My experience in the Night Fighter course I took last year with Chuck Pressburg motivated me to upgrade my night vision gear. In that class, I was feeling the limits of my PVS-14 monocular setup. I may have overdone it a bit, however. I bought a set of Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles (GPNVGs). These are the four-tube NVGs made famous by countless video games and the movie Zero Dark Thirty.
I will stipulate that buying these was an absolutely ridiculous decision. But, having bought them, I set out to find some opportunities to put them to use. I had a couple of classes fall through either due to cancellation or because I turned out not to be able to make it. However, my first opportunity finally arrived in the form of the Greenline Tactical Night Operations Summit. The summit is basically a three-day smorgasbord of night vision training, bringing together half a dozen instructors from which students can mix and match a series of one-night courses. I first heard about the Night Operations Summit during the TNVC vSHOTT online event, and I was signed up before the live stream was even over.
As I’ve already mentioned, I bought a set of GPNVGs. I went with the ANVIS mount version rather than the BNVS dovetail. Chuck Pressburg recommended the ANVIS setup pretty heavily, and I liked that goggles up always meant off. Given how much the GPNVG cost, it didn’t seem to make sense to cheap out on the mount, so I sprang for a Wilcox DPAM.
With all the added weight of the quad tubes, I wanted to shed as much weight as possible from the helmet. I ditched the ballistically rated Crye Airframe that I ran in the Night Fighter class for an Ops-Core FAST SF Carbon Composite with a set of 4D Tactical pads.
The Night Fighter class was the last straw for me when it came to the Unity Mark One Modular Attach Rail Kit I’d been using to attach a pair of MSA Sordin electronic earmuffs to my helmet. I’d had them pop off the helmet rail multiple times and wasn’t willing to run them in a class again. Instead, I got an Ops-Core AMP headset with their helmet mount kit. I also brought a pair of Sordins for when I wasn’t wearing the helmet.
I rounded out the helmet setup with a Princeton Tec IR/white task light, a Surefire M300V head on an S&S Precision M-Ax mount, and a HEL-STAR 6 strobe. Of these, the strobe is definitely the most “uber tactical.” Let’s face it; I’m not going to be marking my position for air support. However, the HS-640-07 model has a dim IR strobe setting. This flashes in the IR spectrum but isn’t bright enough to white out the NVGs of everyone around you. I figured this could be useful in a night vision training environment.
My primary rifle was the SIG MCX in .300 Blackout that I’d run in the Night Fighter class. My setup had seen quite a few changes since then, however. After the class, I found that the MCX suffered quite a bit from rail flex issues. Pressure on the handguard could easily move the IR laser substantially compared to the barrel. This may have contributed to some of the problems I had in zeroing and shooting from cover in the class. To remedy this, I swapped over to a SIG handguard and got the Arisaka MCX Zero Retention Clamp, which bolts the handguard to the upper receiver. This seems to have decreased rail flex.
The setup I took to the Night Fighter class was really a day/white light rifle with an IR laser/illuminator attached. It worked, but some aspects were less than optimal under NVG. I decided that since I’ve got other rifles for day/white light work, I’d optimize this one for use with night vision. Step 1 was moving the white light from a 1 o’clock position to 3 o’clock, allowing me to swap the MAWL over to the right side.
Moving the white light (a Modlite PLHv2) required a different button setup. The most common would be to put the white light pressure pad either in front of or behind the MAWL, but I’ve landed on an interesting solution: using a Modbutton Lite on a Magpul Offset Light/Optic mount (basically a bit if picatinny rail held at an angle). This allows me to have both the white light and IR laser/illuminator buttons easily reachable with my thumb and puts the white light button in a distinctly different position from IR, making it less likely to confuse the two.
The Night Fighter class was my first experience with passive NVG shooting: looking through a red dot sight using NVG rather than using an IR laser. I found it challenging to line up the Aimpoint Comp M5 with my PVS-14. Since I was optimizing this rifle for NVG, I decided to try an EOTech XPS 3.0 for the larger, more forgiving window. I’ve had some bad experiences with EOTechs in the past, but I’ve heard the newer CR123-powered ones are better than the old AA models. The EOTech was on the Unity Tactical FAST Optic Riser, putting it high enough to make it easier to align the NVG with the optic. During the day, I ran an Aimpoint 3x magnifier in the Unity FAST FTC mount. This both aligns the magnifier with the height of the optic and allows you to flip the magnifier down towards the rail rather than hanging it off the rifle to the side.
