(Photo Courtesy of Paul Pawela)
On May 9th and 10th I attended the first ever open enrollment GLOCK Operator Course held at GLOCK Training – Glock Sport Shooting Foundation Headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia.
Eligibility requirements for all open enrollment GLOCK Operator courses are as follows: Active or Reserve Law Enforcement, Active or Reserve Military, Licensed Armed Security Officers, current GSSF Members and current NRA Certified Firearms Instructors. These eligibility requirements can be found here, with additional course information, to include the course outline and expected round count can be found in this PDF.
As I mentioned above, this was GLOCK’s initial open enrollment offering, the first course was a closed course for Law Enforcement Officers only. The students were from many different walks of life. There were four members of the media invited to attend the course by GLOCK’s Media Department including some really big names in gun writing and one other writer who showed up and paid the full course tuition of $300.00. There were five regular Joe’s, all of whom paid the same $300.00 tuition as well. The regular Joe’s were as follows: Two (2) sworn Law Enforcement Officer’s, one (1) United States Army Reserve Captain and GSSF member from North Georgia, a Country Club Manager and GSSF member from North Carolina and of course, yours truly. Additionally there were also three (3) full-time GLOCK employees in attendance as well.
The GLOCK Pistols in attendance consisted mostly of 9mm models, 17’s, 19’s & 34’s, and one GLOCK 40, 10mm long-slide. Personally, I have never seen a student bring a 10mm to a course like this; however, the brave young man who did should be commended, he did very well considering he had a gun with tremendous impulse during the recoil cycle.
(GLOCK 40, 10mm – Photo Courtesy of Andre’ M. Dall’au)
Our Instructor for the two-day course was Joseph “Willie” Parent, III; Director of Training and GSSF for GLOCK, Inc., Willie is a seventeen (17) year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and he let you know it with his rigid military bearing, serious demeanor and of course the vernacular he used on the range.
Willie used the term “event driven” many times in a short period of time to describe the course along with explaining that this course was a collaboration of several GLOCK Staff Instructors. He went on to say that they developed this course to help people who own GLOCK platform pistols operate them more efficiently and of course, effectively.
It is worthy to note that it was mentioned more than once that “GLOCK Training doesn’t sell excitement.” From taking this course I can assure you that is a true statement. Nothing about the presentation of this curriculum was exciting. (More on this later)
The round count for this course was advertised at 1,000 and GLOCK company policy is that each student bring only factory ammunition, no hand-loads are allowed in any GLOCK Training course. As someone who has attended a lot of high-volume round count courses, I have learned to give a twenty to twenty-five percent (20%-25%) buffer +/- on the advertised round count, and that estimate has been pretty darned accurate for years. I find that more often than not I have shot less than advertised number. My exact round count for this course was 375 rounds. TD1 round count was 135, TD2 was 240 including the 22 round GLOCK Operator Course Pistol Standards Test.
Now, I have never been in a course where the round count is 62.5% less than advertised; however, I have seen these things happen to others, and the reason is typically a lack of course content, unfortunately that was not the case here. There was plenty of course content that we didn’t even get to experience, e.g., low-light/no-light techniques and alternate shooting positions. Sadly, our course was shorted, that is the bottom line and you will understand how as you read further.
(Important Note: As a mentor I don’t see it my place to publicly shame someone on social media or on my blog that is read by literally tens of thousands of people, but our job is to never forget the first rule in teaching something; deliver all of the advertised curriculum to your paid students, no matter if your course is “event driven” or not, and do so in a way that minimizes you and your accomplishments and maximizes the curriculum and of course participant involvement. This will allow you to hit the adult learning theorem of hear, see and do in each block of instruction. The student who paid the full tuition will be grateful if you just remember that one simple thing.)
