October 14-15 2017 Multi-Class AAR

Over the weekend of October 14-15, 2017, I taught 5 short courses at KR Training: Defensive Long Gun Essentials, Skill Builder Handgun, Advanced Training 4, Advanced Training 6, and Low Light Shooting 2.

Some post-class observations:

Defensive Long Gun Essentials

The class is designed to be suitable for any long gun. This session was all semi-auto rifles, with one pistol caliber carbine.  One student brought a Steyr AUG to class.  Steyr is now making these guns in the US.  The bullpup design provides short-barrelled rifle length, using a 16″ barrel, making it an excellent handling long gun for armed movement in structures work.

The level of shooting by the students was above average, allowing us to run additional drills going beyond the standard curriculum, including multiple runs in the shoot house using my pistol caliber carbine, and some work at 75 yards shooting my steel rifle targets.

I think this class is a very useful, practical course relevant to anyone that has a long gun for home defense – a course that students could or should take each year to maintain skills, particularly since refresher slots are available for half price.  Turnout for this class is often lower than I think it should be, possibly because the curriculum or the class name.  The curriculum isn’t ninja operator enter-trainment. It’s the basic skills people will likely use:  get the gun from ready to target quickly, move to cover if available, and get a few effective hits, all within a few seconds, at across-the-house distances from 5-25 yards.  No chest rig is needed, we aren’t shooting underneath cars or learning how to assault an enemy position. The skills in the class are the ones people should be practicing and proficient at.

During the classroom lecture I joked that I needed to rename the course something cooler, like Advanced Dynamic Tactical Operator Zombie Defense Carbine, to optimize my search engine keyword use.  In 2018 I’ll be revising the lesson plan and course description, as well as adding a scored shooting test (3 Seconds or Less Long Gun) that must be passed to earn the course certificate.  In the past, we’ve run the drills for that test but issued course certificates whether students made the par times or got acceptable hits or not.  That may have created a false perception that those that graduated the course are ready for a “level 2” long gun class when they may not be.  I’m hoping to see more graduates of the course return for refresher work (and better evaluation of their long gun skills) in the future.

Skill Builder Handgun

The Skill Builder class is mainly a trigger control class, working on hitting smaller targets at 5-7 yards, including work shooting with right hand only and left hand only.  As typical for this course, it drew a mix of students at different skill levels.   It’s a great course to refresh and maintain skills. 200 rounds in 2 hours in a solid structured practice session.

Advanced Training 4 & Advanced Training 6

On Sunday, I offered Advanced Training 4 and Advanced Training 6 back to back, and most students attended both classes.  AT-4 included group shooting at 15 yards, training to speed up draw and reload skills, and several hours of drills shooting on the move, including hitting 12″ steel targets on the move at 10 yards.   A 12″ steel target at 10 yards is basically like shooting a 6″ A-zone on a USPSA target at 5 yards. Practicing on steel makes bad shots that would be C or D (-1 or -3) hits obvious and is an excellent way to realistically assess shoot on the move ability and speed.

The AT-6 course is the reality check class: it’s a series of baseline drills that students practice and then shoot for score.  At the end of class, each student gets their personal data sheet, with times and hits recorded.  We started with 25 yard group benchrest shooting, measuring group sizes and offset of the group from intended point of impact.  If student abilities at 25 yards are acceptable, the class includes a walk-back drill shooting steel to determine each students maximum effective range with their pistol.  Unfortunately, student performance on the 25 yard drills exposed a lot of deficiencies and the walk back drill was bypassed in favor of additional drills working to improve trigger control.

Other drills run during this class include Bill Drills at distances from 7-25 yards, the F.A.S.T. drill, Hackathorn’s The Test, and the 5×5 drill.

The lecture portion of AT-6 was at the end of the course, as I went through each drill and provided students with specific goals (times and hits) they could use in dry and live fire practice.  Every student in the AT-6 class would benefit from taking that class each year, until they are meeting all the drill goals, which would get them roughly to USPSA B class or IDPA Expert level skill.

Low Light Shooting 2

The final course of the weekend was the updated and revised Low Light Shooting level 2 course.  A small number of diehard students attended this one, and were rewarded with lots of work with red guns and flashlights (handheld and weapon mounted) inside the classroom building, multiple live fire shoot house runs, and running all the segments of the 3 Seconds Or Less Low Light test (which all students passed).

The level 1 low light class is instruction in technique. The level 2 class is all application of technique in realistic context, such as not muzzling the no-shoots in the shoot house.  We’ll offer the level 2 class several times in 2018, as I think all graduates of the level 1 low light class would benefit from it. The level 2 class would be the right choice for those wanting annual refresher training in low light skills.

Izzy A. Threat Retirement Ceremony

Monday morning, after all 5 classes, one of the 3D targets we’d been using all summer & fall in the shoot house (Izzy A. Threat) was retired.

The ceremony was attended by some of his co-workers.

Final Thoughts

Classes are not a “one and done” thing.  Taking a class once, spending a few hours working on a skill, is not equivalent to truly owning that skill.  Whether it’s my classes or classes with other instructors, unless you are shooting 100% scores on every drill, never dropping a shot and always being the fastest shooter on the line, there’s value in repeating a course, particularly when the skills covered are difficult or impossible to practice at most commercial ranges.   We’ll continue to offer half-price refresher slots in all courses to encourage students to use the classes to not only learn new skills but maintain skills learned in previous classes.