FTW Outfitters - SAAM Safari Training Review

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Royal27, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    First, let me say that I believe that the SAAM (Sportsman All-Weather All-Terrain Marksmanship) Training is the finest of it's type in the world. I won't pretend I know them all. I do know however; that even while searching for a class I didn't find anything like SAAM anywhere on the internet, and especially not specific to their Safari training, which I took. And the instructors were incredible, with an unbelievable military background. I don't believe that their specific background is mine to share and only mention it in general to make the point that the instructors are well qualified to instruct not only shooting, but how to handle dangerous situations such as those that could be encountered on an African DG hunt.

    I need to start the review when I first communicated with Tim Fallon about eight months before the course. We e-mailed back and forth and he was always extremely nice and answered all of the questions I had. As soon as I started asking some really specific rifle/scope questions he said no more e-mail, that we needed to talk on the phone. He wanted to make sure that we weren't mis communicating and that I got what I needed. We spent almost 45 minutes on the phone that day as I recall. He was also very clear that what he told me was his opinion and what he would do and that there were other opinions and options. If anyone is wondering, I followed his recommendation and couldn't be happier! :) I also talked to Tim several more times over the months, and met Tim and Doug (lead instructor) at DSC in January.

    Now, time for the class!!!!

    Day One

    Classroom instruction began at 8 AM, sharp. We went until almost 1 PM and covered a variety of topics, starting with safety, which was stressed through out the course. If you don't know the four rules of gun safety, you will. Next was general rifle knowledge and parts, followed by an in depth discussion of scopes and reticles. I learned a LOT about scopes and my opinion of what I want from a scope changed drastically. Then a great lesson on windage and elevation, including all of the environmental factors. At this point my brain was full!!!! :)

    After lunch it was time to clean rifles!!! They showed us "a way" to clean rifles. I like their way and will use it in the future. It wasn't too different from what I was already doing, but I still like it. They also checked the torque on all of the receivers, bases, etc... I know many of you do that, but I never have. After seeing how many were loose I will from now on....

    Then to the range, finally!!!! :) They equipped all of the rifles with bi-pods, slings, and cheek pads (almost everyone needed a cheek pad on their rifle to get the proper cheek weld and still see through the scope - this was new to me, but the results couldn't be argued with!!!) if you didn't already have them, which were needed for their prone shooting style (and we were only shooting medium bore at this point. I'd never shot with a shooting glove, sling, and bi-pod before and it was different and uncomfortable at first. By the end though, I was more stable from prone than I am on a bench, without a doubt. The goal here was just to get the rifles zeroed at 100 yards and have the instructors begin to correct any technical shooting issues that we had - raising the heading off the gun too quickly and not following through on the trigger pull were common to many, myself included. Once we were all sighted in we were done for the day. It was a full day, believe me!

    Day Two

    Time to pull out the big bores!!! We went back down range and began to sight in all of the rifles, from .375 and up. This was done from the bench, or in the case of a .470 Nitro Express, sticks (until the final couple of shots). Then we worked at longer ranges and how to hold over, depending on your scope, for ranges out to 250 yards. It was pretty cool to see guys ringing nine inch plates with a .416 Rigby at 250 yards. The point was letting us see that we could do it, if need be, with proper range knowledge and holdover. This got us to lunch.

    The afternoon was snap drills at Cape Buffalo targets. For this we used Rugers in .223 that were provided. FTW had these bolt actions made specifically for the course. We started with dry fire drills. I should have mentioned this earlier. All rifle activities started with dry fire drills to get the shooters comfortable, then ammunition. At any rate, the snap drills were great. Not only was there snap shooting, but also great instruction on things like proper footwork to make sure that when you turn you're in proper position to shoot that charging buffalo, and to ensure that you don't fall down while doing so!!!! This is the time to mention the instructor's attention to safety again. Special attention was paid to it during this drill and the importance of carrying your rifle properly at high port was stressed, as was finger off of the trigger and thumb on the safety. The safety came off as the rifle went up. I found this to be one of the best parts of the class. The only issue I had was that I'm left handed and all of the rifles were right handed. Due to this, I lost some of repetition that righties got. They are talking to Ruger about making them this gun in lefty.

