I wanted to throw this up for Dave and Mike at Timm Training. Shooters looking to get training are always looking for feedback of who are good instructors vs not-so-good, and I feel that they have enough potential to be a good resource for shooters in the MN/WI/Dakotas area, especially the Brainerd/Twin Cities/Twin Ports areas.
My background is I am a WI LEO, and certified through WI's DOJ as an Instructor to instruct Academy-level curriculum and am a WI DOJ Firearms Instructor in the Unified Tactics block, with other various certifications and training in that field. Also, for full disclosure, I run 10-32 Solutions, a training division for my company on the WI side of the Mississippi that is working towards similar goals that Timm Training is. I have been active on various forums, and usually participate in AAR's of training that I attend, and in reading of ones that others attend. The knowledge and experiences that can get posted in good AAR's help all of us, and I was asked to do one based on my observations from my background. I do not have any financial interest in Timm Training, and was there for the sole puposes of learning and reviewing.
Timm Training Instinctive Carbine 1 AAR –Comprehensive
Who: Timm Training- Training company staffed by Dave Timm and Mike Davis. Dave and Mike are current LE, and between the two of them they have training and experience through military combat deployments, competition shooting, LE and tactical topics, and Civilian CCW concerns.
What: Instinctive Carbine 1- This is Timm Training’s basic carbine use course intended to take the defensive carbines that much of the public has purchased and begin to instill the fundamentals needed to know how use them as the tool that they are, either for defense, competition, or recreation.
Where: Brainerd area- While the range itself was a half-hour drive from Brainerd, the area is considered the center of MN, and is also considered to be the recreational area for the Twin Cities. It is an area that is a perfect location for what Timm Training has to offer.
Why: Most people (Guys most often) honestly have an inflated sense of their shooting abilities due to their egos. It takes a true man to realize they are not God’s gift to shooting and they aren’t going to be able to grab any rifle and stop the hordes like Doc Holiday/Chuck Norris/John McClane. People don’t usually think that they are as good of a pilot as Chuck Yeager or as good of a race driver as Dale Earnhart, but it is quite common that many think they can win a match or a fight if needed with their rifle without proper modern training. Note I said modern training, and it is an important distinction. It takes a real man to realize that the pursuit of knowledge is never ending, and that developing the skills of shooting and developing competencies with firearms use is a road that will provide challenges and enjoyment to those that travel it. It takes a lot for a person to admit to themselves that their beliefs were wrong and to explore new methods. Instinctive Carbine 1 is Timm Training’s perspective on how to begin seeing how defensive and competitive use isn’t like shooting your deer rifle, and what is important along the way to help you succeed.
I have known Mike and eventually Dave for a few years now. I also am a sworn officer in LE for nearly two decades and have instruction experience similar to theirs. I met them when I was attending training to continue my own learning and have kept in contact ever since. Our mindsets are similar, and while we do not agree on everything we all subscribe to the same view that what we teach and learn are not the ways, but “A” way. They asked me to come up and take the course from them to help them evaluate it so that they could know where the course strengths are and what suggestions I would have to help them make it better. They know that I am brutally honest and fair in my views, and that I give the good along with the bad. I am used to AAR’s after tactical incidents and training, where the participants air out everything good and bad. No one can learn and improve if everyone plays lip service and are yes men to the Team Commander and Leaders. The only way learning occurs is for personalities to be put aside and honest evaluations and discussions occur. It is with those ideas in mind that I was asked to attend the course, and what follows is an AAR that Timm Training asked to be written to be passed on so that some of the lessons learned in class can be read by others to help them in their own training.
I have attended a lot of courses over my career, with varying instructor personalities. One of the things I really enjoy and appreciate is Dave and Mike’s ability to maintain an air of professionalism, but also the ability to be down to earth and approachable. Because they are current LE and work Patrol along with other duties of theirs, they know what it means to be in the public and have the humility that goes along with that. To a lot of people, that means a lot.
Equipment that I used: It has been very difficult for me to replace any ammunition that I use for training. I had to make a choice and I told Mike and Dave up front that I would need to do the majority of the class with my Smith & Wesson M&P1522 carbine in .22 Long Rifle. While rimfire ammunition at this point is probably harder to get a hold of than other calibers and probably more valuable to me as a shooter, I can’t use it for duty. I know that my Black Hills is still a year out. The M&P 1522 is one of the best investments I have ever made, and it maintained an accuracy level comparable to my M4. My sidearm is an M&P9 that I switched to a year ago, and no real issues with that except that it absolutely does not like the Rem 115-gr FMJ’s I had for training. I have grouped 6-8” groups at 25 yards with that ammunition, and I am trying to use it up so I can switch to a 124-gr load that the barrel has shown it prefers. My 1st-line belt setup has stayed pretty standard over the years. It is an ATS War Belt sleeve that has a pretty common loadout for sidearm, a spare rifle and pistol mag, EAG dump pouch, and Blue Force Gear trauma kit. The most recent item attached was a Peters Custom Spada rifle mag holder. I got one of these from Greg Peters this past spring, and it has exceeded my expectations. I used the MOLLE attachment and it sits at exactly the right angle from my body to allow me to wear armor and still draw from the belt, and it has securely held all magazines I have tried in it, from USGI, Magpul, to the rimfire MP1522. The rest of my magazines sat in a modified Tactical Tailor MAV 2-Piece chest rig with an X-harness. It’s a rig that I have set up for anything I might be involved with, be it work, a walk in the woods, or training.
Class starts with a classroom portion that goes over some of the standard topics like safety and expectations. It is good for everyone to be on the same page for firearms safety, and it never hurts for a quick review of the safety rules to make sure we don’t get complacent. Dave and Mike also covered topics involving differences in various zeros and why they recommend the 50 yard zero for their purposes. Carbine optics were discussed, and Dave brought out his “Red Dotted Stepchild,” an Aimpoint M4 that he had a habit of dropping to prove a point on durability. That RDS was then used by a student for the class as a loaner, and it proved again why Aimpoint is the standard that it is.
The classroom portion continued with a discussion on ballistics. Much of the class learned how the .223/5.56 cartridge is ballistically the safest inside of structures due to the fact that it penetrates less than handgun bullets or shotgun slugs. I’m summarizing this data, but the myth that 5.56 bullets will go through a house and the next one across the street still holds fast, and it was nice to see this information, summarized as it was, presented.
It is very important for a new student of defensive rifle use to sit down for a introduction course first. There is so much information that can be delivered to that student, ranging from stance and grip, to manipulations, to ballistics, to gear, and on and on. Mike continued with a quick demonstration and explanation of some of the gear that can be used to carry magazines and sidearms, summarizing 1st and 2nd Lines. One of the good things about the focus of what they try to instruct came from what Mike said about gear: “It’s all about being practical” Choose the gear that fits what you need it for. For example, one very new shooter of retirement age knew that there was a requirement to be able to have 5-6 AR magazines on the line. This allows for more time to be spent shooting and less time spent walking back and forth loading magazines. He purchased a Eagle/Blackhawk style mesh nylon vest that allowed him to carry them. It didn’t fit him well, it inhibited his pistol holster, and by the 2nd day his back had had it. It honestly wasn’t going to be something that he would likely use in how he was planning on using his carbine. I threw Mike a USGI magazine bandoleer that I carry in my loadout stash to loan him. It was a simpler concept, something he was more likely to grab with his carbine if he needed it, and didn’t give him the fits that the vest was giving him. It was too late to save much of his back pain, but he was able to focus more on learning the weapon than struggling with a distraction.
