Training Reports

Personal Protection Outside The Home - After Action Report

NRA PPOTH8/7/15 - 8/8/15: I had the opportunity to participate in the NRA's Personal Protection Outside the Home from Sparrow Defense over the past two days. This course included both the Basic and Advanced portions of this course, spread out over classroom and outdoor range environments. I'd like to share my After Action Report of how I feel the course went and provide some insight as tot he content of the course.

The course was separated into two days. The first day was classroom instruction consisting of the initial introduction of content as well as the NRA's version of Concealed Carry. I found this piece of the class to be a "necessary evil" as this is always my least favorite part of any instructional course that I participate in. Though it was certainly not my favorite part of the course, it was informative and entertaining to the point that it was as enjoyable as possible and thorough in its presentation.

Day 2 began with an early day at the range (8:00 AM), and we would be out there until about 3:30 PM. It was a HOT August day in Georgia, which certainly added to the "shooting under stress" portion of the class as everyone was visibly becoming more physically strained as the sun beat down. From here, I will break down the report into four sections: Level of Challenge; Instruction; Content; and Highs and Lows.

LEVEL OF CHALLENGE:
This is not an introductory level course. The participants in this course have already taken the NRA's Basic Pistol Course and the Personal Protection Inside the Home course (or can perform at an equivalent skill level). All of the participants were proficient enough with their handguns to be considered safe on the range and were all within a marginal difference in their abilities. Because of the similarities in the participant's skill level, Clark Sparrow (instructor) was able to push the content at a consistent pace without boring anyone or leaving anyone behind. The progression of challenge was both logical and fun. I consider myself to be a high-level shooter, and at no point during the range phase of the course was I not interested in what we were doing. Clark also interjected a LOT of content that is not part of the standard NRA PPOTH curriculum, which means that the participants got more than their money's worth. I will incorporate more into the "Content" section as to what that entailed, but it added a ton of useful content to the curriculum. Overall, the level of challenge was excellent for this course and the participants that were in it. Everyone there, myself included, went home as a better shooter than when they arrived.

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Training with Ken Park

ken parkMuch of my time training has been spent with a group of shooters lead by Ken Park. Ken is a fantastic shooter with more real-world experience than I could ever hope to achieve. By the time I began training with Ken, I already had quite a bit of time on the trigger with other instructors... However, Ken has his own methods of doings things. Ken is like a Mr. Miyagi of shooting. Seemingly effortless in his movement, Ken's idea of "economy of motion" is unlike anyone's that I've encountered in the past. He is fast... stupid fast... but looks slow. His transitions between targets are as smooth as you could ever hope for, his firearm manipulation skills impeccable. 

Ken usually starts us out with a "standards" drill for warm-up. For instance, one day we might warm up with the Air Marshall Firearms Qualification exercise, or other times it might be a dot torture test for to get us going. No matter which warm-up he starts us with, he insists that the drill is shot "cold" as the standards always are.

After everyone is warmed up, Ken will usually begin some sort of instructional lesson. If there is a competition coming up, we will work on competition skills such as speed out of the holster, target transitions, or reloads with retention. Other times Ken will tell us that it will be a "fighting day" where we will cover topics revolving around successfully controlling the outcome of a gunfight. Such skills would be shooting on the move, positional shooting, transitioning between positions, malfunction correction, etc. Either way, you can always go into the training with three guarantees: You're going to have a great time; You're going to look like a fool at some point; You're probably going to be sore the next day. Our group has a great "tough love" comradery where the "brotherly jabs" are as much fun as the shooting.

ken park ARKen has a very "martial arts" sense about his training. He is far more interested in pushing your mental game past the physical limitations of your skill set. For instance, Ken will cover in detail subtle ways to pick up a hundredth of a second here, a tenth of a second there, or a way to incospicuously have your gun in the fight before your opponent realizes it. Many of the guys that we train with have a lot of experience- either in fast paced competition or in hostile environments, and Ken always has a way to push everyone present past their failure point. This is the surest way to guarantee that we are improving.

In short, I've spent many hours training with Ken and his group- and I am a better shooter because of it. His teaching style is unique, and is not for everyone- but is certainly right on track for me. I've never gone to a training session with Ken and not had the feeling of serious improvement as I was leaving. I highly recommend his instruction for shooters that are very serious about the lifestyle of competing or fighting with a handgun.

More reports to follow...

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Low Light Pistol Techniques - Sparrow Defense

Low Light TrainingOn November 21st, 2014, I took part in a Low Light Course by Sparrow Defense in Watkinsville, Georgia. The course was a fantastic brush-up on previous low-light training that I have done and was hosted at a range which allowed a lot of night fire exercises. With statistics showing that the majority of violent encounters where a firearm is needed occur in low-light situations, this is a skill set that I highly recommend that everyone work on. The course syllabus showed that we would cover the following topics:

  • How the eye works / what night vision is
  • When and how to use light-gathering sights / night sights
  • Techniques for using a hand-held flashlight in conjunction with a pistol
  • Techniques for using a weapons-mounted light
  • The use of flash sight picture in close quarters / dark environments
  • How to search for and identify a target using direct and indirect lighting
  • The use of light in a structure for home defense
  • How to reload and manipulate a firearm when using a flashlight
  • Clearing malfunctions in low light situations
  • Use of cover and concealment
  • What "Light Discipline" means and why it's important to you

The course began at 4:00 p.m. with a range safety brief and then a live run through the Georgia Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors' low light course of fire. Being 4:00 p.m., this course of fire was actually performed in daylight to familiarize the participants with the format and strings of fire. (We would repeat this course of fire later in the dark.)

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