TD1 started in the classroom with a safety briefing that was a combination of Colonel Jeff Cooper’s four universal rules of gun safety and the NRA’s three rules of gun safety. (I really wish Instructors would pick one or the other and not both, and never make them your own by changing the words, it doesn’t add anything to them, in fact it takes away from them) At this time we also received an overview of the GLOCK pistols and their functionality.
The National Sales Manager and Assistant National Sales Manager brought the GLOCK summer releases down from “The Mothership” for us to see. These included the GLOCK 17L Gen 3 and GLOCK 24 Gen 3, both with their 6.02″ barrels, the GLOCK FDE frames and of course the GLOCK 17C & 19C Gen 4 guns. You may not be able to see them in the photos below; however, GLOCK is now offering guns with forward cocking serrations near the muzzle on their guns, that is something new this summer.
Once the classroom presentation was complete, we headed to the indoor range just a few steps away and through a set of double doors. Once inside we made sure our guns were clear and started with dry-fire presentations from the holster (Open Carry) at fifteen (15) yards while in an “interview position.” This position is similar to the position that a Law Enforcement Officer might use when speaking to someone just outside of arms length. Our Instructor taught what I call the “press out” presentation or the upside-down “L” and not the index presentation.
Once we were done with dry-fire presentations, we were then taught how to properly load a GLOCK pistol. This exercise was done by Instructor demonstration only, there was no student involvement in this exercise which surprised me because that goes against the adult learning theorem of hear, see and do. Besides, we were all instructed by the course outline to bring ten (10) dummy rounds each, this would have been a great opportunity to use them.
We then started on the course of fire standing on the fifteen (15) yard line shooting ten rounds slow-fire. The Instructors command of “Shooter Ready, Target” was our queue to present our pistol and fire. The target used was an NRA B-8 target. (See Below) We repeated this exercise three times alternating relays and pasting all misses that hit outside of the nine ring.
I had recently installed a new set of Ameriglo I-Dot sights (GL-301) on my GLOCK 19C Gen 3, and I needed to get used to the proper sight picture at fifteen (15) yards. In my first go around I had only three of ten hits inside the nine ring; however, after I made a slight adjustment in sight picture my group was spot on. (Pardon the pun) After we completed this drill, we took a lunch break for an hour.
(The NRA B-8 Target)
If you attend this course at GLOCK Training/GSSF Headquarters in Smyrna, there are several small local restaurants close by; however, I suggest that you bring a cooler if you are driving and eat your lunch there in the classroom, that way you are not rushed going somewhere to eat and then making it back on time afterwards.
We reconvened in the range after lunch we started shooting pairs at fifteen (15) yards, again starting in the interview position and upon command. I found this very weird as there was really no reason to be “banging pairs” from fifteen yards away, this does nothing for marksmanship fundamentals or allows an diagnostics to take place; however, after shooting three iterations of pairs we then started working on slide-lock, empty-gun or emergency reloads depending on the terminology that you use.
Willie showed us four of the six ways Instructors teach their students to send the slide into battery after a reload and emphasized that the power-stroke was the way we should be doing it with the GLOCK platform pistol. (The power-stroke has the shooter cupping the support hand over the rear of slide and pulling it back using the thumb and fingers on the cocking serrations on the rear of the slide so the recoil spring assembly or RSA for short is fully compressed before you release it. Provided you have a good RSA, this action creates maximum inertia in launching the slide forward into battery)
Next we performed the one shot, slide-lock reload, and one shot drill working on perfect technique. This is a very good drill and one I use on a regular basis to improve my reload speeds.
Next we started shooting silhouette targets while preforming what Willie called, “immediate and remedial action” drills. These terms are nothing more than military jargon for clearing common stoppages and malfunctions, e.g., failure to fire, failure to eject, failure to extract etc…
Next we worked on failure to stop, or the Mozambique drill from the seven (7) yard line and we ran though this three times per relay. The Mozambique drill is two shots to the chest and one to the head performed from the holster or a ready position, we performed it from the holster. Once we finished this drill, TD1 was in the books.