Timm Training does has a Basic Carbine curriculum where they take people brand new to the AR platform and walk them through information like maintenance, nomenclature, and knowledge meant to help people spend their money wisely on accessories that are practical to what they intend to use their carbine for. The information given during the classroom portion was good quality, accurate information. There was enough to cover that I can see holding a 2-3 hour classroom portion the night before, so that more time could be spent on one on one issues, helping identify gear problems, and address more questions so people understood better some of the reasons why this information is important and how its come about.
We moved out to the range shortly after the classroom portion. Zeroing of the primary sight was done at 50 yards before lunch time. It saves time and ammunition if you can come to class with your carbine zeroed for the most part. I only had to make minor adjustments to change from my duty load to the practice load. For the most part, equipment and rifles were of decent quality. One carbine was set up more for competition with a higher powered magnified optic and a offset dot. The class was good for him, because the dot was mounted 45-degrees to the left of the optic, and as a right handed shooter he found the position of the dot was not as efficient for him for close range targets as it may have been if it was mounted on the right 45-degree side. The rest of the carbines were set up to be used as fighting guns, so to speak. There is a benefit to much of the market, training, and AAR’s that have been posted over the last few years. While there still are weird gimmick products out there, like a rotating rail system, grip sleeves for the magwell, etc, there was relatively few of those in attendance at this course.
One thing about the central MN region is that a certain AR brand is made there. People buy local in order to support that economy and feel a sense of pride in doing so. I will admit, as a young Deputy Sheriff I had the same belief, and felt it was a good thing to have the company close by in case I needed service. Over time, I learned that the chances of me actually needing that service were greatly diminished when I bought decent quality in the first place. I personally witnessed a great many issues with that companies firearms that could have been avoided if we knew then what we know now. The shooter next to me had a lot of fits with his carbine from that particular company. This is not to put that shooter down in any way. He repeatedly had failures to feed and/or fire the first day. It was to the point where his carbine was a bolt action after feeding the next shot instead of a semi-automatic. Generous lubing of the carbine didn’t help, and this shooter switched to a backup carbine he brought the next day.
I brought this point up for a couple reasons. People attend courses like these to learn, not only about their equipment, but themselves. In this case, the student took a carbine he had purchased years ago and had set up for his preferences at the time. This course I felt was pretty low stress for the equipment, but there was something that was making it not work. Knowing the track record with that company, my hypothesis is quality control, but I haven’t been able to speak with him to see the final verdict yet. Once the failure point is identified, he can then take steps to improve the overall reliability. Sometimes this is as simple as improving the staking on the carrier key or castle nut, or by putting in a couple parts to improve the extraction. Something to consider as well is the amount of money that is being invested to take the training. It pays to research ahead of time to find out what carbines, ammunition, and gear works or doesn’t work. That way you can focus 100% of your resources to the skills you are pulling the trigger for instead of having the class and drills progress past you because you were fixing malfunctions. You aren’t getting the value and intended repetition of those drills then.
Last fall, I shot a Huldra carbine at this range to see if I could make it fail. I couldn’t then, and I was pleased to note that some of the students were using Huldra carbines that had been set up as mine was. While I considered this to be a fairly low stress course, it was good to note that the Huldras all worked, and the students using them were able to focus on learning good fighting stances and shot groups on target that I felt were more than good enough to stop a potential threat or score needed points in a fast match.
Zeroing and the first half of the drills on Day 1 were done using a special target that Dave had printed up that used a large cross, various sized circles that had colored rings or numbers, and a generic IDPA/USPSA target shape. Some effort went into designing these targets, and as the drills progressed, Dave had teaching points put in as students were able to see how height over bore works and how easy it is to compensate for it once if becomes a natural factor. Students were able to gain confidence with trigger control by making hits within the ½-inch wide vertical line, and their groups in circles that mirrored the sizes of target areas for deadly force purposes. There were no coincidences in how Dave set his target up, and the drills were well worth it.
We changed targets to a traditional silhouette for the remainder of the course. Once students were instructed about height over bore issues, we were expected to be able to make hits from distances of 50 yards all the way up to 5 yards. We continued the rest of the afternoon with a number of drills that got everyone familiar with needing to shoot as many shots as needed to stop a threat. I felt this was a good point that Dave and Mike included, as it helps students break habits of only firing a prescribed number of shots over and over again.
Day 2 began with a lot more technical skills for the students. The day was a full day on the range, and started out with a discussion from Dave with getting everybody thinking about gear and carbine issues that people had the day before. Dave covered different types of malfunctions and clearing methods, and after working through drills to get familiar with getting the carbine back up and running, students had a partner load magazines for them with dummy rounds inserted at random.
Transitions to pistols were covered, and Dave and Mike did additional drills involving being able to use a red dot optic without a functioning dot and further did drills where students deployed their back up iron sights if they had them. The last formal drills dealt with lateral, forward and rearward movement while shooting, skills that they felt very strongly were important enough for a basic course.
Dave and Mike had a surprise planned for everyone for the final portion of the class at the end of the afternoon. Dave has a good 3-Gun competition background, and is a sponsored shooter at local and national matches. He designed a course with a shooting box that gave decent room for lateral and forward movement, and it faced an estimated ten targets of varying distances that were meant to simulate hard cover or even people in a crowd. In the middle of this crowd, was a threat target standing on top of a R/C chassis, with Dave holding the controller. On the command, you were to use the box to move if needed to be able to see center of mass if it was hidden by one of the barricades. In the meantime, Dave made the target move, like it was a person shooting at you and trying to not stand still. And he did a pretty good job of it, and was even able to rock the R/C chassis back and forth to make the target dance like a pendulum when shooters got cocky. Dave took concepts of a competition stage and was able to incorporate very realistically elements of how a person might need to employ a carbine.
The second station that they had set up were two sets of Ivan targets set on springs. They were intended to simulate a person that had taken a hostage as well as a couple other bystanders of varying heights. They controlled the movement with ropes, and were able to make the target simulate as if it was a person trying to hide behind a hostage, along with bobbing and weaving movement the hostage taker would likely also have. With all the bobbing and weaving, students were expected to be able to know height over bore and make head shots when able. Again, this was a very good drill that they had set up that provides some needed variety to most traditional classes that only have drills set up on a firing line. There was little down time with these two stations, as both Dave and Mike had people flow through them rapidly enough to accomplish what they intended.
