What it means to plan your Range/Training sessions…

Yesterday I finished up a rare Friday/Saturday course working on handgun essential skills and drills with eleven very motivated and experienced students.

On TD1 after getting waivers signed and the scheme of maneuver for the two-day course out of the way we discussed how important it is to have a plan for your practice sessions that gives you some direction as to what you want to work on.

These things should be written down. Personally, I use a good old fashioned piece of paper and clipboard. What this does is documents practice sessions and what you are working on at any one time along with allowing you to make notes for empirical data to be saved in case you ever need it further down the road.

Storyboarding your target can also help you to remember what the course of fire that you shot and how you did during your practice session as well. What I mean by Storyboarding is writing notes and any other empirical data down on your target and taking a photo of it with your smartphone, this is a great way to memorialize your training sessions as well.

The great Ken Hackathorn says, “you are what you practice.” That is spot on, and if you are not practicing essential core skills and the drills that enhance your performance of the essential skills that you need to fight with your handgun then you are missing the point of practice.

Here are a few things that I like to do each practice session.

My first drill is typically a walkback starting at 3 yards and progressing out to 5, 7, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50. I always take a break in between the distances longer than 25 yards as my nearly 55 year old eyes are not as good as they once were and, I want to see exactly where I am hitting.

The walkback drill can be done from the ready position of your choice or from a concealment or duty holster. I typically run it from the holster as I have that capability at the ranges that I regularly practice at, if you do not I am sure that a low ready would be acceptable. You can shoot 3 or 5 shots at each position, that’s entirely up to you. Most importantly you need to have a clearly defined target and make sure that to hold yourself accountable to an accuracy standard and focus on achieving your standard.

Another drill I like is a 100 round warm-up that I got from Steve Gilcreast with Sig Sauer. Using a B-8 Bullseye Target the goal is to keep everything in the nine ring or better (The black scoring area) from ten yards. These are ten specific tasks conditions and standards that are very tough to meet.

After the warm-up then it is on to essential core skills drills practicing those for a good hour and if I can get in some movement and work on tracking the dot (Everybody knows that I run a gun with a TV Screen on it) on the move, I do that as well.

The last thing is I try to add in a qualification or two and if I run a qualification I usually shoot those first as it is important to know what you can do cold on demand.

In summary, it is my suggestion that each range session should be a good 400-450 rounds of deliberate practice with a plan, and as mentioned above you should be keeping records on what you are working on during each practice session and make sure that you fit in some dry-fire practice sessions in between your live-fire sessions.

Edited to add: If you can only get in 100 rounds a week or every other week that’s OK, just make sure that it is deliberate practice with a goal to improve in mind.

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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What course should I take next and what is a Firearms Instructor Development Course?

Many new Instructors and students ask me “What course should I take next?” My answer is always the same, any course that enhances your skills as a “student of weapons-craft” and those that offer more than just a course of fire designed to make you a better shooter. The courses I am speaking about are those that teach you things like the importance of having good situational awareness, evaluating points of access and egress in each location you find yourself in, including an evaluation of transitional spaces and those that teach you a variety of force options or some kind of use of force continuum if you will. Additionally courses that teach you how to prepare yourself for the aftermath of a self-defense incident where you had to use non-lethal or heaven forbid, lethal force.

These courses should also emphasize that your first option should always be to avoid, evade and then if necessary counter your threat rather than going for the gun immediately. The gun should be a tool of the last resort, period.

I tend to go a little further in my answer by saying that one should have skills in non-lethal methods of engagement, such as OC or “pepper spray” and of course empty-hand Combatives, maybe even one or two of the various martial arts. My personal choices for many reasons, but mostly because I studied both of these extensively are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or “BJJ” and Jeet Kune Do or “JKD.”

For empty-hand Combatives I always recommend to find someone who was trained by the late Bill Underwood first, Bill is the father of empty hands Combatives. Right now the top Combatives trainer in the game, again, in my opinion, is Kelly McCann with Kembatives Brand, honestly, I do not know Kelly and I do not know who trained him, but his program of instruction is spot on and very similar to what I was taught by my mentor Mike Griffin, who was a personal friend of Bill Underwood.

Circling back to Instructor Development Courses…

The NRA’s Firearm Training Program is a true Instructor Development Program. Most people start by becoming an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor, and yes many people in the industry talk down the program, but truth be told in my intermediate and advanced level shooting courses the first drill I start with is the NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting course pre-course qualification and you’d be surprised how many people, (Even nationally known trainers) who have failed to shoot a 6″ group at 15 yards cold on demand. Yeah, they don’t know that first drill is actually the NRA’s Instructor Pistol Shooting course pre-course qualification, but when I tell them their collective “oh man, I suck” comments sound like an echo.