One of the things I’d seen in the Night Fighter class that intrigued me was the number of students running an offset red dot in conjunction with an LPVO. The appeal of the combination of magnification and a true red dot is pretty obvious, even before you throw NVG and passive aiming into the mix. While I’m not running an LPVO on this rifle, it did get me thinking. While I had some BUIS on this rifle, not only would they be useless under NODs, even using them in daylight required detaching the EOTech and flipping up the rear irons. An offset red dot would allow a much quicker transition and allow me to set up the EOTech on one of its NV settings while setting the offset dot much brighter for white light use. I know running an EOTech with an offset RMR would seem oddly redundant, but I was intrigued enough by the setup to run it for the class.
I brought my usual G19X Roland Special, equipped with an RMR and compensator. For this class, I swapped out the Modlite PL350 for a Surefire X300V. The Modlite puts out a lot more white light, but after my experience in the Night Fighter class, I wanted the option of an IR pistol light.
For support gear, I brought my belt rig, with a dropped and offset holster, a couple of rifle and pistol mag pouches, along with a dump pouch, multitool, trauma kit, and tourniquet.
One of the reasons I jumped on the Night Operations Summit so quickly was one of the courses students could take was a Clip-On DMR class. I’ve been interested in the idea of mounting clip-on night vision ahead of a magnified optic for a long time. One of the things keeping me from going in that direction was a lack of opportunities to shoot at distance after dark. This was the first time I’d seen a class dedicated to clip-on NV. As soon as I signed up, I started hunting for a clip-on night vision device, settling on a CNVD-LR.
I had intended to build a new 6.5 Creedmoor AR to run the CNVD-LR on. Indeed, all the parts for the build are boxed up in pieces in my closet. Unfortunately, I’ve been out of town so much (five and a half months so far this year) that I haven’t had time to put it together. Looking through my gun safe for rifles with a medium power scope mounted at around 1.5” with a long enough rail to accommodate a clip-on NVG, I settled on a 16” JP Rifles upper with their extended handguard on a homebuilt lower. It’s got more than enough rail estate to accommodate the CNVD-LR, and the 1.8-10 US Optics scope matches up quite nicely.
Two rifles meant bringing my biggest Pelican rifle case. The night vision optics all went into a Pelican carry-on (no way was I trusting them to baggage handlers). I managed to cram everything else into a Sitka duffle bag with shoulder straps so I could wear it as a backpack.
Greenline Tactical arranged for Firearmsdepot.com to deliver ammo orders directly to the facility, which was a lifesaver. I relied on them for .300 Blackout and 9mm training ammo. I only had to bring some .223 match ammo for the DMR and some self-defense handgun ammo.
The Night Operations Summit was held at the Government Training Institute in Barnwell, South Carolina. The closest airport is in Augusta, GA. Barring that, I could have flown into Savanna, Charleston, or Columbia. However, I’d have ended up flying through either Charlotte or Atlanta anyway (you can’t go to hell in the southeast without changing planes in Atlanta). So I decided to just fly direct to Atlanta on Wednesday night and drive from there.
Flying into Atlanta afforded me the opportunity to have lunch with a friend there on Thursday before heading to Barnwell. Once I got out of the Atlanta traffic, the drive was pretty smooth.
I checked in at the GTI office and got my room key. Lodging was at a set of temporary buildings on site. You get a bed, a desk, and a dresser, and that’s it, but the price is good.
The other thing you get is quite a bit of camaraderie. We were up until after midnight, BSing and enjoying some good whiskey before everyone turned in.
Despite my best intentions to sleep in, I was wide awake around 7 am on Friday. I grabbed a shower (toilets and showers are in the trailer next door). After a bit of breakfast, I headed over to registration, where everyone signed some waivers and got an orientation packet with a map of the complex.
There had been an opportunity to order ammo from Firearms Depot to be shipped to the site, which was an absolute godsend for those of us flying in. I’d ordered 9mm and .300 Blackout ammo through them, meaning the only rounds I had to fly with were some .223 match for my DMR and self-defense handgun ammo. I stopped by their table in the sponsor tent and picked up my shipment before orientation.