The course was not without humor. I think that everyone had a pretty decent time, and there seemed to be lots of discussions going on with the different students. One point that I think everyone will remember, is when Andy (Unastamus) was up for his 2nd turn with the R/C target. We had all experienced how frustrating it was with how it could move. Everyone had the emotion that you wanted to “STOP!” the thing. Well, during one of Dave’s dances with it, while Andy was shoot at it, it happened to fall over. Andy quickly seized on the opportunity, and delivered a couple quick anchor shots to make a point for the damn thing to stay down. Dave’s expression for a brief second was one of terror, because the target was now at the same elevation as the R/C chassis. It was worth the laugh for Andy to win the fight finally with it.
One of the students asked me why I was taking this basic class, considering my background. As an instructor, I also need to return to basics and fundamentals to keep myself sharp. In every class I go to, I will learn something. This class was no different, and it was good to see another teaching style. Dave has a talent for describing things with catch phrases, and they help the students catch on to various concepts. Dave and Mike are no strangers to running a range, and were able to identify when students needed individual attention.
Instinctive Carbine 1 from Timm Training is an excellent starting point for people looking to utilize a semi-automatic defensive rifle more efficiently, either for competition of defensive purposes. They are a skilled and knowledgeable resource for the people of central MN, and I would not hesitate to recommend a course from them to anyone.
-End of AAR
Thanks for taking the time to read, and hopefully take something away from my experiences.
After Action Review: Timm Training Instinctive Practical Carbine, Level 1
29-30 June 2013
Breezy Point, MN
TD1: Low 80’s and sunny, high gusting winds
TD1: Low 80’s and sunny
The range was set up as a 50yd range in a private rock quarry outside of Breezy Point.
Dave Timm is the primary instructor for the course, and he has a background in law enforcement and a patrol sergeant, firearms instructor and armorer. Dave also works as a sponsored 3-gun shooter for Mills Fleet Farm and Huldra/Korstog Arms. Dave has been directly involved in the development and production of the Huldra and Korstog line of rifles that Fleet Farm sells, and he continues to work at the Mills Fleet Farm range in Baxter, MN and handle customer service and support issues when people need technical assistance. Throughout the training, it was readily apparent that Dave had a wealth of technical knowledge about AR15 construction and operation. This was a significant asset to the training. When Dave answered the questions he was asked, he was completely fluent in the subject matter. Dave also had a charisma that I believe helped several students get comfortable with this type of training, which for many was foreign territory.
Mike Davis is a current deputy sheriff and firearms instructor and armorer, and has a background in the US Army Airborne and large contingent/battalion weapon armoring. Mike has previously been very involved in bringing high-level training to this area, including people like Larry Vickers and Jeff Gonzalez (Trident Concepts). Mike had a level of quiet expertise and it was obvious from the start that Mike was highly knowledgeable of the AR15 platform and mechanics of operation. When guns would go down on the line, Mike was there to assist, diagnose and in some cases, repair the guns. Mike spent a lot of time behind the line doing the “behind the scenes” work of helping to assess student shooting habits and maintaining safety standards. Mike occasionally participated in, or led, some of the direct instructing. When he had something to say, it was always worthwhile information that made a needed point. Mike’s focus for starting local training and becoming an instructor was to improve the firearms training of law enforcement firearms training with Tier One instructors.
Dave and Mike had a good chemistry and they did a great job working with each other and complementing each other. The instruction they provided was a tandem effort that worked well. Dave was the primary instructor for the course, conducting the majority of the hands-on instruction. However, Mike had a very integral role in keeping the course running and making sure that people were keeping up with what Dave was teaching. He gave individual assistance to shooters as needed, and in the case of this course, it was very much needed. When it came to demonstrating actions and drills, both Mike and Dave were right out in front running the drills at full speed, including live fire. Some instructors will not demonstrate their curriculum to students, or they will demonstrate it while shooting into dirt and open space. This is done instead of actually shooting a real target, and this leaves people with questions about the actual competency of the instructor(s). In the case of Dave and Mike, there was no question about their competency or proficiency. It was obvious that they knew the subject matter they were teaching, and that they were capable of doing everything they were teaching. Their targets reflected this.
Dave and Mike were very patient with students, and in the case of a couple students that needed intensive monitoring and remedial instruction, they were rendering the needed instruction to get the student educated correctly. Being that both were law enforcement firearms instructors, it was obvious that they’ve had experience working with a wide variety of shooter skill levels. This served as an asset to the instruction, and even more so with this particular class.
One thing that really sat well with me was how blunt and honest the instructors were. They were accepting of the fact that people had educational and financial limitations with rifle and gear selection and procurement, but they made it clear that people should always strive to get the best quality components possible. The phrase “put garbage in, get garbage out” was mentioned. This was a very apt and appropriate statement, and it rang true as the course progressed. Dave and Mike were accommodating, but vocal and honest about the quality of certain components, guns and equipment. If something were suboptimal, they would say so. This level of honesty was appreciated, because I do not have a lot of respect for instructors that are more concerned about making their students feel good about their purchase, regardless of the logic of the purchase or quality (or lack thereof) of the product.
Throughout the training, it was emphasized that what they taught was “a way”, and not “THE way”. They believed that while it’s important to get your money’s worth in training, it’s more important to get training that is worth your time. You can never get your time back, and they wanted the time to count for something.
If I had to identify the one biggest strength of this course, it would be the Cadre. I think that they have a solid foundation to build a great training group as the future progresses.
Previous to this course, I have gotten to know the instructors from prior training. Additionally, I’ve talked to Dave at length over the past year or so privately. We’ve been exchanging ideology, methodology, general gun chit-chat and a cop talk. A couple months ago I was contacted by Dave and asked if I would come to this course as a guest, for the purpose of doing a detailed AAR of the course, and to evaluate the course and offer constructive criticisms to help Dave and Mike develop the course. I have to say that I was a bit taken aback by this, as it was unexpected. I didn’t really expect to be asked something of this magnitude, because it’s a pretty big request. I have two guys who I consider friends, and I am being asked to critique and evaluate something that they were putting their full efforts into. However, I knew that if there was any way I was able to help them develop their training doctrine, I wanted to do all that I could to help them.
A mutual meat-eating hard-charging friend of ours, Chad Halvorson of 10-32 Solutions, was also asked to participate and offer an evaluation as well. Chad and I have known each other for a couple of years, and with Chad being a fellow cop and shooting enthusiast, we have gotten along great. He’s a guy I’ve really come to respect, and who has a lot of experience and knowledge. We are similarly trained, so our methodologies and mindsets are generally pretty parallel.
I have a lot of respect for Mike and Dave for having the stones to actually seek people to come in and independently evaluate their program. This is not because they chose me, but because they were looking for an independent voice to help them be the best that they could be, and offer the best training that they could. It could have been a myriad of other people instead of me, and I still would have the same level of respect for them. It takes a lot of courage to put themselves out there like that, and it shows a dedication to constant improvement.
Now, I mention all this because it’s important to note that Chad and I were at this course as guests, and not as paying students. I had full participation in the course, as did Chad, but we were there to evaluate the course and offer feedback. The purpose of this AAR is to give that feedback, as well as to give learning opportunities to future students. Conventionally, I typically do AARs for the purpose of self-analysis and for my own personal development. I did get some valuable information out of this course for my own use, which was a great bonus. However, much of what I am posting is an overview of the course and what it offers.
