My first AAR, so bear with me.
Civilian Defender Rifle Fighting Course - Two Day
May 23-24, 2009
Omaha/Rural Bennington, NE
Instructor: Devin Crinklaw
From the company's website:
Civilian Defender Basic Rifle Course
Due to an overwhelming request from the civilian sector, we are conducting a Basic Rifle Fighting Course designed for civilians. This dynamic training will be conducted over a period of 2-days and will be held at our private range. This class is limited to a total of 12 students.
Traditionally this course is only open to Law Enforcement professionals; however Signal 88 Special Operations Services understands the need for Americans to be able to learn the proper protection and self preservation skills for their families' safety and security.
Our “Civilian Defender” course is designed to familiarize rifle end-users with close range urban rifle fighting methods for defensive purposes. Emphasis will be placed on how to tactically manipulate the weapon and engage threats that were traditionally thought to be at handgun fighting distances. In a gunfight the rifle is “better-than” an equalizer … it is a Force Multiplier!
This basic course will be conducted at ranges of 50-yards and extreme close quarter fighting distances.
Tuition -$350.00 *** (If you cancel for any reason we will re-schedule you for another class to the best of our ability. If you choose not to reschedule, we will refund 50% of the price of course) ***
Topics to be covered:
Safety, Nomenclature, Tactical Manipulation, Natural Point of Aim, Zeroing the Rifle or carbine, Positional shooting, Reloads, Malfunction Clearances, Transition drills, Use of cover, Multiple target engagement, Tactical shooting with movement,
Example Weapons Allowed:
AR-15 and AK-47 type rifles chambered in .223, 5.45, 6.8, 7.62 x39; 30 cal. M1 carbines; 9mm carbines; 30-30 Winchester. No .308 or heavier caliber weapons allowed due to Range restrictions.
PLEASE COME TO THE COURSE WITH YOUR RIFLE ZEROED. MUST BE ABLE TO PUT 5 ROUNDS WITH IN AN EIGHT INCH DIAMETER TARGET AT 50 YARDS.
450 rounds; Auto loading, magazine fed or lever action rifle or carbine with a sling; 3 rifle magazines; Method of carrying rifle mags; Handgun/holster with at least 2 magazines w/ 50 rounds handgun ammo; Range attire according to weather; Ear and eye protection; Ball cap or brimmed hat; Note-taking material
Shooting mat; Gloves; Elbow and knee pads
Note regarding the round count: Devin was concerned about a high round count as being detrimental to course attendance. However, for many of the drills we performed, he said it was fine if we shot more than he asked. I.e., if the drill was to fire three rounds, get off the X while reloading, and fire another three rounds, we could have shot 5+5 instead of 3+3. IMO, this was good and allowed for a bit of leeway. Students were allowed to remediate if they asked and I did this on at least two occasions. I estimate to have shot 475 rifle rounds. I do not feel I was short-changed by the round count.
This was my first carbine class as well as the first type of formal firearm training I had outside of my state-mandated CCW training which was definitely not a fighting or marksmanship class.
Day 1 started at 0900 at the Signal 88 Office. I brought my carbine (Stag 3 w/ Aimpoint ML3), a chamber flag, an empty magazine, and note-taking materials, as requested. After Devin verified all weapons were clear and chamber flagged and that all magazines were empty, we filled out liability waivers. Devin gave us a description of who he is, what he does, and what his credentials are. The short version is that he is an Omaha Police Department ERT officer and instructor. The class we were taking is also taught to OPD officers. Devin also mentioned that he has trained with various other firearm instructors and also teaches officers and civilians other self-defense disciplines including pistol and empty-hand.
We then proceeded to introduce ourselves to the rest of the class. There were 8 (?) of us in the class including a full-time student in his mid-20s, senior citizen Navy vet, active duty Air Force, an accountant, and an NFA manufacturer. Some guys had studied with Devin before in his pistol classes. At least one other had been to other carbine classes. For many of us, this was our first carbine class.
IIRC, all weapons present were of the AR-15 16" variety (except for one 10.5") including Stag, DPMS, and Bushmaster. At least two guys had iron sights (these guys were newest to the platform - one had the rifle for 3 weeks). There were some Aimpoints present, a Millet DMS-1, and a 4x ACOG. No EOTechs showed up. PMAGs were very common. All carbines and related parts survived the course. No KBs, no broken bolts, no broken stocks. All students completed the class.
The first part of the day was classroom instruction. Devin informed us that the purpose of the class was to employ a rifle to engage threats close-in. He emphasized that this was a fighting class, not a marksmanship class, or competition class. He is not a "my way or the highway" guy. He did ask that we at least try things his way before dismissing his techniques. We didn't discuss the "best" gear, ammo, rifles, or gadgets.