So what it an Instructor Development course? Is it a course where you listen to a bunch of lecture and then are driven out on the firing line to run a bunch of drills where you are the shooter and NEVER once do a teach-back of any kind on the material presented by the Instructor or even run a drill on the line with your fellow Instructor candidates? That is not an Instructor Development course, and how could it be? That is just a money grab from the Instructor, and some build little cults teaching like this, believe it.

Furthermore is taking a written test and passing a couple qualifications that are not that difficult an Instructor Development course evaluation? I don’t think so, it could be a good student level course.

Yep, that’s what happens in most of these so-called “Firearms Instructor Development” courses and it is ridiculous if you ask me. (I know you didn’t ask me, but this is my blog so you’ll get my qualified and educated opinion)

Recently I attended a three-day Instructor Development course and it was exactly what an Instructor Development course should be. What made this Instructor Development course stand out was the fact on TD1 the Chief Instructor and his staff, there were five (5) total staff instructors asked each individual candidate what they were there to learn. The Chief Instructor readily admitted that he doesn’t know what we know and wanted to make sure that each person got what they came for, that was a big takeaway for me, the Chief Instructor was fully engaged at all times and each candidate did a teach-back on the range selecting one of five or six different drills offered by the staff. During the teach-back the candidate was teaching a couple Staff Instructors with the rest of the candidates observing and then at the end there was an evaluation or the good, and of course the areas that needed to be improved.

This course was not a “Certification” it was all about development and that was refreshing in a world where people want to collect “Certifications” to list on their C/V or website.

Now, I have seen just about all of it, when you travel the country teaching classes as I do and having dinner with students on the road they give you feedback and most tell me that courses that do not pressure test the Instructor Candidates ability to deliver a block of instruction in a classroom environment and on the range with a range exercise are just a “Paper Credential” and I agree with them. So, are you into collecting paper or are you into getting coaching on how to be a teacher, trainer, coach, and mentor?

Let me circle back to this recent Instructor Development course, it was a wealth of knowledge on everything from basic fundamentals to moving while shooting, communication with partners/friendlies, proper use of cover and concealment, room clearing and even a block of instruction on tactical medical procedures and tourniquet application, along with starting a business and talking about things like range and firearms instructor liability insurance and so much more.

The block of instruction on tourniquet application is something that I added into my courses about three years ago and soon I will be requiring each individual student in my range intensive courses to bring their own tourniquet and have it on their person throughout the course, right now I have a fully-stocked trauma bag at each course and the range that I teach at full-time has a fully-functional AED or Automated External Defibrillator, when I am on the road I take my own AED with me.

Now let’s talk about certificate collectors, I have no problem with them, attending courses and getting more training is what we as trainers encourage our students to do. In fact, I encourage all of my students to take as many courses as their pocketbook will allow and from as many different trainers as they can. My binder of certificates include many you would recognize and I have taken multiple courses with people all across the country.

Earlier this year I was invited to attend an Instructor Development course as a guest to evaluate the POI or Program of Instruction and was even provided ammunition and a place to stay, all I had to come up with was travel expenses, rental car, and food. Several of my closest friends know about these offers and they also know that I am the type of person who will refuse the “freebies” and will pay the tuition because that gives me the ability to speak freely about the course and write about my experience(s) in this blog.

Oh, by the way, I was to evaluate a nationally known Law Enforcement Instructor Development course next week, unfortunately, the course was rescheduled due to a death and I will be doing that in September now.

Again, this is my qualified opinion based upon my years of education, training, and experience in this arena and as we know in order to have a qualified opinion on a particular subject you must have the education, training, and experience in that specialized field otherwise your opinion is just like that thing that you expel waste out of your body from while sitting on the crapper.

A Firearms Instructor Development course is one that as I say, pressure tests the candidate in a variety of situations, not just standing in cement on the firing line and mediocre course of fire then a couple qualifications and then take a written test. An Instructor Development course pressure tests each candidate to actually present assigned curriculum either on the range or in the classroom, I prefer a range drill myself so I can evaluate the Instructors ability to explain, demonstrate, imitate and coach his or her students through the exercise.

An Instructor should allow the student to run drills at 50% speed to get familiar with the drill and then allow them to gradually increase the speed until the point of failure or in our case “misses” and then evaluate with the student why they missed. I give a lot of one-on-one coaching as I walk my firing line in the courses I teach because it is important to give feedback to the student, that is what they crave, interaction with the trainer.