Chad and I carpooled up together and we had a good discussion on what we were looking for. Personally, I was concerned that this course would have a lot of competition shooting style drills and methodology due to Dave’s involvement with 3-gun. There is a bit of a disconnect sometimes between competition shooting and combat gunfighting, though I will touch on this issue later. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the course was gunfighting based, and not a modified competition shooting class.
There were a total of 11 shooters in the course, including Chad and myself. The experience levels of the students varied greatly. Chad and I were at the apex of the experience levels relative to where the other students were. One or two other students there had previously been to a course. Both were good shooters with good rifles and good kit. They had a very limited amount of experience though, and this became visible when it came to movement drills, but more on that later. Another student was a retired cop, but had been retired for several decades and was not familiar with this kind of shooting. This really demonstrated a major shift in law enforcement needs and training, and I consider it a positive shift that continues to move in the right direction. A couple students showed up with rifles that they had literally just purchased and had not done a shakedown shoot with. One student was an “intensive attention” student and was the proverbial “THAT GUY”. He was not intentionally bad, but his level of unconscious ignorance was extremely apparent. He had a bad case of what he called “revolver-itis”, where he was used to having his finger on the trigger. Indexing his trigger finger and keeping it off the bang switch was an ongoing problem throughout the course. Mike was on him constantly about his trigger finger, and he was diligent about making sure safety standards were maintained. I’m rather certain that the other shooters down there appreciated this attention to safety.
It’s important to note the first safety is that spongy organ between your ears, and how you approach your safety methodology mentally has a lot to do with how you implement it physically. This was a problem for this particular student, because right away at the beginning of TD1 in the classroom he announced it to the instructor that he had revolver-itis. I think the did a major disservice to himself by acknowledging that he had this issue, because I believe it reinforces to his brain that he has to keep on doing it. Instead of saying “I have revolver-itis”, he should be saying “I’m going to keep my finger off the damn trigger NO MATTER WHAT.” His mentality was that he was going to have the problem, so it was something to work back from. He essentially told himself that it was okay for him to have that behavior because he’s done it in the past. He justified his actions. Students should never do this. There should always be a conscious effort to be safe, and this guy simply did not grasp this concept. He never got his head straight about safety, because in his mind he never put it together that putting his booger hook on the trigger was unsafe. It was considered safe with a revolver with a 17lb trigger pull back in the 1970’s and 1980’s, so in his mind it was just as safe to do so with a 7.5lb rifle trigger. In reality we know it’s unsafe no matter what, but he never put this together. I question whether he really made a full effort to inculcate this mentality, because his trigger finger was a constant problem for both days that Mike had to keep on him about. When I say it was bad, I really mean that it was bad. To be fair, I just don’t think he “got it”. “It” referring to the mindset necessary for gunfighter training.
New students will go from unconscious ignorance where they don’t know what they are doing wrong. You simply don’t know what you don’t know. As a student progresses with good training, they move to a level of conscious ignorance where they start to realize that they’re making mistakes and actively work to correct their mistakes. Eventually comes conscious proficiency and then unconscious proficiency. This unsafe student never vacated the realm of unconscious ignorance. The student was good about keeping the rifle pointed downrange, but everything else was simply a lack of understanding and implementation. He just simply was not grasping any of the concepts, and I don’t think he really fully understood the mentality he needed to have for this level of training. To this student’s credit, at the end of the course he openly admitted in front of the class on his own that he was in no way qualified to participate in this course. He recognized that he needed more remedial training.
It’s important to note for all potential students that they need to be honest with themselves about their actual level of proficiency. The biggest disservice someone can do to himself or herself is to lie to themself about how good they really are. Training is not a place for ego and arrogance. It’s a place for humility and keeping an open mind. Too many people assume that conventional weapon usage qualifies them as being proficient with a semi-automatic military style rifle, and that simply isn’t the case. The fact that I play mini-golf with a putter does not mean I can compete in the PGA. The same applies here.
Ultimately, I think that this shooter will never really truly grasp this methodology. It’s not something that everyone can learn, nor should they. Some people are just not capable of grasping how this stuff works. It happens to a lot of people with something or another. Try as I might, I could never learn to read sheet music. Just couldn’t. This shooter would do well to accept that he just doesn’t have his mind right about learning this subject matter, and perhaps stick to general marksmanship training with remedial courses, and then just stick to deer hunting.
This shooter did sit out on one evolution of instruction due to physical limitations. When doing so, he was behind Chad and me as we were shooting. He mentioned later that he learned more about shooting watching Chad and I than he did from anything else. It was a complement to Chad and me, but on the same token I couldn’t help but be a bit offended for Dave and Mike. They were presenting the material to this shooter and really working with him to learn it. Try as they might, he just did not comprehend it. I realize that some people are visual learners, but later when I worked with the guy, it was the same old issues that never went away.
There are things to learn from this, so my purpose is not to bash this gentleman. Instead, it’s a way for us to learn about being honest with ourselves, and understanding that mentality and mindset are far more important than many people realize.
Pistol: S&W M&P9 w/ Apex DCAEK and RAM upgrade, and Streamlight TLR-1S weaponlight.
Primary Rifle: 11.5” SBR with LaRue billet lower, Geissele SD-C trigger, Noveske 60 degree ambi safety, VLTOR upper with Daniel Defense barrel and rail. Also has a PWS Triad 556 flash hider on the end. Optic was an Aimpoint CompM4s w/ LaRue mount and an Aimpoint 3x magnifier in LaRue mount.
Backup Rifle: 16” middy with Noveske Gen2 lower, ALG Defense QMS trigger, BCM upper and BCM BCG, Daniel Defense LW barrel and DD MFR 12.0 tube. A BC 1.0 was on the end of that. Topped it off with an Aimpoint T-1 w/ LaRue mount.
The gun belt was a VTAC Brokos belt with HSGI riggers belt insert. I have this setup exactly like my duty belt, so I know where everything is and how it works. I have to get a full extender for my Safariland ALS holster. The belt has ITW fastmag pistol pouches and a EMDOM-MM dump pouch. I also have my CTOMS Slimline IFAK pouch on it.
Vest was a Mayflower R&C Assault Armor Carrier in Multicam with an SKD PIG hydration carrier and Source 2L bladder, Mayflower shingle mag pouch (4 mags), an additional BlueForceGear Ten Speed single mag pouch, and a BlueForceGear tourniquet holder with a CAT tourniquet.
Rifle Mags were strictly Magpul PMAGs. Rifle ammunition was Federal XM193. Total ammo count for me was approximately 400-500rds rifle, and about 30-40rds 9mm 124gr FMJ pistol.
In terms of my gear, I had no issues. Everything I have has been arranged and rearranged enough now that I have everything in a working configuration. My 11.5” rifle was used the whole time, and it ran flawlessly. It is currently sitting at about 7500 rounds since it was last cleaned. The rifle always runs with a heavy dose of Slip2000 EWL, and it continues to run flawlessly.
