On March 12, 2016, I was joined by a group of people for a very long day at the range. That morning, we taught a Handgun Fundamentals & Safety course. After lunch, we carried right on over into a Weapon Manipulation & Personal Protection course. As the sun went down, we went straight into the most advanced training course of the day: Fighting in Low-Light Environments. This After Action Report will focus on the Low-Light portion of the course.
As anyone who has trained with us can attest to, we believe in thoroughly explaining a topic in detail prior to putting it into use. It has been our understanding that the more a student understands about what is going on when firing a weapon, the more comfortable they are with the entire situation. It helps to overcome the "fear of the unknown" with which so many students arrive.
Therefore, we explained in detail the human anatomy of the eye and how our eyes adjust to being able to see in low-light conditions. We also discuss ways that we can use those physiological responses to our advantage during a violent encounter.
Understanding how our eyes work allow us to better come up with creative solutions to problems that might arise in a fight. For instance, being able to use ambient lighting to our advantage, direct lighting to control the visual capabilities of our attackers, and taking away light in order to retreat or advance without detection is vital to our success. We begin this course before night fall, and we make sure that everyone understand use of cover/concealment, various lighting techniques, and various firearm manipulations with a light in their hand. This allows us to focus our explanations and course work during an intermission and then go back out and test our skills in an actual low-light environment. Fair Weather Farms is definitely in a remote location, so any ambient lighting was minimal. This created a fantastic training environment to test our skills.
We also worked on ways to use handheld flashlights indoors when scanning an area, searching a room, or intentionally blinding someone within our immediate presence. We worked with partners to understand both sides of controlling visual capabilities so that we would know the effectiveness of our lighting techniques. By the end of the course, I believe that everyone walked away with a new-found respect for a high-powered flashlight as a force-multiplier.
On January 30th, 2016, I was joined by 8 participants for a long day of training. All of the participants had already completed either our Handgun Fundamentals & Safety course or the NRA Basic Pistol course. Although the temperature was downright cold in the beginning of the day, we were blessed with perfect weather as the sun got overhead. We began with a thorough review of the fundamentals learned in the beginner course, and paid close attention to the proper grip of a semi-automatic handgun. We also quickly reviewed sight alignment and sight picture, trigger control, stance, and the 4 rules of firearm safety.
After our review, we moved right into the Weapon Manipulation & Personal Protection section of the course. We began with understanding the 4 point draw, and the importance of being able to fight from 3 of its 4 steps. Later in the day, we would combine the importance of this with shooting on the move skills as we had each participant engage the target from extremely close distances in the pelvic girdle while retreating and moving up the body as their draw came to full extension. Getting out of the holster is the first step to employing our gun in a gun fight, so it is important to be ultimately familiar with this process.
Next we moved into reloading the firearm. As we always do, we broke our reload training down into two categories of reloads: slide-lock reloads (or "emergency reloads"); and proactive reloads. Within each of these categories, we covered two different methods of getting fresh ammunition into our gun and getting our gun back into the fight. For slide-lock reloads, we covered both the Power Stroke reload method as well as the Slide Release method. During proactive reloads, we practiced both the tactical reload and the reload with retention. During each section, we made sure to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each technique.
On January 16, 2016, I had the pleasure of teaching a Handgun Fundamentals course to six ladies at Fair Weather Farms in Monroe, Georgia. The weather was perfect, and they provided the most incredible venue imaginable to teach a class. Fair Weather Farms is actually where I had my wedding, and is a wonderful property with a ton of wildlife and a Lodge that is simply amazing.
The owner of the property had purchased this course as a Christmas present for the people that took the class, and all of the ladies present where incredibly appreciative. We covered some topics that were specific questions from these participants, including discussion revolving around firearm safes and how to balance the need for security from children against speed of accessing the weapon during an emergency.
After our classroom portion of the class, we made sure that everyone could sufficiently apply what they had learned by using an Airsoft gun to shoot at a target. Once everyone was satisfied that they could apply the 7 Fundamentals of Shooting correctly, we headed out to the range to shoot some steel.
As is usual for our Handgun Fundamental & Safety courses, we started everyone on a .22LR handgun to make sure that they were not intimidated by the additional recoil and noise from a "real" bullet. This also reinforces to each participant that they do know how to apply the correct fundamentals and hit the target- a lesson that comes in handy when they switch to their own firearms.
Every time I teach a basic handgun course, without fail there will be participants who bring their own firearms that they already "like" to shoot. In an effort to not discourage the new shooters nor pit myself against a husband or friend who might have purchased the firearm for them, I simply allow them to shoot multiple different types of handguns and draw their own conclusions. Without exception, the people who bring the small, double-action handguns leave with the mindset that they will be purchasing a different weapon in the immediate future. (For more information about this, please read our Random Rant: Why I Don't Recommend Small Handguns.)
On January 9th, 2016, I was joined by 9 students for a five hour course covering Handgun Fundamentals & Safety. This course is generally designed to be four hours, but for this course we added an additional hour in order to also cover some of the legal issues which surround the issue of firearms as well as the use of deadly force. The participants included all walks of life ranging from teachers and computer programmers to salesmen and horse trainers. It was a cool morning with temperatures in the high 40's and low 50's, but everyone dressed for the weather and we were able to have a wonderful day of training.
As we always do with this course, we began by covering the major parts of handguns and identifying the major components in ammunition. We find that it's important to explain the ways that the major components interact with each other so that we can have a more complete understanding of the operation of the firearm. We then moved into the 7 fundamentals of shooting where we spent the greatest time on the proper grip of a handgun.
After each participant demonstrated a solid understanding of the fundamentals using airsoft pistols, we moved on to the range for live fire exercises. Starting at the 7 yard line, we had the shooters with less experience start with a .22LR semi-automatic handgun to make sure that they knew they were capable of performing the fundamentals correctly before moving on to larger calibers. With everyone going through several rounds of warmup, we moved into two groups that would take turns on the firing line. This allowed us to utilize our time effectively as one group would be reloading while the other group was shooting.