Posted: 4/4/2012 5:03:32 PM
THE IMAGE ABOVE IS A PAID ADVERTISEMENT
WALL OF TEXT WARNING!!!!
Hereís my first attempt at an AAR:
I think itís important to understand the history/experience of the reviewer so that the reader can have that perspective in mind, so Iíll take a minute to give you some of my background. Iíve been around firearms my entire life, but only as a casual shooter. AR15ís caught my attention a few years ago after helping a friend troubleshoot his. The simplicity and modular nature of their design was appealing to me so I bought my first one about 2 years ago and have assembled a couple more since then. My rifle shooting experience consists of deer hunting and sitting at a bench at the range and slowly punching holes in paper (boring). Thatís the only type of rifle shooting allowed at my range. For pistol, I used to casually shoot on a regular basis 20 years ago, but stopped when finances got tough and I had to sell off my guns (and guitars). My pistol interests came back about the same time as I started my AR addiction. Again, my pistol experience is just casual plinking at the range; no quick draw stuff, no rifle transitions, no steel , etc. (none of that allowed at the range). Iím not LEO or MIL, just a regular guy. The only real firearms training that Iíve had has been 2 bare minimum pistol classes, but in hindsight, one of those was really just a diploma mill. Of course, plenty of people have given me pointers over the years; some helpful, some not. I donít shoot IDPA, 3-Gun or any other type of competition, although Iím seriously considering it. Hopefully, the above info will give you some perspective as you plow through my wall of text.
I tend to go off on a tangent at times when I think editorial/anecdotal information can be helpful at that moment, so be warned. I should have started this AAR immediately because Iím forgetting some details and order of events, however, Iím not trying to give you an agenda for the course. My goal is to provide insight to potential students who have a similar background/experience/skill level to mine and provide some feedback to the instructors. In all honesty, I canít say that this class is better or worse than any other because I donít have anything to compare against.
I recently completed a 2 day rifle course; Tactical Rifle followed by Intermediate Rifle.
The day started off with some setup, admin, and safety info. There was some brief discussion of gear, but it wasnít a commercial for anything in particular. It was more about ďthis works for meĒ, ďI tried this, but went back to thatĒ. Iíve heard that a lot of these type courses turn into ďBrand X sucks, Brand N is the only thing anyone should ever buyĒ. That wasnít the case here. My rifle is considered a low-end product by many people (Palmetto). I probably spent as much on the optic as I did building the rifle. Not once did any instructor ever insult any of my gear.
After getting all the introductory items squared away, we went straight to some basic pistol exercises to get warmed up and set a baseline. After that, it was rifle with some pistol transition, then rifle for the rest of the day. The first half of the day was shooting paper at 7yds .We learned the basic jargon, techniques and drills that weíd be using the rest of the course. In between drills there would be some critiques of the previous drill and some demonstrations of the upcoming drills. We had enough students to split into two relays, so one relay would line up 7 or 8 across and face 7 or 8 targets while the other relay hydrated and loaded mags. Some drills were run as a group, some were run individually. After each drill, an instructor would individually coach me on what I just did. The instructors had unlimited patience. While I was shooting a drill, the instructors would be yelling and applying some pressure. When I messed up, theyíd step up the pressure. I didnít find any of that to be insulting or offensive. It actually made the course more intense and fun. My Dad (deceased) was a Korean-era Marine so when the instructors got on my case, it actually reminded me of himÖexcept my Dad wasnít as polite or clean with his language.
After completing the 7yd drills, we moved back to 25yds to shoot around cover kneeling and prone. After lunch, we pushed back to ~125yds to shoot some steel from varying positions, including some competition with other students.
We ran out of time to shoot for tabs. Overall, it was long, hot, humid, and great day of shooting. I had several malfunctions that made for some frustrating moments. Iíll get to that at the end.
