FBI Citizens’ Academy – Week 7 “Range Day”

Session #7: Range Day(!!!)

This past Saturday was the moment most of us had been waiting for: range day! While the presentations were great and very informative, there’s no hiding the fact that making things go BANG beats the hell out of a PowerPoint slideshow!

This post will hopefully be a little more interesting visually as we were allowed to bring cameras and take photos and video.

Upon arriving at the Charlotte Police Academy Range (which is shared by a slew of other agencies in the region–hence, the FBI’s use), we were greeted by our FBI liaison and another gift; an FBI hat. I already had my Ruger hat on and wanted to represent, so the FBI will have to wait to debut another day. we went straight to the range and were met by the FBI Charlotte Field Office’s lead firearm instructor and a staff of 4 other Agent instructors. First things first, we got a full safety briefing critical to any day on an unfamiliar range but even moreso with a group of 40+/- people, most of whom had never even seen a real gun before–nevermind actually handled one. My worries of the FATS session creating bad habits were squashed by the Agents giving a very thorough safety briefing and driving home the importance of listening to every word they said. Overall, all presentations and demonstrations were extremely pro-gun and very safe. I say pro-gun because in every chance possible, the Agent related what we were seeing or doing to real life scenarios. A few questions that came from the crowd that were slightly anti or at least prodding for a shocking answer (i.e. ownership of full auto weapons) were immediately addressed and turned into an accurate and pro-gun stance.

We started with Agent demo’s of the inventory they brought out for us. Glock pistols, Remington 870’s cut down to 13″, M4, MP5 and MP5SD, Thompson submachine gun, and an AK-47 (recovered in Iraq by FBI Agents). Sadly, only one of the class members got to shoot the Thompson.



The Hollywood effect of shooting full auto and hitting everything at long distances was the big myth-busting theme. The Agent said they will hardly ever use full auto on their weapons and in fact go into most raids with their guns on semi. The full auto feature is basically the “oh shit” button. The myth of “silencers” rendering a gun completely quiet was also debunked with the MP5SD. He said the suppressor is typically used for killing lights during a raid.


Everything was shot at paper at close range just to give everyone that opening “wow” of having never seen a gun (for those who hadn’t), but to really drive home the power of a gun, they set up jugs of water and shot the pistol, shotgun, and MP5SD into them. The connection here was that our bodies are made up predominately of water…not that the exploding jug represents a body being shot, but it demonstrated the power of the bullet much better than a hole in paper could.




After the gun demos (no civilian shooting yet), we got to see the FBI’s bomb squad and a couple bomb demonstrations. The Agent here in Charlotte used to be the head FBI bomb technician (for the entire country). He recently was given the chance to relocate to the Charlotte office and took it…which illustrates the popularity of the Charlotte office among the Agents. We got to see the bomb suit and a variety of inert bomb examples: pipe bombs, mail/letter bombs, suit case bombs, etc. They gave a quick overview of how bomb materials are obtained (commercial sources/thefts as well as household chemicals) and what they typically do at a bomb scene. More often than not, it turns out to be a simple suspicious package that gets blasted by the robot to be safe. The lead tech said he’d been to 100’s of calls in his career in which maybe 12 or so turned out to be actual bombs. The highlight of this presentation was the demonstration of two “bombs.” First, a 1/3 pound of TNT with some C1 enhancer and then a small piece of C4. The TNT made a much greater effect…at 100 yards away, it still punched me in the chest. The C4 was sort of wimpy, for lack of better explanation. The difference was the speed of the explosion. TNT is relatively slow (made for heaving or moving) and the C4 is very fast (made for destruction and shattering). This was new to me as I’ve never read up about explosives.



Back over to the gun range, they were set up and ready to show us simunitions (the paint-tipped low-power rounds used for training). When they asked for volunteers to try it out, I was lucky enough to be one of the first two picked. They had us shoot it out “old west” style where we started out facing away from each other at maybe 10 yards with only 5 rounds each. The Agent counted down from 3 and we turned and fired. I immediately bolted to my right and turned to fire. My opponent (a former Deputy and active security chief for a local business–in other words, someone who’s trained with this stuff before, to my dismay!) was on me like flies on crap! He hit me twice: one arm graze and a clip on my shirt material. I ran out quickly ran out of ammo and surrendered…but my opponent still had one round left with which he summarily executed me with in the gut! YEEEEOUCH!!!!!! Those bastards sting! Worse than a regular paintball. They supposedly move at 400 FPS. At about 1/4 the size of a regular paintball, they’ve got some umph to them! I did land one shot on my opponent, almost smack in the balls…a few inches removed. Fatal shot if you ask me!

HUGE lesson learned here…which is what they were trying to demonstrate (aside from just having fun). In a matter of a second or two, I has spent my 5 rounds without hardly thinking about it. I experienced the adrenaline dump, tunnel vision, and the increased heart rate. I’ve played paintball many times in my younger days, but it was never as real as this…as odd as that sounds. I wanted to get the experience out of this and translate it to concealed carry: something I do daily. How well would I stand up in a shoot situation? Apparently, pretty crappy! I can more than hold my own on paper at the range or at a match. In fact, I’d label myself as pretty good…unfortunately I had also done so in the class in a few conversations with other participants. Now I had to live up to this and I feel like I failed! It doesn’t mean a darn thing about living up to the talk I might have done. But the thing that hits harder to me is that I would have sworn all 5 shots were center mass kill shots. Negative, Ghost Rider! I wish these sim rounds were available to civilians (apparently, they’re not). I’d pay good money for this type of realistic training for self defense purposes. A big lesson I learned from the experience: 5 rounds is nowhere near enough! I’d say even 8 rounds is barely enough. I’m sold on carrying an extra mag.

After a few more goes of sim rounds, we moved to the hands-on with the good stuff. They had four stations set up to try a 40 cal Glock (two lines), MP5, Remington 870. I immediately jumped in the MP5 line and tried my hand. We got only 10 rounds to play with. First three were set on semi, then 7 more on full auto. The whole time we had an instructor right next to us watching for safety concerns and showing us how to use the gun. This was my first time shooting an MP5 (or anything full auto). It felt very smooth and hardly any recoil on semi. Switched to full auto and I definitely felt it “ride up” from the recoil. I tried to do 3 shot bursts which I think I managed. I wanted someone to film my shooting for me, and to my luck, who is standing behind me in line?! The conspiracy nut!!! Apparently he is no too comfortable with technology and proceeded to film the entire event with his finger halfway covering the lens!!!!


I also got to try out the stubby 870 which felt no different than a normal 12 ga. Unfortunately, the M4 was not out to play with.

Our day was cut a little short when it seems as though CMPD kicked us off the range for their own use…I know right? What the crap, kicking us off their range?!?!

They had an official photographer there taking a ton of pics. Hopefully they got some of me rocking the MP5 so I can have a new internet avatar (eat that, you AR players!). I’m sure there’s more I’m leaving out, so I’ll update later with any other thoughts. Lot’s of people leaving with big smiles…folks who’d never shot a gun before and were likely even a little bit of the anti-persuasion. I’d call that a good day.

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