Book Review: “AR-15, Skills and Drills: Learn to Run Your AR Like a Pro”
"It is an essential part of any AR-owner’s library, covering everything from the most basic elements of the rifle’s mechanics and design to the advanced use of cover and firing positions in combat."
“If you want to learn the science of martial arts, meditate on this book; let the teacher be the needle, let the student be the thread, and practice unremittingly.
“Do not do anything useless.”
—The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi
I have an old copy of The Book of Five Rings, that classic, centuries-old manual of the warrior, given to me by Tiger McKee in 1999, the year before my son was born. Tiger and I had been friends for years before that, and I’d been training at Shootrite Academy, the firearms school he founded and directs in Langston, Alabama, since he started it in 1995.
He is one of the nation’s top firearms instructors and writers on tactical training and weapons, with a rare expert rating in both pistol and rifle from the legendary Colonel Jeff Cooper, and a long stint as an adjunct instructor at Clint Smith’s Thunder Ranch.
Tiger’s new book, published by Gun Digest, hews closely to what Musashi might have written had the old samurai had access to an AR-15 instead of the long and short swords of his time.
AR-15 Skills and Drills: Learn to Run Your AR Like a Pro has nothing superfluous—nothing useless in 269 pages of gin-clear writing and photographs. It is the culmination of three decades of intensive training and teaching, and it is an essential part of any AR-owner’s library, covering everything from the most basic elements of the rifle’s mechanics and design to the advanced use of cover and firing positions in combat.
Not too long ago, in a story I wrote here on Range365 about training at Shootrite Tiger explained, “I’m lucky, in that I always loved shooting and guns,” Tiger says. “But I know there are people out there who buy a firearm, take it to the range and shoot it a few times, then seem to be convinced that they are ready to defend themselves or others with it. It’s a belief that seems to be unique to firearms. Nobody tries to sign up for the UFC because they bought a pair of MMA gloves at Wal-Mart. Having a weapon and never practicing with it is like buying a rabbit’s foot and believing it will protect you.”
AR-15 Skills and Drills is the perfect user’s guide to learning your rifle and setting up a system for practicing and attaining true proficiency with it.
I have taken numerous classes with my original Colt Sporter (I bought my first one in 1993), and I still found a treasure-house of knowledge in this book, especially in the chapter on zeroing (you’d think I’d know all of that by now, but I didn’t, and that same chapter also taught me exactly what I’d been doing wrong with my A2 sight, and buddy, I’d been doing it wrong for a loooong time).
The chapter on Carry Modes also inspired me to go back into the gear closet and experiment with some old sling systems I’d never actually put into use. And then, I took them and the rifle out to the range for some practice.
Which brings me to what might be the greatest power of this book: when I first started reading it, I got through only the first couple of chapters before I loaded up my range bag and my AR and went out shooting.
I practiced the malfunction drills I knew, and referred to the book’s photos to make sure I was remembering them correctly. I changed my stances, worked on my target acquisitions, my dry firing, practiced my lateral movements and explored using cover (my pickup) and working around corners.
For a true rifle shooter, this book is like the bell to Pavlov’s dog—one starts salivating to get out there and practice, or work with the dummy weapons and dry fire practice (as described in Chapter 13, Training, Practice and Learning) at home. As I sit here writing this review, my AR, with a dummy round loaded, is on the chair next to my desk.
My copy of AR-15 Skills and Drills is on the bookshelf next to Colonel Jeff Cooper’s masterpiece of simplicity. The Art of the Rifle, and Herbert McBride’s classic of trench warfare, A Rifleman Went to War (and beside the empty space where Maj. John Plaster’s The Ultimate Sniper used to be before I lent it to an ingrate who moved away and failed to return it).
That is honored real estate, that part of the bookshelf. AR-15 Skills and Drills fits in very well there.