Training Reports

Integrated Weapons Training for CQB

22310624 10159417929450608 1931985685052826274 nIn early October of 2017, I had the awesome opportunity to train with "Super" Dave Harrington in his Integrated Weapons Training for CQB. Almost exactly a year ago, I participated in his Integrated Weapon Systems course with a specific focus on Instructor Development. This course had many overlapping drills and exercises from that report, so I will try to focus this AAR on the differences moreso than the similarities of the previous report.

I'd like to start with a note about this training. There will be exercises that I mention that shouldn't be run by inexperienced shooters. This is not a beginner course... In most training environments, especially for more beginner courses, the range is set up to control any/all variables possible to ensure a safe range. Safety areas are generally utilized to minimize the chances of someone pointing their firearm near any other person. There is a 180° rule which limits shooters from pointing their firearms in unsafe directions. There are limitations on where/how you can administratively handle your firearm and/or ammunition... The more advanced the training topics become, the more these control mechanisms start to diminish. This particular course is focused on Close Quarters Combat. There is absolutely no way that you can expect to learn to fight with a firearm in confined spaces while enforcing a 180° rule for the participants. We don't live in a controlled environment in the real world, and therefore we won't be fighting in such an environment. The point of all this is that it is absolutely vital to create safe shooters instead of always trying to create a safe environment for the shooters. Dave ran this course with "big boy rules" and a "hot range" which basically means that you are free to handle your weapon and ammunition at any time so long as it is done in a safe manner. How safe? 100% safe. Safety is ALL of our responsibilities, and Dave has ZERO tolerance for unsafe gun handling.

Day 1: Do the Right Thing at the Right Time, Every Time.

Day 1 began at 07:00 on the range with a safety briefing, medical briefing, and general discussion about logistical items. Dave is an incredibly thorough instructor, and leaves no stone unturned when it comes to planning out the medical and contingency plans in the event of an incident that would require medical care. We identified those with medical training, identified and placed an advanced medical-kit in a known area, and assigned key roles to necessary participants familiar with the range and local area (who would call for medical assistance, who would be a driver, etc.) Dave really goes the extra mile during his safety briefing and reminds everyone of the potential dangers that could happen in the event that anyone is unsafe. To break it down, he says: "Do the right thing at the right time, every time. If you don't know what the right thing is or do not understand the task you are being asked to perform, DO NOTHING."

After the safety brief we spent a decent amount of time confirming the zero on our rifles for a 50 yard zero. Dave is adamant that your zero is absolutely vital to being able to perform confidently and effectively, and he stresses this importance more than any other instructor with whom I've trained. It's a valuable lesson, and makes a lasting impression. To confirm our zero, we then headed down to the 100 yard line and each placed 3 consecutive hits on a steel IPSC plate free-standing.

With our rifles properly zeroed, it was time to do the same with our handguns. We headed back to the top range and began pistol drills for accuracy at 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards. These exercises were to learn (or confirm) our ability to make accurate shots at each distance. Naturally- as the distance increased, so did the size of the groupings. Once we completed these, we loaded our mags again and headed to the 15 yard line where we shot 10 round groups on each of the 5 targets (which were 4" circles). Then we moved to the 10 yard line and worked the same exercises with our strong hand and support hand, one at a time. The purpose of these exercises was to emphasize the importance of accuracy and our ability to consistently make accurate hits while reading our sights.

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Performance Pistol - Frank Proctor

5 Aspects of Performance ShootingFrank Proctor is well known in both the tactical and the competition worlds of shooting. He's been on my shortlist of instructors to train with for quite some time, so when he had a class in Augusta, GA- I jumped all over it. I've purchased both of Franks DVD's for carbine and handgun, and really liked his teaching style, his attitude toward shooting, and his views on how to run a gun. I've also spoken with several people who have trained with Frank, and no one ever had anything negative to say about him. With that said- I went into this course with very high expectations... Arguably unfair expectations...

Nevertheless, when Frank offered a 1 day version of his Performance Pistol course near me- it was something I had to do. The course description is outlined in the slider below. It called for 800 rounds of ammunition, which was almost spot on for the amount I fired.

