Magpul Dynamics has been releasing a series of videos over the last few years that cover much of the material in their highly specialized firearms training courses. Their first series, Art of the Tactical Carbine, is something that I still hand to new shooters when they start looking for ways to improve their skills. Then came Dynamic Handgun, Aerial Operations and Dynamic Shotgun, each one teaching me something and being entertaining along the way. Magpul recently released their latest edition entitled Art of the Precision Rifle that discusses long range shooting, a subject near and dear to my heart. I sat down and watched it in an afternoon, and here’s what I thought…
There’s three components that make a Magpul training video better than any other Joe Shmo’s training video: technical competency and the ability to demonstrate it, the ability to make people quickly understand complex concepts, and the atmosphere and cinematography. Precision Rifle is a tour de force of training videos that perfectly blends nerdy mathy stuff with pretty bullets flying downrange.
Normally the students in a Magpul video are some shmucks Chris Costa and his beard have rounded up from the shady alleys within AR15.com, treating every word Chris says as holy scripture being pontificated by the deity of some religion of cordite and lead. But this time around Chris Costa and his crew are the students instead of the teacher, and Todd Hodnett is the prophet on the mountain (quite literally) that Chris and his gang are learning from.
This role reversal makes for some fantastic teachable moments. Because everyone behind a gun is a competent shooter they recognize when they make mistakes, articulate the issue, identify a solution, implement the fix and show a positive result immediately with another round downrange. I keep going back to that woman in the first Tactical Carbine video who they used to illustrate the proper prone position and the difference between her rather passive acceptance of knowledge versus Chris and Travis’ active engagement in discussion of why something works or how Todd figured a skill out. It adds a depth to the instruction that is often missing when teaching complete newbies, and translates really well to the person watching at home.
What makes it even better is that because the guys in the video are professionals they soak up the knowledge quickly and Todd doesn’t have to spend a lot of time going over material again or reminding them of basic information unless absolutely necessary. In the first few videos Chris and Travis had to constantly remind their students of basic concepts, but in Precision Rifle they simply move right along to the next point.
Explanation of Complex Concepts
There have only been a handful of moments when watching instructional videos that I have felt compelled to whip out my notebook and jot something down. With Precision Rifle I don’t think I ever put the notebook away. Every few minutes there was another concept being introduced and explained so well that I felt compelled to stop the video and write down what was on the screen so I could remember that explanation or simplified formula on the range.
The best example was when Todd was explaining wind estimation at range. Instead of a rather complex formula he simplified it to a point where I could quickly do the math in my head and apply the correct hold without needing a calculator or PDA.
Speaking of PDAs, Todd spends a TON of time talking about ballistic calculators on PDAs and cell phones, stepping you through how to use one, and talking about the difference between a “predictive” calculation and a known value from experimentation. His discussion of G1 versus G7 drag models was actually the best I’ve ever heard — short, sweet and to the point.
I could seriously sit here and talk about all the interesting stuff they went over for ages (different reticles and how to use them, the advantages of a first focal plane or a second focal plane scope, range estimation, setting up behind the gun, etc) but suffice it to say they covered everything I ever had a question about and then some.
Atmosphere and Cinematography
A Magpul video is equal parts firearms instruction and gun porn, a combination that keeps the viewer’s attention while imparting some excellent knowledge about firearms, tactics and techniques. A combination of slow motion videos and fantastic camera work make for a great visual experience, especially when used with the beautiful scenery in the southwest as a backdrop.
But it’s not just pretty scenery that makes these videos special, it’s the people. Chris Costa and Travis Haley return once again as the dynamic duo of dynamicness, accompanied by some familiar faces from previous videos and other firearms instructing roles. Without their playful banter and mood lightening styles this video could have very quickly devolved into being just another boring instructional video, but they really help move things along. It may not be as pronounced as in other videos, but they’re still having fun and it comes through on the tape.
Both Haley and Costa have since left Magpul for greener pastures, meaning the cast list for the upcoming videos (the existence of which has been confirmed) is unknown. But as far as this video goes everything is as it should be.
I learned something from this video. No, strike that. I learned a LOT from this video. After watching it I feel like I have much to work on, some new equipment (like a bubble level) to buy, and much to learn. And unlike a class where the knowledge is given out only once I now have something that can remind me again and again what the proper procedure for the skills and drills are. I bought my copy at full price using my own dollars and I feel like it’s one of the best investments in my shooting that I’ve ever made.
Magpul Art of the Precision Rifle
Format: 5 DVD Disks
Price: MSRP $59.95 ($55 Amazon.com)
Overall rating: * * * * *
If you’re serious about long range shooting you should have a copy. Seriously, go to Amazon right now and get one.
[FYI, we don’t get kickbacks from Amazon.]