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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Tucson, AZ

    AAR TMACS INC TAPS Pistol Low-Light TD1 - 2016-12-10/11 - Eagle Lake, TX

    I apologize ahead of time for any vagueness, omissions, or mistakes in the AAR, as my notes are a bit incomplete, low-light environments make my already atrocious handwriting even worse, and the large amount of discussion that arouse organically during the free-form portions of the course.

    Tactical shooting requires agile and adaptive thinkers able to handle the challenges of full spectrum operations in an era of persistent conflict. To meet this requirement, TAPS delivers a comprehensive, systematic, progressive Train-the-Trainer shooting program focused on fundamental mastery and built for Law Enforcement officers, military, and qualified civilians. Designed for leaders and trainers, the TAPS course also applies to the patrol-level officer, basic level Soldiers, and civilian self & home defense minded shooters. The approach to instruction is through coaching and mentorship and both demonstrates and transfers a training method that is safe, effective, combat relevant. It encourages a continuous thought process that demands accountability.

    Training is conducted on the range both day and night and focuses on advanced refinement of the basic fundamentals of marksmanship as applied to the side arm. Utilizing a building block learning model, TAPS combines the pressures and dynamics of competitive shooting and tactical application. While course of instruction is on the firing range, the TAPS training approach also translates into training venues outside the range.

    This is my twelfth formal pistol-oriented course, including those that were more oriented toward low-light, vehicles, and combatives. I have also had some coursework in edged weapons, long gun, and medical. Almost all the courses I have attended have been taught by nationally reputable instructors. Like the last few classes I had taken, this was hosted by Matthew Shockey of Falcon Tactical

    I used an H&K P30LS with the Grayguns Reduced Reset Carry Perfection Package carried in condition 1, with X400 Ultra - Green laser/light mounted with the DG-11 and zeroed for 25 yards using Speer Gold Dot 124 gr. +P. Sight used was a Trijicon RMR RM06 mounted by L&M Precision, also zeroed for 25 yards, with a Dawson Precision suppressor height tritium front sights and Ameriglo suppressor height rear sight mounted behind the RMR. Lube was Slip 2000 EWL, magazines were modified with Taylor Freelance Border Special +5 magazine extensions with the included Wolff springs (first generation baseplates loaded only up to +4), carried using a Kytex Shooting Gear open top magazine carriers. Holster used was a lightly modified RCS Phantom using IWB soft loops. Round count at the start of the class was at 5535.

    I ran the course basically in my EDC outfit, though they differed due to the drastically different weather on the two training days. The gun was conceal carried in the appendix position, the cover garment being an Arcteryx LEAF Naga on TD1, and a size small t-shirt on TD2; while I wore jeans and Converse Chuck Taylor IIs on TD1, I switched to OR Ferrosi pants and Salomon GTX trail runners on TD2, due to concerns about possible inclement weather. I also carried the rest of my EDC, which included a SFB, folder, SOFTT-W, multitool, phone, Surefire E1B (slightly modified with a zip tie and two Scnci No Damage elastic hair bands to form a jury rigged lanyard), etc. PPE used were Oakley M-Frames 3.0, Oakley Radars, and MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X with gel earpads and OC Tactical headband.

    Patrick McNamara was the primary instructor. There were ~20 students in the class, including a number of LEOs. Student firearms choices included several H&Ks, a classic series SIG, an M&P, and a plethora of Glocks, including several highly modified ones, such as a Roland Special and an Agency Arms NOC. Pat shot a highly modified Glock 19. Many of the students also had WMLs, mostly Surefire and Streamlight. I also saw at least one more laser-equipped gun besides my own. There were also several red-dot equipped handguns, all utilizing RMRs. Student handhelds were quite varied, but Surefire was well-represented. Most students were open carrying strong side OWB, including a few LEOs using duty rigs.

    Class started at 1400 on TD1. Weather was fairly chilly (for SE Texas), starting at about 50 F, with overcast skies and some wind, and reaching the mid-40s F after sunset, which was about ~1730.

    We started out with Matt, the range host, going over some basic medical issues, such as designating a primary and secondary on-scene medical provider, establishing an EMS staging area, etc. We also went over some basic range issues, such as restrooms, etiquette inside the lodge, etc.