Course Description

This course is all about what it takes to put bullets on targets as quickly as possible. From my experience as a combat and competition shooter the skills learned in this class will apply to any shooting situation you find yourself in and need to win. With pistol we work distances from 5-50 yards and will cover as much material and get as dynamic as possible within range constraints.  At the WOTG facility we will use up to 6 pistol bays with over 100 steel targets, cars and a shoot house.

My system of training covers 5 components of Performance Shooting that we must master in order to shoot Fast, Accurate and Easy. If we master these we win in any arena:

  • Processing
  • Control
  • Mechanics
  • Movement
  • Mindset

If you want to shoot Fast, Accurate and Easy in order to win in any arena.....this course is for you.

We arrived on scene, and after getting the range setup- Frank began with a safety and medical briefing. His safety briefing was pretty standard and similar to any other safety briefing and included medical contingency plans, identification of IFAKs / people with medical training, etc. Succinct, concise, yet thorough enough... It is that necessary evil, but Frank made it integrate into the course without "overdoing" it. Immediately during this section, I identified that Frank's personality in the DVD's was exactly the same as his personality/attitude in person. He's a laid back, humble guy who openly shares his information without any of the ego or "resume reciting" that some other instructors portray. Frank is a soft-spoken guy who doesn't yell (or even talk loudly), so it draws the students in closer to him when he's speaking. This proves helpful during demonstrations as everyone is already close enough to see the intricacies of what he is demonstrating. Frank also shares his opinion on the various ways that people perform any tasks within shooting. He says "it's like gumbo (or chili). No two recipes are the same, but there is a lot of good gumbo in the world."

During this discussion, Frank talked at length about his 5 aspects of Performance Shooting:

  • Processing
  • Control
  • Mechanics
  • Movement
  • Mindset

It would quickly become clear to me that Processing seemed to be the one we would spend the most time on throughout the day. This isn't to say that the other aspects weren't developed and tested- but Processing seemed to be the underlying theme that is Frank's niche.

"Let the World Be As Big As It Is."

Directly after the safety briefing, Frank rolled directly into discussing his thoughts on performance shooting. Frank has a background in "tactical" roles through his Special Forces career in the Army, and he also has a proven record in the competition circuits of performance pistol shooting. Frank touches on the stereotypes that come along with both sides and bluntly identifies his teaching mentality. "I want you to put hits on target as quickly as possible." That clearly resonates in both the competition world as well as tactical shooting. This is a great way for him to identify the elephant in the room as the participants in the course are a healthy mix of competition shooters, concealed carriers, and SWAT/LE officers. Everyone wants to hit their target quicker- so it quickly set the tone for every exercise we would do after this point.

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Partners Shoothouse - Sentinel Concepts, Steve Fisher

Partners Shoothouse 

Shoothouse Catwalk

During a beautiful September weekend in 2017- two friends loaded up the truck with me and took a 13 hour drive north to Alliance, Ohio. The destination was the famous Police Training facility with their 8,100 square foot live-fire shoothouse. The course was taught by Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts, who has long been on my short-list of instructors that I wanted to train under. Joining me would be two friends of mine with whom I have spent plenty of range time, guest instructor Clark S. and a gentleman named Matt who is a Team Commander of a SWAT team in an adjoining county from where I live. The car-ride was fairly brutal, but the commradery that the road provides was all in good fun.

Disclaimer

Due to the nature of the content in this course, there are several areas that will be intentionally vague and/or completely omitted. Photos and Videos including course content or participants are strongly discouraged or prohibited for multiple reasons, and all of which are completely understandable. Some members of both the instructor cadre and participants are still operational in their roles in Law Enforcement, so their identify is sensitive. Furthermore, the Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTP's) that would be taught and practiced at length are sensitive in nature as it contains many of the same TTP's used by both law enforcement and military units. Therefore, the photography in this AAR will be slightly less inclusive than I usually provide, and the descriptions of much of the course-content will be censored. This will also help to not confuse or convolute the topics for any potential future students that are considering taking this course.