Orientation covered the schedule, where and when different events would be held. It also covered safety, both in terms of firearms and training at a decommissioned nuclear facility.
In addition to the night classes, the summit also includes daily lectures from instructors on topics where they have particular expertise. First up was Sam Houston talking about night vision tube specs. I’d heard some of this material in previous classes, but he probably had the most comprehensive, well-organized take on the subject matter I’ve heard.
There was a 50-yard range available for us to zero on. After the lecture, I took the opportunity to confirm the zero on the US Optics on my DMR.
One meal a day was provided on-site, and what a meal it was. Barbecue chicken and pork, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, collard greens, cornbread, and banana pudding for dessert. There was also some great conversation around the table. After eating, it was time to head out to the first day’s classes.
Erik had a lot he wanted to do while we still had light, so we got right to work. We started by confirming zero at 100 yards. Since I hadn’t had a chance to shoot this distance, I made some tweaks to my elevation, then adjusted my turrets so I could dial from zero.
Next up was getting some dope on steel targets at various ranges. It had been a long time since I’d shot this rifle and even longer since shooting it with the Fiocchi factory ammo I was using. Other than a muzzle velocity from the last time I chronoed this rifle, I was starting pretty much from scratch. I plugged the MV into the Applied Ballistics app and used the resulting drop table to begin developing my dope.
Unfortunately, from my first shot, I was shooting way high. Shooting on steel, it took a bit to figure this out since my shot was impacting well beyond the target (Erik was very helpful on the spotting scope for this). I went back to the paper and got everything dialed in. It’s been years since I used this rifle, and I clearly forgot how to adjust the elevation turret. Rather than risking another adjustment, I just locked it at the new setting and resolved to hold using the reticle rather than dialing.
With the limited space in my luggage, I hadn’t brought a laser rangefinder (while I didn’t have room for my rangefinding binos or spotting scope, I should have just thrown my little handheld Leica rangefinder). I had to rely on the kindness of others with rangefinders to help get on steel. The closer distances were relatively easy hits, and with some spotting help from Erik, I even managed to ring the steel against the berm at 650 yards. Not bad for a .223.
We worked on our dope until we lost the light. Erik broke out a laptop with a PowerPoint, and we got some lecture on clip-on night vision devices. A lot of this was hardware: both the clip-on NV devices themselves, as well as other supporting gear like IR illuminations and rifle-mounted rangefinders. He also talked about some little tips and tricks for things like making dope cards readable at night.
One of the students in the class was the owner of Nocturnality. We talked a bit about options for compact clip-on NVDs. I think he may have cost me some money.
After the lecture, we had some good, solid darkness (no moon). We rolled back out to the firing line and checked our zeroes with the clip-on night vision devices attached. These can cause your zero to shift. The key is that that shift is consistent and repeatable. I had to come up half a mil and over 0.7 mils after mounting the CNVD-LR.
With that, we started getting out on steel. We were aided by the fact that the wind had died down almost completely, giving some of the stillest conditions I’ve ever shot in.
It was a very dark night, so even good clip-on NVDs needed some supplemental IR illumination. Erik had a TNVC Torch Pro mounted on his spotting scope. This is a very powerful IR flashlight with a focusing lens on the front. It was able to reach out there and illuminate targets several hundred yards away. When he turned off the Torch and had us rely on our rifle-mounted illuminators, we ran into some issues. I’d mounted a KIJI IR illuminator on my rifle, but the only place I had to mount it was out on the forend, forward of the CNVD-LR. When I lit it up, the glare made the CNVD almost unusable. I can see why most folks doing this put illuminators on a “diving board” mount on top of their day scope.
After dinging all the steel we could from our prone positions, we moved back to some barricades set up about 50 yards further back. The temperature had dropped a bunch; there was a thin rime of ice on the vehicles.
The barricades included a cattle guard, a “tank trap” (three 4x4 pieces of lumber bolted tougher in a jack shape), and a simulated roof. Erik demoed shooting positions for each barricade, and then we had a chance to try them out. We did a “barricade clinic,” where Erik gave us time to experiment with shooting in different positions from each obstacle.
