DARC tactical carbine course run down and AAR
Let me preface this by starting with who I am. I have been shooting the AR platform for about 8 years and have served in the U.S. Army for the last 6. I am not some special application type soldier tier one operator but I have used my rifle to engage the enemy in both Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in the infantry. I routinely train new young soldiers in the use of the carbine and have attending squad designated and long range marksman training through the army. I did some reading up on schools on the civilian side that had found my interest and had narrowed my choices down to a small number that I went more in depth with. When I called Rich at DARC I found him very easy to connect with and very knowledgeable in the use of a rifle. Mix that with the shots of the facilities I had a hard time keeping my mind off of the course. The problem I faced was trying to find a time when I could slip away from the army for the course. Rich worked with my schedule and assured me it would work out. I then convinced my brother who had mainly pistol time under his belt but enjoyed his AR to come out with me.
I didnít exactly what I wanted to gain and would not have know what to ask for. Instead we arrived in little rock and started class with the largest spread of shooters I could have imagined. In the beginning we went straight to the range. There was no HOAH banter or wasted time telling what I would learn. There was a quick but strict safety brief followed by a quick confirmation of zero. From there we moved directly into malfunctions playing a round robin of possible problems we could and eventually would face. My mind raced back to dirty hellholes when my rifles or my friends rifles had failed us finding us looking down at our rifles pulling an army acronym out of our asses hoping that would be the end of it. We covered each failure in a way that kept the rifle in our space while still able to see what was going on around us. We felt the malfunction rather than observing it. This would be key in transitioning into night shooting later. I would say these malfunctions were cemented in our brains. I went shooting a this weekend after several weeks without a chance to get out had a failure that my body instantly took over.
Far too many times I had found myself on military ranges doing dry runs on the same malfunction or action to find myself doing it wrong because I was allowing mistakes. DARC spent just enough time on each to get the correct reaction to an adverse action. Once we had learned to clear each with minimal wasted time ammo and movement we went critical thinking mode and had a grab bag of malfunctions and live rounds set across the firing line. You had to get on target a hostile target that you had to destroy. Then pull the trigger to either fire the shot and hopefully hit your target or find that you had a malfunction that needed to be cleared as fast as possible seeing as the threat or target was still there. Never during the course would we fire and forget. This was key for me. This was not just sport shooting where a good job was just getting A round on target. We had to regain sight picture incase the threat needed another round. I felt the malfunction portion of the class alone would have been worth the trip.
We moved on to reloads. The instructors were always close enough to provide an extra set of eyes and guidance but also gave me the time to fix myself when that was the case. Amongst all the military personnel present I could feel a duh factor. We were told we could continue gripping and feeding mags as we had trained but should at least give Richís way a try. Needless to say we went the Rich route in the end. We covered different forms of bracing the rifles as well as how to better hit the dirt while maintaining the rifle in a way that facilitates lightning fast re-acquisition. We let the sun go down for the first days course have already fit so much in.
In the army we have a motto that reads Ďwe own the nightí I found that I had barely been renting the night. My concept of night involved my night vision and lasers. I of course did not have these things with me. I had several deep seated misconceptions based of course on the army that said a big surefire was the only suited for rifle use. Oh so wrong. I saw a great mixture of small light compact options with out troublesome tape switches to fumble for. Again we went round robin and I felt setups that I liked so much more than my own. We work on using the light to aid in shooting in malfunctions. Rich had allowed us to realize over the span of a single day what our rifles needed and how to fix it without the use of our eyes. We were doing it fast too. Even if I had known what I wanted to learn I would have taken up years of doing it wrong trying to figure out what DARC taught me in just the first day.
Day two we hit the covered steel range with the 22LR rifles. We covered more on variations of the high ready vs. the low ready. I wonít get into the aspects of the full day but we covered huge amounts of ground in terms of cadence shooting and moving while shooting. We broke out our pistols and I had to attempt to change my mindset. I did not fully grasp the concept and was still able to engage well enough with my tried methodÖduring the day that is. I wish Rich or Travis had slapped me upside the head and said do it my way dummy but that isnít their style. Moving into the dark hours I found out with much more clarity why we were training to do things the way we had.
