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Posted: 4/3/2008 2:51:33 PM EDT
After months of waiting, I finally got a shooting weekend. Truthfully, I figured it’d snow the day we started, since it was a paid for months ahead of time and was way at the bottom of the state….I wasn’t far off. It started at midnight with freezing rain, and changed to mostly rain by the start of the class. Never got much out of the 30’s the entire day Sunday. Makes for a cold trigger finger.

Sunday and Monday of this week I spent at Pat Goodale's Practical Firearms Training in Alderson, WV. I was one of 9 folks from the Valley Guns 2 (from Inwood) group that attended Pat’s Defensive Handgun I and II class. From upper 50's to 22yrs old, we had a wide range of ages, from thin and svelte (me) to a few with large "fuel cells" as Pat called them. From athletic to armchair (almost wheelchair) warrior....we sure had an interesting assortment. Made for a great variety of shooters.

We spent the first 3hrs in the classroom getting to know Pat, and him getting to know us. He discussed range rules, course and equipment criteria, range commands (threat, clear, ready, holster safe among some), his expected results and answered a multitude of questions we might have had. His preferences for handguns, calibers, whether police, Special Weapons guys, military or civilians were easier to train…we learned about each other.

After lunch, we started on paper silhouettes to get an idea of where we were. We progressed to distances from just over a yard to about 25yds, strong hand, support hand, retention position, shooting plates against a competitor, flat on your belly shooting the pistol like a rifle. If there was a way to shoot the pistol, we either practiced it or already knew how....and practiced it again anyway. His reasoning was that if you needed it, there was no bad way to accurately present it to the bad guys. His requirement was that you were able to hold your spread hand over the group, no matter how far away you were or the amount of rounds you shot.

The entire time we were shooting, there was usually no more than 18" or so between you and the guys on either side of you. Literally, you put out your elbow, you hit the next guy. Pat runs a hot range, once you load up in the morning, you stay loaded until you're done for the day. With the exception of a few (very few) times when we cleared to practice, you were literally ankle to ankle with another person. We learned presentation of the handgun to the target from "around the clock": 12:00, 1:30, 3:00.....up to 10:30 without sweeping your neighbor. Practicing that close worried me for the first 2 shots, but seeing how well Pat reads your capabilities, my worries were soon dismissed. We had, for the most part, some pistol handlin’ suns o beeches. It hit home when we were going from presentation to a kind of butterfly like safe position flat against our chest back to presentation while he walked back and forth in front of us. (yes, Pat is still alive!) Not a single AD or ND during the 2 days.

Some 1/4 scale steel silhouettes were prepped for day 2. It was tough seeing them and not being able to tag them. But tomorrow is another day. We did get to “compete” on the plate rack. At 15yds, I’m great. At 30yds, I suck. Of course, a 10” ? circle at 90’ in the heat of battle……damn things definitely looks bigger close up.

Second day started a bit warmer and right off the bat we were hot and shooting. The quarter scale steels took a pounding that day. “round the clock” shooting, stepped barricades, shooting from behind cover. One drill had us changing magazines like girlfriends in college. I’d have said underwear………but...... Present, walk to the right in the ready position and on command shoot 2 shots into target. We went diagonal, left, right, back, diagonal fore and aft for what seemed like 5 minutes straight. One step, 5 steps, you didn’t know until he yelled “THREAT” and tagged the target. I emptied all 8 magazines (15 shots ea) during that drill.

We also did a drill that consisted of walking at a 45 degree angle to the steel silhouette, shooting as we went. When you got to the top of the line (about 20 yards away) you transferred your pistol to your right hand, shooting at the center steel as you crossed that 20yrd strip, then both hands again as you backed away from the target at 45 degrees. Shoot as often as you like, but a minimum of one mag change during the drill and minimum 2 hits per target. Once everyone completed that, we went back up, crossed the straight section with the pistol in your left hand, and back down to the start. On the return trip, I emptied 3 magazines, and missed 1 shot. I didn’t remember missing, but he said I did. I also walked entirely too fast, but only missing one, he said that was OK….just slow it down.

