The Trigger Control Dot Org 2018 Year in Review!

Over the past few days compiling the information for this posting from my various calendars, I have had time to reflect on where 2018 has taken me and my little training company, and of course how much I appreciate those who supported my company as well.

2018 started off with teaching commitments here in Florida and North Carolina then a trip to Las Vegas for SHOT Show where I was lucky enough to avoid “Patient Zero” and the very real “SHOT Show Crud.” However, not being accustomed to the dry desert heat that is Las Vegas I left with a dry scratchy throat that took a few days to get over.

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Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to my good friend “Tactical Ed” better known as the “Tactical Plus Size Model.” If you are not following him on Facebook and Instagram you are really missing out, so get it done! I’ll tell you a secret, I was told by a very reliable source that Ed was in fact “Patient Zero” but I never saw him sick, and I never touched him, it was only after he got home that he told me he had the “SHOT Show Crud” so I hope that you avoid it this year my friend. Oh yeah, this is no secret, Ed stood me up as well, we were supposed to have some sliders at White Castle on the strip, but alas, he is just too “big time” for me these days. ūüėČ

Also at SHOT Show I was able to reconnect with my friend Victor from Sierra Element and had a good time walking the show floor with him. If you are looking for firearms training in the greater Los Angeles and Ventura County area, Victor is the one you want to train with, he is “legit” as the hipsters say in this industry.

My other friends from “Smog City” Real Estate Mogul Scott and my buddy “Slo” showed up as well and I was treated to a great dinner at Bally’s by Scott and then hung out with them the following day all over the show floor. Scott, “Slo” and I met the year before at Ken Hackathorn’s course at Burro Canyon Shooting Park in the Angeles National Forest and both of them are brother’s from another mother. I look forward to seeing you both in 2019.

Since I don’t get to Vegas but once every few years I ended up doing some of the touristy things to do like seeing the world famous sign as you see in these photos, and I ended up spending a little time visiting some landmarks that are part of the history of “Sin City.” Oh, I wasn’t able to catch Chumley, Rick, the Old Man before he passed or Big Hoss at the Gold Miner, who knew that they don’t really work there and only show up when taping their show, Pawn Stars. Nice place, with some awesome merchandise inside, but it is not in the best area of town, just saying if you go, be carrying a gun.

By the way, speaking of carrying a gun, nobody and I mean absolutely nobody exercises their right to open carry a handgun or anything else for that matter in Las Vegas; however, when I drove down to Pahrump to visit my old friend Alex I saw dozens of open carry practitioners. To each their own, I will remain concealed everywhere I go.

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February was a very busy month, teaching a total of eight courses, along with hosting a course that sold out nine months in advance for Gabe White. If you have a chance to train with Gabe I highly recommend it, he is a superior technical and tactical shooter and one of the hottest commodities in the firearms training industry these days. My lasting impressions from the course were that Gabe is highly organized and how he gave each of us individual attention all throughout the course.

Speaking of organization skills, Gabe’s course of fire is planned out to the cartridge, and for example, to stay on task I carry laminated 3×5 cards in my pocket and refer to them often on the range during the courses I teach, Gabe has his trusty clipboard with him to keep himself on task. Eight of the fourteen people who attended the course were personal friends of mine and I had either known or trained with the other five at least once in the course. As I said, the course had sold out nine months prior so I asked Gabe if he would come back in September and he did, more to follow below. If you’d like to train with him please visit his Eventbrite page to reserve your seat by clicking on the link below, there is one seat left in the April course.

Gabe White Pistol Shooting Solutions – Lakeland, Florida April 13-14, 2019

March started off hosting Pat McNamara for his Pistol, Carbine Combo course. The retired United States Army Sergeant Major has an impressive background as a United States Army Delta Force Operator and that combined with his highly technical and tactical skill with a handgun and a carbine or any weapon he grabs for that matter gives you the inspiration that you can also be a better shooter too, you just have to put in the work. If you follow Pat Mac on social media you will know that he practices what he preaches by doing just that, putting in the work each and every day not only on his shooting skills but on his “Combat Chassis.” If you would like to attend a course with Pat, you can find his open enrollment schedule on his website in the link below.