    Pat then went over his own bio. He is a retired member of the military, and spent a number of years in SOF, before retiring from the military in 2008, and has been teaching ever since (though he started teaching before he even left the military). Pat then stated his appreciation for the challenges of modern day LE, given the ambiguity of the situations LE often has to respond to, and the increasingly litigious society, in which one is often damned if one does, and damned if one doesn't. On the civilian concealed carry side, Pat spoke about the responsibility that each one of us as CCWers had, it order to better serve both ourselves and our communities, and that we should be carrying where ever we are legally allowed to, while also obeying any and all laws that restrict our abilities to carry; while this is not such a huge issue in Texas and the surround states, Pat noted that there can be huge differences between carry and transport laws in some areas of the USA.

    Pat then gave a short overview of the class itself. This was a TAPS pistol course that incorporated low-light shooting portions; fundamentals are key in any TAPS course, and Pat actively incorporates some level of ambiguity into the class to encourage critical thinking upon the student's part. He noted that since this was an open enrollment course, there will of course be skill disparities (this particular class had novice shooters all the way up to a production GM), which he does not see to be a huge issue for his type of teaching. This is because he emphasizes performance-based training, rather than the traditional model of outcome-based training. Pat stated that this dichotomy in training techniques could be applied to almost any discipline, and not just shooting. With the use of performance-based training, the skill disparity between students no longer a major hindrance to teaching, as the expectation is on incremental improvements on self-set standards.

    For Pat, it is also important to avoid a flat range mentality, as it tends to restrict thinking and allow people to make unrealistic assumptions. He also encourages discourse between the students and the instructor; however, he does note that he what he teaches is grounded in his experience, and so one should be prepared to properly defend their assertions should they have an alternating POV.

    Finally, Pat finished off with a basic idea on training in general, that if one does what one's always done, one will simply get what one's always gotten.

    Pat next went over his own safety brief. For him, there are 4 basic rules of gunhandling. The first rule is to always know the status of your weapon. Pat dislikes the more mainstream wording, which states that a firearm is always loaded; this obviously can't be true, otherwise dry fire wouldn't be done. One can visually and/or tactilely confirm a firearm is unloaded. While this rule might make sense for teaching to young children, it makes little sense to impose such a blanket statement on a firearm's status to responsible adults. Pat also noted that this applies to the flip side; don't mistake your gun for being loaded when it's not. This is something he's seen many times on the line, where a shooter will attempt to shoot a drill on an empty chamber.

    The rest of the three basic rules were much more aligned closely with their traditionally worded counterparts. The second rule was to keep the finger off the trigger until an acceptable sight picture is found; this allows for prepping of the trigger even before a perfect sight picture. The third rule is to not muzzle anything you're not willing to shoot. The fourth rule is to know the conditions around the target, both in front and behind, along with to the side. Pat notes that this last rule is particularly important for long guns, due to the extended ranges they can be shot at.

    Next up was the fundamentals of marksmanship. According to Pat, too many people have a tendency to say too much, and thus introduce too much minutia, tripping up students; a classic example is the old 70/30 grip ratio theory. Does this mean that if someone grips at 65/35, they have an unacceptable grip? Will a 60/40 grip ratio get them killed? This train of thought becomes something of a recurring theme throughout the course.

    The first fundamental is stance. Pat states to simply do what works; allow the body to naturally find its position of comfort for standing. The second fundamental is grip. One should find a grip that works for multiple shots; most gunfights do not end after a single shot, so do not work with a grip that falls apart after the first shot. Grip the strong hand up as high as possible, and then whatever left over regions of the handgun's grip that is left uncovered, use the weak hand to cover the remainder. One can also cant the weak hand forward, to create more stability. The third fundamental is presentation, which is how the gun moves from the ready position to the firing position. Pat prefers to have his presentation be as flat as possible, with the grip getting tighter and tighter as it reaches the firing position. It should be a smooth action, and not a thrust. The fourth fundamental is sight alignment, which is nothing more than equal height, equal light relationship between the front and rear sights. The fifth fundamental is trigger control. Pat argues for as much finger as possible on the trigger. He feels that the use of splitting the distal flanges is nothing more than institutional anachronism. He related a story in which he was attempting to learn how to shoot a Glock before teaching a class, and he noticed that while his groups were good in size, they were all to the left of the target. He had a friend in the AMU that recommended that he used as much finger as possible; the AMU friend stated that he was using so much trigger finger that he could hit the magazine release with his trigger finger. Pat found this method to work quite well across a broad range of hand size and hand strength; he noted that while there are other methods that work well for some people, he preferred to teach a method that worked well for almost everyone. He also noted that trigger control is ultimately the most important of the fundamentals; for him, due to his age, his sights are no longer easily seen, but he is still able to accurately put rounds on target due to his excellent trigger control.