My M&P9 at one point managed to get a heavy dose quarry sand and gravel in it. It still ran like a champ after that and without being cleaned.
Gear Issues in Class:
Oh boy…wow. Where to begin? There were problems galore in the class, and several of these problems were preventable. Many were the result of ignorance. Ignorance isn’t always a negative descriptor, because the reality goes back to the old saying “you don’t know what you don’t know”. The ignorance was simply from lack of experience, as well as lack of research. Much like anything else, doing responsible research in the tactical realm pays dividends.
There were 11 total shooters with three having piston rifles. 2 were Huldras, and one was an LWRC. There were a couple S&W M&P15s, a couple frankenguns including mine, and Chad ran both his BCM EAG Tactical carbine and his S&W M&P15-22 .22LR rifle.
Throughout the course, I took notes, and I generated almost a page and a half of notes on student problems that arose throughout the course. So, without further ado, let’s get on with it.
One shooter was running an 11.5” SBR frankengun using a BCM barrel and components from other quality companies from Noveske, BCM and so forth. It was a well put-together gun, and he was a good shooter. He was having significant ongoing cycling problems using USGI style mags, and possibly others that I didn’t see. The rifle was equipped with a Sprinco Blue (ENHANCED power) spring and “H2” buffer. He was using PMC Bronze ammunition, and his rifle was having issues with feeding and full extraction. Dave and Mike went through some diagnostics with the rifle, and at one point Dave handed the shooter a PMAG loaded with Federal XM193. The rifle then ran like a Swiss watch. Dave and Mike advised the shooter to change out his spring to a normal power spring to reduce the resistance on the BCG due to him using lower powered PMC Bronze .223 ammunition. The shooter mentioned that he has used PMC Bronze extensively without issue. The issue is that PMC Bronze is made in South Korea, and it’s been my experience that a lot of overseas ammunition is inconsistent in load pressure and reliability. It is quite possible that the shooter got ammo from a lot that was more underpowered than PMC Bronze already is. This reinforced that when you have to put your trust in ammunition, you are always best off buying the highest quality stuff you can get your hands on. High quality domestic companies have better quality control and consistency, which leads to more consistent performance. Additionally, the shooter was not aware that BCM designs their barrels and rifles to run on 5.56 ammunition, not lower powered .223. This reinforces another facet of rifle building and buying, which is that rifles may be designed and tuned to specific types of loads for specific purposes. It’s important for the buyer to be aware of the operating designs and parameters of the components they use.
There was a shooter running a woodland camo painted/coated DPMS topped with an old Nikon ACOG-style design ripoff scope. The rifle made it through zeroing, but after that, it just simply wouldn’t run reliably. Yet another DPMS epically fails- THIS IS MY SHOCKED FACE… Mike later took the rifle apart ande the gas rings inside were ripped up with chunks missing. Or at least what was left of them. The rifle didn’t make it through TD1, and never made a return.
Additionally, the Nikon optic was not all that impressive. We zeroed at 50yds, and when we were making adjustments to the zero, Dave and Mike assigned him the adjustments to make and wrote the adjustments on the target. The shooter made the necessary adjustments, and the zero barely shifted. It took numerous attempts and volleys to get the optic dialed in to get zeroed. The adjustements of the optic were way off, which is an indication of a poorly built optic. Because the DPMS didn’t make it through the course, I never got the chance to see if the Nikon would lose zero.
One shooter had an LWRC M6A2 SPR with a Nightforce NXS Compact 1-4x24 scope mounted on top. This was an excellent setup, but the shooter had literally no range time with it and had gotten the system only a couple days before. It’s a quality rifle, but it’s generally a really bad idea to take a brand new rifle to a rifle course if you don’t have a backup. You need to test fire everything. The shooter didn’t have any rifle problems, but he did have issues with his stance. He had some problems partially due to his smaller frame and lack of experience with this shooting style. The shooter failed to use good body mechanics, which can overcome lack of strength and size issues, to help control the recoil. As a result, he got a nasty scope kiss on the forehead that was bleeding pretty good. He didn’t do enough to control the rifle. This shooter also showed up to class with no rifle magazine carriage system. The instructions specifically stated to do so, and the shooter did not follow them. He was outfitted with a loaner chest rig by Mike and Dave. The shooter also ran a GripPod on the front end of the rifle. This was extra weight on the front end of the rifle that made his manipulation and control harder. Shooters should constantly evaluate the benefit-or lack thereof-of every accessory they use. In this case the added weight was causing additional problems, and Dave wound up talking to him about it and pointing out that it was causing more problems than it was helping.
Prior to coming to the course, a student decided to get into 3-Gun competition and had a friend build/buy him a setup for it. The rifle was a Colt Competition AR15 with 20” stainless bull barrel and a Benny Cooley comp. The optics were a Nikon M-223 4-16x42 scope in a low-end bolt on mount, with offset picatinny rails at the rear of the mount that put a rail at both the 11:00 and 1:00 locations. The shooter had problems with an optic at the 1:00 position, because it was positioned directly behind the shell deflector at the rear of the receiver. As a result, the shooter mounted the offset red dot at the 11:00 position. This is problematic for two reasons: first, the shooter was right-handed and right-dominant, so the mount was directly in front of him. This caused him to have to take his face off the stock when he used the red dot. His head was directly next to the rifle, and without the consistent cheek weld, it slows target acquisition speeds and reduces the stability of the rifle. The second problem is that the red dot location reduces situational awareness. When using the scope, you have the red dot low in your line of sight when using binocular vision. When using the red dot, the scope to the left completely obscures all of your right side peripheral vision. This is not only problematic for transitioning between multiple targets, but it makes it hard for you detect threats to you in on that side in a real world environment. In a training environment, it could also prevent you from seeing what the rest of the class is doing, or if you have someone move downrange for any reason. The proper way to run an offset red dot in this situation would be to run it at the 1:00 location, and then when transitioning to the red dot, you do a 45 degree inward rotation of the rifle to use the red dot. This allows you to maintain a cheek weld and use the red dot, and also to maintain situational awareness.
What’s further is that he was running the red dot pretty extensively, which indicated that he was running the wrong setup completely. Most of the class was 25yds and in, so with all the closer range engagement, it was worthless to have the Nikon scope. When he did use the scope, which was rare, he was very slow to engage the target. That scope was not designed or equipped for what he was immediately using it for. It would be different for a long range course, but not for a close-range combat gunfighting course.
The red dot in use was an iTAC Defense RDS1 red dot, which is a “mid-range” red dot. It’s still not to the quality of the better red dot options like an Aimpoint T1/H1, Trijicon RMR or Leupold DeltaPoint. I didn’t hear of any issues with the red dot, but it’s always worth noting that buying the best eliminates future problems with reliability. Instead of having optics with long battery life and bomb-proof reliability, you have a hobby optic that you are relying on to slam into barrels and smack up against barricades.
To the credit of the student, he realized that his rifle was a poor choice for the course. Some learning occurred because he paid attention, and he was able to identify all of the deficiencies with his rifle setup.