TMACS, Inc – Tactics Marksmanship Adventure Concepts Security – Pat McNamara

Staying in the month of March I taught another eight courses and made a thirty hour plus round trip drive from my home in Florida to North Little Rock, Arkansas. On that trip, I had a problem with my vehicle, an idle sensor went out and the engine would not idle properly. It was fortuitous that there was a Ford dealership right across the highway from my hotel, and so my AAA membership came in handy as they showed up and towed my vehicle to the dealership. My Escape was fixed and back on the road in short order. By the way, in 2018 I put just under 29,000 miles on my 2015 Ford Escape tied to my business and with just under 90,000 miles on the odometer it is the best vehicle that I have ever owned. The photo below is of yours truly with “Jolly Green” at DARC, the Direct Action Resource Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Now April was an interesting month, Southwest Airlines took me to four different states teaching nine courses and I was also able to attend two as a student. In April I only slept at home six nights out of thirty. The highlight was training in below freezing weather at SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, New Hampshire, that was a lot of fun, no really it was a lot of fun and a great experience. Even though I don’t spend too much time in cold weather these days, by attending a two-day 1,000 round course of fire in that brutal of weather, I was reminded of my days living in cold winter weather and trying to “dress around the gun” with a heavy winter jacket, not to mention making sure that I could press the trigger well enough to get hits using full-finger gloves etc… and oh, by the way, I now own a very nice SIG SAUER logo knit cap that might not get much use here during the 70+ degree Florida winters.

The month of May was very busy for me. It started off by attending the 147th NRA Annual Meetings in Dallas, Texas and I once again volunteered as a Firearms Examiner checking all the guns on the show floor to make sure their firing pins are shaved so they do not have the capability of fire a cartridge should one be loaded by the thousands of people that handle them over the three-day weekend.

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Also a few weeks before the NRA Annual Meetings in Dallas, I was personally selected by the NRA Education and Training Department to attend one of the first two offerings of the NRA CCW Instructor course, see below.

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More to follow on this brand new curriculum, we are told that it will be released in the first quarter of 2019, stay tuned!

A visit to Dallas would not be complete without seeing Dealy Plaza and the place where history unfolded on November 22nd, 1963, in a word it gave me goosebumps, especially standing on the exact spot where Abraham Zapruder took his home video of the assassination of President Kennedy. The photo below is me standing in the middle of the road on the X where the first shot hit the President looking back up Elm Street at the old Texas School Book Depository building and the sixth-floor window from where Lee Harvey Oswald was at with his Manlicher-Carcano chambered in 6.5x52mm.

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Lastly, on Memorial Day I accomplished something that I am very proud of for the second time and that is completing “Memorial Day Murph” WOD. “Murph” is named after Lt. Michael Murphy, a United States Navy SEAL from Patchogue, New York. You may know his story, he was one of the heroes killed in action while serving our country during Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan in 2005.

I completed “Murph” RX or “as prescribed” and unfortunately injured myself in the process, but I still finished only slightly off my 2017 pace. Yep, already looking forward to the 2019 Memorial Day Murph WOD and training hard to improve my time. In case you don’t know what I am talking about this is a Crossfit Hero WOD and it is done all¬†for an overall time while wearing a twenty-pound weighted vest or body armor. The WOD is listed on my morale patch pictured below.

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June was a blockbuster month, I ended up teaching nine courses and on the 5th I was approached by two companies here in the greater Tampa Bay area to provide some Active Shooter Training for their employees. This partnership has snowballed into a training 427 of their employees so they can apply for their Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearms License.

It takes a lot of logistics to manage that volume of students; however, these companies stepped up and have allowed me to use their conference rooms for the classroom portions of the courses both on weekday afternoons and some weeknights. Then setting schedules for groups of ten to meet me at the range for the shooting portion of the course was easy, once again that was done on weeknights and select weekends. This has been an excellent partnership and it is really only proving to be the beginning as I have four other major employers through referrals from the C-Level Executives asking to schedule Active Shooter Training in 2019. This is an exponential growth opportunity for my small training company and I am very thankful for those who have helped make all of this happen because there is no way that I could do it by myself.

July is typically my month off for vacation; however, I ended up teaching three courses, and then in late July, I finally took a real vacation where I picked up a lot of yardage in the area of rest and relaxation. This year I am going to do the same by going someplace I have not been before on the planet, China and South Africa are on the list, so is another couple of places, but those two top the list and it will probably be one or the other.

August started with a four day trip to L.A., that’s Lower Alabama to you Yankees, my trip was to consult with a Church Security Team and give them three solid days of training. I did this for expenses only as I do for all parishes and I must say that even months later the hospitality of the folks who hosted me is overwhelming to think about. They gave me a furnished apartment all ready for my stay, and it was kind of like staying at home, bring your PJ’s, a toothbrush and you’re good to go. I would go back again and teach another course for my bare minimum expenses anytime.

For the rest of the month of August, I squeaked in a few more courses and it was another one of those months where I spent a lot of time working weeknights trying to put all these employees through basic firearm safety training as well.

September was an action-packed month, with trips around the state and one outside of the state as well. I once again hosted Gabe White at Firearms Training Club of America in Lakeland, Florida and had a great time. Massad Ayoob (Better known to us as Uncle Mas) and his bride Gail Pepin were students in the course, and we had a couple of the February attendees who returned a second time, and he will be back here in Florida teaching a third time this coming April and again in February 2020, as I said above, there is still one seat open for the April course.