Day three was one of those put it all together days. We went to the gladiator range. We shot from every position and ran from cover to the next position. Great fun that many of us decided to do more than once. We then hit the known distance range and shot some scenarios that I wonít dig into but were great fun to shoot for everyone involved.
End state. I would recommend this to anyone who runs a rifle. Whether you are Mil L.E. a competitive shooter or someone who wants to defend your home. This course will show you what to train on. It will save you from plinking with bad habits at the range wasting ammo and time. I will try other schools in the future. But when ever the first chance arises to go to the DARC pistol course I will be there with a huge smile on my face. I will do my best to pass on some of these skills to my soldiers and in my next deployment I will know who to thank when that click hits or the mushy trigger and I can get my rifle up faster than the bad guy.
Pros in the class.
-Scheme of operations. The guys have a system here that works. They are doing things for a reason
-Tools for the tool box. I may not even have to shoot with a light at night. But now I can and I will continue to train at doing it. We learned new skills with out even thinking about it.
-Limits were not a problem. Travis and Rich pushed each shooter far enough to learn yet be safe.
-Round robin allowed you to handle different set ups to see what worked for you and what didnít. But it also stressed speed in moving from shot to shot. It also worked off the concept that you might not be able to defend yourself with your own rifle.
-Why was not a problem question. My questions were always answered with quick real world wisdom that had been used or seen used effectively by the greatest gun fighters in the world.
Cons in the class.
-Most of the cons didnít fall on the course. The circumstances in our course were different than most and some waiting was bound to happen. There would be no moving on as it effected 5 of the 9 in the course.
-There was a small problem in the round count. Wish we had more .22 ammo listed on line was not a true count needed. Bring more ammo than you think you will need. There is no problem taking it back home with you.
-In the beginning of the course I was some what troubled by the rounds used in the malfunction drills. I felt as if we were wasting ammo in the set ups. It felt like an investment later in the day. When you go home you can use dummy rounds or what ever you want to do but the ammo used ends up being just fine.
-Some may have a problem with the round robin concept. This course is utilizing a tool. If you are someone who wants your finish to be in pristine conditions then donít bother bringing it out. No one is purposely trying to damage your rifle but others will be using your rifle in the daylight and at night.
Tips or tricks.
Just some things I saw to help you along.
-Bring more ammo than you will need.
-If you donít have a tactical latch you should. Cheap fix for such an important part.
-choose your light wisely and train with it some I was amazed at how much the pistol style weapons lights had advanced without me knowing. I know have a surefire X300 on my rifle and will sell off my other weapons style lights as soon as I can.
-Donít be afraid to go cheap on ammo. If you have a malfunction.. so what it isnít a competition and it will help you with your malfunction drills. Get it in bulk and shoot it up.
-Get the right 22 ammo and get more than you think you will need. Do not buy up high velocity ammo. I had the Remington cyclone or tornado stuff what ever it is called and was getting constant failures in the 22s. Then go ahead and spend 40 bucks more and get a couple extra boxes of the stuff. If you get a chance to shoot more that day go ahead and have it along.
-Bring food for a quick lunch not a lot of time for food and loading mags or doing things you wanna do. Bring a quick sandwich as well as granola bars for through out the day.
Next OE courses are:
Tac Carbine, 23-25 Sept 2011
Tactical Urban Sustainment Course, 22-25 July 2011
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This course was great. I had no formal training on the AR platform what-so-ever and took a lot out of it. I will be looking for some jewelry and other bribes for my wife so I can hopefully sign up and attend the course in Sept. I highly recommend this course, you definitely get your money's worth. Rich and Travis were patient with me and helped me improve so much. I have since been putting into practice what they taught and can't wait to go back and hopefully not be one of the slowest people there. Built a mini "gladiator" course in the back yard and am working putting all those pieces together that I learned in those packed three days.