One student showed up to class with a S&W M&P15 fresh out of the box with just backup iron sights. Some people are just fans of irons over optics, but this student was not one of them. He didn’t have the time or money to get one, but I don’t know which. I would hope it’s the money, because the former indicates poor planning. Remember the 6 P’s, people. Dave and Mike loaned him an Aimpoint CompM4 and he did fine with that. HOWEVER, he did not do fine with the Borat-approved ammunition he was using. The ammo was called “Hot Shot”, and it was brass cased Romanian made “5.56”. He had double feeds and outright failures to extract because the ammunition was out of spec and outright crap. Dave said it in the beginning of the course: “Put garbage in, get garbage out.” This was the case with this.
Another student showed up without BUIS, which is a NO-GO in the rifle world. You need to have some kind of backup aiming system when you run an optic. Period.
One guy was running good gear, but he had an interesting gear choice mixed in. He was running a CAT tourniquet attached to an IFAK. The TQ was attached using a rubber band. In talking to the guy, I informed him of the existence of dedicated tourniquet holders that attach to MOLLE/PALS. He was unaware of this, but was open-minded. If you don’t know if something exists, look. If you have a problem with something, look for a solution. Don’t just jury-rig your own if a more reliable option already exists.
A couple students had not shot their rifles before class, so they had no zero/BZO whatsoever. This caused zeroing on TD1 to take a lot longer than necessary. As a courtesy to others, always zero your rifle before class.
The biggest glaring deficiencies were by far the gear issues. Numerous students were running the Blackhawk pre-configured assault vests, which are known to be very poor pieces of equipment. Since they are configured from the factory, the student must work with the gear being in a set location. There is no modularity or adaptability. If the shooter does not like the configuration or they have gear interference, they are left without any option except to just deal with it. As I watched shooters try and get mags out from their vests, they were fighting their gear every step of the way. It was almost painful to watch. It was not the fault of the students, but rather the fault of the gear. I say this a lot, but your gear should help you fight better; you should never have to fight your gear. It was the opposite in this case.
One particular student made a shoulder satchel out of some former Comm-bloc bag, which is what he used as a dump pouch. The pouch was slung over his shoulder. As to be expected, he had significant difficulty getting access to the bag. That was a good reason to use a proper dump pouch instead of trying to cheap out and MacGuyver one up on your own.
Holsters were another problem. One guy ran an Uncle Mike’s nylon junk case attached to his Blackhawk vest in a crossdraw fashion, and Dave and Mike saw this and made him relocate it for safety reasons. Several students were running carry pistols, and the cheap polymer holsters that came with them. These holsters are barely workable, and several students had issues with drawing and reholstering their pistols. One student had a Serpa holster, which I still contend is a safety hazard. However, that is a decision for each instructor. Another had his pistol in an inside the waistband (IWB) holster. This one I had issue with, because it does not lend well to tactical use. Several instructors have banned IWB holsters in gunfighting courses due to the safety issues, as well as slow accessibility and reholstering.
Timm Training had a good gear list on their website describing what to bring to the course. Dave mentioned that one student called him and asked for a short list of just the basics to bring. Dave had to tell the guy several times that the list on the website was the minimum list. Some people just don’t want to spend the money on the gear, or the effort on the research.
Still, it needs to be said that there is nothing inherently wrong with having gear issues at training. That’s where we learn what works and what doesn’t. I know that the training was an eye opener for several students, and they learned about why their setup wasn’t working. It goes to the credit of the students, because I think everyone there had an open mind and learned some things about gear selection and placement.
Day 1 started with Chad and I getting some breakfast at a local greasy spoon diner in downtown Nisswa, followed by a drive up to Breezy Point Police Department. We arrived with some time to spare, but most of the students were already there. Class started at 0800hrs. There were a total of 11 shooters in the course, including Chad and me. Aside from us, Mike and Dave were already there. Stewart Mills of Mills Fleet Farm, and the head of Huldra Arms/Korstog Arms, was also there to say hello. There was filming going on by Ben Johnson, a Zeiss Optics rep, and Ben also did a quick presentation of optics and programs that Zeiss was offering to shooters. Zeiss provided students with a couple bottles of lens cleaning spray, which was appreciated.
Dave started with his introduction, and explained why the course was called “Instinctive Practical Carbine”. His philosophy was “putting a round on target very quickly”, and the importance of getting rounds on target first. The purpose was to get the shooter to be the winner of a gunfight by getting rounds on faster than their opponent.
Mike followed with his instruction, and we learned about his extensive history with the US Army and armoring and weapon maintenance.
Afterwards, we kicked off the class and reviewed safety rules. The emphasis was on safety in the class, and Dave explained that there would be strict enforcement. Aside from mechanical malfunctions, there were no “accidental” discharges; only negligent. Even with mechanical malfunctions, they are negligent if they are a result of poor maintenance.
Dave then went into the course overview, which outlined that fundamentals are the basis for marksmanship. He explained the intent of the course to teach the base fundamentals of gunfighting. He then went into rifle nomenclature and explained to the students how course terminology would work. This included how to grip the rifle, manipulate the controls and safety, and generally operate it. While doing this, Dave also touched on lubrication. He explained where to lube the rifle, and advised students on the importance of using lots of lubricant. It is always worth noting that running a quality, validated lubricant is an important element to this issue.
In keeping with the rifle components, Dave made mention that using Loctite or other threadlocker was very important. Screws have a bad habit of backing out when you least need them to, and threadlocker is a good stopgap. Another safety measure is using witness marks, which Dave also touched on. Witness marks are an easy visual indicator that can be checked in the field.
Mike took over and went over rifle functions. This course was AR15-oriented, so all the explanations and overviews were of the AR15 platform. Mike went over function checks on the rifle. A function check is not just making sure the rifle fires. Instead, it’s a check of every functioning part of the rifle. This includes optics, accessories and lights. The shooter should check operation, torque and position of screws, mount tightness, lights, optics, sights, everything. The M&M Check was detailed, which is a check of Motion and Movement. This starts by physically grabbing the rifle and shaking it. Make sure nothing falls off. Then, grab and twist parts of the rifle to make sure nothing pops off. If anything moves, rattles or otherwise comes off, make adjustments to correct this. Mike stated that checking optics mounts was extremely important, and reiterated the need for threadlocker on screws.
Dave then came back to give an overview of ballistics. Internal, external and terminal ballistics were discussed, but it was outlined in a more rudimentary manner that most new shooters would understand. Going into depth on these topics would have taken a lot more time, and brought forth a lot of questions from students who did not understand them. The differences between 5.56 and .223 were outlined. Dave made sure to warn to use headspace gauges to confirm the chambering of a rifle, and not to simply trust the markings on the barrel. A discussion of some manufacturers using wrong chamberings came up. It was pointed out that hobby brands tend to be less reliable for their tolerances than higher quality brands. During this discussion, Dave’s experience with Huldra/Korstog helped a lot. He spoke with a lot of knowledge and authority. There was a quick talk of barrel construction and how they do it, and comparing it to the barrel life you will get and why.