Most of us from Day 1 came back for Day 2. The day started out with some setup followed by some basic pistol drills. I had shot from my weak hand maybe 20 pistol rounds total in my life so I was a little surprised that I hit the target on the weak-hand drills. After that, it was back to rifle. We ran the same drills from the previous day and added some new ones. I had never shot weak hand from my rifle until that day. It was pure luck that I hit the target on that one. Drills that involved turning left or right to face the target were also introduced, leading up to the El Prez drill(which Iíd also never attempted until that moment). We also ran a drill that consisted of shooting from behind the concealment of barrels, then shooting on the move while moving to another barrel, followed by another barrel and ultimately arriving at the target with an empty rifle, which required a transition to pistol to finish off the drill, then getting the rifle up and running again. After lunch, we went back to the ~125yd line and shot at steel from/through cover in a variety of positions. Some required turning the rifle and/or your body in awkward positions. There was also some more competition among the students. We concluded the day by shooting for tabs. This was the final test to see if youíd improved or possibly earned the shooter tab. I had improved, but not enough to earn the shooter tab.
Again, it was a great day of shooting.
Rifle: Palmetto State AR15 with MOE furniture and MS3 sling
Optic: Aimpoint PRO
Mags: 12 DSG GI , 5 Sig/MecGar
Pistol: Sig P226 Elite 9mm
Belt: HSGI Padded with Cobra inner
Chest: HSGI AO
Pouches: HSGI Tacos, 3 rifle on chest, 2 pistol on belt, 2 rifle/pistol double deckers on belt
Holster: DSG Alpha
Pistol Round Count: 220 Total for both days
Rifle Round Count: 440 for day 2, no idea on day 1, but probably close to that.
I carried 5 loaded rifle mags in pouches on my person at all times plus one in the rifle.
I carried 4 loaded pistol mags on my person in pouches at all times plus one in the pistol.
Probably could have gotten by with one in each weapon and 2 in my pouches with some spares in my dump pouch.
I brought a hydration carrier, but didn't use it since our gear was close to the training area.
I was chasing my dot all day Saturday. I had zeroed to 50 Wednesday and was sure of it. I was very disappointed in my rifle accuracy Saturday and was getting very frustrated by the end of the day. One shot would go where I intended, the next shot would go somewhere else. I just couldnít figure it out.
Early Saturday, I had a stuck case in my rifle and pounded the crap out of my hand and my CH trying to get it out (hadnít learned the mortar method yet). Ultimately, I had to use a cleaning rod to get the case out. The charging handle was stiff the rest of the day and I had several more stuck cases. The chamber and ramps were full of what looked like unburned powder. My reloads had never caused me trouble before, but Iíd never run my rifle that hard either.
At the end of the day Saturday, the castle nut on my buffer tube got loose and caused my stock to rotate slightly.
Saturday night, I broke down my rifle and cleaned up everything. I put some blue loctite on the castle nut, checked my mags, broke down the BCG and cleaned it up. My charging handle was warped from the beat-down I put on it, so I replaced it. I started going through my rifle ammo and found one that didnít have a good crimp so with a little pressure, the projectile could be pushed back into the case allowing powder to spill out. So, I checked about 700 rounds and found 18 that were loose. Iím thinking that a couple of those rounds fouled up the chamber setting up a domino effect.
I assumed that my optic had lost zero, so I decided to re-zero it early Sunday before class. At 0620, I was on the range trying to zero. One string was in the black, the next was all over the place. Another student got there and was helping me when he grabbed the Aimpoint and it rotated in the clamp. The clamp screws were loose. I had every Allen wrench in my bag except the one I needed, so back to the house, apply some blue loctite, tighten it up, back to the range, zeroed, late to class. The irony is that on at least 6 different occasions in the past, I have seen people chasing zero at the range and the first thing I suggested was that they check their sights or optics to see if if they were secure. When it happened to me, I totally blanked out.
After all of that, I didnít have a single gear or ammo-related malfunction Sunday and I was more accurate with the rifle. I actually developed a little more trust in the rifle.
My pistol never malfunctioned on its own, but I caused some malfunctions Sunday due to operator error; the dreaded ďdead-manís gunĒ being the worst.
On at least 3 occasions, I grabbed a pistol mag from my belt when I needed a rifle mag. I need to figure out something there.
