Posted: 4/4/2012 9:29:50 PM
[Last Edit: 4/4/2012 10:33:29 PM by AustinWolv]
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Outside of Austin -> Best of the West Range, Liberty Hill, TX
Ranged from MIL to civilians interested in proficiency to SD training to competition shooters. Two females were amongst the class roster. All students were required to be able to make centermass hits at 10yards as a starting baseline. There was a range of experience, and students were encouraged beforehand to use the holster/gear setup that they wanted to train on. Thus, holster rigs varied from OWB, concealment IWB, drop holsters, and competition rigs.
Class started with an intro to the head instructor, Aaron, and his crew (2 additional instructors, Mark and Elijah) as well as mindset and a refresher of pistol basics.
Stance, grip, draw stroke, and eliminating unneeded movements were all covered.
The students were then started off with some warm-up shooting to get a feel for baseline ability and range commands. During the initial 7-25 yard accuracy drills, the instructors did a starting evaluation of each shooter’s stance, grip, sighting, etc. For drills throughout the rest of the day, the instructors made personal reinforcements for each shooter and helped with additional teaching as needed. There were admirable follow-ups for each shooter to remind them of things to work on, to check how fixes felt/were working, and to offer general encouragement and additional help as needed.
Aaron directed the firing line and gave feedback across the line, while the other two instructors respectively worked each side of the line, offering individual evaluation and tips. Aaron demonstrated drills and obviously the core content, but the other instructors also jumped into the mix, which also helped bonding with the students.
The shooting was results-based, in that each drill was run to personally attend to individual skill level and make continual improvements at the individual's pace. Targets were frequently checked, in order to evaluate and teach with the instructors encouraging awareness by the student of what they were doing and how to fix it. Each student got individual attention throughout the drills and target checks.
As the drills progressed, a shot timer was added to access the individual’s natural competitive tendencies and inject some pressure/stress. The drills on the timer were run as a group and also solo by each student. However, Aaron was positive with each student to make improvements to THEIR performance, not to best the person next to them. This was important for students to evaluate themselves, realize their own deficiencies, and then recognize their improvement which kept people in good spirits.
Over the two days, the following topics were demonstrated and worked into the drills:
The class moved along at a good pace, so keep stuffing mags, but also stay attentive during water/ammo breaks as the instructors covered mindset, situational awareness, drill application, and fielded questions. There was not significant downtime, as the class packed in a lot of information and activity.
Core learning centered around getting the accurate hit at a particular distance and varying your speed as needed to get that hit.
Excellent. This was a great course for people from all viewpoints and walks to life, from LE/MIL to civilians interested in SD training/mindset to competition shooters. All were treated respectfully and given ample attention. As with any course, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. The instructors added to this by being eager to help and attentive to any questions posed. There was no catering to only certain customers or condescending attitudes. Aaron and the instructors were positive and gave genuine encouragement.
Another big benefit of this instructor crew was that they are enthused about shooting and excited about enhancing an individual’s performance.
The instructors did a nice job of explaining different techniques/viewpoints and mindset as to why they teach what they do, but they also were very open and respectful of other methods. Several times they offered a couple solutions, asking the student to try both and determine which worked best. One appreciated attribute of the crew was that they were realistic with real-world experiences and situations, not hypothetical occurrences that look great on film. On top of that, the instructors were honest about mistakes they had made or seen made in order to help drive home various points, as well as being flexible with students about other teaching methods/techniques.
It should be noted that during downtime, instructors were open to questions and additional teaching of course. I recall during one break that an instructor voluntarily initiated a teaching session on the side with a particular student to help with his reload technique, investing considerable time to do this.
The NO-EGO, friendly atmosphere filtered down to the class also as students encouraged each other.
This was drilled upfront and clear expectations/standards were given. Aaron and the other instructors were mindful, clear, patient in giving students time to make safe correctly, and most of all, they were consistent. At no time did I feel unsafe or that students were out-of-control or not being reinforced. I have been to other courses where this wasn’t the case.
I ran an HK P30L in a competition rig to particularly get more practice for upcoming matches. Went through just short of 800 rounds for the class and felt like I made considerable progress with my accuracy and trigger control. Continual dry fire practice and practice drills are always needed of course, but the class was valuable for me to make some realizations about accuracy vs. speed, as well as trigger and speed management at various distances. I also credit the instructors for helping to notice and diagnose a support hand grip issue that was affecting my accuracy that wasn’t showing symptoms until 25 yard distance. The amount of reps and volume shooting was needed and valuable in that students were able to experience the material being taught and play with how to apply it rather than just hear it and leave the class wondering how to drill it. I look forward to utilizing Aaron’s core curriculum from concealment during practice sessions at the range as well as from a competition standpoint.
This was an organized, smooth class. It was an impressive start for a new company. I recommend keeping an eye on upcoming courses from Aaron and staff. Not only was this a great teaching class that most anyone would have those "ah-ha, I get it” moments of exciting improvement, it was a great training session to refresh on various topics and get more time and confidence on your weapon system with friendly, knowledgeable instructors catching what you don’t.
