AAR - Defensive Edge Tactical Carbine (1 Day) 09/13/09
Class: Tactical Carbine (1 Day)
Instructor: Greg "Sully" Sullivan
Location: Westbranch Gun Club - Princeton, MN
This was my first formal firearms training class (outside of Hunter's Safety, which is not nearly the same). The class was a fairly small size (five students including myself), which seemed perfect for both the size of the range and allowing a good student-to-teacher ratio.
Sully started the day with safety rules. Nothing too special there, but I think those are always an important thing to go over. Then we zeroed our rifles at 25 yards. I really liked the targets Sully had which allowed me to confirm a 50 yard zero at 25 yards. I'm planning to pick some of those targets up.
We then went into shooting from the standing position. We started out using a traditional bladed shooting position, but then Sully had us mix it up with some odd variations (one arm only, dominant foot forward, dominant foot forward and one arm only), which quickly exposed the weakness of the bladed position. Next we were shown a squared up position, with Sully elaborating on why he preferred shooting from that position. We then conducted the same variations as with the bladed. Sully doesn't hold to a strict dogma on how people MUST shoot. As he said himself, different tools for the toolbox. I find I generally prefer something somewhere between bladed and squared when shooting in more open areas, but square up more when shooting around barricades (not done in this course).
One of the drills I most liked was the MISS Meltdown. It consists of firing 30 rounds of both pistol and rifle; transitioning between rifle and pistol, one round of each at a time. This helped enormously with my reholstering, which I sorely needed as I was using a newer holster and had just begun shooting pistol late this summer. This drill was somewhat fatiguing, but I also found it stimulating. I will definitely be adding it to my training.
Two classic shooting standards, El Presidente and the Mozambique Drill (or on a larger scale, any trained response drill), were tested out and their weaknesses shown. Sully timed us on each of these and then taught us his variations on them. For the El Presidente, he taught to deal with each target fully before dealing with the others. For the Mozambique/trained response we used what I believe I have heard referred to as the "zipper" method; we started center of mass and then either shot upwards to the head or downwards to the pelvis. The idea there being to keep shooting until the threat is down. I believe Sully mentioned learning this from the Brits (please correct me if I am wrong). In both cases all the shooter had their times go down significantly when using these modified shooting drills.
I believe it was after this point––and I could very well have the order slightly off––Sully had us working on FAST (Fight, Assess, Scan, Tactical reload), along with moving off the line of attack. This definitely began adding a more serious sense of fighting to this course. I think I generally did an acceptable job of assessing and scanning, but I need to make sure I am doing tac reloads when I have the time.
A wide varieties of prone were covered. We started with a the traditional bladed prone, and then went into two slight variants of it: frogman (slightly bladed, weak leg up) and SAS (legs straight back, dominant side leg up). We also covered various other prones, including SBU, Cooper Rollover, and several supine variants. Most people seemed to prefer the SBU to the Cooper, but I found the Cooper easier to shoot. I definitely need to work on the SBU until I feel more comfortable with it.
Kneeling and tactical sitting (two legged kneel) were also covered. Sully somehow manages to stick the balls of his feet under him when he does the tactical sitting, which is something that just doesn't jive with my body, but I found that turning my feet in slightly worked just as well. Again, Sully was very open to letting people do whatever worked for them so long as it was safe and reasonable.
360s from standing, kneeling, and prone were all covered. More specifically, we were engaging targets directly to our rear after observing them and orienting ourselves to be able to shoot at them. I fumbled a fair bit on some of the movements, but with a little practice I did begin feeling a little more confident in my movements. My favorite was the prone. I'm a fairly small and flexible guy, so moving down on the ground and using some of the aforementioned prones was pretty easy for me. This definitely does not hold true for all people, with most limitations being due to age/medical conditions, body type, or gear.
We finished off the day with Sully's El Diablo drill––appropriately named. The first time through I was not able to even start my prone set before Sully called time. After refilling mags, Sully gave some instruction on how to more efficiently (therefore more quickly) do this drill. The second time around I was able to finish with time to spare, though I felt like I should have slowed down just a little bit in order to keep tighter groupings. Of course, exact situations will dictate the amount of speed and accuracy needed.
After the course officially ended Sully, Scott (another student), and I stuck around a bit longer to do some more shooting and talking. Sully was able to give me some very helpful advice about my handgun shooting, which was most appreciated. I also got to shoot his seemingly possessed SLR-15, which apparently only runs for him. It was determined that the problem was that the barrel extension was off by a few degrees. Why it ran perfect for Sully but neither Scott nor I, I have no idea.
I greatly enjoyed this class and am strongly looking forward to attending Urban Tactics 1 in October. All of the guys (and gal) there were wonderful shooters (I felt put to shame, despite some praise given to me) and would especially like to thank Brian and Anthony for letting me try out their rifles.
Some major points that stuck in my head:
-Use whatever works. Don't become too dogmatic about doing things a certain way. Find what works for the situation and be flexible.
-I need to work on my shooting, especially tightness (presumably speed will follow).
-Good instruction is invaluable. It allowed me to get a better sense of what I was doing right and wrong, since I can't observe myself.
-The shot timer never lies.
-I need to get some elbow pads.
-When I got too hung up on focusing how to do things strictly as shown, rather than just working through the technique, I tended to screw up more. Takuan Soho's and Yagyu Munenori's lessons on not allowing the mind to fixate were made abundantly clear.
I'd say you summed up the day fairly well. Much better than my old abused brain cells would anyways.