It is also worthy to note that all drills were performed from either a low-ready or from open carry on TD1, there was no option to work from concealment, even for an experienced student.
TD2 started with a good breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Atlanta Galleria area and upon checkout I was given a one-day credit on my bill because our room was not serviced for us while we were training the day prior. That was nice of the hotel management to offer and do that for me, after all I am an IHG member.
TD2 of the GLOCK Operator Course started in the classroom with a review of the safety rules from TD1 and then we headed into the range and started with a drill that is designed to help the student with trigger control. Candidly, this drill should have been the first drill after dry-fire presentations on TD1; however, it wasn’t me that wrote the course of fire and I was there to learn, it just seemed awful strange doing a drill that is used to teach the shooter about trigger control when we had already shot 135 rounds on TD1.
We then proceeded to shoot this drill from three, five and seven yards on an NRA B-8 target. During the first iteration we were instructed to pin the trigger to the rear and then let it reset after our sights were back on target. Firearms training industry titan John Farnam calls this, “catching the link.” In the second iteration we would go through resetting the trigger under the impulse of recoil, and in the third iteration we were to speed reset the trigger while firing pairs. I found this drill to be of little value as I do not nor would I ever teach pining the trigger to the rear and catching the link as you ride the reset forward.
Catching the link can have disastrous results if not done properly and with a loss of fine motor skills that will occur under stress this might just cause you to freeze when resetting the trigger, I have seen it too many times with Law Enforcement Officers being taught the fundamentals of trigger control improperly and because they pin the trigger to the rear they lose time on their qualifications, not to mention what might happen if they are in a gunfight with a hardened criminal who does not see handcuffs in his or her future.
We then performed this same drill at ten (10), twelve and a half (12.5) and fifteen (15) yards, only this time we were shooting a silhouette target center chest. Again, there is no value in doing this at distance, there are much better drills to help the student understand proper trigger control and cadence. With the experienced shooters we had in this course this drill could have been easily done in one or two iterations from three or five yards, yet we wasted time doing this out to fifteen (15) yards. Again, this drill is a TD1 drill in any course I have ever been to, but not the GLOCK Operator Course.
The flames you see are the burning gases exiting the ports in the barrel of my GLOCK 19C Gen 3 as I shoot a drill at the first ever open enrollment GLOCK Operator Course in Smyrna, Georgia on May 9th & 10th, 2017. (Photo Courtesy of Paul Pawela)
After a short break we came back to find the NRA B-8 targets back up again and the next drill was the ball and dummy drill. Again, this is a drill that should have been done on TD1, not TD2.
In this drill we gave a fellow student a couple magazines and shot this drill at the twenty-five (25) yard line. This is way too far away from the target for this drill. Each iteration was from the holster, presenting the pistol and firing one shot. If we were on a dummy round and we caused the sights to deviate, we were supposed to tell our coach (Fellow Student) what we did wrong. The Instructor told us that saying “I anticipated” was not acceptable, he’s right about that, not everything is an anticipation or flinch. As shooters, we were to describe exactly what we did to cause the sights deviate off of our intended point of aim.
We then went on to shooting multiple targets with pairs to the high center chest area of a silhouette target from the holster. This drill was done from the seven (7) yard line and we were to change the target that we started with during each iteration. In this drill you must make sure to not “out-drive your headlights” as my mentor Tom Givens says. In case you are wondering, your headlights are your eyes, and to get good hits on the target or threat you are transitioning to you must move your head first and then bring the gun to your eyes and engage the second target or threat. See the example in the photos below.
Engaging multiple targets from the holster. (Photos Courtesy of Paul Pawela)
The next drill we worked on was a box drill. This is where you shoot two rounds to the torso and one round to the head on multiple targets. This drill is basically a failure to stop or Mozambique drill using two targets and taking the two head shots after you engage the second target or threat with a pair to the chest and then transition back to the first target and taking a head shot on that target as well.
