Vickers Hackathorn 1911 Centennial Class August 6 through 8, 2011 Marietta, OH. Day One; Everyone met up at 0800 hours in the parking lot of the Marietta Holiday Inn. The group formed two groups of vehicles to caravan for the 30 minute trip to the Fort Harmer Range. The ride was interesting in that there was not one straight level shot in the whole trip. By 0900 everyone was set up at the range and Ken and Larry gave what I thought was a fairly flippant safety brief. Larry’s first rule of safe gun handling is know your target and what’s behind it. Not the way I was taught. I think I will stick with the original version, thank you. I was surprised to find that Bill Wilson, his wife, and son Ryan were amongst the shooters. One of the first men I met was Tim, a double amputee in a wheelchair. Turns out he is a West Point graduate, a Colonel and sustained his injuries in Iraq. The guy was hard as nails throughout the course, refusing aid from anyone, including those times he was spinning his wheels on wet gravel. First course of business was the disbursement of promotional bags by Wilson Combat. Nylon briefcases containing ear plugs, 1911 takedown wrench, an ETM 1911 magazine, T shirt, notepad, pen, a complete set of the Wilson lubricant and cleaning product line and each bag had a personalized metal dog tag with the shooters name and the event information imprinted thereon. It rained heavily on both shooting days in the morning with the sun and humidity arriving thereafter each afternoon. Staying dry was an issue, but not a deterrent to the group. The first day evolved with mostly square range shooting, conducted by both Larry and Ken, along with one interesting side shoot. It was homage to the exploits of Sgt. Alvin York. Ken conducted the intro lecture which was full of interesting details about the war, Sgt. York, weapons fielded and the actual incident being replicated. The shooter approached a table holding an 03 Springfield rifle and a 1911 pistol exactly as would have been carried in WW I including the terribly small and difficult to acquire sights. At the timer beep the shooter (wearing an appropriate steel helmet for the era) would pick up the rifle, sight a target and press the trigger. Click. The shooter would then rack the action, find it empty and proceed to pick up the 1911 and use it to engage five reactive steel targets, going from the rear farthest to the nearest, just as Sgt. York did to the Germans. The pistol had seven rounds in it and there were no reloads allowed. Time penalties were added for targets left standing. I cleaned them with five rounds. Shooters in groups of five came off the line during the day to participate in this side match with the overall winner receiving a prize. It was great fun, and you gained a real appreciation for those who utilized a pistol with such challenging sights to good effect. My time was 10.43 for the event and the winning time was 9.34. Not too bad. The square range drills were basic but extremely accuracy oriented. Larry claimed to be the Accuracy Nazi and he lived up to the title. Skill building with timed groups, ball and dummy drills, and dry fire with casings balanced on the front sight (with and without timer beeps) were the order of the day. There were a few pistol novices in the class but overall the skill level of the shooters was extremely high. My partner for the drills was a friendly guy who I did not find out until halfway through the first morning was Bill Wilson’s son, Ryan. He currently runs the company. All of the Wilson group were hot shooters as you might expect. Shooting drills for the day included the El Presidente and Bill Drills conducted at varying distances 3 to 15 yards. Bill Wilson himself gave the lecture on the genesis of the Bill Drill and its’ original intent and goals. Round count for the day was a little under 200. The El Presidente was also performed a five man team contest to turn up the wick on everyone. No one wants to let their team down. The first day ended around 1700 hours with some close accurate drills to end on a high note and reinforce yet again Larry’s insistence on fine accuracy while shooting. Day Two; Under rainy skies day two commenced at the range at 0900 hours. Larry and Ken went over the plan for the day which called for two relays to be formed. The first relay would work with Larry on the square range for the morning until lunch break. The second relay went with Ken to do a shoot house and Dozier drill competition. My group was the morning with Larry group. If anything he turned up the accuracy pressure from the day before. Instead of requiring all A zone hits on the IPSC target this days shooting utilized a small bullseye pasted onto the center of the IPSC thereby reducing the size of the acceptable A zone hit area. Also introduced this session was shooting on the move. Due to the class size and time constraints this was limited to forward and aft movement, with no lateral exercises being done. Of course, the movement was conducted using the reduced Bullseye A zone throughout. Exercises requiring speed reloads were utilized as well. After lunch my relay went down to the far end of the range for the shoot house and Dozier drill. Once again, the historical precepts for this exercise were explained to the shooters so that they could appreciate the real world application of this task. Shooters were given a lecture on the function and manual of arms for the Uzi and each shooter was allowed two magazines of practice with the weapon. I was congratulated for being the first shooter of the day to have utilized the sights on the weapon. Apparently my predecessors all engaged in spray and pray hip shooting with less than stellar results. The Dozier Drill The Dozier drill was set up with a table facing five pepper poppers. To the left stood a shooter representing General Dozier, and on the right was a shooter standing in front of a range bag containing a fully automatic Uzi with wooden stock in condition three. The action began when the terrorist moved to withdraw the Uzi from the bag in order to cock it and bring it into action. Once the terrorist moved Gen. Dozier was free to draw his 1911 and engage the five poppers. If the General knocked down all five poppers first he lived. If the terrorist knocked down any one of the poppers the General was dead. Each two shooter team was allowed two runs with both shooters playing both roles. I was two for two as the terrorist, and got shut out both times as the General. Moral of the exercise; it sucks to go up against a sub gun with a pistol but it can be great fun to practice. My group was the last to go through the shoot house for the day. Ken ran it and he did an excellent job in my opinion. You could tell some of them were nervous engaging in this type of shooting exercise. Ken used me as an example on a dry run in the first room of the house for my group utilizing a blue gun. He was patient but extremely dialed in and very safety conscious. It was fun for me but really didn’t raise my pulse rate as it did some. The second day of shooting ended at about 1630 hours with an approximate round count of 175. Everyone returned the hotel to clean up and eat prior to the 2000 hour show and tell session.