After we’d had our fill of the free practice, he set us a couple of competitive challenges. The first was shooting off the tank trap and getting a hit on the steel target up against the berm at 705 yards, two shots max. I watched shooter after shooter missing low, hitting the railroad ties at the base of the berm. As I watched this, I realized not only were we 50 yards further back, but the temperature had dropped almost 30 degrees since we’d gotten our dope at the start of the class. Colder, denser air slows down bullets more, meaning you have to hold higher. I ran these through the AB ballistics app on my phone and came up with an extra 1.6 mils of hold above and beyond my dope from earlier. I got as stable as I could, held at the very bottom of my reticle, and pressed the shot. First round hit.
The second challenge was engaging a series of four targets at ranges from 150-300 yards. I was doing well until the third target, which took me a couple of shots to hit.
Thus far, I’d just been using the clip-on optic, but at the end of class, I broke out the GPNVG for a few minutes to look at the range and everyone’s IR illuminators.
With that, Erik called an end to the class. Despite the cold temperatures, everybody pushed through, and we got some excellent shooting in. We packed up our stuff, defrosted our windshields, and headed back.
Several of us were up until the wee hours enjoying the fellowship of the other attendees (and some delicious bourbon).
We reconvened at 10 am for announcements and a quick review of the safety briefing reinforcement. Today’s lecture was on ballistics by Erik Vargas. This is material that he wasn’t able to cover in the brief lecture portion of last night’s class, which just focused on the NV-specific stuff.
After the lecture, I spent some time stuffing ammo into magazines for tonight’s classes. We had another excellent meal: ham, roast beef, potato salad, cole slaw, and rolls.
Tonight I was taking DarkLab with Eric Butler. He had another instructor with him, John, helping out as his assistant.
Eric went through a brief safety lecture and discussed his preferred carry and ready positions. The carry positions are important in this class since we’d be spending a lot of time moving, including moving uprange. He emphasized having the muzzle definitively up in high carry and the muzzle definitively down in low carry. Eric also pointed out that the ready positions were effectively signals to him as an instructor that we were ready to rock at the beginning of a drill. He also emphasized returning to the ready at the end of each drill, after our scan, rather than just relaxing right from a shooting position to a carry position.
He also talked a bit about slings, with a strong preference towards just running the sling around the neck rather than running it under the arm and wearing the rifle.
We started with some simple shooting at 5 yards. It did not go well for me. Every iteration, I got a malfunction, with the rifle firing the first round but failing to feed the second. I fixed the malfs, locking back the bolt, ripping the mag out, racking, and feeding a fresh one in, but fighting malfunctions on every single drill was clearly untenable. After a couple of failures in a row, I stepped off the line and lubed up the rifle (I’d lubed it before flying out, but there are only so many things you can try on the range in the middle of a class to fix a gun that won’t feed).
More lube didn’t help, but looking at the mags I’d been ripping out, I saw that the top pair of rounds seemed to be binding up below the feed lips on the little ramps that are supposed to guide the rounds slightly inboard to feed into the chamber. I tried swapping the Lancer mags I was using for a PMAG, but it suffered the same issues.
Both Lancer and Magpul make .300 Blackout-specific magazines, but they’re usually only necessary for the fatter subsonic rounds. I only run supers in my gun, and I’d never encountered any issues using 5.56 mags. However, just eyeballing them, it looked like the Winchester ammo I was using for this class might have a slightly fatter ogive than the other supers I’ve run, so I figured the mags might be the culprit.
This was a major problem. All I had with me were PMAGs and Lancers. With a rifle that doesn’t run, I’d be missing out on a lot of the value from this class and potentially the class tomorrow night as well. John mentioned that he had some aluminum GI mags that I could try. During the first break, I took him up on that offer. Thankfully, these did the trick—no more malfs for the rest of the night.
While I had been fighting malfunctions, Eric had talked about scanning after the engagement. He called out “eyewashing” (just running your eyes over the environment without really processing it). For today’s training, his suggestion for forcing ourselves to engage with the environment was to read the numbers on the adjacent targets. He also advocated keeping the manual safety disengaged during the scan since this was still part of an active engagement.