After a break we started shooting on the move. First with moving forward from the fifteen (15) yard line all the way to the one (1) yard line while engaging a silhouette target high center chest. When the Instructor demonstrated this drill he was visibly upset with himself when he missed a single shot and even said so in front of the class. As a student I found this to be unprofessional and as an Instructor I was embarrassed for him. Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident, Willie had made this mistake on multiple occasions; however, this time it was pronounced and instead of him using his misses as a teachable moment to explain to the students why he missed the shot, he was down on himself and said out loud that he was worried about the writers making light of this miss in their articles and blogs.
Candidly at this point I had heard about enough and had to chime in, “Let’s focus on the positive here, you shot sixteen or seventeen rounds and missed one, I’d say that is a good hit to miss ratio.” After I said that, several students approached me on lunch break and thanked me for having the courage to say that, because this was beginning to be a common theme and unfortunately that is basically what we were subjected to for two days.
Once each student had run through moving forward on a threat three times we took a lunch break for an hour.
After lunch we worked on moving to the rear from three to seven yards again shooting a silhouette target high center chest. I didn’t mention it before, but the key to any movement drill, no matter the direction you are moving is to press the trigger when you have an acceptable sight picture or sight movie as Gabe White refers to it.
After a short break we were then introduced to shooting on the move left and right at the seven yard line. This technique was new to many of the shooters and some struggled with the footwork associated. Similar to moving rearward we ran through this dry-fire once and live-fire once.
Next we worked on strong hand and support hand only shooting from the ten yard line and then we went dry for nearly two hours working on one handed manipulation drills using our strong hand and weak hand only. Two students showed their techniques to draw the gun from their holsters using the support hand only. These are techniques that I had seen before; however, I tried several different ones until I settled in on the one I have been using for years.
We then worked on more one handed manipulations including clearing malfunctions and reloading the pistol with strong hand and support hand only. The safety protocol was very high with these drills, and thus we only preformed the drills dry-fire with dummy rounds.
After a short break we were introduced to the GLOCK Operator Course Pistol Standards. This is an evaluation, not a qualification of your skills under the pressure of a shot timer. Due to all the wasted time in the course each student only got one try at the pistol standards test, even though the scoring sheet had room for three separate tests as they refer to them at GLOCK Training. Considering all of the penalties I had my score was a very disappointing Level 1; however, when I returned home, I was able to run the same exact course of fire three times in a row cold, scoring a very respectable Level 3, each time.
Please do not ask me to share the GLOCK Operator Course Pistol Standards with you, it’s not going to happen. One has to protect the integrity of the course so new students don’t try to practice the evaluation standards in preparation of the course.
This will not be a surprise to the instructor as I left many of these comments on my written course review before leaving the building; however, as both a student and fellow instructor I am not sure Willie is the right instructor to deliver this curriculum and I cannot recommend this course to anyone at this time.
As a mentor, I would jump at the opportunity to work with Willie in polishing his presentations and this course of fire so it makes sense, and flows better so the students can see all of it.
Sadly, I could have saved nearly $750.00 in tuition, hotel charges, gas, food the 625 rounds I never fired, not to mention sixteen hours worth of windshield time, had I known this was going to be the result.
As a good friend told me, “Gordon, someone had to be the guinea pig.” If GLOCK Training offered me a seat in the course again I would take it, and maybe I might get a chance to see the entire course of fire and run all the drills; however, after publishing this course review, and even offering to mentor Willie, I don’t see that ever happening, then again surprises do happen.
Oh, nearly a month has passed since the course and I did receive this nice GLOCK Operator PVC Patch in the mail, I will put it with all the other patches I collect and remember what might have been.
Just remember, as a student you must be willing to pick up the brass on the range, and my good friend Paul caught me doing what I do best with a walnut picker.
(Photo Courtesy of Paul Pawela)
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Until next time …
Live life abundantly!
Stay Safe & Train Hard!