13 May 13

At an Urban Rifle Course last weekend, a student brought an Eagle Arms AR, with old-style (A1), standard, iron sights. The company who manufactured the rifle is now out of business, having long-since been absorbed by Armalite.

The student was using old magazines (with old springs and old-style followers), and the rifle soon started to hiccup regularly, for that and other reasons. It got to the point where it was unusable, so I offered him my BCM M4 with which to complete the Course. My BCM is equipped, as are most of my serious rifles, with a forward-mounted Aimpoint T1, on a Larue Quick-release mount and medium riser, which permits co-witnessing with my BUIS (back-up iron sights).

My BCM’s rear iron sight folds down and out of the way, but the front sight/post is on the standard AR sight-tower, so it stays in place. When looking through the T1, one can see the sight-tower, but it is just ignored (unless/until the T1’s dot goes dead, and the rear sight is then quickly deployed and BUIS are defaulted to).

My BCM ran fine, of course, but my student had trouble using my T1. The front sight-tower got in his way. He was trying to “coordinate” the Aimpoint dot and the front sight/post. He thought the dot had to be in the exact center of the optic in order to be on target. The result was that he was impossibly slow.

After I finally understood what was happening, I explained to him that the Aimpoint dot was always on target, no matter where it was in the optic, and that the front sight-tower was irrelevant to the entire sighting process and thus needed to be disregarded.

My explanation did not suffice to solve the problem. The sight-tower still “got in his way.”

So, we put him into a Doublestar AR, owned by one of my instructors. The Doublestar also had a forward-mounted Aimpoint T1. However, BUIS, both front and rear, folded down and out of the way. So, when the rifle is mounted, all one sees is the dot, superimposed on the downrange area. No clutter!

That did the trick!

With that arrangement, he easily passed his test on the first couple of runs.

I was surprised! It did not occur to me that “clutter,” represented by the sight-tower, could be so debilitating for some, because it has never represented any kind of problem for me. But, it was in this case, and we found a solution, although it took a while!

This student will be selling his Eagle Arms AR and buying a better version, and he’ll be equipping it with an Aimpoint T1 and fold-down BUIS. Neither he, nor I, knew at the beginning that is what he needed, but we know now!

The lesson here is that just when you, as an instructor, think you’ve “seen it all,” an issue like this lands in your lap, and you realize that you have to help this student, even when neither you, nor he, knows what the problem really is.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be in a position to authoritatively explain many of the phenomena we see with students and their equipment. However, whether we “understand” or not, we have to be committed to finding solutions. That is what our students, and our Art, expect us to do!