Quick. Someone grab the popcorn.
Well, I have been a firearm enthusiast for most of my life. Going to the range and shooting recreationally has always been enjoyable. I also spent a lot of time researching ideas and recommendations for firearms as a defensive tool. When shall issue became a reality for us here in MN, I decided as a responsible citizen that getting a handgun permit was a good idea.
This led me to seeking instruction for meeting the requirements in obtaining a permit. Before shall issue was passed there were only 2 companies that I am aware of that were certifying people to obtain permits, Defensive Edge and Plus P. There were quite a few people offering basic handgun classes, but I am unaware of any CCW based courses that were offered at the time.
With the passing of the new law, trainers seemed to pop up everywhere. Most were offering basic NRA handgun type classes with added instruction on basic mindset and explanation of the law. To me this did not seem sufficient. Getting by with the minimum instruction required by law, while OK in the minds of some, seemed irresponsible for someone serious about carrying a firearm for personal defense.
After quite a bit of research online, in various gunshops, at gunshows, and via word of mouth from various Law Enforcement professionals, Defensive Edge seemed to offer the best class, especially for the $. It included a lecture on mindset, legal issues, use of force, force alternatives, conflict avoidance, situational awareness, how to prepare loved ones that could be affected, and follow through (what to do after a lethal force encounter). The lecture was followed by a Q&A and brainstorming session. Then off to the range for lessons on how to properly carry and use a firearm for defensive purposes. 300 rounds were required with a 50 round qualification. On top of all that, the course was offered at a special rate. Greg Sullivan, the owner of Defensive Edge, lowered his already low handgun class tuition cost in protest of other trainers raising theirs (the old Bill’s rates more than doubled with the passing of shall issue in MN) On top of the low rates, Defensive Edge offered an additional discount to AR15.com members.
After taking the class I was blown away! It was amazing how much information was offered and how greatly even the professional shooters in the class improved their abilities. Everyone received personal attention and the instruction was phenomenal. All of the students, from the new to the most seasoned shooter, left wanting more. It would take way to long to list all the shooting instruction covered, but as a testament to it’s effectiveness, everyone saw their groups shrink at least by half. Since the course is taught on a hot range, people carried their firearms as they would with a permit, which helped some of the novice shooters become comfortable with the concept. The qualification was shot at varying distances from up close back to 25 yards and required multiple presentations and several reloads. All rounds were expected to be hits to the A zone of an IPSC target. The lowest score of the day was shot by a woman that was just getting introduced to handguns. Her score? A 94%
At the end of the day those that wanted a little extra were given an intro to handgun 2. From there I was hooked. My thirst for knowledge became unquenchable. Every DETC class that could be worked into my schedule I took. Pretty soon the $ I was blowing getting new firearms that just sat in the safe, was getting put away for training sessions instead. Handgun, Shotgun, and Carbine classes, Defense Alternatives, Precision Rifle. Shooting from in and around vehicles, basic room clearing, learning how to protect my family, 360 degree engagements, one-handed shooting and manipulations, use of cover, movement shooting, pivots and turns, positional shooting, working in small teams, and way too many other things to list here. In my whole life I have never had this much fun at the range. Some of the knowledge doesn’t apply to any situation I an likely to encounter, but most of it can be directly applied to a possible CCW situation. Is there a possibility of a situation arising where a car might need to be used as cover? Absolutely. How about where I might need to operate my firearm with one hand while the other is occupied or injured? Very likely. Are there good and bad ways to do all these things? Definitely. I for one want to learn as much as I can from the experience of professionals, and practice what I have learned as often as possible.
I also plan to attend as many additional training outfits as I can. There are several that I would love to attend right now, but it would require time off work and travel or bringing in guest instructors. Not feasible for me right now but it will happen. Luckily most of the instructors at Defensive Edge have attended classes by companies or trainers that I am excited about and can share their experience with me until my time comes.