The next discussion was on zero, or what we refer to as Battlesight Zero or BZO. Dave did a coarse explanation that zero referred to the point of aim (POA) and the point of impact (POI) being the same without the need for any POA correction. Using the dry erase board, Dave outlined rifle trajectories and used a drawing to show what a corrected trajectory looks like. The true trajectory was the initial intersection of the rifle, with the reintersection being the second zero. Dave gave drops and trajectories for 25yd, 50yd and 100yd BZOs, and explained why the 50yd BZO was selected for the program and was ideal. He pointed out the major flaws in shorter zeros like the 25yd zero, as well as the military 36m/300m zero, which launches the bullet well outside of point blank range. Dave explained the need to hold for offset at close range, and showed the trajectories of the rounds to explain why.
Overall, the ballistics presentation was very comprehensive. It was not technically intensive, which is probably for the best. Once you get overly technical, you start to present information that may not be useful for the average training shooter. The only modification I would have suggested would be to explain to the students why an Uncorrected Sight Picture (USP) was important. The need for no correction for a long distance makes shooting easier, and Dave did explain this portion, which appeared to resound well with the students.
There was a quick touch on penetration/terminal ballistics, and information was presented that explained that carbines make better home defense weapons than shotguns and handguns. Again, this was information that several students appeared to be new to. Some good lessons were learned.
Eventually, we touched on the concepts of training. Training is a perishable skill, and Dave talked about ways to help with skill building in current times of low ammo supply and high ammo prices. Dry fire practice helps with trigger control and manipulation, if done correctly. However, the dry firing will not tell you if you miss. Other methods included laser fire and the .22LR rifles. Dave showed several .22LR options, which are very good alternatives to use for manipulation and trigger press.
The next step was talking about First Line and Second Line gear. First line gear is gear that is on your immediate person. Your belt, knife, holster, etc. The key is to have a sturdy platform. With first line gear, it’s important to properly configure it to work.
Mike talked about the Second Line gear. This refers to vests, rigs and other similar carriage equipment. Mike talked about how to configure and place the gear. He pointed out how “Big Army” methodology is flawed in reality. I am familiar with this, having seen the issued gear I had in the Army fail on multiple levels. Individual configuration meant to fit the shooter was emphasized in this discussion. Another point was mentioned regarding fitment and sizing. Gear must be adjusted correctly to work correctly.
Dave outlined the procedure of administrative loading, and the importance of working inside your workspace. When doing an administrative load, Dave emphasized the need to not throw away a repetition during this process. Draw and aim before and after loading the pistol, and raise and gain a sight picture with your rifle. This was as big point to touch on, because it’s a very important aspect. Press checks were presented and explained. This was a skill that many were new to, and it showed on the range. I never use a rifle or pistol from an administrative load without one. You cannot trust the weapon to be loaded until you verify.
At 1100hrs, we broke down the classroom and headed over to the range, which was at an aggregate west of the PD. Upon arrival, Mike and Dave gave us a range tour and explained the boundaries, exits and entrances, firing lanes and facilities. We were given a medical brief, during which medical personnel were identified. A large white target was used to detail the address of the range, as well as give the range GPS coordinates for air medevac.
Once complete, we got our rifles and took a prone position at the 50yd line for zeroing. Once complete, we broke for lunch. Most people opted to stay at the range with their own food.
Following lunch, we touched on the 7 Fundamentals of marksmanship. Stance was a key element discussed in this bloc, and it was something that resounded throughout the course from evolution to evolution. The principles involved with stance and how it affects control were highlighted. We practiced this by shooting with a hunting-type bladed stance, and then shooting with a more squared combat stance. Students noticed the difference in control between the two, which was the intent of the drill.
Next we shot to see what offset looked like. This was also a newer concept for many, and we engaged the target on dots to see where the difference was between point of aim and point of impact. In training with this, we did a walk-back drill moving from the 3yd line back to the 15yd line. This allowed us to see where the bullets were striking as the range increased.
From there, the emphasis was on trigger control. We practiced this by shooting at a thin black vertical line. This was an excellent drill, and it really did a good job at identifying any flaws in our trigger press. We started with a single shot. Following that, we went to two shots. This required us to bring recoil management and sight picture into the mix. Then we went to three round volleys. Still at slow fire intervals, it was very telling to see that recoil management was still an important factor here. Again, something affected by stance. I noticed that I was starting to speed up with my shots, which caused my accuracy to wane. I started by putting rounds right on top of each other, but then my groups started opening up as I sped up. I had to make a conscious effort to throttle back, as this is a recurrent issue with me. I always have to remember to slow down. During this evolution, Dave and Mike kept harping on maintaining proper stance. Many were reverting to a less ideal bladed hunting stance out of habit, and Dave and Mike were constantly watching and making corrections as necessary.
After a break, we did an assessment drill with a walk-in from 50yds to 5yds. It was two shots in three volleys at every range. These were shot from standing. This was a good way to learn sight picture, and work with your first best sight picture (FBSP). Students shooting from standing at 50 and 35yds were slower in their rate of fire, which is what we would hope to hear. This meant that students were trying. FBSP was emphasized, but it was especially important at the longer ranges.
When we started shooting on this evolution and from there on out, we started using a picture silhouette target with vitals barely visible on the target. There were no target zones on the targets, so students had to recognize where they wanted to shoot on a human body. This was a good concept, as it helped people to learn to make lethal shots. I would still like an outer target zone so that people could see the maximum limit of their shots. Instead, Dave and Mike had students determine what shots they thought were good and which were bad, and then tape the bad shots. While I can appreciate the personal accountability placed on the students, it could also be argued that newer shooters should have to meet a standard for accuracy and that it should be externally monitored and enforced. Still, from what I saw most students were being realistic about what constituted good and bad hits.
Rifle carry and presentation were demonstrated, with Dave demonstrating the differences between low ready, high ready/high port, low tuck and high tuck. The low ready is pretty standard. The high ready used was the high port variant that supports using the rifle as an impact device in a defensive situation. The low tuck and high tuck are akin to shooting from defensive retention with a pistol, but instead doing it with a rifle. These two shooting holds were new to me, and they were a good alternative to learn in case it ever became necessary. We practiced shooting from these positions extensively. It is not as easy to be accurate with the tuck positions, but I discovered that flicking my support side index finger forward and pointing my finger at the target made me much more accurate. For people holding the hand guard, using the thumb worked as well.
After that, we called it a day and packed up. As we did so, we had a quick pow-wow by the vehicles. It was brought up that several were interested in meeting up for dinner. We decided on Zorba’s on the north end of Gull Lake in Nisswa. Chad and I got cleaned up and headed on over there. As it turned out, it wound up just being Chad, Dave, Ben Johnson and me at dinner. So, we ordered some drinks and pizza and had a discussion on various topics about training, gear, rifle construction and the lot. It should be noted that students would do well to go to the after hours meet ups. There is a lot of information exchanged and students can learn a lot in those hours.