After the break, we broke out the NVGs, and Eric talked about proper light and laser use. He put a lot of emphasis on not “drawing a line to your target” by activating the light or laser before you get the gun pointed in. He’s also not an advocate of relying on the “double click for constant on” feature of some light/lasers.
First were some simple up drills, practicing shooting under NODs, and engaging our IR lasers. Next up was some moving to shooting positions, walking uprange, and stopping to shoot on command. We did the same thing walking downrange, stopping, turning, and shooting.
It never rains, but it pours. Just as my rifle was running properly, I had my suppressor come loose and launch itself downrange. Thankfully, there doesn’t seem to have been a baffle strike, but I did lose the front plate (a user-replaceable part, fortunately). This rifle is set up with the handguard extending over the rear portion of the suppressor. Without the can on there, my hand would be wrapped around the muzzle brake. So I reattached the can, basically using it as an oversized Flaming Pig for the remainder of the class.
We did some more drills moving to the shooting position, this time taking a knee before pressing the shot. This was the lead-in to some more challenging position shooting. Conventional prone has some issues when running NVGs since you have to get your head upright and pointed at the target rather than just swiveling your eyeballs. The solution to this is Cobra Prone: a prone position with your upper body raised up higher than usual. Since we were running IR lasers and didn’t have to bring the rifle up to our eyes, it could remain down on the ground, monopoded on the magazine with the stock clamped between arm and body.
Next up was Urban Prone, lying on our side, perpendicular to the direction of the target. This works well with NODs and lasers. Last was Brokeback Prone, kneeling with your upper body bent forward to almost ground level. This can be particularly challenging with night vision since you’ve got extra weight on your head. We did drills shooting from all three positions.
With the fundamentals dialed in, we moved on to some drills. First up was the “V drill,” which had us engaging targets at close, medium, and long distances. This drill was designed to challenge the limited depth of field of NVGs. They can only be focused at a single distance. Things much closer or further will be blurry. To get around this, Eric told us about “goofy focus:” focusing one tube (usually over your dominant eye) at a longer distance (near infinity) while focusing the other tube for close-up work. At longer distances, your dominant eye behind the near-infinity focused tube provides input. At closer distances, the non-dominant eye with the closer focus tube in front of it will take over.
We ran a lateral movement drill with four targets spread across the width of the range, bounding from left to right between shooting positions in front of each target. While Eric had us post up for most of them, we shot one of the targets on the move, which was particularly challenging for left-handed shooters. Of course, next Eric had us run it from right to left, giving right-handed shooters that same challenge.
After a brief break, we did a barricade clinic. Eric started with a bit of lecture on some NVG-specific considerations when shooting from a barricade. Generally, we’re told not to crowd cover. At night, however, your illumination from an IR illuminator (or even a white light if you’re not using NODs) can bounce off the cover, making it more difficult to see. It can be better to get closer and project your illuminator beyond the barricade to avoid this.
Eric dragged out some barricades and let us practice shooting from behind them for a bit before setting up a relay race. He set up two shooting lanes, each with three pieces of cover. Shooters had to engage steel from each piece of cover, moving forward from cover to cover, then moving back to the starting position. The goal was for everyone on your team to do this before the other team did the same. The front piece of cover in my team’s lane was a one you had to shoot under from urban or brokeback prone. I ended up using one of the side tubes on my panos to take the shot from brokeback prone; probably the only time I actually engaged a target while looking through a side tube this weekend.
The next drill focused on coordination with another shooter. Eric had us shooting from three positions, from about 20 yards to around 10. However, you have to swap sides with another shooter at each position, requiring some non-verbal communication on when to move and who will pass in front versus to the rear when your paths cross.
Eric also had us do some shooting on the move. He set up four steel targets spaced across the width of the range. We started in front of the leftmost one and shot while walking towards it. After getting three hits, we moved diagonally back toward a cone in front of the next target and repeated the exercise. This drill provided a lot of movement while still feeding students through relatively quickly (once the first student got done shooting the first target and moved out of that lane, the second student could start).
The final drill had us doing some scanning for targets under NODs. Eric set up half a dozen steel targets. Next to each was a piece of cardboard with a number and a colored shape (circle, square, diamond, etc.). Eric would call out a series of numbers, shapes, and colors, and we had to find the appropriate target and engage. Of course, night vision is all black and white or black and green, so if he called a color, we had to switch to white light to ID the target and engage. This is a drill where the wider field of view of the panos is an advantage.