We practiced corrective action for a jammed or inoperative handgun. (The 1911 style guys were already proficient at this....I'll explain a bit later....) We put in up to 6 snap-caps into 2 magazines at various places, and did the Tap Rack Ready - Rip, Tap, Rack, Ready and Lock Rip Rack Rack Rack Tap Rack Ready. Say that 3 times really fast. I guarantee it takes longer to say it than it took us to do it. Anyhoo, the snap caps drill progressed into doing it one handed….you get shot in the left hand, you ain’t gonna be real proficient at changing mags. We learned to do it with one hand, using everything from the belt loop or holster, to your thigh, crook of your leg, boot heel, car body….what ever made that slide go back. Once we had that mastered, we did weak hand (Don’t call it weak hand, there is no such thing…it’s support hand…SUPPORT HAND DAMMIT) drills. You haven't had that much fun loading/unloading/locking slides using only your support hand. My Witness (EAA 9MM in Wonder Finish) has such a thin slide, and it's inside the rails made it even more fun. But, 10 minutes of this drill and I could do the whole Tap Rack Ready, Rip, Tap, Rack, Ready and Lock Rip Rack Rack Rack Tap Rack Ready in seconds...with my weak (smack), I mean support hand and still get 2 hits on target.

The car drill was intense, to say the least. Pat is beating on the car roof and yelling outside the drivers door, his assistant Mike is shooting to the rear (real bullets, but safe direction) You were setting in the car, there were bad guys at 1 and 3, and you had to get 2 hits from each of the designated spots: #0- seated inside, hit the 3:00 guy 2 times through the passenger window, #2- open the door (from the outside) and make 2 hits on the guy at 1:00, from the crook of the door and frame. #3- Close the door, and 2 hits to the 1:00 guy shooting across the hood. #4- Hit the ground, hitting 1:00 from under the front bumper. #5 Make your way to the back of the car (by the gas cap) and 2 hits across the roof into 1:00 guy. #6- was 2 hits off the right rear bumper, across the trunk into Mr. 3:00, then #7 slide/wobble/hop on over to the rock behind the car and put 2 more shots into Mr. 3:00. Any mag changes, any stoppages, anything that happened, you didn't stop shooting or moving......oh...I almost forgot. Pat has this nice AirSoft pistol (400some ft per sec) Glock 19 replica, I think. If any part of your body came out from behind cover.....you got tagged in the offending body part. Yes, it stings. Don't ask how I know. One of the guys accidentally locked the door on the way in.....needless to say, it don't lock any more....truthfully it never shut right again either. He really racked it opening it.

Second to last drill was the Jacob Drill. You’re behind a large rock a long ways back. He's got a 45# dumbbell about 40+yds or so away. This is Jacob....meant to be his son (or yours), or another child in a parking lot in trouble. About 20 or so yards in front of him is the plate rack (or the 6 bad guys). Drill is to sprint up to retrieve Jacob, and take down at least 3 of bad guys during the sprint up and back...your choice how you do it. There was a car up on the right about 20yds, but no one had used it for cover. Hell, he didn't tell me NOT to use it, so I did. Did I mention I still suck at plates over 25yrds? I got 1 on the way up, 2 while I picked up little fat-ass, and 1 more on the retreat. No AirSoft welts on that one, but I did pull a muscle behind my left knee on the retreat. Little bastard is on reduced rations until my next trip.

Last drill was the plate rack again. You against another competitor. You get your 3 down first, you win. You can continue shooting the other guys plates if you wish. Best of 3 runs. I got 2 out of 3...not too bad. I still think the one I lost was a tie....but he had the AirSoft....what was I gonna do? I still suck at plates.

Lessons learned:

I’ve been shooting for about 35 years, just about as long as I’ve been riding motorcycle. Much like riding, you need to practice and train to keep in shape…lest you do something stupid that gets you killed. Pistol shooting (actually any shooting) is the same. I hadn’t shot (because of working 12hr days for most of the last year) in quite a while. Old habits learned on 12yrs of military ranges hand to be unlearned, 30 years of habits needed tuning, and you’re never too old to learn to do something both different and correctly. I can present the bad guys my handgun much faster, know several dozen new ways and positions to do it, and with rare exception transfer the lead to them in a better, safer (for bystanders…hell with the bad guys) and more expedient method. This training was worth double the price (don't tell Pat), tailored to the entire group (individual training is available) as a whole, but still intense for my novice ass.

