204 – Removing Intimidation with Sidewinder Concepts

GunMag Warehouse’s Jeremy Stone is back with an interesting new podcast after a short hiatus. This month, Jeremy takes on long range precision shooting with Adrian from Sidewinder Concepts. Adrian is a former US Army sniper who wrapped up his service in June of 2022.

Adrian from Sidewinder Concepts rifle on tripod
This month, Jeremy talks with Adrian, a former US Army sniper who now runs Sidewinder Concepts. (instagram.com/sidewinder_concepts)

Sidewinder Concepts is based near Houston, Texas and the fledgling company is already making waves, even though it’s been mostly word-of-mouth so far. Jeremy heard about Adrian and Sidewinder through Milspec Mojo, who appeared on the podcast last December. Mojo was a recently qualified police sniper, and guess who trained him? That’s right. So, Jeremy decided he needed to talk to Adrian himself.

Immediate Positive Results

Jeremy spent a day training with Adrian and, though he admits he’s “not a sniper” after that day, he did see good results. Adrian promised Jeremy that he would hit a 1,000-yard target in the first box of ammo. He was as good as his word, as Jeremy rang the steel on the 12th round. “I hit that steel at 1,000 yards, so I felt pretty good the rest of the day,” he noted. “I was like, okay, dial it back to 500…easy.”

Adrian says instilling that early confidence is part of the program. “That’s kind of the whole point about why I have guys do that. It’s to build that confidence and show that the equipment works…and essentially get those nerves out, like right out the gate. So, it’s like, ‘I hit the furthest target…then everything else should, in theory, be easy.’”

shooting in the rain

Jeremy notes that, even at 1,000 yards, the 6.5 Creedmoor bullet he was shooting was still 200 or so yards from the transonic range. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, transonic refers to the point where a bullet decelerates back through the sound barrier. This deceleration can cause destabilization beginning at about Mach 1.2. But, then again, the bullet might continue on to its target. There are many variables, but the transonic phenomenon is a real thing that can disrupt longer shots.

Adrian notes that, within the bullet’s supersonic range, that is before it decelerates, the main adjustment is for wind, once you have the drop numbers figured. In Jeremy’s case, the wind calls involved some guesswork based on the flags near the target, though Adrian expands on that and says he took “more of an educated guess, or a SWAG (Scientific Wild Ass Guess), based on the flag, surrounding vegetation, and the mirage to send the first round. After that, all they had to do was identify the miss, make the correction with the reticle, and re-engage.

Technology Helps

Jeremy says he was worried about giving Adrian bad data, since accurate adjustments depend on it. But Sidewinder also uses a trigger cam that allows its instructors to see exactly what the shooter is doing, all but ensuring accurate feedback.

Adrian says the camera is especially useful when training new shooters who may not know what feedback to give. He says the camera also serves as an “integrity check” for students and for the instructors as they demonstrate teaching points. Finally, the camera tells the instructor whether the students understand their reticles and are using them properly.

Shooting supported

Perceptions and Reality

Jeremy says that he “was pretty intimidated by the whole process, and most of that came from my own perception.” He was nervous because he thought he needed a $4,000 to $5,000 dollar rig to shoot long distance successfully. But he only had about $1,500 in his rifle, scope, and everything else. Even at $1,500, it’s technically a “budget rig,” even though that’s big money to many folks.

But Jeremy learned that his “budget rig” worked just fine and he didn’t have to break his bank account to go shoot. “No,” Adrian agreed. “There are solid factory options out there. More expensive platforms will increase consistency, but ‘quality budget’ products can get you to those distances fairly easily with the right know-how.”

Students often ask Adrian how to build out a precision rifle. His response is always “What do you want to use it for?” He notes that “shooting long range” isn’t an adequate answer because it lacks context. There must be a deeper purpose, whether it be hunting, target shooting, or precision rifle competition shooting. “I want to help you to meet your needs,” he says.

Many folks don’t focus on those needs when setting up a rifle, though he thinks people are getting better about it. But so much information is available, with so many varying opinions, that sifting through it all can be difficult. For that, Adrian recommends attending a long range shooting class. “You’ll learn really quick from either watching other students use their equipment or what the instructor is using. Good classes will talk about that stuff.”

Jeremy shares that his first class with former Gun Mag Warehouse Marketing Director Daniel Shaw was like that. Asking what he should buy for the class, Shaw told him not to buy anything extra and to run magazines out of his pockets if need be. He would se what other people run and save himself some money. This is an important lesson, Jeremy says, because many people won’t take a class at all because they think they don’t have the right gear.

Adrian from Sidewinder Concepts

Not Just Gear

Many folks won’t take classes because they think they aren’t good enough. It is true that certain classes require a certain skill level, but those classes also state the prerequisites. Jeremy has learned that the purpose of basic skills classes is to teach those skills the right way. Going in cold means you don’t have to unlearn anything.

Most of Jeremy’s fears about taking classes have been unfounded. Everyone has always been friendly and helpful. “That, to me,” he says, “is the actual gun community. The internet side of things is not the same as what people are like in real life.” Adrian chimes in that one of his best classes to date was an all-female group because they were “pumping each other up,” unlike what most male students do.

Being a “Why Guy”

Jeremy says he thinks he’s a pain to instructors because he always wants to know why he’s doing something. “If I can understand why I’m doing it,” he says, “then it will stick better.” Adrian agreed, saying that there’s “nothing wrong with being a ‘why guy.’ I had a lot of difficulties in the military from being a ‘why guy.’”

Adrian goes on to encourage students to ask why and to challenge theory in a positive manner. Ask the questions and let the instructor explain it.  He says to just understand that how those questions are posed is “super important.” In other words, don’t be an arrogant jerk. As my Dad always told me, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.” Adrian encourages students to train with different instructors and reach their own conclusions about what works best for them.

Adrian from Sidewinder Concepts shooting at night

Odds and the End

Adrian and Jeremy talk about some other interesting stuff that you’ll have to listen to the podcast to get. One of them is the reason for the thickness of the front sight post. If you haven’t heard, it has to do with range finding with the M16 rifle, which Adrian explains. Good stuff. They also discuss the growth of women’s participation in the shooting sports, and precision rifle competition in particular.  Finally, Jeremy asks Adrian about the reason snipers need government security clearance. You may know that, and you may not. Either way, it’s a fun discussion.

Check out the audio podcast. It’s an interesting back and forth. Adrian seems like a good dude and his course sounds like lots of fun. Most of Sidewinder’s training is done in the Houston area, but Adrian and crew will travel to train you. They are currently doing that for folks in Texas, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington State.

You can find Sidewinder Concepts at sidewinderconcepts.com and @Sidewinder_Concepts on Instagram.

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