Facility

The facility at Alliance Police Training is truly top-notch. While I could describe it in detail for you, it is easier to show you... Below is a video that walks you through the facility that hosted this course. In fact, many of the people featured in the video participated in the course! Click the tab below to see the video:

Alliance Police Training - Highlight Video

Introductions

As everyone got settled in, the instructors took time to introduce themselves and provide a little bit about their backgrounds. Our instructor cadre would include Steve Fisher (primary instructor), Joe (Army), Chris (Federal Agent), Mike (SWAT LEO), and Bill (Army). One highlight worth noting here is that during the introduction of the instructors, all of the instructors (minus Steve) revealed that they had on matching T-shirts which had a picture of Steve smoking a cigar and the slogan "Yeti lives matter" on them (Steve's nickname is "Yeti"). As one would imagine, this received a loud laugh and set the tone for the course as everyone was clearly going to have a good time. Throughout the introduction, the instructor cadre reinforced that each participant would have fun but that the course content itself was not to be taken lightly. Another point that was driven home was that everything we would be learning throughout this course was a way of doing two-man CQB; not the way of doing it. There are literally countless ways to go about any given task, and each of the instructors were able to provide their own experience, preferences, and "tricks/tips" that worked well for them. We'll come back to this later, but this served as an invaluable contribution to the class, as everyone has different physical assets that provide them with opportunities or challenges.

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Home Defense (CQB) Force-on-Force with Talon Defense

IMG 2605

During a hot August weekend in Calera, Alabama, I had the opportunity to go to Double Tap Training Grounds and participate in the Home Defense (CQB) Force-on-Force class with Chase Jenkins of Talon Defense. Per usual, I'd like to break out an After Action Report of my take-aways from the course and provide feedback for both the instructor as well as future potential students.

Day 1- Angles: They are ever-present, and always changing

I arrived at Double Tap about an hour early and prepped my gear. This would be my first experience running the new HK VP9, and I will write a separate review on it as well. I tried to run a minimalist setup for this course for two reasons:

  1. The forecast called for miserably hot weather
  2. Chase's courses are usually fairly rough on gear 

I had been assured that this course would be less abusive on our gear, and that turned out to be true. Still, I was already plenty warm and so the less I had on me, the less weight I would have to carry around. We started out in the classroom and began with our safety brief. Usually this is the most boring part of training, but with Chase it is always comical, entertaining, and enlightening. 

Safe Shooters, Not Safe Environment

IMG 2602Chase provided us with a similar version of the safety briefing that he usually provides. He gave us examples of why we do certain things in certain ways and also discussed some of the training flaws that had developed into industry standards because of flat-range environments. He even breaks out some of the common "Gun Safety Rules" and talks about their inherent downfalls. Some examples below:

"Don't put your finger on the trigger until you've made the decision to fire." We've all heard it. Admittedly, I've taught it to students who come to my courses. And in just a few brief sentences, Chase has a way of making you both laugh at yourself and slap yourself in the forehead. He uses "Doc" as his example... "If Doc busts in the room right now with a gun in his hand and is yelling that he's going to kill me, and I have my gun in my pocket with my hand on it, do you think I've already made the decision to fire? Obviously, I have... But should I have my finger on the trigger yet? Obviously not, because the gun is still in my pocket."
"The gun is always loaded." Chase explains: "yeah, but guns aren't always loaded. And when we know they're not loaded, we start handling them differently. And every time we handle a gun, that's a training repetition. The mind doesn't distinguish between good and bad habits- it just files them away as possible solutions for gun handling. When a high-stress environment arises and it's time to go to guns, the brain will search its filing cabinet for a solution to the problem. I don't want there to be a bunch of bad solutions in there with the good ones. Therefore, nevermind the idea that the gun is always loaded. Instead, let's use proper gun handling skills at all times."

In short, Chase takes a significant amount of time reiterating all of the ways and reasons that we should strive to create safe shooters instead of the flawed mentality of creating a safe range.

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