This going full-speed just to shoot fast is ridiculous, you must be able to shoot good first, speed will come over more and more repetition. A famous quote attributed to legendary lawman Wyatt Earp goes as follows, “Fast is fine, accuracy is final.”

An Instructor Development course should also include a short exit interview with each candidate, not just a certificate presentation ceremony full of pomp and circumstance and photos for social media. This exit interview should be conducted by the chief instructor and any assistant instructors. It should be used as a tool to help the Instructor candidate understand their strengths and weaknesses and give them an opportunity to give feedback on the course in a closed-door session so the candidate can speak candidly without his or her peers in the room. This exit interview should only last 5 or so minutes.

I will be offering a one-day and two-day Firearms Instructor Development course very shortly and soon my two-day course will be approved in Florida as a “State Certified” program eligible for those graduates to teach Firearms Safety Courses for Florida Concealed Weapons or Firearms License applicants, stay tuned, that will be coming.

Lastly, it is my recommendation that all Instructors take some kind of continuing education throughout the year. Yeah, I know many do not have an unlimited budget to travel the country and take courses, that’s why you must seek out not only Instructor level courses, but solid student level courses and try to increase your skills, that will make you a better trainer, teacher, coach and mentor to your students.

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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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. 😉

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.

Murph

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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2018 NRA Instructor Immersion Weeks (Florida)

On July 1st, 2018 one of the many changes in the most recent update to the NRA Training Counselor Guide will take effect. In pertinent point, the NRA’s Education and Training Department has changed its policies and procedures requiring all Instructor Candidates to attend and pass the corresponding basic level course prior to attending an Instructor course in any discipline. Currently, only Pistol Instructor and Personal Protection Outside the Home require this, I am unsure about the Muzzleloading and both Reloading disciplines because I am not certified to teach those courses and there have been a lot of changes since I became a Training Counselor to the Muzzleloading disciplines.

So, the 2018 version of Instructor Immersion Weeks here in Florida will be the last of its kind and I see 2019 being Instructor Immersion Month, and in fact, I have already scheduled it on my long-range planning calendar for June 2019.

This mandate by the NRA Education and Training Department has been greeted with mixed feelings by the Training Counselor and Instructor community. Personally, I feel it is a change that has been needed for a long time. It allows the Training Counselor the opportunity to evaluate each individual Instructor Candidate in two classes over two full days of training on their knowledge, skills, and most importantly, their attitude.

The detractors say it is a money grab by the NRA, yeah right, because they make so much money on selling materials priced between $10 to $25 dollars, not even close. The NRA Education and Training Department has always had a policy that Training Counselors were to provide the corresponding Student package to all Instructor candidates, so that dog won’t hunt. They finally made this change because they were getting feedback from the Training Counselors that it was needed to create better Instructors, quality over quantity and the NRA listened.

Sadly, we will still have Training Counselors and Instructors not teaching according to the lesson plans, in fact recently one of my Instructors told me his Range Safety Officer course had only two guns for use by the students. Hint: The lesson plan calls for six different long gun action types, both revolver action types and a semi-automatic pistol, muzzleloading firearms, air guns and a BB gun. If you count that up that is twelve at a minimum. His Chief Range Safety Officer who is also a Training Counselor was ten shy of a dozen, a clear violation of policies and procedures, but I digress.

The schedule for 2018 Instructor Immersion Weeks will be as follows.

I am offering Basic Instructor Training or BIT three times prior to the start and once during the weeks so people can get their BIT updated as that is a requirement if you have not taken BIT in the previous twenty-four (24) months. There is no charge for BIT, it comes with your paid tuition to a discipline-specific Instructor course.

Discipline Specific Training Schedule:

NRA Basic Range Safety Officer Course
Monday, June 11th

NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Instructor -Led Training Course
Friday, June 15th

NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting Course
Saturday, June 16th

NRA Chief Range Safety Officer Course
Monday, June 18th

NRA Instructor Personal Protection In the Home Course
Tuesday, June 19th

NRA Instructor Home Firearm Safety Course
Thursday, June 21st

NRA Instructor Rifle Shooting Course
Saturday, June 23rd

NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home Basic and Instructor Course
Wednesday-Thursday-Friday, June 27th, 28th, 29th

NRA Instructor Shotgun Shooting Course
Saturday, June 30th

NRA Refuse to be a Victim Instructor Development Workshop
Saturday, July 7th

Registrations began the week before last and have been brisk with my current base of Instructors getting in first before the masses. If you are wanting to get in and add some disciplines I’d suggest you make your plans now because seating is limited. Previous student discounts do apply, and multiple course discounts for new students will also apply.