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October was in a word, normal, only teaching a few courses for a Security Guard/Executive Protection company based in Orlando and one in West Palm Beach. Mostly I was focused on keeping the students moving through our firearm safety courses throughout the month.

November was much the same, taught several courses here in Florida including three down in North Fort Myers for Tribe K Combat Arts and I was able to take some time to drive up to southern Georgia and attend a five-day Instructor course there. I was also able to lock in my 2019 schedule; however, the out of state schedule is still being tweaked by some out of the hosts and really doesn’t start in earnest until spring time anyway. Other than that, November was pedal to the metal.

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December is never busy, and that is by design, with the holidays I only schedule one or two courses, I spent most of the month working on personal projects around my home and various rental properties.

The commitment that I made last January to get to the range on a weekly basis has paid off in a big way. I am pressing the trigger better than ever before and by my estimate, I fired just shy of 14,000 rounds for the year. I only say estimate, because I have ordered and had delivered 16,000 rounds of 9mm ammunition and I only have 2,000 and change left as of right now, this doesn’t include rifle, the .22LR and Magnum cartridges, my 5.7x28mm or shotgun shells of which there were many fired over the course of the year.

So, as it stands, my weekly dates with the acorn picker will continue and I am going to start putting my practice sessions and photos of my targets here in my blog so you can follow along and see exactly what skills I am working on and what I am testing myself on as well.

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To sum up 2018, the 427 students that have dropped into my lap has skewed my numbers quite a bit; however, in total I taught 91 formal courses and trained 1,126 students in everything from a basic firearms safety course to a bunch of student and Instructor level courses for both the NRA and USCCA, those courses alone totaled well over 40.

2019 is shaping up rather nicely, and it all kicks off with a trip to Philadelphia to consult with a Parish Security Team there and then on to another destination for more training, I will be back home on Sunday and then it is off to South Florida next Monday and Tuesday. A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Oh, I almost forgot, starting on Thursday, February 7th I will be teaching some mini-blocks of instruction every other week at a local gun range. These will be short 3-hour blocks on everything from classroom topics like situational awareness and other things to proper presentation of a handgun from a concealment holster. All blocks of instruction/coaching will be “post McCCW” course, so in order to attend, all participants must have had some basic instruction on safe gun handling at the very minimum and a concealed weapons license or permit. Keep watch for these courses to pop up online for registration. Tuition will be $99.00 and the program of instruction will give you work on the essential skills you need to possess as a responsibly armed citizen.

I’ll leave you with one last item. “Be a voice, not an echo” and above all else be a professional in your outward conduct and in both the written and spoken word, it will serve you well.

“There are no traffic jams on the high road in the firearms training industry.”

 

Thanks for checking in, and until next time, be vigilant, be the best and as always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

 

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Course Review: SIG SAUER Academy Dynamic Performance Pistol; April 9th & 10th, 2018, Epping, New Hampshire.

Earlier this month I was at¬†SIG SAUER Academy¬†to attend “Gun School” for the fourth time in nine months, and so to say that I might be familiar with the Southwest Airlines nonstop between Tampa and Manchester would be an understatement. As with my three previous trips I stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Exeter using the SIG SAUER Academy discounted rate.

Since my visit in October, the student check-in process has changed slightly. All students now report to the Academy Pro Shop on TD1 of the course that they are attending to sign in and receive their course book. I would suspect that this is a welcome change to the staff as the students can select and pay for lunch from Hammersmith Sandwich Company in the morning and then pick up their lunch in the Indoor Range without interrupting the staff of the Pro Shop while they serve customers and of course Kathleen, the Academy Training Coordinator to pick up their lunches.

The course started for the eight of us inside classroom #7 out in Area 51 along with Academy Senior Instructor, Steven Gilcreast. We went over some basic safety rules and of course the differences between performance-based training objectives and outcome-based training objectives.

Dynamic Performance Pistol is an Intermediate level course and everything is geared to the student being focused on shooting each drill a minimum of three times, and having a goal to set a time and beat our time on the two subsequent runs or if it was a scored course of fire we were trying to beat our score with a higher point value. Sometimes the drill was a combination of both, scored for points and time adding in any penalties. I tend to like this method of training as it allows me to focus on what I can improve on to make each run better than the last. The difference between outcome-based and performance-based training objectives.

Once on the range, all of us were subject to 28¬į temperature and even though it warmed up to 40¬į later in the day, the windchill factor never rose above freezing. Personally, I have not experienced cold weather like that in nearly twenty¬†years and candidly, I don’t see myself going back to the Academy for an outdoor course unless it is in June, July, August or September.

Our first few drills were designed to work on fundamentals mostly with respect to pressing the trigger properly using different cadences from 1s per shot to .50s per shot and even down to .25s per shot. Steve noticed I was pinning the trigger on my P320 X-Carry and not resetting and prepping for the next shot under recoil, and honestly, this is a problem that I struggled with off an on during the day. I fixed it later and yet I was still having some accuracy issues at distance. The good thing is I was able to identify these issues in training and since arriving back home I have gone back to shooting more bullseyes.

