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Counterintuitive Tips From the Death Valley Magazine Mobile Scout Class

If there’s anyone who knows a thing or two about rolling down roads in the Third World with no backup, it’s James Price. James has been in the PMC game (AKA private military company industry) for more than a decade. He has run missions all over the world, including over 600 in Iraq alone. So naturally we jumped at the chance to attend one of his mobile scout classes taught recently through his DVM (Death Valley Magazine) Training Center. While it was chock full of great information, we thought we’d bring you some of the more counterintuitive lessons learned.

Now, we’re not going to pretend that all of these are going to be applicable in your everyday life, but they should give you something to chew on — should things go very sideways and you’re forced to protect your loved ones while getting out of Dodge.

“Gangster” Shooting Actually Has Merit
No, this isn’t about turning a handgun completely sideways while grabbing your crotch, or even about using human physiology for more accurate offhand pistol fire. It’s about stopping the rifle from falling out of the truck. While you’re tooling around in vehicles, slings get in the way and restrict movement. This is why so often you see protective services detail (PSD) teams running rubber bands around buttstocks: to keep the sling from getting snagged. Unless you’re rolling in a panel van, space limitations are going to force you to extend your rifle out the window to shoot. First, you have to remember that your car is likely already going to be moving, or will be moving in short order, if you’re sending rounds downrange. Rapid acceleration, bumps, and other obstacles all mean that your ride will feel like you’re climbing aboard a mechanical bull.

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To counter this, offset and angle the rifle so that the magazine bisects the angle made at the bottom corner of the window at roughly 45 degrees. Lean into it and put some weight on the gun. While this won’t help you if an oncoming vehicle hits your rifle (though if you’re wearing your sling, you’ll be in a larger world of hurt), it does mean that while you’re inevitably jostled back and forth, the magazine isn’t going to smack the inside of the door as easily or bounce up and down, hitting the door frame.

What are the downsides of your rifle mag hitting the frame? It forces you to fight for control of your rifle, or perhaps even lose it. Remember to be aware of trajectory shifts that occur when you fire your rifle from an unconventional angle.


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Checkpoint Personnel (Usually) Don’t Want to Fight
While there are certainly some exceptions to this lesson — Rwanda springs immediately to mind — it holds true as a general rule. Unlike what most U.S. military personnel experience overseas, where most checkpoints manned by local personnel are simply ignored, James usually had to stop at each one along his way. Non-DOD and state convoys rarely have the luxury of just blasting by at high speed. This gave him a lot of insight.

Like dogs vying for control of a pack, people staffing checkpoints oftentimes are really seeking acknowledgment of their dominance. Any private in any army will agree that crappy weather, boredom, and long hours will exacerbate negative attitudes. So while there may be much posturing, sometimes the best idea is to remove your own ego and placate them as much as possible, all the while remaining ready for the worst case scenario. “We’re used to lying with our words,” Price says. “It’s much harder to do that with a language barrier, so learn to lie with your body.”

Looking Slightly Downward Increases Your Peripheral Vision
Now we’re sure there is some evolutionary or biological reason for this one, but when you look down, your peripheral vision actually widens. Quite often at a checkpoint, you may be asked to physically leave the vehicle to check paperwork, talk to the guard commander, etc. When walking you should keep your head slightly down. This not only expresses the desired less-dominant posture, but also increases the amount of activity you can take in visually.

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