    That was it for day two. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun!

    Day Three

    In the morning it was back to the medium bores, but this time we started at 100 yards and worked out to 600 yards to get us a range card. A ballistic calculator will get you close, shooting it for real let's you know for sure! The .30/06 I was using was given to me for Christmas in 1982 as my first high powered rifle. I never thought I'd be hitting nine inch targets at 600 yards with it, but I did!!!! Oh, and it was really windy too. The instructors called wind for us and that was amazing in and of itself. Wow....

    The afternoon was back to the big bores, starting with snap shooting and then the really fun stuff!!! Moving targets at 30 yards to simulate an animal running off, then shooting at elephant and buffalo life size targets, followed by charging targets to simulate, well, a charge. :) Finally, a mini buffalo hunt with the "PH" setting up sticks and telling you what to shoot. Awesome.....

    Day Four

    Here is where I'm going to get fairly vague as some of y'all might go to SAAM and I don't want to spoil the fun. I'll just say this. The morning was a simulated PG hunt that focused on different animals, ranges, and the use of sticks and always working to improve your shooting position.

    The afternoon was the DG hunt, with all of the normal suspects, including the aquatics. Remember my early mention of the instructor's military background? Let's just say that the hunt was anything but static! :)

    After this we had a little time left and worked on anything that needed to be worked on. In my case it was ensuring the range card for my rifle was correct, so back out to a 500 yard range, get into the prone position,and shoot. Yup, the card was correct and the steel target was swinging and ringing. What a beautiful sight and sound.....

    Summary:

    The food was amazing.

    I left feeling like I was family.

    I would recommend FTW Outfitter's SAAM Safari course for any hunter, regardless of DG, or not. For a DG hunter I believe it is vital. PH's take this course too and it certainly isn't just for the beginner. As they say, just keep an open mind! :)

    I plan on going back and taking the precision course, once I recover from my first two Safaris. Unfortunately that probably means at least 2016 for me, but I will be back to the FTW Ranch, that I know!

    www.ftwoutftters.com


    And, I got to shoot my first double, a Krieghoff .470 Nitro Express. One of the other students was gracious enough to let me shoot his. Watch the youtube video and see if you can tell if the recoil scared me off from the doubles, or not.


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2014
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  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR GOLD BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    Would be a dead Buffalo with those shots.

    Amazing when you have a great spotter, what you can do at a distance. (Doping the wind is certainly a hard part)

    Thanks for the report on your course.

    Nothing like education.
     
  3. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    Thanks Brickburn!

    You nailed it on the spotters. They are just like the trackers, they see things I can't. At one point Alfredo called no wind and all i knew was the wind was hitting me from left to right just as hard as it had been. I listened though, held dead on, and rang the bell. I asked about it afterwards and Alfredo told me that the wind was indeed still blowing hard, up close. but, that at distance it was blowing in the opposite direction and cancelling out. The bullet basically traveled in a big S. Wow....

    One important thing I left out of day two. We spent some classroom time going over shot placement of various animals. It was very helpful. We went round robin and told the instructor where we would shoot (hw pointed on screen with a pointer). Then, crosshairs would come up on the video and you'd see if you were right, or not. It was great practice and the crosshairs added a time element too. You didn't have all day to figure it out.
     
  4. billc

    billc SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Watching that gun kick you like a mule was good laughs for me.LOL I like my bow even more now after watching that and my 300 win mag is just fine to.Dont know what i will do if I get the itch to hunt buff sometime. That school sounds like it was alot of fun though by your report.
     
  5. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    My name is Royal, and I'm now a big bore addict!

    Fun isn't even the word for it. And I learned SO much. I wish I could have done a better job of getting the value across, but you really have to see it to get it, or at least I did.