At the end of TD1, we had shot right at about 400 rounds running more than a half dozen drills three times each. At the end of TD1, I think all of us were looking forward to getting inside out of the cold.

After dinner at Telly’s Restaurant in Epping, I went back to my hotel and work on some dry practice and also to work on movement and footwork in the small gym that was located across from my first-floor room.

TD2 started on the range with a quick warm-up exercise and then we were right back into the drills. On this day we worked mostly on drills that involved a lot of movement and how to shoot accurately while on the move; however, one TD2 drill, Steve’s “Dirty Thirty” on an IPSC target didn’t involve movement, it involved shooting 30 rounds from 30 yards, trying to complete the drill in under 30 seconds. We practiced this drill from a couple shorter distances before venturing out to 30 yards, by doing this it helped work on technique and accuracy. I believe this is an excellent drill and the only one that I will give you the course of fire for in this review.

The Dirty Thirty: Starting with three 10 round magazines on the command, draw and fire 10 rounds in a two-handed standing position, reload and fire 5 rounds using strong hand only, then 5 using opposite hand only, reload and fire 5 rounds kneeling and finish with 5 rounds in the prone position as mentioned on an IPSC target.

If you are considering attending this course it is important for you to know that Steve is excellent at adapting the Dynamic Performance Pistol course of fire to fit the abilities of the students; however, this course is an Intermediate level course. Additionally, Steve teaches by the SIG SAUER Academy training methodology of “EDIP” or Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice. After explaining the drills he demonstrated several different ways to progress through the drill, even physically walking some of them and doing it faster than most of us as we ran it.

Just so you know, two students ended up ringing the gong on TD1, for not knowing the status of their guns. It was a sound we heard a couple times in the distance from other the ranges located on the property. Thankfully nobody from our course had to ring the gong on TD2.

My Gear and Equipment:

Gun(s): SIG SAUER P320 X-Carry and P320 full-size RX with Romeo 1.

Holster: Comp-Tac International strong-side OWB. (SIG SAUER Academy requires you use a strong-side hip holster in this particular course)

Ammunition: Federal American Eagle 147gr Flat Nose FMJ, this has been my preferred practice ammunition for the last two years, it is very accurate and I have had no ammunition related stoppages in the cycle of operations of my handguns while using it, so I’ll stick with what works.

Flashlight: Surefire Dual Fuel Fury Tactical 1,500 Lumens

In summary, this is an excellent course that will test your skills in both gun handling and shooting. From the strict focus on accuracy and the use of a shot timer on nearly every drill to moving with unholstered firearms. The course of fire is true to the advertised 1,000 rounds and I highly recommend it for the Intermediate to the Advanced Practitioner.

I look forward to my next visit to SIG SAUER Academy this summer.

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Course Review: SIG SAUER Academy Bullets and Vehicles; October 23rd, 2017, Epping, New Hampshire.

After spending a couple absolutely beautiful fall days in Green Bay, Wisconsin teaching my Handgun Essentials course, it was back to SIG SAUER Academy for my third trip this year. (I previously attended the Master Pistol Instructor¬†course in June and the P320 and M400/M-16/M4/AR-15¬†Rifle armorer’s course along with the Low-Light Pistol Instructor course in August)

Upon my arrival at Manchester airport, I was immediately embraced by all the fall colors that New Hampshire has to offer, and for someone who has not seen a change of seasons in seventeen years, this was certainly a welcome sight.

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(Some of the fall colors found on property at SIG SAUER Academy)

Our training day started promptly at 0830hrs in classroom #6 with ten students with various backgrounds in firearms training. Both of our Instructors, Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro were excellent and spent a lot of time coaching us all throughout the day and as with all SIG SAUER Academy courses, the lead instructor explained and demonstrated all the drills before having students run them dry-fire and live-fire.

Once we got our “chow plan” figured out and completed all of the Academy paperwork, we got into introductions and then on to the range. Before we started any range exercises our Primary Instructor Dylan Kenneson outlined our Emergency Procedures, this was also reiterated after lunch.

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(Our Course Emergency Plan)

Once on the range, our first exercise¬†was a modified version of David Blinder’s Dot Torture drill that was made famous by the late Todd Louis Green of Pistol-Training.

After being dot tortured (Pardon the pun) we got into some dry-fire exercises from seated positions on the range. We practiced all of the exercises dry-fire with a strict emphasis on safety and then moved on to live-fire once both Dylan and Chris were confident that we had the proper technique down.

