Posted: 2/1/2011 10:22:50 AM
[Last Edit: 6/29/2011 3:17:36 PM by Bama-Shooter]
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Locating quality training on a budget can often be an arduous task. Striking that balance of your need for instruction, tuition, ammunition/gear costs, travel expenses, time availability and confidence in the instructor is not easy. Ask anyone with a few courses under their belt and they will tell you about a class they spent a great deal of money and time on only to walk away with less than a favorable impression.
I was recently presented with the opportunity to train locally with Train to Shoot at the Brocks Gap Training Center located at the Steel City Shooting Club in central Alabama. I have traveled all over the Southeast attending training classes mostly designed for the military and law enforcement community. This would be my first time crossing over into the citizen world of small arms training.
The training for this weekend was billed as Tactical Carbine I and Tactical Carbine II both one day courses with Carbine I being a prerequisite for Carbine II. This is a carbine course and any rifles fitting that definition are welcome.
Tactical Carbine Training I & II
Course Goal: To teach the basic knowledge, skills and attitude necessary for the safe and proficient use of a carbine out to 100-yards.
Taking the class came about on the same weekend in which my youngest son would be visiting. While he has been exposed to the AR-15 since he was about 6 years old, he is now 14 this would be his first structured training class in the use of platform. I thought it would be good to see how basically a novice shooter would perform in this environment and how the instructors adapted to teaching to broad spectrum of skill levels.
Our weapon selections for the day would be my first AR-15 a Colt Sporter II carbine given to me by my dad and carried for about 10 years in my patrol car. My son would be using his early 70’s era Colt SP1 carbine salvaged from the days after the Assault Weapon Ban expired that had been parted out and reassembled by me to bring it back to its original form.
We reviewed the course description carefully and the items needed for the class. The requested equipment were items you would find in just about any other carbine class.
2.Ammunition and extra magazines.
4.Safety equipment to include eye and hear protection.
Extra items we brought.
6.Heavy quilt and shooting pad for prone positions
9.Knee and elbow pads.
10.Snacks and drinks.
The day before we loaded the vehicle and secured it inside the garage, activated the alarm system for it and the house. I would not advocate leaving a vehicle outside with all your gear and firearms inside.
The morning started off as many October days in Alabama. The air was crisp and cool with a class start time of 0800 the temperature was a pleasant 53 degrees with a high of 80 for the day. As we made our way to the shooting range after a hearty breakfast our conversation turned to the excitement of today’s anticipated events. My son was a bit nervous but very anxious as we made our way down the long driveway to the Steel City Shooting Club. The tree lined drive in its brilliant fall colors, a raised roadbed which then cuts through a mountain with a sheer rock face on both sides.
When the drive opens up you can see the various ranges, buildings and people gathered for the multitude of activities going here today. High power rifle clinics, the Tactical Carbine class and ranges used by casual shooters.
The classroom for the day was located in a mobile building just before you reach the ranges. We were greeted by the lead instructor for the class Mike Edfeldt. Mike has spent a great deal of time working for the government in hot spots around the world and training with various military and law enforcement groups. Pam Sanders a certified firearms instructor soon arrived bring fresh hot coffee for the participants of today’s activities. JD Camp a veteran of the wars in the sandbox and firearms instructor for the military rounded out our instructors for the day. I found our initial greetings to be warm, open and friendly.
As the other students assembled for the class the Mike began his overview of the instruction, introduction of the instructors and their backgrounds. Each student then introduced themselves and their relative experience. The class consisted of casual shooters, law enforcement and some who participate in the local carbine matches.
We then spent the morning covering lessons 1 through 4 from above. Introductions, objectives, basics of the AR and AK platforms and a thorough cleaning of our firearms were covered during the classroom portion.
A safety briefing consisting of the range rules and commands was gone over in detail to ensure a safe and quality time on the range.
A written test was administered to evaluate how well we had absorbed the lessons of the morning.
Lunch was provided by the facility and consisted of sub sandwiches and a light discussion of various AR related topics. I asked Mike about the makeup of his classes and the shooters experience levels. He stated he has yet to have person who was a total novice to the firearm they brought to the class. The class is presented in such a manner and the depth of instruction to be an excellent way to bring a new shooter up to speed on his chosen platform and not feel left behind or intimidated.
We then moved out to the range to begin our day punching holes in paper targets. The course started out with everyone obtaining a 25 yard zero for their respective firearm. Some were already dialed in, others shot each string to get more trigger time and Mike diligently helped a few who were struggling with adjusting their sights to achieve the six o’clock hold on the one and half inch dot target. After the sighting in was done we moved out to the 100 yard line.
Using 9 inch paper plates attached to standard cardboard silhouettes as our targets. Each position to shoot from the 100 yard marker was demonstrated by Mike and JD, going over the proper posture and alignments to target to increase the shooters chances of success. Our shooting began from the prone position, making ten hits on the plate. We then shot a string from the prone using sandbag as support. Checking the targets after each magazine to check our accuracy and help guide the student in their shooting techniques.
The standing position was next with another demonstration from JD and several dry runs by the shooters. Taking the firearm from a ready gun position to eye level to make sure everyone was lining up the bodies properly in relation to the target and allowing natural muscle engagement to improve hits on the target with another string of shots fired.
Kneeling was our next task. JD demonstrated the various kneeling positions then each shooter experimented with all of them to find out which one suited them best. We then fired another volley of shots and a check of the targets to mark our hits before moving on to the next position.
Our last shooting task was from the sitting position. The proper form was demonstrated along with taking each student through various angles to find their most natural and comfortable shooting position. Ten rounds later we were checking our targets and counted our hits.
This ended day one of the instruction. Many students took up Mike, Pam and JD’s offer to stay longer and spend some more time refining their skills. This ended our day and unfortunately we would not be able to attend the next installment of instruction the following morning. However we do plan to make it to Tactical Carbine II in the near future as this brings shooting on the move, hand gun transition, and clearing tactics to build upon your carbine skills.
At the end of the day I left with more knowledge, a better a shooter and more confident in my ability to deploy the carbine. My son had tremendous day and his shooting skills greatly improved. He was talking about using many of the techniques he learned that day to improve his skills in the hunting fields as the opening day of deer season would soon be upon us.
As we walked away Pam questioned my son on his experience, he stated it doesn’t get any better than spending a day on the range with his dad, shooting dad’s ammo and knowing hot wings and football were soon at hand.
Great training can be found economically and locally if you look. Please check the below links for additional pictures and information about the classes offered.
I plan to follow up with Tactical Carbine II in the next couple of monts.