    I found Pat's idea on the presentation strikingly similar to Todd Louis Green's concept of a press-out, though this was not mentioned in the course. While the press-out can often seem slow, both Pat and Todd showed that it could be shot at a very high level of speed.

    Pat then went over the first drill, which was simply a drill he wanted to use to allow us to focus on the fundamentals. Shooters start at the 7 yard line, and shoot a single shot at the IPSC target from the low ready. After the first shot, use the bullet hole as the POA for the rest of the shots. Decock or safe the handgun between each shot, if running double action or a safetied handgun. This would be done for an entire magazine, with no time limit. Pat demoed the drill for us, emphasizing each fundamental.

    I was able to shoot a decent group, with just one ragged hole, albeit one that was kinda big.

    Pat then pulled us in, after finishing the drill, and stated that over two-thirds of the students failed to shoot the drill as explained. He talked a bit about methods of instructions; the most fundamental way of learning if vicarious learning, which is learning by doing. The next level is introspection-based, where one actually thinks about what one is doing, and can self-improve. Pat likes to walk the line during drills, and see recurring themes, and then discuss what he saw with the class, rather than call out people one by one; he felt that people learn better if it comes from a self-realization, rather than being told directly what their issue was.

    One of the major issues he saw was that two of the students left their fingers on the trigger during the ready positions, which is a huge no-go. He also saw that many shooters had excessive muzzle flip during this drill, which suggested that they had a poor grip. There were also many shooters that ran the drill very fast, which suggested that they did not check their work through their sights; one should always have proper follow through, ending with two sight pictures, so that one is always ready for the next shot. There were also a number of shooters that exhibited poor trigger control. Pat stated that one should have a steady squeeze of the trigger, rather than trying to yank through the wall at the end; he equated it to pulling the trigger at a steady 5 MPH all the way through, rather than going at 5 MPH and then suddenly yanking it to 25 MPH at the end. Pat noted that when given the opportunity to go slow, there is no reason to not go slow. Finally, he told use to not accept mediocrity.

    For the next drill, the same parameters were held, except that instead of a single shot, we would be doing controlled pairs. Pat also demoed this.

    Again, I was able to maintain a decent group. I was also much more cognizant of taking in the last sight picture before dismounting the gun; I think I had been doing it the first time around, but this time I made a conscious decision to do so.

    We then reshot the drill, but this time as a single shot, from the holster. Pat started out with some talk about the the draw procedure. He stated that the support hand should always be in the same place during a draw. Personally, he has found that a support had that's up higher in the chest during the draw allows for a higher, flatter presentation overall. While this generally does not improve speed very much, Pat has found it to improve first round accuracy, it it allows one to prep the trigger sooner. Regardless of the overall speed of the draw, the presentation should be slowing down toward the end. Pat also told us about something Rob Leatham had told him, that the best draw stroke is one that looks like holstering in reverse; people don't do the scoop, or fishing, or the Bow-flex during reholstering, so why do it on the draw?

    Pat stressed that we should be building repetitions to gain subconscious levels of proficiency. A gunfight is about tactics, so being forced to think about gunhandling during gunfight will take away time and energy to think about tactics, as people are inherently poor multitaskers.

    Again, Pat demoed this, while verbally emphasizing trigger control throughout his whole magazine.

    Once again, no issues, just concentrating on the follow-through.

    For the last of the basic drills, we then did SHO draws with single shots. Pat listed several reasons to practice one-handed shooting. The first is the simple fact that one-handed shooting helps improve two-handed shooting quite a bit. The second reason is that many gunfights do go to one-handed shooting, whether it be due to injuries, having to manipulate other objects (e.g., other people, handheld lights, etc.), or for stability issues (e.g., splaying out during a fall). Pat suggested for greater stability, one should consider stepping into the draw, so that there is some slight blade, with the leg forward on the same side as the hand shooting; this allows for less tension in the shoulders, and thus affects the natural point of aim less. When asked about whether or not the cant the gun, Pat said that he just did what came naturally, which meant that for him, the was no cant when shooting with his right, but that there was a slight cant when shooting with his left.

    As expected, my groups opened up a little here, but at the end of it all, I had a probably a ~3" group overall.

    After having everyone tape up everything outside of the A-zone, Pat then gave us the next course of fire, which would introduce a timer. Pat admitted that the timer was nowhere near the stress of a gunfight, but it is nevertheless invaluable for its ability to introduce snippets of pressure.

    This next course of fire is what Pat called the 5 Second Standards. There are three strings of fire, each with a 5 second par time: 2 from the ready, 2 from the draw, and 2 from the draw SHO. Only A-zone hits counted. Distance starts at 7 yards, which Pat terms level 1, and as one runs the standard clean, push the distance back. level 2 is 10 yards, while level 3 is 15.