Once we got in the first vehicle it was all about getting solid hits on the SSA-BM1 “Brett Target” named after Brett Martin, a former SIG SAUER Academy employee. Each student got the opportunity to be in the driver and passenger seat, engaging targets from two different distances. You couldn’t just point and shoot in this drill, you needed to take well-aimed precise shots especially¬†from the passenger side of the truck as the target was about fifteen yards away.

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(SIG SAUER Academy Instructors Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro watching closely over our live-fire exercises. Coolest license plate ever … “-SIG-” New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die”)

After a short break, a vehicle was delivered on a flatbed truck with major front-end damage, yet it had all its glass still intact to give us the chance to see how certain projectiles fared through windshields and of course side the window glass. In the course description, we were asked to bring some duty/carry ammunition and this proved educational as to what projectiles do when traveling through windshields.

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(On this target you may be able to see some of the markings as to what brand and the specific load that was used. We shot from the driver’s seat and the target was placed at a distance of five (5) yards away with the majority of shots taken with the muzzle positioned back from the glass. Our point of aim was to be the square box underneath the eight-inch center chest area circle. Look closely at the hole at the very top of the target, that shot was taken with the muzzle directly on the windshield using the Hornady Critical Duty 135gr +P load. The high deflection was due to the design of that particular projectile with its “Flex-Tip” design. The second shot with that load from back about six inches away from the windshield hit the target just to the right of the zipper, in the neck/collar-bone area)

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Important Note: When presented with a threat like this, your best option might be to mash the accelerator and run them over. If they have a weapon such as a handgun you would more than likely be justified in doing so as long as you can articulate and authenticate the presence of a threat of death or great bodily harm.

The course also included a block of instruction on escaping a vehicle in an emergency using many different tools to help with extraction. This block of instruction also included some innovative solutions to gaining access to a vehicle from outside as well. Personally, I carry a Benchmade Houdini Pro in the console of my vehicle and I also purchased a ResqMe in the SIG SAUER Academy Proshop to carry on my keyring as a backup. (See photo below)

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(In the photo above Victor from Sierra Element¬†is engaging a threat through the rear window with Instructor Chris “Cav” Cavallaro coaching during the SIG SAUER Academy Bullets and Vehicles course October 23rd, 2017 in Epping, New Hampshire)

After lunch, it was on to some debussing drills and using cover to engage threats outside the vehicle. Our scenarios led by both Instructors and were all done with the utmost concern for the safety of the students and of course to ensure that learning was taking place while offering feedback on our techniques and more importantly keeping us focused on our performance.

(Just a couple guys out for a drive on a nice fall day in New Hampshire and then we start taking gunfire)

Teachable Moment: Getting out of the driver’s side seat and over the console of this Jeep Grand Cherokee proved difficult for a big dude like me. In this scenario, I was to engage our threats and provide cover for Victor to exit the vehicle. Once he was in position, he did the same for me as I exited the vehicle. This drill was very educational in the fact that if you’ve got to de-buss you need to do it quickly from any position inside the vehicle even if it is climbing out over the console. I also found that my Comp-Tac holster needs a little tightening down on the retention screws so it will hold my SIG SAUER P320 X-Carry a little more securely.

Lastly, several of us were given the opportunity to shoot through the Saturn in specific locations with several different calibers from .22LR to .45ACP in pistols and then a variety of long guns including a suppressed SIG SAUER MCX, M400 (AR-15), a Century Arms AK-47, a 7.62×51 sniper rifle, a 12 gauge Mossberg pump gun loaded with birdshot, buckshot, and rifled slugs. Then lastly, there was the behemoth below that Cav is point shooting without a scope, the .338 Lapua.

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In summary, the Bullets and Vehicles course does an excellent job in establishing some foundational skills for fighting in and around vehicles. Once again, SIG SAUER Academy does not disappoint and their Instructor Cadre,¬†both Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro proved themselves as two of the top trainers in this industry with their excellent instruction and positive coaching every step of the way. I also owe a big thank you as well to SIG SAUER Academy Training Coordinator Kathleen Randolph for getting me a seat in the course when it was already sold out. I wish that my schedule would have allowed me to stay for a few more courses before returning home to teach this past weekend.

Another benefit this trip gave me was the ability to reconnect with my friend Victor from Sierra Element. We took a little side trip to Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine and had a couple good dinners together at places like The Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub. I can see Victor and I attending many more courses together in the future, he is a high-quality individual whom I will not hesitate to recommend as a trainer. If you live in Southern California, you can find a list of his courses by clicking here.

Lastly, this will probably come as no surprise; however, I am already looking forward to returning in 2018 in order to work some more on my skills and learn a lot more things that I can bring back to my students.

SIG SAUER Academy is a world-class training facility with world-class people that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. So, what are you waiting for?

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Course Review: SIG SAUER Academy P320 Armorer, M400 Armorer & Low Light Pistol Instructor Course(s), conducted August 14, 15, 17 & 18, 2017

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On Sunday August 13th I flew up to New Hampshire to attend three courses at SIG SAUER Academy in Epping.