Classroom topics covered included The Four Rules, safety, zeroing, ballistics, fundamentals, tactical manipulation, flat stock method, shooting positions, movement ("GET OFF THE X!!!!" was repeated a lot during the two days), multiple target engagement, fixing malfunctions, sustainability drills, barricades and use of cover, and medical considerations. He emphasized the importance of the tourniquet and Celox.
The benefits of the shoulder fired weapon were discussed as well as shot placement, how to end a gunfight, truths and myths about the center of mass, the upper thoracic cavity, shot placement, terminal ballistics of rifle rounds versus pistol rounds, the progressive response model (W.A.R.S.), the SOODA loop, and support equipment (slings - a must!, mag carriers) and how it is mission-dependent. Shooting stance, prone position, and natural point of aim were discussed. A tactical prone position was also demonstrated.
After adjourning for lunch, we reconvened at the range.
Everything we did built on the previous lessons. We started out with zeroing (1.5" low at 25 yards for ~50/200 yard zero), hold-over, and the tactical prone. We moved on to sight picture, following the bad guy down to the ground, 360* bubble scans, the hunt (flat stock) position, breathing ("and BREATHE"), admin reloads, press checks ("Did you press check? Why is your dust cover open?"), and moving while shooting. This stair-climbing method of adding new things worked very well. It prevented me from feeling overwhelmed and making sure the techniques were performed satisfactorily before moving on to new material. We also shot from kneeling and squat positions and performed drills that combined multiple shooting drills. It was interesting to see how my groups opened up once we started moving, running, squatting, etc. We ended Day 1 with magazine changes.
I ached after Day 1. My ankles hurt like a mofo but it seemed like every muscle in my body throbbed. I drive a desk for a living and even though I go to the gym at least 3x a week, nothing I do there truly prepares me for running around with a rifle, getting on the ground, and spinning 90*.
Day 2 commenced at 0800. We started off with a drill that saw us run 5-10 yards, fire three shots prone, get up and run 5-10 more yards, drop to one knee and fire three more shots, get up and run 5-10 more yards, then fire 3 more shots while standing. Skills taught included reloading on the move, tap-rack-bang, TRB while on the move, bridge strikes to the bad guy, when to engage with a pistol, how to engage with a pistol, and shooting from behind a barricade.
Devin was able to provide student-specific instruction for dealing with left-handed shooters, short shooters (yours truly), as well as those with physical disabilities (yours truly again). For example, bridge strikes don't work for me if the assailant is significantly taller as I can't efficiently reach their neck. I was taught to strike the bad guy with the butt of the rifle in the jaw/face instead.
Throughout the two days, Devin provided us with his opinions on gear, instructors, the 2nd amendment, the Gadsden flag, dump pouches, thigh holsters, and even some duty-related stories.
PMAGs were probably the most common but all USGI mags made it through the class too. Nothing broke. Injuries were limited to a couple of small cuts on hands and maybe some hurt pride ("There's no magazine in your gun. That's why you only had one round." and "What happened?" "I left my helmet in the car."
What problem areas did I identify? I definitely need practice more with my support side including firing with my support hand and shouldering the stock with my support shoulder (I was the one who "left his helmet in the car"). Given my physical handicap (hips and knees), I should make it a point to practice firing from kneeling and squatting positions. I also need to make it a priority to shoot after physical exertion. Standing on the firing line or sitting at the bench is NOT learning how to fight with a rifle. I also need to remember to shoot my Aimpoint with BOTH eyes open as well as cross my legs while in tactical prone.
Overall, I was happy with how my gear performed. I changed the direction of my pistol mags on day two after Devin suggested doing so. After doing so, it proved helpful during an unexpected reload on a pistol drill. Running with a 2.5 pound pistol (CZ SP-01 "It's a Tangfolio design!"
) wasn't great, now I see why alloy and polymer frames are so popular. I ran Blade-Tech mag pouches on my belt that functioned perfectly. My Blade-Tech kydex DOH pistol holster also did its job. I ran a Blackhawk Snap Shoot Assault sling that worked fine was comfortable and worked for everything except switching from dominant to support side. I might look into a Vickers sling or a Rocky Mountain Tactical sling. I might also switch from M4 handguards to something smaller to allow for a different grip up front. At least four guys wore tac vests.
Why should you take this class? Devin's class teaches you how to fight with an AR-15. He took shooters whose only experience with the AR was sighting in the week prior to the class and turned them into proficient users of the AR-15. We were all making target-zone hits by the end of day two and were doing it while moving laterally, turning, running, squatting, and ripping mags from our guns, regardless of age, equipment, prior experience, or disability. Devin is friendly and knowledgeable and he can also justify why he does something or uses something with reasons other than "It's the best". For a Basic or Level 1 type class, the material was excellent. While more knowledgeable shooters may already know about bullet trajectory, red dot sights, and hold over, newer shooters may not. If you are unfamiliar with the AR-15, this class would be a great resource.