I learned that “Expensive” pistols aren’t for long tactical range days. Bar none, and I mean to the number, every high dollar pistol there failed to fire at a rate I’d consider to be unacceptable. Kimbers, Springfields, Wilsons, …..all jammed, failed, ….just plain quit working well after about 50-75 rounds. Constant mag changes, constant failure to feed and failure to fire. During the orientation Sunday, Pat said they were just too tight, that a little bit of dirt or heat would gum them up. To the number, each and every one did. Expensive guns, expensive mags, didn’t matter, they just didn’t work well without constant attention. I’m sure more than one either went back to being safe queens or were sold/traded this week. I was amazed at what happened.

Glocks, H&K’s, and even my cheapie Witness did great. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I didn’t have a single failure that wasn’t induced during the snap-cap drill. I didn’t clean it Sunday night, no oil change, nothing. I was shooting American Eagle, and not a single misfire the entire time. A bit dirtier than some, but it all went bang when I pulled the trigger. Something like 800-1000 rounds shot (lost count of the empty boxes), and not a single FTF or FTF. I’d consider that a good day.

All in all, Alderson, WV isn’t all that local for some folks, but the area is easy to maneuver in. The natives were nice, services were easily available. Go out I-64 towards Charleston, get off at RT219 south or follow his directions. The Brier Inn in Lewisburg, WV is a nice place to stay. Shoneys, Ruby Tuesdays, Applebee’s right there, even Army nurses in the lounge Sunday night….not a bad setup. It’s worth the money, time and fun as hell. For the first time in my life my trigger finger was sore….as was my ass, legs, knees, arms, neck……I’ll just have to learn to hide those better next time.

Pat: Good job! See you again next year, if not sooner.
Link Posted: 4/3/2008 5:37:49 PM EDT
Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the post. What did it cost?
Link Posted: 4/4/2008 3:36:09 AM EDT
Our cost was $300 for the 2 days. Website says most classes are $150 for an 8-10hr class unless noted differently. (http://www.pgpft.com/info.htm) Shoot him an email or phone call (numbers on the site pgpft.com) for specifics. That didn't include renting a Glock, ammo, hotel, food, hookers...just the 2 classes.

He does classes in Montana as well, for those just a bit west of us.

Link Posted: 4/6/2008 6:54:28 AM EDT
Good AAR. I have attended two classes with Pat. Pat G. and his staff are good people. Pat has been there and done that and I like his teaching style.
Link Posted: 4/7/2008 9:30:29 AM EDT
Great review. Thanks a bunch for doing this, especially in such great detail. Every time I go I plan to write down what I did, but I never do.

I haven't been to THAT many places to train, but Pat's is definitely the best.

The airsoft gun must be a recent development, though!
Link Posted: 5/25/2008 8:21:46 PM EDT
Great review, thanks for posting! I intended to take the handgun I & II last spring but it never materialized. I think I need to make the August class this year.
Link Posted: 7/17/2008 7:09:54 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/11/2008 8:25:18 PM EDT
I completed the Defensive Handgun I & II class's with Pat this past weekend. I was planning to write a complete review but 'millerized' summed up a lot of the class already. I had the fortune of taking the class in fantastic weather. The unfortunate part of the weekend is that the WV State Fair started the same weekend. Luckily, my friends family has a home in Marlinton which we could stay. Some were not so lucky and had to find lodging in some not so great places but we all survived.

We had a small class so that accounted for a few differences I believe. For instance, we did the car drill as the last thing on day one. On day two, we got to shoot 2 moving target. One had 4 targets which popped up that had a balloon in the middle. We had got 4 cycles of the 4 target to get them all, I don't believe anyone shot all 4. Then we got to do a drill which had a left to right moving targets. Otherwise, our class sounded very similar to what 'millerized' experienced.

This was my first formal firearm training class (my joke of a concealed carry class 8 years ago doesn't count). That being said, I have nothing to compare this too but I cannot imagine a more efficient use of time. Pat and his assistance did a fantastic job. A lot of time was spent on safety. I never once felt uncomfortable as they were very on top of everyone at all times. The first half of day one was spent in lecture. I didn't know what to expect of this but looking back I believe it was time well spent. What I remember the most was the discussion on proper use of deadly force and the scenario's which it may be used. Some were obvious, but in other scenario's no choices were good ones. It really got me to thinking which course of action I would take. Hopefully I will never face any of those but if I do I might be able to make my decision a little sooner as I have some forethought.

