Saturday, July 31, 2010

BEARS: Dangerous Beliefs and Misconceptions

A considerable portion of my time working in the forest industry has required that I work in locations that are often frequented by bears. Sometimes close bear confrontations are unavoidable and you never get used to them. I'm not terrified of bears but I really really respect their privacy.

About 15 years ago I attended a bear awareness course by James Gary Shelton. I consider this chap to be one of Western Canada's most experienced and educated bear awareness and defence instructors. So many of the indicators of bear behaviour that Mr. Shelton described gave me cold shivers because I recognized many of them.

Below are some of my notes from Mr. Shelton's bear awareness course. I often refer to them to ground myself in some of the basics of managing yourself in close bear encounters. 

Please give the following read some consideration if you spend any amount of time in locations frequented by bears (stay tuned for a primer on bear defense)...

1. Bear Behaviour Summary (adobe reader required)
2. Human Response to Bears

Dangerous Beliefs and Misconceptions:

1. “If you give a bear, exhibiting predatorial behaviour, it's space and back away quietly during an encounter the bear will leave you alone”

Predatory Behaviour from Bears is not as rare as you probably believe. You need to be as threatening and as big as you can in these circumstances. Don't be quiet and be prepared to fight.

2. “Its his fault he was attacked, killed and eaten by a bear because he was hiking in Bear Habitat”

Would it be sensible to claim that Native North Americans were attacked by bears because they invaded “bear habitat”? First nations had to enter nature to obtain what they needed for survival – and so do we.

Would it make sense to say that Moose get attacked by bears because they are entering “bear habitat”?
Humans have a necessity to work, live in and travel through nature – we are still a part of the ecosystem.

Even though most people now live in cities, there is a large contingent of rural field workers who exploit natural resources mainly for the benefit of those that live in urban environments.  Is it logical for city dwellers who live in wood-frame houses to claim that logging engineers asked to be attacked by bears because they were invading bear habitat”?

3. “If you leave bears alone – they’ll leave you alone”

This one gets people in trouble all of the time. You often hear a common theme behind discussions regarding bears such as
“All nature and animals are good and all humans are bad and bears don’t attack unless people cause them to.”
This is mainly prevalent in the big cities and most rural people know better

4. “If you play dead the bear will leave you alone” All through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s it was believed by most biologists that when attacked by a bear the best thing to do is to roll up into a ball and play dead. Most government pamphlets and literature advised people to play dead during an attack.
The statistics show that most attacks resulting in death were instigated by bears exhibiting predatorial behaviour. Playing dead is THE LAST THING YOU DO IN THIS SCENARIO!

Never ever play dead in a scenario involving a black bear - fight until you can't fight any more.

Grizzly Bears exhibiting defensive aggressive behaviour may dissengage from the attack if you play dead.

Regardless of species - if the bear is exhibiting predatyorial behaviour do not play dead. To do so only presents the bear with an easy meal. I can't think of a worse way to die.

5. “Bear populations are on the decrease and in many places in BC bears are endangered. This is due to harvesting of old growth habitat and over-hunting”
Bear Populations in the coastaly influenced regions of BC are on the increase as timber harvesting provides gaps in the landscape promoting lush vegetation growth and subsequently more available forage.

Other industrial activities like mining do not endanger bears because of the very small area of impact.

With the existing restrictions on hunting and logging in drier areas such as BC’s southern interior bear populations are not endangered.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is the CNo4Mk1* lee enfield "more accurate" at long range? FACT OR FICTION?

FACT (BUT WITH A TWIST): I can tell you with absolute confidence that starting at 500m the CNo4Mk1* really starts to shine in the accuracy department. Nope, I`m not on any medication... It's a phenomena I didn't particularly understand entirely until about 4 months ago. I’ll attempt to explain why the No4 enfield shoots better at long range.

I have chronographed variability in muzzle velocity within some IVI lots of +/- 120 fps with 175 grain Ball (FMJBT - full metal jacket boat tail) Mk8Z ammunition . That is a severe velocity spread (or standard deviation) and indicates possible issues with Quality Control at Industries Valcartier Inc. Having said that these were older lots from the early 1990’s. The good news is that IVI is now owned by General Dynamics Canada whom has significantly increased ammunition quality since then .