 

Be vigilant, be the best!

Until next time …

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° temperature and even though it warmed up to 40° 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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Patterning your Shotgun for Professional/Duty and or Home or Self-Defense use.

Patterning your shotgun is critical, but an often overlooked aspect of being prepared to use that gun in self-defense.

I have patterned a few shotguns before and understand that many people do not because they are living in some type of an alternate reality believing that a shotgun doesn’t need to be aimed and that somehow their payload will magically find their intended target. The hard reality is you must practice sound fundamentals and have both a steady aim and good trigger control in order to hit your target, even with a shotgun.

Before I get started, I’d like to ask all of the Gun Pretenders, YouTube, and Instagram Instructors and of course those famous Keyboard Operators out there, please stop recommending birdshot for professional/duty and or home or self-defense. Birdshot offers less than adequate penetration and besides, birdshot is for shooting what … the correct answer would be, you guessed it, birds.

OK, let’s talk about how to pattern your shotgun.

In order to establish a control group, I recommend placing three (3) shots on a target with a variety of payloads, each from the exact same distance, 15yds or 45ft. The POA or Point of Aim I chose with my Beretta 1301 Tactical was the center of the “A” Zone on an I.P.S.C. (International Practical Shooting Confederation) target. (Yes, I patterned the gun with some birdshot and I used a distance of 10yds or 30ft for those payloads)

Sure you could use five shots and most often in zeroing my rifle I will use a five shot group because I want to make sure that I minimize the outliers or as Pat McNamara calls them, “Junebugs.” However, I feel that three shot groups are sufficient to get an accurate feel of the payload and what it will do when launched from your shoulder-fired shotgun.

The reason I specifically mention shoulder-fired shotgun is that there are a couple new kids on the block, the Remington TAC-14, and the Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave. These shotguns have been available for over a year now and maybe close to two; however, they are basically hand cannons and are difficult to shoot with much accuracy using full-power payloads even for the most experienced of shooters. One man, “Brobee223” on YouTube has perfected the art and was very successful using his Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave to bag a couple deer late last year. I have linked his video below, give it a look. Fair warning, it is rather lengthy.

 

Back on track with patterning my Beretta 1301 Tactical. The first load I chose to shoot was by far the best and it really comes as no surprise. The Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK, 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) is the choice of many an experienced shotgunner. As you can see in the photo below, all twenty-four (24) pellets from my three shot group landed within a 3″ group with the three (3) larger holes being the wads.

IMG_6410

Below are photos of my other targets, using different loads, showing their patterns.

Federal 2 3/4″ 000BK, 8 Pellet, Maximum. (F127000)

IMG_6411

Olin Corporation 2 3/4″ 00BK, 9 Pellet Military Grade. (Brown Box)

IMG_6412

Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 1BK, 15 Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad. (LE132 1B) This was the second best pattern; however, I find that the 1BK is not as consistent as the 8 Pellet 00BK patterned in the first photo.

IMG_6413

Federal 2 3/4″ 4BK, 27 Pellet, Maximum. (F127 4B) Just to big of a spread for me at this range and not something I would recommend for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

IMG_6414

As I mentioned above, I wanted to put some birdshot on target and here are the results. Birdshot Federal #4 Shot “Heavy Field Load” – 2 3/4″ – 1 1/8oz – 10yds (Take note, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) This sure appears to be a tight pattern, it’s the lack of penetration that makes birdshot suboptimal in its effectiveness for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

IMG_6415

Winchester Super Target #8 Shot 2 3/4″ 1oz – 10yds (Once again, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) Same result, fairly tight pattern; however, penetration with this payload would also be an issue.

IMG_6416

So, once you have established a control group and your desired starting distance (Mine was 15yds) and you have selected the payload that you feel works best in your shotgun, it’s time to find out what the maximum effective range of your shotgun is with that particular load. In order to determine that, you will want to run your shotgun out to a distance and stop when you find the point at which you can keep all of your pellets from your chosen payload inside an 8″ to no more than 12″ pattern. I’d also recommend not only shooting cardboard or paper targets alone, make sure to shoot some steel as well. I happen to use 12″ AR500 discs that are 3/8″ thick, they work well with 00BK at this range.

From this test, it’s easy to see that my 1301T likes the Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) best at 15 yards. From previous experience with this payload, I can move back as far as 30yds and still keep the pattern inside an 8″ to 12″ group and that is precisely the reason I choose this particular load for my shotgun.