    I've for plenty to do for the next five months for sure. I will make myself a dry fire routine based on the training and "shoot" every day. I just ordered some snap caps to help with that, so that I can practice reloads. I've never really seen the use in snap caps before, but I do now.
     
  6. enysse

    enysse AH Ambassador

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    At least your having fun with all the shooting. Shooting a large caliber gun made me a much better small caliber shooter. Shooting over 350 yards taught me to move closer and pick a better shot most days. The wind can really throw a shot if you can't read it correctly. And lastly the close shots seem to bring the adrenalin out more, just because you think the animal will bust you before you get a shot off.
     
  7. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    Well said!

    I agree with all. Not only am I a better shooter now, but I know EXACTLY what I need to work on. I'm going to drill hard over the next five months.
     
  8. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    Y'all please indulge me. I have one more video to put up. I guess you could say this is the other en of the range, at 500 yards.


     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2014
  9. Loodt

    Loodt AH Fanatic

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    I quote "that is just cooooool, haha" -Royal.

    Really impressive to read about the whole programme Royal, seems like you really enjoyed it and that everyone who attends that course will learn something new. If I were any closer I would have done it as well. One can never know too much and always learn something new.

    Money well spent!!!
     
  10. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like a great time.
     
  11. wesheltonj

    wesheltonj AH Fanatic

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    Tim and his crew came to San Antonio, today and gave 10 DSC South Texas members (including me) a short course. We went with the snap drills and stick shooting. I still need a lot of work with the sticks. I was using the Africa Shooting sticks and the instructors had Bog Pods, but the instructors will work with whatever you own. One of the take-a-ways, was I need to purchase one of those cheek pads that they had.
     
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  12. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    I use the cheek pad on every rifle I have now.
     
  13. V.Veritas

    V.Veritas AH Member

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    Royal27,
    Thank you for your report. What type of cheek pad would you recommend based on your training?
     
  14. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    I use the ones I bought while at FTW. The idea is simple. Raising the comb of the rifle so that you can get a proper cheek weld Amsterdam see through your scope, or sights. Most files simply don't fit for most people.

    So I don't think there is one in particular works better, it's just making the adjustment.

    You can see the cheek pad below.

    Screenshot_20170806-074948.png
     
  15. Red Leg

    Red Leg GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Dry firing is very much a lost art. The Marine Corps has preserved it as a teaching/learning technique better than any of the other services, though Army marksmanship programs also still use it extensively. Lot's of hunters, headed out to Africa for the first time, spend no meaningful time learning how to shoot from sticks (or much of anywhere but a bench). Dry firing - including learning to call the shot while dry firing - can take care of 80% of the prep necessary to successfully use them.

    Great report Royal. Wish I had seen it the first time around.
     
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  16. Royal27

    Royal27 AH Ambassador

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    Thank you sir!

    Couldn't agree more on the dry fire. Most of us aren't in a place where we can shoot everyday, but we can do dry fire practice. And I love snap caps as I can do reload drills as well.

    Only recommendation to others and I've posted this here somewhere before. Do not do real speed practice in your bathroom and be ejecting snap caps so hard they are flying into the wall, making a racket, while your wife is reading a book in the bedroom. It doesn't work well and don't ask me how I know this. :A Outta:
     
  17. tarbe

    tarbe AH Elite

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    Glad to hear this is still the case. I am fairly certain that I spent as much time at Parris Island slinged-up dry-firing as I did in live-fire (1976).
     
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  18. tarbe

    tarbe AH Elite

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    Some thread-revivals are bad news. This one is good news!

    Someone is going to read this thread and get some training that will make them more effective with their rifle....and that is good news for everyone, including the game.

    Tim
     
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  19. Wheels

    Wheels AH Legend

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    Great job of multitasking while you are taking care of business . :D
     
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  20. tarbe

    tarbe AH Elite

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    Now THAT could get messy!

    BTW - just ordered snap caps for the yet to arrive 450-400 NE!

    Thanks for the reminder!
     
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