My story is very similar to Quin's and I +1 everything he said about Defensive Edge. My enjoyment of training PLUS the camaraderie and friendships I have developed is one reason why I have been training at DE and also weekly at Tactics.
I've met and continue to meet a lot of good people and learn much from everyone I meet (be it good or sometimes what NOT to do). I plan on continuing to broaden my horizons by getting as much trigger time as possible, listening to as many good instructors as I can and reading as much about tactical training as I can find.
Big +1 for me there as well.
The only formal training I have attended took place on June 9th and 10th at the St. Paul Police Department range. I attended Skills training in 97-98 and have participated in at least one qualification, usually two, yearly as required to maintain my Peace Officer License. I've grown up with firearms and have taken it upon myself to learn and practice as many tactics as possible given my limited funds and the limited funds of my small department.
Early last year, several deputies from my county brought it to my attention that their administration was going to send the them to the below class sponsered by the St. Paul Police Department. I presented my case for going to the city council and total cost for lodging, meals, ammo, etc. and I was approved to attend.
Course Title: Street Safe
POST Credits: 16
Rounds required: 1,000 pistol and 200 rifle
Cost: $450 for the course, approximately $1,200 after ammo, lodging, etc. are added in.
By going through this course I was able to test my informal personal training against structured training and came away feeling that I was at a level that I deemed acceptable. My draws and reloads were fast and smooth and my accuracy was exceptional. Timed drawing from Level 2 holster and firing two center mass 1.8 seconds. Some of the instructors, 1 or 2 out of approximately 10, didn't like that I took a knee and moved behind imaginary cover while reloading but others felt that was the correct thing to do. My equipment served the purposes for which it was designed and on the scored portion of the training, consisting of an El Presidente and a timed movement course, I scored a 145 out of a possible 145. I walked away with a St. Paul PDI hat for being the top shooter.
The course covered firing and reloading from awkward positions, vehicles, around cover, etc. A Simunitions stage was run to demonstrate firing from cover while actually being "shot" at and a role-playing segment with Simunitions attempted to show how things can go to shit in mock "real-life" scenarios. Our instructors thought we, the deputies and myself, were much too nice to the "scumbags" but we live in our world and they live in theirs. We usually have 5 or less officers on in our county any given night and have to fend for ourselves so if being nice affords us a couple of extra seconds, we'll be nice.
Several things that I learned:
-An open top duty mag holder (Bianchi Triple Threat) is my next must have duty item.
-My personally purchased AR mag holder from rmholsters.com with duty belt accommodating paddle was the best $24 I've ever spent. St. Paul officers qualified to carry rifles had to fumble in BDU pockets for mags while I was back up and running in seconds.
-A good light is all you really need on a carbine. Yes, optics are great and work very well but don't believe you NEED one.
-A standard sling, if long enough, in conjunction with a side-sling mount is more than adequate for carrying a rifle/carbine in a ready position, firing, and releasing for transitioning to handgun.
-Formal training isn't work, it's vacation with a purpose (for me anyway). Take it, soak it up, and enjoy. But don't believe that you can't practice drills on your own or that drills you perform aren't valid because you don't have formal training. A couple instructors asked if I competed or shot all the time and I told them I'd only been out shooting 3 times since March of 04 when my son was born since I'm "dad" all day-every day until I go to work in the evenings. My range sessions never last more than an hour and a half. If you have access to a desolate range, you can set up target stands to act as walls allowing you to "press" out from cover or practice slicing the pie. You can wear grubby clothes and roll around on the ground firing from behind any debris available. You can load your mags with only 5 rounds and practice firing and reloading until you don't even have to think about it. Practice duck-walking at, away from, around your targets (again if your range is informal or desolate) while firing. The only limit is your imagination and safety considerations.
Would I like to take more training classes, oh my God YES!!!! Is it likely that given my work hours and parenting duties I'll be able to, no.