    I was able to run all three levels clean.

    After running the 5 second standards through level 3, Pat then noted that this drill was most definitely an outcome-based drill. Paradoxically, Pat has found that most people tend to do better at the drill once they let go of chasing the time. He also notes that it is far better get all good hits on target, and miss the 5 second par time, than to shoot within the par time, but have all misses. Pat then told us his nickname for this drill: "I don't want to tape". Pat also noted that people have a tendency to miss the second shot, due to attempting to rush it. He also used misses as a teaching point, that it is fine to fail in training, so long as corrections are made, and one does not dwell on the failure and thus waste time agonizing over something that's already done. As a reminder, he told us that this is an excellent time to start really checking the condition of one's weapon before starting the drill, as it's free; there is no reason to come up and attempt to start a timed drill on an erroneously empty chamber. Pat also stressed the importance of breathing; unless one takes the time to breath during drills, one is liable to start holding their breath during a real gunfight.

    We taped up the targets again, and then ran the 5 Second Standards again, this time all the way to 20 yard, level 4.

    I was able to run all four levels clean. Pat also noted that about half the class improved from their first run, which was always a good thing.

    Pat then went over the Einstein drill, named so due to one of Albert Einstein's quotes ("One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one's greatest efforts."). Essentially, at 7 yards, one picks a target zone off of the IPSC target that one think they can hit within 2.5 seconds, from the draw. However, one should strive to at least try to improve, so one should try to do better than the target zone picked; e.g., Pat picked the entire head of the IPSC target, but attempted to keep all shots within the credit card box.

    Pat had us break up into four groups, with each group having their own timer, with the par time set to 2.5 seconds. These were student groups that were kept for the remainder of the class, which we often broke into when we needed to time each other, rather than having Pat run multiple lines. We all either drew the target zone out on the target with a marker, or simply told the person timing us what we were going to aim for. This was done for a total of five shots.

    I had picked the entire head, but was aiming for the credit card box. My times ranged between ~2 to ~2.25 seconds, which is slower than usual, but I was attempting for maximum accuracy, rather than speed.

    Pat noted that this drill is essentially impossible to max out, as one can just simply change the time allowed or the size of the selectable targets. It is also an excellent drill to run for groups with wide skill disparities.

    Pat then demonstrated how one can present slower, and yet go very fast. The key was to break the shot as soon as one reaches the end of the presentation, without having to reconfirm the sight picture, since one should have been refining that the entire time during the presentation. Even with draws that seemed extremely slow, Pat was hitting the credit card box under 2.25 seconds.

    We then ran an accuracy test, in which we shot from the 15 yard line, with 5 shots two-handed, 5 shots SHO, and 5 shots WHO. Pat suggested for WHO, one can try closing the strong side eye and using the weak side eye, even if it's the non-dominant eye.

    I did not shoot as well as I had hoped, though I managed to keep everything within the A zone.

    After the accuracy test, we then ran the infamous Pick Your Poison drill. Each shooter will pick the maximum number of points that they start with; if one chooses 150 points, each shot outside the A zone is a -10; if one chooses 140 points, each shot outside the A or C zone is a -5 (COM zones, only, credit card box does not count as A zone); if one chooses 130 points, each shot off the target is -1. There are ten shots at the 20 yard line, two-handed, then ten shots at the 15 yard line SHO, then ten shots at the 10 yard line WHO; no time limit. Pat advised us to choose wisely, given the results of the accuracy test we had just performed. This drill would be run twice, once for practice, while the second time would be for the Third Semi Biannual Eagle Lake Range Pick Your Poison Johnny Ringo Memorial National Championships, with the winner receiving an official TMACS INC Certificate of Victory, and an S3F Glock 19 barrel if the shooter used a Glock. In case of a tie, a roll of tape will be centered over the A in the A zone and the number of hits will be counted there.

    4 students got a full 150 on the practice run, while only 2 did on the championship run; over half was able to shoot the drill clean on the point value they picked for the practice run. I picked 150 both times, and was able to clean it for both practice and for the championship; I was also usually the last person to finish on the SHO and WHO strings, sometimes by a considerable margin, as my relative lack of upper body strength meant that I was often taking just one shot, before putting the gun back down to rest and breath. My shot group was tight enough for me to win the Certificate of Victory, being the top shooter for this drill.

    At this point, 1715, we broke for dinner.

    Some of the students went to town for dinner, while others had paid for dinner at the lodge, which were fajitas tonight. Like any meal cooked by Nolan, the range owner, it was delicious.

