I've got a few pistol and rifle/carbine classes under my belt. I am a competitive shooter, but don't consider myself a 'gamer'. I attended Larry Vickers' two-day Carbine I - Introductory Level
class on 16-17 February 2008. My personal gear for the class included:
- TAG Spartan II carrier with IBA soft panels
- Spectre gear triple pistol magazine holder
- Tactical tailor AR mag shingles
- LMT/Bushmaster mix M4-type with Surefire M952P light, Aimpoint Comp ML2, and VCAS sling
- S&W M&P 9mm / HSGI drop-leg holster
Some friends of mine convinced me to drive 11 hours with them and take this class. We are all experienced shooters and competitors. Our background included a previous carbine/rifle class at another facility and were looking to expand our horizons. Since this class is the entry to Larry's advanced classes, we decided to knock it out.
Day one started with introductions all around, gearing up, and a real-world safety brief of the 4 fundamentals of firearms safety.
Before the class really took off Larry took the time to discuss his techniques and teaching style with the group. This gave him ample opportunity to review the weapons and gear used by everyone. Larry offered constructive criticism for certain gear and weapons selections, usually in a colorful and humorous manner that got the point across. Most of the class had an AR or M4-type weapon, although we did have student with a SIG556, and one brave soul with an HK93. Most folks had an optic of some type - Aimpoint, EOTECH, Short Dot, or similar, although we did have some irons shooters. Gear ranged from chest rigs, vests, plate carriers, and body armor carriers down to simple ammo pouch, holster, and belt setups. Everyone had a pistol along as well per pre-class directions. Weather was cold but sunny, certainly fine weather for training!
The class began with a discussion on techniques on weapon zeroing and sights/optics and proceeded into live-fire zeroing. Larry explained his rationale for zeroing based on the use for the weapon being zeroed. A carbine meets a certain range need and the zero should reflect that fact. Everyone had the opportunity to determine and confirm their zero before the class moved on.
The day continued with introduction of accuracy and speed drills. Larry explained and demonstrated each drill, usually quite colorfully, and included question and answer time complementing discussion regarding why certain techniques are used and how the drills themselves support the techniques that Larry uses and teaches.
Topics covered, demonstrated, discussed, and trained during the daylight hours of Day 1 included carbine-pistol transitions, strong-weak side transition and carbine shooting positions. During all drills time and accuracy standard was established and used. Clearly it is important to shoot fast, but every bullet fire is a potential casualty, and a responsible shooter is an accurate shooter. Repetition of each of the skills during multiple drills reinforced them for everyone. We also had the opportunity for some 'friendly competition' during the day, with several drills being treated "for score". During all drills Larry and his assistant for the class David Pennington made on-the-spot corrections, and where necessary stopped the class to reinforce a particular point or two that as a group we seemed to be missing.
Unfortunately, our group overall had some pistol accuracy and basic skills issues (shame shame shame). As a result the class had the opportunity for some 'remedial training' Vickers-style with our pistols after grounding our long weapons. I don't consider this wasted time at all but rather good reinforcement using dry-fire and live-fire drills. Soon everyone was on the right track (or at least they could FIND the right track) and we resumed the carbine portion of the class. As Larry pointed out, pistol practice translates directly when shooting other weapons - think about the impact of positive trigger control across all weapons you shoot for example.
Collectively we decided to party on into the night fire portion of the class without a dinner break. As usual, Larry explained his background and position on various night illumination techniques and the value of each, focusing on use of white light. Requirement for the class was a weapon mounted light, and with selective use of duct tape everyone soon had a light. During dark hours everyone had the opportunity for multiple executions of night fire using their light to locate, identify, and engage the target. Yes, Virginia, muzzle brakes make for interesting light shows!
The day ended with lively conversation and dinner at the local Cracker Barrel followed by some well-earned sleep!
Day 2 upped the speed and the ante. As Larry explained, Day 1 builds basic skills so that Day 2 could proceed into move advanced techniques. Day 2 instructional focus was on shooting on the move and clearing multiple malfunction types mixed in with refreshing the material from Day 1. Pretty soon everyone was shooting and moving through barrels and chairs. End of the day included a 'final exam' summing up all of the shooting techniques taught in the class, followed by final discussions and certificates for all.
Now it's opinion time...
I personally am taking quite a bit from the class even though it is tagged as a "Carbine 1" type class. There are plenty of good instructors in the shooting and fighting field, but there is great value in taking instruction from someone on Larry's level. He has 'been there and done that' and has the credentials to back up what he teaches. His techniques are proven - quite simply. I noticed that over the two days EVERYONE in the class learned and you could see it when you observed the students on Day 2.
One thing I particularly appreciated about this class and Larry's instructional style is that accuracy was stressed, even over speed. Speed was not sacrificed by any means, but there was a definite accuracy standard held for the class. There are classes where time standards are not applied at all, in favor of focusing on skills or accuracy. I know for me, I tend to focus better when I am 'on the clock' especially when the accuracy standard is still required. I think you can sort of slop your way though an accuracy-focused class if significant time is allowed for each drill, but being required to combine speed AND accurate shooting does require a student to apply what is being taught in order to be successful.
I had several issues to unlearn, but Larry provided good rationale for why these techniques 'sucked' and alternatives to them that made better sense. I also have several good drills for practicing what we learned along with by buddies that attending the class.
So Larry thanks for the time and dedication to teaching our class. And thanks Dave for keeping things moving along!
He is coming to my area in Oct 09 and despite my current $$$/sit and very focused on attending, (just bought 2 piston rifles)
I just can't pass this one up, because he is so close, and can save ton's on travel and hotel
One a side note
do you really use 600rds of pistol ammo in a 2 day carbine course????
Just took Larry's class this past weekend. I went through about 600 rounds of carbine and 200 rounds of pistol. Don't let anything keep you from taking this class. The most experienced shooters can learn from him if they are paying any attention. Plus he gives out prizes to the winners os the individual competitions.
Geez I need to make one ,Im a slacker I live 6 miles from south hill