Perhaps I've rambled on long enough but my review of St. Paul's curriculum is that it's awesome. There were approximately 12 students and at least 10 instrustors. It was personal and the instructors were great except maybe one who liked to instruct just to hear himself talk, otherwise they were excellent and friendly, they informed you if they saw an issue and left you to your own machinations if they observed that you could handle what was presented. I believe they hold coveted positions as instructors and all but one didn't have one arrogant bone in them.
The above is my opinion and if you listen to my wife, I've been wrong once or twice in my life so take it FWIW.
Here is my addition
The question I see is this:
Why do I or did I decide to get some training?
About 4 months ago, I would have told you that I didn't need any training.
I thought I was very proficient with a 1911 and any rifle that I can bring up to my shoulder.
Well I was wrong And I am not too proud to admit it either
My story begins when I was at the range on a Sunday back in October. A bunch of the guys that I normally shoot with were at DE's year end "5 Gun Competition" So I drove back to say howdy to everyone before I went over to do some break in on a rifle I just put together. When I was asked to take a 1911 and knock some of the steel plates off of the tree, I thought why not.
Fifteen shots is was it takes to knock both plates off, it took me 32 to knock off one
This really bothered me.
I will be honest, it had been over a year since I had fired a handgun. My main 1911 that I shoot has been a dust collector.
So Sully, advised me go out and get a Glock, and I did. I also, on my own left it alone in the case.
I didnt pick it up and finger fuck it, and pick up any bad habits, this was a new tool and I wanted to learn to shoot it correctly. Trust me this was hard, I have a new handgun that I didn't monkey around with. This was my way of showing that I was going to be serious about the training.
Now some of the reasoning behind my reasons for not training.
I've been around firearms most of my life.
I quailified Expert in both Handguns and Rifles when I was in the Navy
I shoot at least twice a month
The List goes on
Not good enough
I have now been to a couple of Half day classes and had a great time, learned some new things and I am ready to learn more
I used to shoot with a cop when I was in college in Santa Barabara. I probably went out a half-dozen times with him. That was over 15 yrs ago. Between say 1990 and 2003 I never touched a gun. I lived in CA and guns were baaaaaad. Lived in several other places, including Wash DC, and was gunless in all those places. Dad never took me shooting when I was a kid, so I guess guns were just not part of my thought.
I'd been back in MN for a couple years and lived in South Mpls. Not a bad neighborhood, but definitely no walk in the park. Saw my share of hoodlums and had my house burglered twice. Decided that I should probably do something to protect me and loved ones. Decided to make house safer with some simple things but also decided to get a home defense tool. This was just about the time the PPA was passed. I’ve since moved but come to realize that there is no such thing as a good neighborhood.
In any case, when I lived in South Mpls, I tried to get a permit to purchase, but had an out of state DL so couldn’t. Went to the DMV. Don't remember the issue, but it was taking over a month to get the permit to purchase since I had to get a state ID. So decided to get a permit to carry since that process looked like it would take no longer than the permit to purchase (used passport).
Took a class at Plus P. Instructor was a real good guy, but for the $, I got about 6 hours of in-class and 50 shots point shooting on the range with a rented gun. Bought a used Glock, went to the range several times on my own, read some books, and did some drills (holster work) in the basement. Figured I was getting ok so when traveling for work, I decided to do a 2-day Suarez class which was in the same city I happened to be in that week. I learned a ton but also learned that I knew squat.
Did a lot of searches for local training and somehow stumbled on DE. Took some cold weather classes, carbine, shotgun and HG2 but still was lacking some of the pistol fundamentals. Finally got enrolled in a HG1 to revisit some of the basic skills. Feeling much better but also know I need a lot more work. Plan to take HG1 again, as well as some of the other classes that DE offers. The instruction is top notch and compares favorably to the other nationally renown training I have taken, and the other guys in the classes are good to train with plus offer good camaraderie. Plus the carbine and shotgun classes have opened me up to a whole new world of shooting.
Just started Tuesday’s at Bills. From my experience Len is a good instructor and the other guys are good to train with as well. For me it is about trigger time. HG is much more difficult to master than my others so I figure I can use as much trigger time as possible. The way I look at training is as much about preparedness as it is an enjoyable hobby, good camaraderie, and a chance to challenge myself to improve skills.
