On June 10-11, 2017, I had the opportunity to participate in the Vechile Defense / Counter-Ambush (Handguns only) course by Talon Defense and hosted by Sparrow Defense. I've trained with Chase Jenkins (Talon Defense) in the past and have written AARs for both the Dark Gunfighter and C2- Fightin' and Fixin' courses. This course was a 2 day, handgun only, and daytime only version of the Dark Gunfighter course. Per usual style, I'll break down the events of the course and then end with the "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" sections.
Keep in mind that this is not a beginner level class, and there was a requisite skill level in order to participate. The exercises that are outlined in this AAR will at times be intentionally vague so as to not promote exercises that should be performed outside the supervision of a qualified instructor nor to disclose sensitive information regarding the instruction, participants, or course content.
Day 1 began with a safety briefing. If there is one thing that Chase Jenkins does superbly well, it's a safety briefing. It's informative, productive, and even entertaining. Chase uses humor to reinforce important points as well as set everyone at ease for the rest of the course. The safety briefing was thorough and emphasized that we will not be instituting a safe range, but rather we would all be safe shooters. The point being that we can't control the variables in our daily lives, but we can control our muzzle. Our muzzle is our responsibility. Period. End of discussion.
Over this past weekend, Shooting Strategies and Fair Weather Farms teamed up together to host John "Shrek" McPhee (aka Sheriff of Baghdad). This course specifically dealt with handgun marksmanship fundamentals and utilized the video work that John has introduced to the firearm industry. Though this is a one-day course, I was present throughout both days as a host to make sure that everything ran smoothly.
John and his wife stayed at the location with us, and arrived Friday after the NRA show. It was great to get the opportunity to spend the evening chatting with the two of them and getting to know them both a little better. Saturday morning, we went to the range and got everything set up. We began the day with a simple drill... 2 mags, both with 2 rounds in them. From a holstered position, we would draw and fire two rounds and then immediately perform a slide-lock reload and fire the other two rounds. John was filming this and from here we went straight to the TV to review what he had recorded.
I was surprised at how much information John could identify about our shooting from such a short drill- but as we came to understand, the video camera doesn't lie. John breaks down the film into four sections: stance; grip; presentation (draw); reload. He also emphasizes that these are in order of importance. The largest takeaway from this section was the amount of time wasted at the end of my draw stroke. I was out of the holster and at full presentation at about .84 seconds but wasted another .33 seconds prior to breaking the first shot. This lesson would be re-iterated multiple times throughout the course as John worked us more toward the ability to "shoot at zero" (to break the shot at the exact moment that we reach full presentation).
Today I had the pleasure of acting as an Assistant Instructor and Participant in a Vehicle Combatives course with Matt S., a good friend of mine who is an expert at protective services, CQB, and fighting in/around vehicles. We were joined by a group of four fairly experienced shooters, three of whom were civilians and one Law Enforcement Officer. The topics to be covered would be as follows:
- Entering/Exiting the vehicle
- Understanding the "clean" vs. "dirty" sides
- Understanding Cover vs. Concealment
- Shooting into the car vs. out of the car
- Ballistic Trajectory Deviations
- Movement in/around the vehicle
- Weapons Manipulations inside the vehicle
- Working around passengers
Communication with others
- Breaking Contact from Front and Sides
The course lasted for six hours and included a host of drills that continuously increased in their complexity with each evolution. We started with drawing from holster from a static position and placing two shots on our targets. This lead to a slide lock reload which began the discussion about understanding the importance of muzzle awareness and trigger finger discipline as we would soon be working with and around partners.
During February 4-5th, 2017, I had the chance to participate in the Combatant Casualty Care course run by Talon Defense and Ditch Medicine (and hosted by Sparrow Defense). As we've previously written about, Chase Jenkins of Talon Defense is an awesome instructor with his own style of instruction. This course coupled him with Hugh Coffee of Ditch Medicine. I have heard about Hugh from several people who have previously trained with him, so I was completely amped when the opportunity presented itself for me to train with both Chase and Hugh in the same course. Walking away from this course, I can say that both of these guys are truly a master of their perspective craft. Accompanying Hugh and Chase were three additional experts of their craft who we would enjoy the opportunity of learning from: Jesson Bateman, reigning national TacMed competition champion; Joseph "Jay" Paisley, former Green Beret and Delta Force Operator; and Chris Richards from Compression Works, LLC. (company that has revolutionized the Abdominal Aortic Junctional Tourniquet). Their input and expertise was an incredible asset to have with us throughout the training.
This was a two day course combining the skills necessary to both fight with handguns and as well as identify and fix traumatic injuries. As you're likely aware, I've done quite a bit of firearm training, specifically with handguns. This course would test all of the skills that I have acquired since I began training years ago, and would present new levels of stress and problems to test the limits of my skill set. Regarding the medical side of the house, the majority of my trauma medicine training has come from two different courses by Dark Angel Medical. After having taken this course, I'm very glad that I had previously taken the Dark Angel courses as the "academic aspects" of the traumatic training were not completely new to me. With that said, that's where my preparation for this course stopped. Unlike the firearm training, where I can handle most manipulations of the gun with minimal conscious thought- the medical aspects of this course were virtually all past my skillset. This forced me to focus on the mechanics of identifying and working through every little issue instead of being able to focus on the larger picture and be on autopilot for the multiple quick tasks that needed to be completed. To clarify, let's consider the following two examples:
- Double feed malfunction while unable to use your primary hand: No problem. If the "tap, rack, bang" method doesn't work, then I know to depress the magazine release, slam my left forearm down on an immobile object (usually my leg), rack the slide until clearing the obstruction, stowing the gun and retrieving a new mag, release the slide- and continue to fight.
- This is not an "easy task" by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a problem that I have worked through ad nauseum and therefore can go through each step with fairly low amount of mental exertion. This allows me to focus on the larger problems such as teammate position, movement of threats, etc.
- Self-Aid by applying a SOFT-T tourniquet to your own leg using only your support hand: I can walk you through each step, but even the description of the process requires me to actively think through each step.
- Though I can force myself through the process, it's not something that I have practiced enough to be able to do it on auto-pilot. My personal skill-set is simply not up to par in the medical portion of this course. This causes me to focus entirely on the task at hand which forces me to lose sight of the broader issues that require attention.