That wrapped things up for the evening. John was nice enough to let me hold on to his aluminum GI mags through Sunday night’s class, which was a massive help for me.
As with previous nights, there was lots of conversation and hanging out afterward. One student ordered a bunch of pizzas, and we hung out in the vendor tent for a while before everyone rolled into bed.
Much like the previous days, we reconvened at 10 am for announcements. Afterward, I returned to my room and ordered a bunch of the .300 Blackout-specific PMAGs. I don’t want to end up in this mag situation again.
Today’s lecture was Intro to Human Behavior in a Close Quarters Environment by Jon Dufresne. He started by talking about some of the science behind human decision-making under stress (deliberate, intuitive, and instinctive decision-making) and some of the behaviors you see manifest in close-range confrontations, like getting sucked into rooms, crowding cover, flinch reactions, etc. The second half of the talk was a bunch of videos of force-on-force confrontations, mostly from Jon’s Weaponized Geometry CQB classes, illustrating these behaviors. It was a great lecture. I think I need to take the class.
It being the week of Thanksgiving, our meal today included all the traditional fare: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, etc.
For the third and final night, I was in Night Vision on the Move with Jon. I was supposed to train with him last summer, but due to a change in my schedule, I had to bail on the class at the last minute (he got me into a rifle class next year instead). I was looking forward to training with him here. He started the class by thanking all the attendees. After some introductions, Jon gave an excellent safety brief.
We jumped right into moving and shooting, starting at 7 yards and moving to the 3. Jon talked a bit about his philosophy when running exercises cold (the first one when you get to the range).
Stepping away from movement for the moment, Jon had us do a “panning” drill: starting with the gun off to the left of the target and panning it over to the right, pressing the shot as soon as the dot or laser crosses onto the target (“Early is on time. On time is late.”) The intent is to get you to focus on the target rather than the dot.
Frankly, I had a lot of trouble with this, pressing shots too early or too late. Thanks to lots of experience using red dots and doing point shooting, I already tend to be pretty target-focused when shooting. By forcing me to think more explicitly about the dot, it ended up drawing my focus to it rather than the target, which is the opposite of what the drill is intended to do. I realize that “I’m too advanced for this drill” sounds pretty conceited, but it’s the best diagnosis I can come up with.
We ran the panning drill again, this time coming in from all angles rather than just the left side. By this time, it was dark enough to break out the NODs.
Returning to our first exercise of the class, we started at 7 yards again and shot while moving up to the 3, this time using our NVGs. To get some more movement reps in, Jon had us cycle back and forth, going from 7 to 3, then, on command, backpedaling from 3 back to 7 again. To challenge us a bit, each time we moved either forward or back, we added one shot to the string, so by the end of the exercise, we were getting in 8 shots while moving those four yards.
The first time through, I ran my rifle mag dry, then transitioned to an empty pistol. Not great. Loading the secondary needs to be a more ingrained part of my process.
As we were ripping through the seven- and eight-round iterations of the exercise, Jon noticed some students having issues with recoil. He took the opportunity to talk about recoil control, including the importance of pulling the rifle firmly into the shoulder. He gave us the opportunity to put a mag into the target to test out some of these recoil control principles before we went back to run the movement exercise again.
We shot this exercise in two relays. I have to say that watching a line of shooters rolling in their targets under NODs with IR lasers is one of the coolest things I saw this whole weekend.
Jon talked a bit about laser zeroes before we moved on to our next exercise. This one had us shooting on steel. He set it up for two shooters at a time, one moving forward and to the right, the other forward and to the left. There were some cones with a chemlight under them to help keep us moving in the right direction. To help us practice our close-range eye-hand coordination under NVGs, the “I’m ready to go” signal to the other shooter was a fist bump.
Like yesterday, I had the suppressor come off my rifle when shooting this exercise. Thankfully, there was no additional damage, but Jon looked at it and noted that it probably came off because the three inner lugs on the can had been sheared off (he’d had something similar happen to one of his).
I noticed that when going to the left, right-handed shooters tended to drift forward of the cone as they moved. With the panos, I was actually able to keep the cone in view through the left-side tube until I was almost on top of it.
