from Vertx.

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DSC_0536We conducted an AAR (After Action Review) after scoffing at everyone who failed to earn a prize during the competition, then concluded with a night of food, drinks and camaraderie.The next day unfortunately the LEOs had to return to their respective agencies. All of us had a great time and we're truly grateful to Jim, Spartan Tactical and Vertx for creating such a great event. It was an excellent way to give something back to the men and women who protect our city streets, county roads and stand guard over our borders and was certainly appreciated. Those fine officers continue to set the standard for departments and agencies around the globe. Their commitment to their community and their fellow officers, professionalism, integrity and tireless efforts to keep the local populace safe is beyond reproach.

Thank you to Jim Smith and Spartan Tactical. Thank you to Darrell Morrow and the team at Vertx. Most importantly however, thank you to all the men and women who patrol that Thin Blue Line daily.

If you are give the opportunity to go train with Spartan Tactical or to spend any time on his range, take it. You'll receive outstanding instruction at a great facility.

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