All three of my flights on Southwest Airlines, the two going and the non-stop coming home from New Hampshire went off without a hitch. I got upgraded to a Subaru Outback and logistically everything went very well. Once again I stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Exeter. The hotel is very nice, I took advantage of the pool and the Jacuzzi this time and the complimentary buffet style breakfast buffet each morning is very good. The staff, to include the General Manager were all very professional and attentive to a few special requests that I made before and upon arrival. I will stay here each and every time that I visit SIG SAUER Academy.

Dinner at The Holy Grail twice and Telly’s once along with a pizza from New England Pizza kept me full. If you are in the greater Epping/Exeter Metropolitan area, you must¬†experience The Holy Grail. It is a restaurant and pub inside an old church not far from the Academy. Telly’s specializes in pizza and other American fare, and New England Pizza in Exeter has a white pizza that is pretty darn good, especially when you put bacon and some other toppings on it. The Hanaford Supermarket¬†was my other “go to” while I was there, along with the¬†Hammersmith Sandwich Company for lunch while in class.

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Upon my arrival at the SIG SAUER Academy and Pro Shop late Sunday morning I noticed that the P320 X-Carry was on sale and I “attempted” to buy one with my student discount, one of the sales guys told me they had three of them in stock and I was all excited; however, after he came back from the storage room I was crushed because they were out of stock. At least I was able to put a deposit on one and will have it shipped to Florida when they are available. Still no P320 X-VTAC¬†as of yet, Lipsey’s is shipping them out to their dealers, but not the Pro Shop. Had one of those been in stock I would have bought it instead, so I am 0-2 in gun purchases while attending courses at the Academy. On the bright side, I was able to buy a lot of accessories with no state sales tax and at the student discount price, score!

Important Note: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how professional and courteous the Academy Staff and Pro Shop employees are, those folks are always eager to help.

Let’s get to the course reviews …

TD1 for me started Monday morning I started in Classroom #1 in the Indoor Pistol Range Facility with Chris “Cav” Cavallaro¬†for the P320 Armorer Course. “Cav” is the Subject Matter Expert on campus for the Armorer courses, and that means that he is in charge of the Program of Instruction for the Armorer courses. The P320 is a very simple weapon system to work on for both the operator and the certified armorer. Candidly, while attending the course there was no running from the elephant in the room, we talked about the voluntary upgrade announced by Sig Sauer¬†on August 8th, 2017 and our Instructor was open and honest about all the things that the company is doing to remedy the situation. The voluntary upgrade will include a small amount of CNC work on the frame (That is the metal part inside the grip module) and they will be adding a disconnector and also swapping the current trigger to one that is lighter in overall weight and with a balance point that is near the pivot pin. My questions were answered about this issue and I used a P320 in the Low-Light Pistol Instructor Course on Thursday & Friday with no issues whatsoever. Parts for certified armorers are readily available by calling in to customer service and ordering them direct over the phone. I like that versus sending in an order form and waiting for months to get parts shipped to you. (Not mentioning any manufacturers in particular)

Overall, Monday’s course was excellent, and oh by the way, it was attended by several factory people and a couple Academy Instructors that interjected their insider knowledge of the gun and what is going on inside the factory to get ready for the influx of guns coming in for the voluntary upgrade. We were told to not leave with questions unasked and all of us got in our share. By the way, successfully passing the course (There is a test) gives the graduate a three year certification.

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TD2 on Tuesday was all about the M400. You would know this as the AR15 platform rifle. My first exposure to this type of rifle came 35 years ago this month when I joined “The Green Machine.” Many of the things taught came right back like I was in my Unit Armorers course while I was in the Army. We didn’t break the gun all the way down back in the day, but I knew how to and “Cav” showed us some techniques that really helped when disassembling and more importantly reassembling the rifle.

I enjoyed all the repetitions we got in working on the rifle, similar to the P320 course we were not left wanting more and all of our questions were answered. Same as the P320 armorers course, successfully passing this course (There is also a test) gives the graduate a three year certification. One important note, this course is hopefully switching to a two-day format with a one-day re-certification in the not too distant future.

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Photo: My instructor for both Monday and Tuesday’s courses, Chris “Cav” Cavallaro summoning the power of Thor!

Additionally on Monday and Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting and training with Ofer and Amir from Be’er-Sherva, Israel. These two guys are living the motto, “Live Free Or Die” each and every day of their lives. Think about that, and let it sink in. They are at a constant state of war with all the terrorism in their tiny country, amazing when you spend some time in thought about it.

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On Wednesday morning I got to spend some time with Steve Gilcreast, my Instructor from the Master Pistol Instructor Course I attended in June. Steve put me on the shot timer through his 100 round warm-up exercise, and I¬†must admit that I didn’t do as well as I expect out of myself, and I had to hit the gong in Area 51, but I had a great time. Steve is a thinker and a doer who can translate his points across to students very well, anytime spent with him one-on-one is time well spent because of his knowledge, skills and his attitude. Steve is one of the top firearms instructors that I have ever trained with, period.