The day started with Mike and Dave doing a review of the previous day’s learning. Fundamentals were touched on, and again the recurring theme of stance was brought up. Stance, as well as stock placement and grip, and rifle configuration all affect how you control your rifle. Gear was discussed briefly, and it was noted how training helps shake down gear. As well as those issues, we also discussed the BZO, and how it can change with environmental conditions. We talked about reloading briefly, and the need to do it in our workspace. We also talked about maintaining a tactical mindset and utilizing follow-through.
The shooting started with a walk-in drill starting from 50yds. It called for two rounds to the chest on the command to fire, with three volleys at each range. When we got to the 15yd line and in, the designated target zone moved to the head. During this time, Dave and Mike reminded students to assess their targets and scan. This was something that was not touched on extensively, but rather just reminded to students. As a teaching point, I would have liked to have seen more extensive discussion on why this is important. In law enforcement, we are familiar with this, but many people outside of this community have little understanding of the need for follow-through.
From there we went on to malfunctions. Dave and Mike have a different system than what I am used to. Their system designates malfunction levels, not types. A “Level 1” malfunction is when the rifle goes “click” when it should go “bang”. This was termed as a “stoppage”. This involves things like a failure to feed or failure to fire. This is where immediate action comes into play. For the immediate action, their protocol was to tilt the rifle and look at the bolt, tap and pull the magazine, roll the rifle ejection side down and rack the bolt back using the charging handle. We practiced this using dummy rounds, and it was interesting to see that several students were dropping their rifles down low and putting their eyes and head down. Dave and Mike actively corrected them, telling them to keep the rifle in their workspace. Additional problems arose with students riding their bolts forward, causing additional malfunctions. Some students worked through the problems, some did not. Mike and Dave remained vigilant and kept making corrections as needed.
They went on to detail “Level 2” malfunctions, which is where the trigger is mush like with a failure to extract. This called for remedial action. The methodology taught was to put the gun on safe, lock the bolt to the rear, look in the rifle, strip the mage, rack the BCG three times, reinsert the mag and fire. The way this was taught was again by using dummy rounds and creating a double feed. Some students required extra attention and guidance, but for the most part most students did quite well.
It was during this time that Chad and I had stepped back from the line and did some observing of the instructing being done by Mike and Dave. There were a couple students that continued to struggle, but Mike and Dave never gave up on them. They were vigilant and identified when students had issues.
They outlined Level 3 malfunctions, which were essentially the Type 8 malfunctions with a brass over bolt condition. For this, it was emphasized that a transition to pistol was the best option if you could not clear it readily. Dave and Mike selected Level 1, 2 and 3 to indicate Easy, Harder and Hardest.
This segued to transitions. The method taught here was to lower the rifle from the support side with the palm up, and back of the hand to the thigh. Malfunctions were initiated and then transitions were called for. During this, some students using suboptimal holsters began to fight their holsters. One student using an IWB holster had a lot of difficulty. Reholstering for several students also proved to be a chore. This highlighted to several students the need to use a quality holster that was configured correctly.
The question as to when to transition was posed, and it was presented that when you can make an effective pistol shot, transition and make the pistol shot.
After a lunch break, we got back down to business with positional shooting. At the 25yd line, the first position taught was kneeling. Traditional marksmanship kneeling was demonstrated, followed by basic unsupported kneeling and the reverse kneeling. Prone was then covered and demonstrated. It should be noted that Dave and Mike demonstrated everything they taught, and actually did shoot the drill they set up to demonstrate.
The next step was downed optic drills. Dave started by giving an explanation of co-witness, and then went into sighting methods for a downed optic. This involved using the tube as a window/viewfinder, using the tube or view window as a rear aperture for the front sight and using the backup iron sights. During this phase, I turned over my rifle to another student who did not have BUIS on his rifle. This student had significant difficulty with the drill, and was the same student that I detailed earlier who realized that he did not have the skill necessary for this level of course. Mike had been behind the line working with people, but he had to break to get targets prepared for an upcoming drill. Chad and I went back behind the line to assist Mike and Dave as needed.
I had a brain fart around this time. When Dave and Mike gave the command to Make Ready, I did just that. However, I forgot that the command also requires the application of hearing protection, which were still on the top of my head. The first shooting I heard was Chad’s .22, so it wasn’t too bad. Then I the .223/5.56 rifles kicked in and I realized my mistake. Moosecock moment for yours truly.
The next evolution moved to basic movement with forward and lateral movement. We started with lateral first, taking steps then engaging the target. This was followed by engaging the target while side-stepping. We moved on to forward movement and practiced while moving from the 10 to the 5yd line. It was demonstrated and explained that a more natural heel-toe walk was preferred to a crouched duck walk type of movement. During this drill, students that were shooting very good got to see the other side of the coin. I observed the targets up and down the line, and most targets went from discernable groupings to a shotgun pattern. The targets for Chad and I were pretty consistent with groupings, and there was a demonstrable difference between our targets and those of others. This was a good example of how shooting on the move is a very different skill than just shooting on the square range. I will readily admit that shooting on the move is one of my weakest skills, and I look at some of the other students’ targets and I can see where I came from. It’s a progression, and it really is amazing how much effort and practice it takes to get better at that skill.
After a break, Dave and Mike brought us back to shoot a drill. The first drill was a shooting box outlined on the ground, and then 5 targets at varying distances simulating cover. There was an R/C car with a target attached to it. Mike acted as range officer/safety while Dave controlled the car. During the drill, you had to shuffle back and forth and move in the shooter box to open up shooting angles. The car would move back and forth behind the targets, about 15-20yds away. This was a very fun drill, and it taught you to really use your FBSP. Once you had the shot, you had to take it. It was multiple shots until the target stopped and the drill was over, so you had to keep tracking the target.
The next drill was similar with movement, but it utilized a hostage target setup that was similar to what Louis Awerbuck uses. We took turns making shots on 3D targets with this drill, and it again emphasized the need to utilize FBSP. Dave and Mike each had a target setup, so this one went quickly and we got to swap back and forth and do multiple attempts. I was running with a 3x magnifier flipped to the side, so I ran through once with my magnifier in use.
After that, class came to a close at 1700hrs. We helped tear down the range and held a debrief. In the debrief, we went over learning points and people were able to ask any final questions they had. I think several students had an eye opening experience throughout the class, and I think everyone learned something. In the debrief, Dave stated that while he hoped that the course was worth the money, he was more concerned with making sure that the course was worth our time. And with that, it came to a close.
There are different levels of instructors that I would group into Tiers. Tier 1, 2 and 3. Tier 3 groups are your local trainers teaching low level courses like permit to carry training, and local gun ranges teaching intro courses. Tier 1 groups are the national level high end trainers that are the cream of the crop, usually bringing high level experience into the training. Tier 2 groups are your organizations and instructors that are offering higher level training at more affordable prices, and offering them on a state or regional level of accessibility. As such, I think that Timm Training is an outfit firmly planted in the Tier 2 arena. They offer a great training asset in the upper Midwest, and while it would be worth the money, it is also very much worth the time.