Posted: 4/4/2012 10:26:15 PM
Thank you Darin, it was a pleasure working with you. You shot fantastic, which showed when you made hits at 100 yards and won two of the three walk back competitions!
See you on the range...
Posted: 4/5/2012 3:20:36 PM
AustinWolv did a good job of describing the actual course drills, so I won't re-hash the actual curriculum. I will focus more on my impression of the instructors, course in general, & other points that people may be interested in.
To give you a point of reference; I would consider myself an experienced firearms handler, but by no means an expert. I qualified expert with rifle in the Army, took several years off, then got into local carbine competitions. I normally shoot in the top ¼ of the irons division. So, I know my way around a firearm, but I'm not a grand master by any means. My rifle skills are pretty good, but I need work on my pistol skills, which is why I was interested in this class. I've been to 4 “professional” rifle courses in the past. I put “professional” in quotes becomes most were, some were not.
Starting the morning off with introductions, safety brief, then discussing the goals of the class, the course of fire we would be taught, and mindset helped me mentally prepare for the day ahead. I didn't feel surprised by any of the drills we were asked to do, which helped my settle into the day and remain confident in myself as well as the other students around me.
Our class was pretty diverse with people who just wanted to run a pistol better, to competitive shooters who wanted to sharpen their skills and shave seconds off their times.
Our three instructors were all very personable, friendly, and easily approachable. That helped quite a bit as it didn't seem like any of the students were shy about asking questions or clarification of a skill or drill.
Our instructors were all veteran law enforcement officers, competitive shooters, & current SWAT members. I found this very beneficial in that they were able to relate the mindset, skills, & drills to real life situations they had encountered personally in their time on the street, or in competition. Each instructor is very well spoken, clear in their explanations of skills, the drill being performed, & related experiences. Throughout the day, the instructors rotated up and down the firing line, so we were able to get tips from each instructor. Effectively having three sets of eyes on us to help improve our skills.
While experienced LE & competitors, the instructors did not suffer from “my way is the best way” attitude. As such they were not critical of individuals, gear selection, or whatever. However, they would assist by providing opinions, and reasons or experiences to back them up. Personal example being that in my rush to get out the door that morning, I left my normal holster at the house. All I had was my backup/loaner Serpa holster. I've personally talked to individuals who have had a ND, & seen the video's of others having an ND with this holster, so it's not my first choice by any means. While talking with me, one of the instructors pointed out that it may not be the best choice of holsters, & started a conversation about the merits of different holsters. At no time did they “bust anybody out” or ridicule someone for their gear choice, but use it as a learning opportunity. It was mentioned on a couple occasions that range time, and classes were a good time to figure out what gear works for each individual and that's a much better time to figure it out, vs. in a critical life and death situation. Shake our your gear on the range, not on the street.
I've been to a few different courses prior to this one, as well as a carbine course taught by the lead instructor. For the most part, intermediate courses tend to be somewhat similar. We're not re-inventing the wheel here.
I felt that the pace of the class was good. The lesser experienced people were able to keep pace & develop their skills, and the more experienced (I'm probably mid way up that scale) didn't seem to get bored. At all times I felt the instructors and students were being safe, not rushed, and everyone understood what was going on at any given time. The drills steadily built on themselves to become more and more challenging, which felt good. We were constantly pushing ourselves to refine our accuracy & speed. One thing that I found really helpful were the drills that taught us the difference between the need for accuracy & speed. Usually accuracy is critical, but there are times when speed is more useful & accuracy isn't needed quite as much.
Another thing I liked and found very helpful is that prior to lunch and end of day break, we would do a walk back shoot on steel from 50, 75, & finally 100yards. When practising pistol, I don't think I've ever shot beyond 40m. This helped us learn the capability of our pistol, and added a fun bit of friendly competition to the day. It was also reassuring to know that I can make a long distance shot with a pistol if I had to.
Throughout the course, attention to detail & safety (on and off the range) was stressed repeatedly, with several real world experiences to back it up. The instructors stressed safe firearms handling, getting into a routine of treating every firearm as loaded by performing a press check or empty chamber (depending on situation), rotating out duty/carry ammo, etc. These lessons are for every day life around firearms, not just this course, or trips to the range.
A couple days after the completion of the course, each student received an email that had a recap of what we learned that weekend, as well as suggested drills to run on our own.
For the price of admission, this course can't be beat. The instructors were very professional, experienced, and personable. I really wish my wife had been able to attend this class with me, but I'll be signing her up for their next class. She'll probably want me to go with her so she'll feel more comfortable, and even though I just took the course, it'll still be worth the money & time to go again.
I'm also looking forward to an advanced pistol & carbine class when they schedule one.
The instructors are great, and I learned a lot from their experiences, and the feedback they gave me on my shooting. I felt that I got plenty of one on one attention from each of the instructors, and each were able to provide feedback and suggestions tailored to me personally. I got a lot out of this class, and my pistol work certainly improved, as well as my confidence running a pistol.