I don’t think any of my training was wasted (except the point shooting was kind of useless but got me a CCW), but had I an opportunity to do it over, I’d start with the fundamentals and try not to rush things. As it is now, I have a lot of bad habits to undo.
When I now go visit my dad in CA, we go to the range and enjoy time together (he ended up with a Glock 17). I know I will introduce my kids to shooting and let them experience it at a young age. I sometime go with the future Mrs. GoBlue to the range, but she does not enjoy it that much. Too bad, I wish I could get her to come out to some of the training I enjoy.
My dad was a Sherrifs Deputy. My dad and I took firearms/hunters safety together when I was little. Guns were always around my house growing up, but there was only ever one pistol, my dads Smith and Wesson Model 66 duty gun. "Pistols are just for killing people," my dad always said, and I was never allowed to shoot it. By the time I left for college, I had a couple of my own shotguns and rifles, but no "killing pistols." My dad had let me hold revolver, but never fire it. My dad and I lost contact during college, and after college I joined the Army as an MP. I still remember shooting that Beretta M9 the first time (first time ever shooting a handgun), and I SUCKED! I barely qualified marksman the first time. But I was expert with the M16.
So I got to my first duty station and was now an MP. My life depended on the Beretta M9 that was probably better as a hammer in my hands, than a firearm. I spoke with anyone whom would listen that I wanted more training. I got to go to armorer courses, and ranges, but really no training, for the first two years. I got a little better with range time, but not very confident.
My third year in the Army, I PCS'd to South Korea, and was stationed with a forward observer Infantry unit. I was now a Sergeant myself, but still wasn't confident in my abilities with a pistol. Most of my unit were Rangers, or ex-Delta members. My Commanding Officers was in Mogidishu (sp?) as a commander of an extraction team (Yes he was mentioned in Blackhawk Down, NO he didn't like to talk about it!), and he was very pro-training, if you wanted it, he'd do what he could to make it happen.
I was sent to reactive fire ranges, reactive target ranges, movement ranges, the shoothouse, and I got to train with some of the Rangers in a 3 day CQC live fire exercise. Through all this I met enough people and got to go a few precission rifle courses and a 3 day combat engineer explosive range (off topic, but COOL AS HELL!). My pistol groupings had seriously improved, but still wasn't great, although all the training did get me more comfortable behind the trigger.
When I came back to the states I was given a desk job (read: boring management). My training became more drug investigations training, defensive driving, and hand to hand training and basically little to no firearm training.
Since I got home, I have taken one class from DE, and will definately take more. I became a better handgun shooter in one day at Sully's class, than 7 years in the Army. I enjoyed that the class could go from being one of 15 shooters, to a one-on-one class without a hic-up. Sully definately has a 'nak for instruction, or maybe it just clicked with me? Also I've met a lot of good people at the DE class, whom I've since been shooting with on occassion. Currently I shoot frequently with friends from a local Sherrifs Office (my dad's old friends from his S.O.), and I think I've managed to lose most of what I learned last summer at DE.
It's time for more training.
Why do I train?
It started as a skill building exercise to get my carry permit.
My wife and I took a Defensive Edge class.
We experienced three of Minnesota's four seasons in this class. (Fritz was assisting).
At the end of that day my wife looked at me and said, "You up for handgun two?"
I've met the greatest people there. Many have become my friends. A few have become close friends.
Nothing like a buddy kneeling on you putting fire accuratly on target as a bonding experience.
I'm gonna hit Bill's one of these days. If nothing else, to piss in mcneilson's pocket
I've been told I do about 240 hours a year at Defensive Edge.
To be honest, I don't much think of it as "school" any more. It is more like going to the dojo and working out under the Sensai's eye. He will leave you alone until he can't take it anymore.
There are a lot of guns I haven't purchased because I spent the money on training. That said... I can shoot all the ones I have. Very well.