The way this works is as follows. Only caveat is that you keep an open mind . This might not be the answer you’re expecting.

Fast bullets exit the barrel sooner than slower bullets. There is normally some degree of standard deviation in cartridge formulation (powder charge, crimp strength, primer quality, etc) .

The relationship is as such: "The longer it takes for a bullet to exit the muzzle the higher the point of impact will be at shorter distances". “Why" ? you ask... As the slower bullet proceeds down the barrel the muzzle continues to rise due to recoil and barrel harmonics. This actually starts at the rear bolt lugs, through the action and continues on through the barrel. The No4 rifle is especially subject to this internal ballistics phenomenon – where-as the No1Mk3 SMLE is less prone to it because the forestock and nose cap play a limiting factor in barrel rise (where it doesn't in the No4Mk1).

Remember the No4 require 5 to 7 lbs of downwards foretip pressure for a few reasons, partially as a result of this and for shooting with bayonette attached.At short distances this translates why we can expect bigger group sizes when using poor quality ammunition. Slower bullets impact high and faster bullets impact low (vertical relationship not horizontal).

There is an exception though and this occurs at longer ranges.... Starting at about 500m the slower and faster bullets start to impact at the same point. Groups start to get smaller at long distance in relation to the shorter distances to target. Mind blowing stuff eh!
So in summary - YES the lee enfield is more accurate at long ranges when shooting low quality ammunition. It`s all in the ammunition! This phenomenon would not come into play if you had ready access to match grade ammunition.

Now do me a favour, call a Ranger buddy, get some ammo, targets and a shooting record book from your Patrol Commander. Go to the Range and HAVE SOME FUN!

Managing Copper Fouling

Hey Riflechair what is Copper Fouling and why do I care?

Copper Fouling is caused by copper jacket bullet material being left in the barrel after each firing
  1. Copper is soft and malleable and eventually lines your barrel (copper fouling tends to accumulate on the rifling first)
Copper fouling is accumulative and builds with every shot fired where-as Powder residue will accumulate to a certain point and then stabilize.

Copper fouling turns green once oxidation takes place - a active sign of corrosion. Galvanic Corrosion takes a serious toll on your bore
I've produced a presentation to instruct this material which I am happy to share with you.     

printable adobe reader pdf (1.1 MB)

Should I take copper fouling seriously?
YES! Copper fouling is cumulative with every shot you make! Imagine all of the years of use, the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of rounds expended and you haven't effectively removed any of this fouling yet? You need solvents designed to remove copper - CLP does not do this for you.

The rate of copper fouling has a lot to do with bore condition
  • Clean and well maintained barrels foul less than dirty bores
  • Barrels free from corrosion and pitting foul less
  • Smooth bores accumulate less copper than rough bores
Internal and Exterior Ballistics
  • Chamber Pressure increases as the bore fouls
  • As chamber pressure increases POI will rise (example: water fouled bore)
  • Barrels sufficiently obstructed by copper and corrosion can cause severe pressure spikes and potentially pose a safety hazard (No4 pressure limit is 40,000 psi)
  • Badly fouled bores incur drag on the bullet and negatively impacts velocity
  • As grooves are filled with copper there is less purchase for the rifling to grasp the bullet and rate of twist is impacted (1:10 twist).
  • Reduced twist results in bullet de-stabilization upon breaching the sound barrier (bullet goes subsonic) resulting in cavitation and tumbling at long ranges
I have seen bores so badly copper fouled that the rifling grooves are almost completely colluded. Can you imagine the extreme pressure spike these actions must be enduring with every shot? Think of the recoil those sore shoulders must be needlessly receiving!

From a safety and a performance perspective copper fouling will have a serious impact on your shooting. I highly recommend you read the material I am providing and give serious consideration to paying more attention to managing copper fouling in your rifle.

The downloadable information provided above is supposed to supplemented by a presenter (me). However as I can't be in your living room to review it with you the raw presentation will have to suffice.

Tip of the Day: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has issued you one of her service rifles and the expectation is that you take proper care of it. Clean that rifle with pride and make that bore shine. What would you do if Sergeant Major Fozzard was to perform a suprise rifle inspection tomorrow? The condition of your rifle says a lot about who you are to the NCO performing the inspection. What kind of impression would you want to make?