Edit: I was using some electronic earpro. They work great and I really like them, but there were times that I couldn't tell which side a command was coming from or who the command was for. I had to visually check to make sure that they were talking to me. For example, on the prone shooting at steel, I'd hear "Hit Right Miss" and had no idea if I'd hit or miss or if I was shooting right or if the person on the right had hit. Thats because the earpro was amplifying both sides equally and I could hear every sound within 15 yards as if it were right next to me.
Even though I was operating above my pay grade, I still loved these 2 classes. Before the class, I thought that I was a slightly below average shooter, but now I know that I am a pure beginner when the heat is on. My previous experiences with malfunctions happened at the range and I was able to fix them at a leisurely pace. When I had a malfunction during a drill with pressure being applied, I simply fell apart. My brain wasnít able to retrieve the info that I needed under stress and I reverted to bad habits. This goes to prove that repetition of good habits builds muscle memory that allows you to function almost without thinking. I now have some drills that I can practice dry at home. Previously, I was hesitant to practice mag changes or other admin/handling things at home because I wanted to learn the correct way and not create/reinforce any more bad habits or training scars. I definitely left the class smarter than when I got there.
The instructors had to jam a lot of info into 2 days. There simply isnít enough time to cover it all, but they still did a great job. I never felt stupid for asking a question and there were plenty of instructors around who were willing to help and/or coach. The class was fast paced and there was never a time when I felt like I was just standing around wasting my time or money. When we stopped shooting, it was to hydrate, learn, reload or eat. By the time I guzzled some water and punched my mags, the instructors were calling us back to the line.
Saturday and Sunday night, I dreamed about push-pull, hammers, dead-manís gun, closing the dust cover, and many other things that we covered. When I woke up Monday morning, I noticed some soreness, bruises, and scrapes that I picked up in the class that I hadnít felt or noticed until then. Frankly, I was having withdrawal symptoms all day long Monday and couldnít focus on my job. I wanted to go back to class, even though it beat the hell out of me. When I go on a week-long bike trip, I have that same exhausted-depressed-withdrawal feeling when I get back. Itís hard to describe unless you know what Iím talking about.
Iím very pleased with the instructors. Their qualifications are beyond doubt and their desire to teach is genuine. If I failed to learn something, that is 100% on me. Every topic was covered at least 3 times in 3 different ways. The only real criticism I can dish out is that there were times that the instructions were conflicting between instructors. It was nothing major that caused any real problems, was quickly cleared up and was most likely due to the number of instructors and fast-paced environment. I know itís a minor thing, but I would want my students to tell me.
Thereís an art to getting on someoneís ass without it being personal. The instructors are able to walk that line because they arenít just insulting you, they are trying to teach you to hold it together under stress. I donít take that stuff personally and got a real kick out of it, especially when they broke loose from me and got on someone elseís case.
Other Course Considerations:
I donít know if there is enough time, money or demand for it, but I think there is some value in a course that is more basic than the Tactical Rifle. Maybe it isnít a full-day course. Iím thinking something along the lines of the mechanics of weapon manipulation. A course that could be done inside if needed. The focus would be those basic things that we kept talking about all day. Getting the weapon into your workspace, ďsniffing the magwellĒ, malfunctions, transitions, etc. Maybe someone else already does that or maybe itís too basic for Ronin to mess with, but it would put people like me in a better starting position for the Tactical Rifle Course.
The classes are worth the time and money. They are fast-paced and full of great instruction. I will definitely get more training from Ronin and I will earn that shooter tab. Ronin doesnít just hand those out because you showed up to class. The standards are tough and they are fair. The courses are fun and the results are measurable.
Posted: 4/4/2012 10:34:45 PM
[Last Edit: 4/4/2012 10:35:09 PM by HermanSnerd]
Very thorough review miker.
I had no idea you were having zero problems during the class.
I guess it's a little too late to tell you that I had an unused spare upper in the truck all weekend
that you could have borrowed.
Posted: 7/30/2012 12:45:05 PM
If anyone is interested, we have one slot open in our 2 day Ronin pistol class scheduled for October 6 & 7, 2012.