I'll never be done learning (I hope) And I think any that go to classes anywhere will agree that it is one hell of a lot more fun than bowling!
We might be soon comming to a venue near you!
Well, I guess I'm a late bloomer compared to the rest of the group...I grew up with a very anti-gun father. A shotgun for hunting was sort of acceptable, but any sort of military weapon or handgun even, simply had no business being in anyone hands. He just simply couldn't/wouldn't comprehend it. He thought the NRA was the most vile and disgusting organization that man ever created.
In the spring of 2000 I was given the opportunity to purchase part of the farm the guy across the road from me had in his family for more than 150 years according the the title history. Buying a piece of land like this is often a once in a lifetime chance, as generally once farm land changes hands, it doesn't change hands again until the owner dies. Not getting it, would have meant a lifetime of regret. So the back40 came to be.
One day while going for a walk on it, the idea came to me that it would be fun to have a little .22 of some sort to shoot. I knew pretty much nothing about guns, and I quickly learned that the guys who run the gun stores didn't really seem to know anything about them either! After coming across rimfire central I knew it had to be a 10/22!
I then thought it would also be smart to get some training, so I took a handgun class at local range in the fall of 2000. Point shooting was the doctorine taught here...It seemed to make sense, after all, the guy upfront claimed to have all this knowledge and skill. What did I know? I had never fired handgun before in my life before taking the class. After the class I had my heart set on a Beretta 92FS Inox. What a mistake that turned out to be! I still own it, because it is a pretty looking shelf piece, but I would soon learn they were tactically useless.
I was discussing my new arsenal with a good friend at work who I knew also owned various types of classic firearms. A guy who was just hired heard the discussion and mentioned he owned a few guns and suggested we head out to shoot sometime. Hell yeah.
Well, we get up to the range(which happened to be Princeton) and he pulls out an AR15 and my eyes probably shot out of my head just like in the cartoons. I was like "Where did you get that? How much do they cost?" I had no clue that the gun I drooled over in the movies, could actually be obtained by a mere mortal such as myself.
I had to have one. But that wasn't enough. The damn things just started multiplying like rabbits. I came across the original ar15.com and was a member for several months before the big crash. I bought a few cheap pieces of gear and headed out back to see what I could do. A few hundred rounds and some mag changes later I thought I had it all down. But yet, something seemed to be missing, so back to arfcom I went.
I went to the training forum and saw people talking up a few of the better known training companies at the time, but they were all a plane ticket and hotel costs out of reach. Then I read a post from this guy named Sully who mentioned he was doing training in Minnesota. A few emails later and I signed up the wife and me for a carbine class in the summer of 2001. I found out real quick I wasn't anywhere near as good as I told myself I was. (It's interesting watching newcomers come out to class and realizing the same thing...and watch them go through the same phases of realizing it that I did...) A year later in 2002 I took DE Handgun I. I was hooked, lined, and sinkered. This stuff was awesome. This is also where I quickly learned that handguns with slide mounted safeties that need to be decocked before you can reholster them (like the Beretta 92FS) should never have been invented.
Some 5 years later I've become a Kool-Aid drinking, magaholic, ammowhoring training junkie. I've never counted how many hours I've spent training the last couple of years. I would guess somewhere north of 200.
One of the things I've found most interesting in the few short years of my life that I've been a gun junkie is the number of people I've come across who own a firearm of one sort or another. Gun ownership is far more prevelant than I ever had previously known.
I always like free piss!
I have a similar story.
Been shooting since about 10 or so, started handguns around 12, Dad's Ruger Auto .22 and Walther P-38. By 18 I had my Ruger .44 and .45 ACP and .22 Single Six and the ol 10/22.