Back to the gong issue, in case you don’t know, if you don’t have a round chambered and you press the trigger on your gun and your gun goes click when it was supposed to go bang, (Dead Man’s Gun) you and your partner must run to one of the gongs on campus and you must smash the gong ten (10) times with authority using a hammer and then run back to your training area. (Your training partner goes along with you for moral support) It could also be that your magazine was not seated correctly, or a few other reasons. Yes, I had my moment with the gong while the students in the Master Rifle Instructor Course observed. Oh, and the hammer was missing so I had to make due with a BFR. I posted this photo for accountability in the photo album that I created on my business Facebook page at Trigger Control Dot Org, and I also posted one on my Instagram page @TriggerContolDotOrg – this one below is for accountability here.

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On Wednesday afternoon I got to see the factory from the inside, it was nice of one of the engineers to invite me in for a peek. Nothing to see here, no cameras allowed in the factory.

Lastly on Wednesday afternoon/evening I was able to go to Stratham Hill Park and find the very rock where Robert Todd Lincoln stood and read the Declaration of Independence to the citizens of New Hampshire on July 4th, 1860, just before his father Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States. Pretty cool stuff to stand on that rock, no kidding , it gave me goose bumps.

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After I stopped at the Lincoln Rock, I climbed the rest of the way up the Lincoln Trail (It’s pretty darn steep) to the top of the hill and found the Forest Fire Service Tower. I¬†had to climb to the top all seventy-seven steps and seven flights to get a look at the surrounding area, and it was quite a sight. I highly recommend you go to Stratham Hill Park when visiting SIG SAUER Academy to experience these things, I can assure you that it is an experience I won’t soon forget. You can find out more information on Stratham Hill Park by clicking on this link to their Facebook page. Stratham Hill Park on Facebook

TD3 for me started in Classroom #9 in the Indoor Pistol Range Facility on campus with New Hampshire native Todd Moriarity and Nick Brazeau from Montreal, Canada in the Low-Light Pistol Instructor Course. We had six students/instructor candidates and that made for a really great course.

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Photo: For this course I ran my Surefire P2ZX Fury Combat Light (500 lumens) with a Surefire V85A holster system. I also brought my Surefire E2D LED Defender Ultra (500/5 lumens) as well. Both worked well and a few of my new best friends wanted to try my bezel down holster. Once I left the course I purchased a Surefire Y300 Ultra High Dual Output LED Flashlight as Todd had one and it looked promising for a back-up flashlight.

By the way, 500 lumens is plenty enough for anyone. These new flashlights with 1,000 lumens, yeah, they get way too hot running courses of fire like this and also they end up giving you a lot of back-splash if you are to close to cover and have poor technique, What happens is you will end up momentarily blinding yourself with the light bouncing back in your eyes. (So yes, there is such a thing as too many lumens)

After a short classroom session on Thursday morning going over some of the different flashlight options out there and of course the safety rules, we all hit the Indoor Pistol Range with our frangible ammunition and got to work. Like all SIG SAUER Academy Instructors, Todd is a master at teaching to the adult learning theorems. Before teaching each technique Todd would explain, and demonstrate the technique and then we would imitate it dry-fire and then practice it live-fire. This goes to the core of the SIG SAUER Academy training methodology of E.D.I.P. or Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice. (I’ll add in Test for E.D.I.P.T. and call it good)

By the way,¬†I really can’t share the course of fire with you, it’s not something that they give out; however, I take really good notes and have it down on paper, but that is the exception, not a one of my fellow Instructors were taking notes on the range during the exercises, I just don’t have that good of memory to not take notes.

On Thursday, Todd taught us a new technique that was developed by Academy Instructor Jim Meyers. It is referred to as the “Jimmy Meyers Technique.” This technique is similar to the Rogers-Surefire; however, it is different in the fact that you turn the wrist of your support hand 90¬į so the back of your hand is up, and then you place the thumb of your support hand in contact with the grip of the handgun under the thumb of your master hand. It is an interesting technique, one that I certainly need to practice some more in order to become a whole lot better at.

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Photo: Todd and Nick going to put out a little fire inside the range on Thursday afternoon caused by the powder from the frangible ammunition we were using while shooting steel. It was only a little smoke, nothing major.

The Low-Light Pistol Instructor Course also requires the student/instructor candidate to preform a teach-back to the other students and cadre. On Thursday just before we broke for the day, we were assigned ours and my partner and I were assigned to T.E.A.M. teach the Modified FBI and the Neck Index technique.

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Photo: The Indoor Pistol Range at SIG SAUER Academy in low-light, that is not my camera flash, the lens is picking up light from in back of the range, once the shades were dropped it was pitch black inside that range, a perfect training environment for this course.