Why shouldn't you take this class? It is physically demanding. If you don't like to move or sweat (or cannot, due to disabilities), this class isn't for you. If you can't handle a rifle safely in close proximity to others while running, squatting, and laying down, this class isn't for you. If you are afraid of a hot range, this class isn't for you. If you're interested in putting 10 shots into one hole at 100 yards, this class isn't for you.
What didn't I like? What was missing? What would I change? The only thing I didn't like was the weather, but that was outside of Devin's control. It would have been nice to have some instruction on other on-the-ground shooting positions, such as laying on your side with the ejection port up (or down). A target identification portion with shoot/don't shoot target also would've been good. Night or low-light shooting also would've been fun. Perhaps these will be covered in a Level 2 class.
This was Devin's first civilian (non-LE) rifle class and he said he'd like to do it again. I'm hoping he puts together a 1-day AK class and will probably go to the intermediate pistol class sometime this fall. I enjoyed the class immensely and would recommend it to anyone, especially those looking to move past the typical shooting range monotony.
We were also lucky that our NFA manufacturer who took class brought a FA AK, FA Krinkov, some suppressors, and an integrally suppressed .44 Magnum.
You can probably set someone on fire with a Krinkov. Muzzle blast was huge.
Feel free to ask questions. Some of the class participants are Arfcomers, hopefully they'll post some reviews of their own.
I too was at this class and learned a lot. Devin is a great instructor and I look forward to taking more classes with him. Great AAR Strat81, see you at the next class.
Excellent write up. Thanks!
What is the SOODA Loop? I've heard of the OODA loop before, is this his take on OODA?
Originally Posted By Yammymonkey:
What is the SOODA Loop? I've heard of the OODA loop before, is this his take on OODA?
Yes. He adds an extra step. I'm not sure if he considers the "S" to be proprietary, so I'd rather not blab about it.
Chances are, if you've gone through other training (LEO, military, CCW, etc.), you're probably already doing the "S" without even thinking about it. It allows you to be less reactive and more proactive. HTH.
ETA: It's available via Google, so I'll blab.
I have been teaching a modified version of the OODA loop for quite a few years now. I find the OODA Loop that is used by modern knights of the sky is not complete for use in a Law Enforcement enviroment. Something is missing and the missing element is CRUCIAL to the survival of street officers.
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS IS THE KEY TO SURVIVAL. Seeing danger before it happens beats the daylights out of reactive defense! Nowhere in the Air Force "OODA Loop" is awareness catered for as pilots have those magic sensors! You have to be AWARE to OBSERVE the bad guy. You then have to ORIENTATE (ACCESS) his actions and intention, his movement, his tactics, his weaponry his demeanor. Now you have to DECIDE how you are going to counter his each and every move. Finally you will have to ACT on your decision, move to cover, present your pistol, verbal commands etc.
In most cases from observing the bad guy to taking action action, might take 1 - 2 seconds. Each individual will differ.
By adding SITUATIONAL AWARENESS to the OODA Loop, you can cut your reaction time in half.
S - Situational Awareness
O - Observation
O - Orientate (Access)
D - Decide
A - Act
How do you win a fight against an attacker? Disrupt his "OODA Loop". You have to break up the attacker's actions and train of thought through your response to his actions. A simple example of this is, is to move off the line of his direct attack.
If you are in a fight, Boyd's OODA Loop is as applicable today as it was in the '60s. In a more applied version which I call the SOODA Loop, it is a life-saver!
I believe Devin is affiliated with STRIKE, but I'm not 100% certain.
Wanted to add to Strat81's excellent AAR:
I was also in this class, their first one to be offered to civilians, and it was by far the best adult education experience of my life. So much so that I immediately registered for the next class as soon as it was offered, even though it's only two months after, as I think I'll be able to refine a lot of the skills my second time through and because I so thoroughly enjoyed myself the first time through.
This isn't a marksman ship class. It's not a class about looking tacticool or practicing fancy range drills. It's a class that teaches you to fight with your carbine, period. Devin blew away a lot of "range only" drills and a ton of tactical misconceptions, including numerous that i'd seen strongly advocated in other tactical classes.
I came away from the class a measurably better shooter (improvements in grip most especially had an impact, once he showed us "the Lewinsky," especially) and especially so on my weak side, but most importantly I believe I'm fully capable of successfully defending myself and my family in a tactical situation so much more so than I was previously, even having taken other firearm classes from other instructors.
I give Devin Crinklaw my full endorsement, he's a true warrior and a fantastic teacher. The class was extremely safe (despite doing horribly dangerous things wink wink like moving and shooting together), more so than classes I've been at with instructor to student ratios much higher. It was also a lot
of fun. But most importantly, the class was thoroughly instructional and exceptionally valuable.
Eric "Performify" Foster