I don't shoot very much, particularly with my handgun, and that was very evident when we first took the range after lecture. With more trigger time and great advice from the instructor I improved vastly over the weekend. I went from making a 25" group at 12 yards to being able to hit the silhouette target with my off hand only at 25 yards with some consistency.

I don't recall the name of the drill, but the one that I remember the most is when we used our off hand to hold back the aggressor, paper silhouette in this case, while drawing our guns to our side and taking shots to the abdomen. I have never once shot my gun with any part of my body in front of the muzzle, so it was intimidating at first but after doing it I certainly see the power. Also, the time we spent firing from non battle stance position really gave me a lot of confidence in my shooting. Firing strong handed, off handed, off handed backward, from prone at long distanced, laying on back and shooting upside down, etc.

I really enjoyed this class and would recommend it to anyone with any interest in shooting a handgun. Even if they don't conceal carry, still a great class. We had at least one guy in II which took it before and coming back for a refresher. I could see myself doing the same in a couple of years. It was a lot to take in and I'm sure hearing it all a second time could only help. Not to mention, I had a great time. Pat and his staff were very professional and I enjoyed every other student that was taking the class. I'm already thinking forward to taking his 'tactical rifle' class hopefully next year.
Link Posted: 8/12/2008 4:20:39 PM EDT
Link Posted: 8/29/2008 6:58:53 PM EDT
Yes, weak side. Sorry I missed this response for so long.
Link Posted: 10/15/2008 7:04:39 PM EDT
Great AAR's. I'm glad there is a place like Pats here in the state. I didn't know about it until I found this thread. Hopefully I will be able to take a class or two next year.
Link Posted: 3/29/2009 4:48:55 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/5/2009 5:51:58 PM EDT by millerized]
I'm here again right now. Amazing how fast a year goes by.

Spent the first day both doing review and new stuff. Approximately a 500rd day today, with a 14hr day tomorrow and a full day again on Tuesday. Great instructors, superb learning and above all....another day spent shooting. What else could you ask for. Video footage being shot for some of the drills today, hopefully I survive the 9000v knife, shoot-house and the night shooting. Gawd, I love this stuff!

I wrote this for another site, but figured it'd be good here as well.

One broken rib, multiple bruises from fighting simulations, skin peppered with few pieces of copper jacket from thousands of bullets ricocheting off steel targets, welts from being shot with a training pistol, one cane whipping from a simulated rear attack and 2 electrocutions with a 7500 volt fighting knife simulator. All in all a great weekend. Pending a sanity check :-) as we speak cause I paid good money to have this done!

Actually a super weekend. I broke the rib on Sunday, the first day of training. I knew it hurt, and finished the 3 days Tuesday afternoon all the while sucking down aspirin after aspirin. I didn't find out it was broken til Wednesday afternoon when it started to really hurt to breathe. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory pills is the current training regimen for a while. The rest of the "pain" is just thinking about how much money I spent doing it....and the fact I'll be doing it again next year. And, above all, smiling knowing that I'm the one getting the better end of the deal!!!

Anyway. This was the second year "we'd" gone to http://www.pgpft.com Pat Goodale's Practical Firearm Training facility near Alderson, West Virginia. (if ya get bored, http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=9&f=19&t=226133 here's the review of last years trip). Pat runs an exceptional facility. While it doesn't look like much when you first pull up, what it lacks in pretty signs and fancy decor, it more than makes up for in training. As we've found out over the years, other "training" facilities manage to cram 2 days of training into 5 with 40 minutes of training followed by a 20 minute break in the ProShop or cafe. Not Pat's. One you load up in the AM, you're running and gunning until it's time to go home, save for a 30-40min lunch break. You want a break, take it while you're jamming mags with ammo....which you'll get lots of practice doing. When he calls you to the line, you'd better be ready. He rotated 2 of the 3 assistant instructors over the 3 days. We had Mike throughout, and Dean and Zandy in and out over the same period.