Fast forward to gettting my permit at 27, figured I knew how to shoot, no big deal. Took a carry class thru Todd Gleason at Armored Fire. I shot there, saw the poster, figured, "good enough" Had a class for a 4-5 hours, then range time. 50 rounds, 7 yards, try to keep most of the rounds in the black on the silhouette....okay. Didn't have a problem, but Todd was busy trying to keep people from doing unsafe things, and in general saw a lot of scary stuff. Who cares, I got my permit now
The next Spring, I see a link at TheHighRoad.org for Cold Weather Rifle, some place called Defensive Edge. What the hell, $45 bucks for half day of shooting, i got nothing better to do. So here comes Big D and his FAL, to what is really cold weather carbine, everyone else has AR's, and so begins my history of having Sully razz me I believe that first class for me was myself, Fedgunner, Dwayne (Fed's pal) and I think GoBlue.
Had a blast, learned a lot, met some great guys. Then it was CW Shotgun and on it goes. Finally took Handgun 1 so I could take the alumni courses. I thought it would all be old hat, blah blah.
I couldn't be more wrong....I don't really know how to explain it, but I made groups , half to a third their previous size at the end of class, in addition to going over the legalities and mindset of CCW. I think I scored 92% on account of 3 flyers I really pulled, but a huge improvement.
Just taking Handgun 1 helped all aspects of my shooting, then I've taken Carbine and Precision Rifle, got the pepper at Defense Alternatives. My shooting has greatly improved, but more importantly, I learn something new all the time. Really I need to take some classes over just so I can get refreshed or pick up something I missed, there is that much.Also, I have met a GREAT bunch of guys and it's just plain fun
Probably sounds like an ad for DE, but anyone that knows me can say I tell it like it is.
As for anyone else's outfit, I haven't taken their classes for whatever reason, but I can't comment on something I haven't done. Seems to me, that that is how all these arguments got started, if you're going to post it as an opinion, go thru it so you can vouch for it, or have the caveat that it's an altenative, but no first hand experience. IMHO anyways.
If I got the chance I would try other instructors just to see what they do differernt or have a new approach. But for me, DE is convenient.
Bottom line, any training is good training, you can never learn too much.
Probably my longest post ever
I moved out here from the land where there is no more evil a man than the one that owns gun--Kalifornia. I was an odd Kalifornian, the moment I left work on my 21st birthday I headed to the store to buy my first handgun--USP40. I haven't been able to stop buying since.
I moved here in 1999 and since then I've been hunting all over the US. I Love guns, but loving guns doesn't mean that you can shoot them well. I've been pretty successful on my hunting adventures. I took basic hg classes in ca, and shot regularly at a local range. when I moved out here I started shooting at Bills. I really didn't like the range or the people running the shop so I stopped going there.
I returned after John Monson took the reigns. I became a serious shooter when Len came on board. My wife and I took one on one classes with Len and got our CCW permits. Len suggested that we attend his new program--Tactical Tuesdays. Len really opened my eyes about tactical shooting. I've only missed a few since they got started--hell, I was there for a few hours on my anniversary. I got serious enough that I actually took their instructor course and am now a satellite instructor. Like the rest of you I've met some good people at the classes and become good friends with a couple of them. I really look forward to my weekly outings to the range.
My goal for this year is to branch out a bit. So far I have only been going to Bills for training. At the insistence of my good friend mcnielsen I have sent Sully at DE an e-mail to get on his list. I plan on attending at least 5 of his courses this year. I make a fair living so I have the luxury of being able to afford to attend different classes and programs, and i mean to take full advantage of that. Education is power and we should seek out quality educators, take what they teach us and become better/safer shooters.
VA-gunnut I am very jealous. I wish I could train with those 10-8 guys. Hopefully you will see how serious we minnesota shooters are and convince trainers like Pat Rogers that it wouldn't be a waster of his time to contact people like Len or Sully and set up a class up here.
I would love to have Pat Rogers here. He and Sully know each other, so that wouldn't be an issue. The trick in getting him here is fitting it into his busy schedule and finding a serious group of students that would make it worthwhile for him. I'm pretty confident that it will happen at some point
A very good post BulletcatchR made on another forum..
Oh, hell yes. Thanks, BulletcatchR