The 30-min Barricade
What I learned from a 30 min Barricade:
A few weeks ago I saw a perfectly good pallet in the trash while on a walk. Not wasting an opportunity to be a good scavenger, I took it home with me and promised myself I would do some kind of project. Recently, a local was throwing out some tongue-and-groove panels and I was inspired.
I will be up-front with my handyman skills; I have none. What I ended up with is not pretty or well-made. Despite my deficiencies I managed to build a small barricade with some various cuts and gaps in about half-an-hour and some nails. It is certainly no VTACs barricade, but it cost me nothing and I could fit it in my car.
I had no idea what I was really planning but I tossed it onto a 25yrd range and began shooting. Weapons included a 6in-barrel 22lr, a M&P9c, and a Vz. 58 with a side-rail red dot. I learned some things that I’ll share here, and some of which may be obvious upon reading or in hindsight from your own experiences.
Before I continue, someone is going to say you shouldn’t be so close to a barricade or cover. True, if possible. A competition stage, target location, or geometry of an event might force a less-than-ideal scenario on us. In my case, I was on an active range with other folks, so my target was a fixed 25 yards away, slightly elevated, and I was pressed pretty much up against the barricade in order to make the angles work for some shots.
First, the rifle and red dot were very easy to shoot despite the length. Even at odd angles the long barrel allowed for an awareness of the muzzle’s position relative to the barricade. While potentially undesirable, it was easy to rest the barrel against the structure and occasionally helpful in supporting the weapon while getting into position. With an intermediate cartridge, supporting the gun only with my arms and no stock was possible. Irons would probably be worse, but I can see making it work using only one eye based on the pistol. For an LVPO, well I’ll just say there’s a reason for off-set RMR mounts.
For the longer 22lr, I was able to achieve a similar muzzle position as the rifle. My compact was too short to do anything besides hold back from the edge. This meant that I had to be careful, (read: slower) making sure my shots were passing through the hole already in the wood, particularly with shots at hard angles. Even without creating splinters, the blowback of particles was significant enough to notice even with the 22lr. Being a step or 2 away would have mitigated some of this, as mentioned above, but wasn’t possible in this case. Iron-sights on the pistols were a bigger issue. Between the odd heights and angles my arms, shoulders, and head were often poorly positioned for recoil control and utilization of the sights in a way I was used to.
Further, I realized bad angles made compensating for elevation very interesting as my gun was canted up to 90 degrees. Though I was passively aware of this, seeing it applied was eye-opening. At a 25 yard range this was noticeable in my case, although it’s going to depend on your zero and sight offset.
On a philosophical note, my device was crudely made and limited, but otherwise functional. In just an hour or so I had learned quite a few things and realized I had much more that I wanted practice on. It also proves that it doesn’t take much to test yourself or show some gaps in your knowledge. Even at firing ranges with more *ahem* conservative rules, take my experience and push yourself to try some unconventional angles and body positions until they toss you out. Honestly, just be as safe and considerate as possible.
Most shooters aren’t going to head out to a 2-gun match or tactical training event every weekend (and to some, maybe never). Despite this we owe it to ourselves to try things which are more difficult than the usual ‘sit and shoot off the bag’ range routine. You might look ridiculous, as I did with a slapped-together barricade, but you will be putting time on a barricade where those who simply sit at a bench will not. If ‘sit and shoot’ describes you, maybe it’s time to try something outside the comfort zone. So print out some drills, shoot your rifle prone with only a sling, or build a barricade in 30 min.