Pat runs a hot range. You load up in the morning, and you can unload when you leave...if you want and you're legal to do so. All firearms are loaded, but holster safe when not actually firing. When you get to this level of training, safe handling practices are subconscious... they just happen. Being around 10 (13 last year) guys with loaded and potentially deadly weapons isn't the least bit scary at this point. If you've never been around guns, this ain't your warm and fuzzy place.

We practiced and trained for approximately 30hrs over 3 days. Most days started at 8-8:30 and ended at 5:30 or so. The one day started at 9AM, and finished up at 11 that night. From moving targets, to stationary steel and paper, I ran through 1150rds. Dozier Drill, Mozambique, Cafe' Diablo, Tueller Drill, "Cab Driver deserts you after driving you into an ambush complete with IED simulator and an AK firing blanks" drill. A Tueller drill using a 7500 volt Shocknife (http://www.shocknife.com)

For those who've never heard of Sergeant Dennis Tueller, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tueller_Drill do a Wiki search on him. Sgt. Tueller wondered how quickly an attacker with a knife could cover those same 21 feet (6.4 m). So he measured as volunteers raced to stab the target. He determined that it could be done in 1.5 seconds. These results were first published as an article in SWAT magazine in 1983 and in a police training video by the same title, “How Close is Too Close?” A common test of handgun skill was to start with one’s hands at shoulder level with a holstered gun and place two shots on a target 7 yards (6.4 m) away within 1.5 seconds. Typically, those trained with handguns can complete the drill in 1.3–1.4 seconds, although some have managed the task in less than one second. Me, personally, I clocked a 1.23, a 1.25 and a 1.23 seconds in 3 consecutive drills shooting at quarter scale steel silhouettes.

During our "live" version, a cardboard dummy with a vital area (balloon suspending the dumy) that needed stopped. The dummy started at approximately 35 or so feet, and came at you at a pretty good clip. Your task was to stop the threat before it slashed you. The slash was provided by Pat standing behind you with the Shocknife. You have to "kill" the dummy before he reaches you or you get a knife across the back. Oh, kicker...the balloon that holds up the bad guy is hidden in one of 3 locations within the cardboard box. You shoot at all 3, you hit it (stop the attacker) or you get it (shocked). Well, I got shocked 1 out of 2 times. That distance is covered really fast.

Let me tell you, that knife is scary, sounds scary, looks scary...and it hurts like hell. Unlike a TASER which fries you all over, it's shock area is only about 1/8" of an inch wide, and feels just like being slashed with a knife. There's something to be said about life-like training. http://shocknife.com/video/Activated%20blade.MPG Click for a video of the Shocknife in action. And when that life-like training is run across your back....well, it's life-like and I don't like it.

And life-like training is where my rib came into play. Of course, on the first day...not the last day like things are supposed to go. The premise that all interpersonal fights, if they last more than 30 seconds, will end up on the ground. The exercise has us attacked and pinned by our assailant. You wrestle him off, and engage his friend who's 10yds away getting ready to shoot you. This had us laying on our back, with a voluptuous Dean (Pat's assistant) pinning us down. We have to throw Dean off (by hook or by crook) and once we're back to a fighting position, shoot 2 hits onto the steel target. Oh, Dean weighs 270lbs, and is a member of a local SWAT team. Well, somewhere in the "fight" somehow I managed to get flipped over and started moving up when one arm left go...pop goes the ribbie! I'm not sure if Dean left go, or I broke free (and I don't see me breaking free) and I got to shoot my target. End of the exercise. Adrenaline and aspirin kept me in it for the rest of the weekend.

Was it worth it? As I said earlier...you can't put a price on that kind of training, and the price you pay will seem minuscule when you finish out the days there. You don't get more lifelike training without incurring actual bullet wounds. The more we train in peace, the less we bleed in war. I have been shooting for over 35yrs, and I learn new limitations (and overcome them) and new skills each time I go there. Would I do it again? Damn skippy. We've already gotten our reservations for next year: 3 days of Tactical Rifle. What do I get out of it? I will train and prepare until the day I die, for what I hope I will never see. Training for personal reasons, to be as prepared as I possibly can for that day I pray to God never happens.
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