Friday, July 23, 2010

A different take on Training

I have been studying some British military literature around ‘Small Party Taskings' and I discovered some interesting information on the systems utilized by the Special Air Service (SAS). The SAS are basing a significant portion of their force around Small Party Taskings with sections of four troopers each. Each section member is trained in a specialty discipline (i.e.: demolitions, medical, signals, etc.).

Could the 'specialist' model be applied to your team or volunteer group? Quite often our processes require tasks to be performed in the absence of a specialized discipline.

Some organizations base in-house training around the untrained team member, employee or volunteer. We often concentrate our finite training opportunities on developing basic skills.

While this occurs our high performance people are not always effectively challenged and if the model persists we risk losing them. We invest resources recruiting new people but not always on retaining our experienced contingent.

I think that an organization's leadership should spend 80% of their focus and investment on the high performing and proficient staff and 20% directly on the less skilled chapter. We do not want to ignore untrained workers but we shift the culture of focus to high performing people, celebrate and recognize their achievements and give less experienced individuals an example to follow. In other words leaders delegate a strong measure of training authority to adept workers. As a result inexperienced workers receive quality training through information transfer & mentoring from experienced & skilled members while at the same time providing experienced staff with a new challenge.

The untrained person holds some accountability to ensure they possess some basic knowledge and equipment and are asking appropriate questions. This conceptual idea isn't new but it is designed to provide a venue for high performing individuals who can become the training body that brings the team's over-all skill levels up. Accountability for a training plan can be delegated to members but ultimate responsibility to ensure the training is being effective rests with the Leadership.

All team members should eventually be proficient with basic skills and I believe that all people have a special enthusiasm for certain aspects of their organizations mission or vision. People whom proactively and consistently demonstrate enthusiasm for these aspects should have an opportunity to develop their ‘Field of Practice’ into a specialization.

We could offer a person the opportunity to choose a specialization from a list of skill sets that the leadership considers prevalent. There is an expectation that once certification in a skill set is achieved that the individual will be prepared to instruct the material and be available to develop internal capacity within the team. This represents an institutionalized advancement path for high performing people sponsored by Headquarters in partnership with the local leadership.

The ultimate objective would be to populate a team, and its sections, with a balanced portfolio of empowered workers that are well versed in skill sets appropriate to the conditions in their 'Area of Responsibility'. Additionally these individuals could be delegated authority to train and maintain a program area for the team.

It is important to underscore the importance of restricting specialist training to high performing and enthusiastic members only. If non-performers enter the advancement path ahead of our achievers the intent will have the opposite desired effect. Additionally once a specialization has been achieved, further specialist training in another field can only be permitted if that person can demonstrate that they have been successful in advancing the team in that skill set (or can demonstrate that they have made reasonable attempts to do so). It is encumbant upon the leadership to ensure that experienced members have been provided with the space and the opportunity to be successful.

Many of your members have been workers for a significant period of time and the challenge of remaining an ‘Engaged Worker’ can be a difficult one. This concept would provide people with an advancement strategy based on good performance. Over all I believe any organization would enjoy measurable benefits from investing in an expansion to the Basic Skills portfolio, especially in areas that could conceivably require a due diligence defence.

The program would provide incentives through its benefits to the team but equally to the nominated individual. Members that can call a discipline or program area “Their Specialized Contribution to the Team” are more likely to stay engaged and involved.

Engineering Specialist:
• Limitations and Statistics for of common military vehicles;
• Estimations if military vehicles can successfully traverse deactivated roads or brushed-in access roads;
• Turn around requirements;
• Safely cross bridge spans and box culverts;
• Assess & Identify wood box culverts and spans for potential reduced load capacity due structure failure;

Client Requirements & Logistics:
o Who are our Clients and how do Rangers fit in?
o Composition of a Company;
o Environmental Stewardship - Proximity limitations of refuelling stations and vehicles to sensitive areas (riparian, streams, etc..)
o Site Planning
o Native Resources & LARR Composition

Weapon & Marksmanship Specialist:
• SOP Carrying in the Field
• SOP Engage a target in the field
• SOP Night Watch
• Bear Defence
• Maintenance & Safety
• Coaching Techniques