The last few exercises were more complex drills that had us shooting one at a time, sort of like stages in an IDPA or IPSC match. These were a mix of close-range shooting on paper and longer-distance on steel.
These exercises finished out the class. Before we headed out, Jon asked for any constructive criticism from the students (folks had some good suggestions).
I got my gear packed up and returned the aluminum mags to John. His loaning them to me really saved my ass these past two nights, and I am very grateful.
Once again, several of us were hanging out until the early morning. It’s always great to stand around the fire talking with like-minded folks.
I slept in quite late on Monday morning. All the late nights were definitely catching up with me. I was one of the last to finish packing and head out.
I had only used about half of the ammo I bought for the class, leaving far too much to carry on the flight back. I stopped at the UPS customer center in Augusta to ship some home. Initially, the folks at the counter didn’t want to ship it for me, despite the UPS website explicitly saying it was allowed. Eventually, they called in a supervisor who explained to them that the rules for ammunition were different from firearms. I was able to ship two unopened cases of .300 Blackout ammo. They wouldn’t take the 9mm ammo because the carton I had didn’t have the proper labeling. I was able to get all the 9mm into my checked luggage instead, so it worked out ok.
The drive to the Atlanta airport was uneventful. Having slept in a little later probably helped with that. My check-in experience in Atlanta was perhaps one of the smoothest times I’ve had flying with firearms.
This whole weekend was a fantastic experience. The instructors provided excellent training, and my fellow students provided great fellowship. Classes with on-site lodging are always a special experience and this was no exception.
Making the hit at 705 yards in the Clip-on DMR class was probably the coolest thing I did all weekend. Erik did a great job getting everybody up and running and highlighting some of the strengths and weaknesses of our IR setups.
DarkLab probably pushed me the most. Eric really had us moving, getting in and out of shooting positions, and running drills with other students. Definitely not an introductory NVG class. I was already signed up for the two-day version of DarkLab. This taste of the curriculum has me looking forward to it.
Having watched some of his YouTube videos, I was pretty sure Jon would be a good instructor, and he more than lived up to my expectations. Not only are his explanations clear and effective, but you can also tell he’s carefully watching students and providing effective feedback. I was already signed up for a rifle class with him next year. His lecture on Sunday got me to sign up for his Weaponized Geometry class as well.
My only regret about the Night Operations Summit was the instructors I didn’t get to train with. While Erik, Eric, and Jon were great, I also heard plenty of good things about the other instructors from my fellow students. I’d love to train with Don Edwards, Sam Houston, and Chris Sizelove. Hopefully, Greenline will put on this shindig again next year. If they do, I’d highly recommend it!
Training with the GPNVG was pretty great. It hardly needs to be said that they’re a big improvement on my PVS-14. Frankly, the biggest issue with them was dealing with people’s reactions. I have to admit that I’ve always tended to bring “cool guy stuff” to classes: suppressed SBRs, red dot pistols, etc. But the panos are on a whole other level. I’m still trying to master conveying, “Yes, I would be happy to let you look through my NODs,” without it coming across as a douchey, “I’ve got panos,” flex.
The helmet setup worked well. The only drawback I found was that the 4D pads are rock-hard when they’re cold. They soften up once you’ve got them on your head, and they warm up. I really like the Ops-Core AMP ear protection and their helmet mounts.
The MAWL ran great, as expected. Same for the Modlite. I think I like the Modbutton Lite on the offset mount.
The .300 Blackout magazine issues were a real eye-opener. As I mentioned, I already ordered a bunch of .300 Blackout-specific PMAGs. I’ll test them with the ammo I shipped home. Hopefully, they’ll resolve the problem. The suppressor was obviously an issue, but I’ve gotten good service from Dead Air in the past, so hopefully, they’ll be able to get it fixed for me. The EOTech worked very well, which was a new experience for me.
The Clip-on DMR class was my first experience with weapon-mounted night vision. The CNVD-LR worked great. However, I need a better illuminator solution. This might involve a new optic mount with a “diving board” rail section to put the illuminator above the scope.
It’s been several years since I’d taken the JP Rifles upper to a class. I’d forgotten how well it shoots. I need to play with it more often.