TD4 for me started on Friday morning again in the classroom with a review of the the previous days POI, and then were in the Indoor Rifle Range. My partner and I were selected to go first with our presentations. We prepared well and hit E.D.I.P. by explaining the technique and the history behind it, then we talked each other through the demonstration phase of the technique and then we had the other students/instructors candidates imitate and practice the technique. (Personal Note: I love doing teach-backs)

After each presentation we were given actionable feedback on what we did good, what we needed to work on and what we did really well. During the review, we were told that we did a great job by our peers and the cad re. They made a couple comments about how we worked as a T.E.A.M. and that is exactly what T.E.A.M. teaching is all about. (Positive-Improvement-Positive or the “sandwich method” of evaluation is alive and well at SIG SAUER Academy)

Additionally Todd and Nick set up a drill for us to practice all the things that we learned on Thursday in a low-light/no-light environment. We had to start by moving to cover and then find and engage our threat with two to five live rounds. (The SSA-1 Brett Target gets shot a lot at SIG SAUER Academy) During this drill, we were had to move to a new piece of cover and perform a tactical reload when necessary, and then try a different technique, we got to do this twice going one direction and then moving backwards through the course in the other direction. I found this to be very beneficial because it allowed me to try just about all of the techniques from some unorthodox positions, e.g., kneeling, supine and laying on my side, and of course standing.

This brought us to lunch time. Once we had our bellies full of Hammersmith Sandwich Company sandwiches we got suited up for some training in a shoot-house. There are several single family homes on campus that the Academy uses for this purpose, they also have a series of Conex style containers set up for this type of training as well. The house we were in was nicknamed “Red Feathers.” Seriously, it should have been named “Bat Feathers” because there was a bat in the house that we had to eradicate during this evolution.

Each one of us got to clear the house as an individual and then as part of a T.E.A.M., Todd said this was not to grade us on our tactics, but to make sure we were using sound flashlight discipline, both he and Nick gave us excellent feedback on our flashlight use and gave us tips to make us better with our tactics, I found this to be an excellent evolution.

Funny Story: When I was picked to be the “bad guy” students John and Victor, both sworn law enforcement officers entered the house searching for me and Victor called out, “Gordon, are you in here? We got a warrant for you, come on out boy.” I had to do everything I could to keep from laughing. My new best friend Victor said he did it hoping that I would give my position away, that failed, but these two sworn LEO’s cleared this house like a boss using sound flashlight discipline and T.E.A.M. tactics.

One thing I enjoyed about Todd and Nick’s teaching style was this, after each evolution on the range or in the shoot-house we did a short review. Todd asked us what we liked and disliked, making us think about the techniques that we used and how we liked them in that particular situation. We got plenty of repetitions and both Todd and Nick gave us personal coaching to make sure we were preforming the techniques properly and with sounds tactics, with a student-to-instructor ratio of 3:1, that is easy to do.

At the end of the course may of us suggested adding a third day and incorporating the long gun into the POI. That could be in the plans, Todd is responsible for the POI for this course and he said that he has thought about that as a possibility.

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Photo: Sig Sauer Frangible Ammunition. The Course of fire was true to the number at about 500, rounds, we used this is the indoor pistol range; however, on the second day of the course we were able to use FMJ ammunition. SIG SAUER Academy has plenty of ammunition, if you show up they will give you student pricing on the ammunition. We all arrived with a good working knowledge of the techniques, what we did here is refined the techniques and preformed a teach-back as all Instructor level courses should require. Now, it is up to us as Instructors to transfer this knowledge to others. As with the other courses, upon successful completion of this course course, graduates are given a three year certification.

Overall, the Low-Light Pistol Instructor Course conducted at SIG SAUER Academy was excellent, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot of subtle nuances that make the techniques work well in a live fire situation. It tests your gear and your TTP’s under stress and that’s what you must do in training. I would highly recommend this course to an agency instructor or anyone who teaches these techniques to the responsibly armed citizen.

To find out more about taking an Armorer Certification course at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Armorer Certification Courses

To find out more about taking an Instructor Development course at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Instructor Development Courses

To find out more about taking a Shooting Development course at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Shooting Development Courses

To find out more about taking a Competitive Shooting Development course at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Competitive Shooting Development Courses

To find out more about taking a course in a certain specialty at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Specialty Training Courses

To find out more about taking a course from a Guest Instructor, e.g., Mike Pannone or one of the many nationally and internationally known Instructors they bring in to the Academy each year, click on: Guest Instructor Courses

Important Note: Your tuition includes free loan of firearms (In most courses, not all), holsters, safety glasses and hearing protection at the Epping, NH location.

Now, if you guessed that I am planning another trip back to SIG SAUER Academy, you would be correct, stay tuned!

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!