When I can find some time in between the courses that I am teaching and the ones I am attending as a student this spring and summer I will pattern my Vang Comp Systems Remington 870P to find out exactly what it likes best. Candidly, I suspect that there will be some similarities; however, one never knows until we put in the work.

If you need assistance in patterning your shotgun for professional/duty or home or self-defense use please consult a reputable Instructor/Coach who is familiar with the nuances of patterning a shotgun and can give you proper advice on the appropriate payload for your intended use as well.

 

Until next time …

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

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Gun Pretenders a/k/a the Grass Eaters of the Firearms Training Industry courtesy of industry giant, John Farnam.

Many people ask where did I come up with the term, “Gun Pretenders” or “Grass Eaters” when referring to some in the firearms training industry. I respond with, it’s not original to me, all credit goes to industry giant John Farnam. I’ll let him explain as he says it best in this Quip from August 2013… There is a funny story about this quip, I was having dinner with John and Vicki in Ohio last November and mentioned this as being my very favorite quip and asked why it was not in the archives. When I returned to my hotel room after doing a little grocery shopping for lunch an email arrived from John with the quip attached. If you are not subscribed to John’s blog you should be. Find him at Defense Training International.

22 Aug 13

Gun Pretenders

Recently, a gun “safety instructor” in OH accidentally shot a student in a classroom during a “gun-safety course.” The injury was serious, but not life-threatening.

Now, we learn this was not the first such “accident” on the part of this particular “safety instructor.” Years ago, he “accidentally” injured yet another person during a similar, foolish gun stunt. I wonder how many other “accidents” with guns (that were never reported) this person has had between these two.

I don’t know this person personally, so I’m just using the foregoing as an example of what I see all too often hanging around ranges, on range “committees,” and purporting to be “instructors.”

We call them “Gun Pretenders.”

Most don’t even carry a gun. When they do, it is not the same gun, nor carry-option, they use for demonstration purposes on the range (on those rare occasions when they actually perform in front of students). For many, their only involvement with guns is some form of sterile, non-serious recreation.

When supposedly “instructing” students on a live range, many don’t carry a gun, even then! When asked why they invariably bleat that they don’t want to be embarrassed when asked to personally demonstrate something they’re teaching! “It might damage my credibility,” I’ve repeatedly heard them say. I don’t know what they’re worried about!

And, they dearly love to shower themselves with pious “titles,” invariably ending in “… master” or “…wizard,” and we never get to know where all these dubious “titles” came from. For one, I’m always suspicious when someone purporting to be an “instructor” finds it necessary to endlessly recite his entire resume, in boring detail, sometimes for twenty minutes or so, before finally getting to the point. When we all don’t already know whom he is, it strikes me as a strategy of desperation!

When sitting down with these people at a restaurant, away from the range, assuming I can get a word in edgewise, I often ask, “… yes, but are you personally carrying a gun right now?” You can probably guess the answer, “… well, of course not.” I generally have no further questions!

Competent instructors are well-trained, humble, accessible, eager to learn, eager to teach, have lots of personal experience, and actually “live” the Art. We don’t live piously withdrawn from it. We are driven to spread the sunshine, and we measure our success by that of our students.

Pretenders are mouthy, shallow, self-centered, self-righteous, vain, pseudo-sanctimonious, and constantly afraid. They spend their time, not worried about students, nor our Art, but desperately trying to maintain the myth of competence. As noted above, on those rare occasions when they do actually carry a gun, it and its “holster,” are unfailingly phony, glistening monstrosities, built strictly for irrelevant competition. These pretentious toys spend all the rest of their time in a padded, mahogany box in a dresser-drawer, gathering dust.

And, if you’re wondering if there is a point lurking in all this, here it is: A gun-owner, and particularly a gun-carrier, has the individual responsibility to acquire and maintain personal competence. History and fate will not accept lame excuses, nor will the court!

When you voluntarily take-on the personal responsibility to have the ability to protect yourself with gunfire, then you must be able to perform adequately, on demand. This has nothing to do with recreation nor competition. It is an individual, ethical responsibility, a matter of personal integrity and character. Bottom line: learn to be competent with your weapon(s) and yourself.

Become one of us, or go back to eating grass!

“How the hell did you know I didn’t have the king or the ace?”

“I recollect a young man putting that same question to Eddie the Dude. ‘Son,’ Eddie told him, ‘all you paid was the lookin’ price. Lessons are extra!’”

Lecture, caustically delivered by Lancey “The Man” Howard (played by Edward G Robinson) to a hapless “Slade” (played by Elmore “Rip” Torn) in the 1965 feature film, “The Cincinnati Kid.”

John Farnam

 

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

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