    We resumed class at 1815.

    Pat went over his choice in sights. While he finds fiber optics to be excellent daytime sights, he did not think them to be duty ready due to breakage issue and inability to be used effectively in many low-light situations. He personally runs Trijicon HDs, which allow him to track the sights fairly well during the day time, due to the high visibility front sight, while also allowing him to work in low-light, particularly when working without a white light, which is his preference in a home defense scenario, as he felt that he his knowledge of the layout of his house gives him a distinct positional advantage, one that would be lost if he utilized white light.

    In terms of equipment, Pat personally ran a Streamlight handheld with a large o-ring attached to it, so that he could easily draw it from his weak side pocket, and manipulate the light as needed (a similar concept to the Raven Concealment Systems pocket clips for Surefire lights, which also have an o-ring). He preferred to use a graduated clicky system, and simply learning how to avoid putting the light in constant on based off of tactile feedback of the clicky, in order to use the light in momentary. For concealed carry, Pat personally did not carry a handgun with a WML, as he preferred to run as slick as possible, to maximize mobility and flexibility for empty-hand confrontations. He did have a Streamlight MicroStream with a Rogers Rail Light adapter that could easily be installed onto the gun; while it has only limited output, it should still suffice for some form of PID.

    For the remaining courses of fire of the night, Pat encouraged us to run our EDC and/or duty outfits as much as possible, to work out any kinks that might exist for low-light shooting. For once, there were multiple people at the class that ran WMLs as part of their EDC.

    We then attempted to shoot 10 rounds at the targets completely off of ambient lighting, starting at the 7 yard line, simply to see what we were capable of with our guns, in the dark (the overcast sky limited the moonlight available). Pat stated that at 7 yards, with slow fire, we should still be able to get good hits on target, given how close we were to the targets.

    I had swapped out my practice gun with my carry gun during dinner, and forgot to swap it back, so I accidentally shot three rounds of Speer Gold Dot 124 gr. +P here; I had been pleasantly surprised by the relatively low flash of my ammo, before I realized that it wasn't practice ammo. The three shots I did shoot were all within 3" of the center of the A zone.

    We then tried the same thing at the 10 yard line.

    I had turned my RMR to auto-adjust for this, as otherwise the dot would completely wash out my vision (I usually keep it at 6 out of 8). For whatever reason, it was noticeably easier to see the targets of the shooters to my left and right than my own, once my gun had been presented; I assume this had something to do with the fact that the RMR was reducing the amount of light being transmitted to my dominant eye, while my non-dominant eye simply wasn't projecting the target into my head. Still, I was able to keep all 10 rounds in the A zone; it was exceedingly easy to adjust for windage and elevation of the gun itself, to hit where I was aiming at, as I could simply center the RMR dot over my tritium front sight, and adjust windage based on what I knew to be close to the proper offset, based on experience; the only hard part was to figure out where to aim.

    After that, we then tried to shoot 10 rounds in purely ambient light at the 15 yards.

    At this point, I really couldn't see where my target was, after presenting the gun out; I aimed strictly at the perceived middle point between the targets of the shooters on my right and left; I was able to keep all my rounds in the A, with one in the C, with a slight left bias.

    We then pushed it all the way back to 20 yards.

    Like at 15, my POA strictly based off of the position of the targets to my left and right. I was able to keep seven hits in the A zone, and three in the C, this time with no bias.

    Pat then spoke a little about the various handheld positions. He was not a fan of the Harries, primarily because he did not like having the weak hand being tied up to the strong hand like that. He also was not a fan of the FBI technique (free hand light hold above and to the left of the body), as that then places the hand way far off the body; it also has the admittedly theoretical issue of placing your body to the low-left of the light, which would possibly make one more likely to be hit by poor shooters trying to shoot at the light. Instead, Pat generally utilizes a jaw index.

    We then ran through the 5 second standards once again. Pat noted that for students running handhelds, all the drills had turned into SHO; one could also incorporate drawing of the handheld for the strings of fire that stipulated drawing the handgun from the holster. The SHO only string also meant that for those that could not manipulate the WML one-handed, ideally they'd have to shoot with a handheld (for the purposes of the drill). It was run at both level 1 and level 2 (7 yards and 10 yards).

    While I cleaned the standards on both levels, most people did not. The DG switch made WML activation trivial.

    Now that we had one run under out belts, we re-taped the targets, and ran the 5 second standards once again, but moved all the way to level 3 this time (15 yards).

    This time, many people were able to clear level 2, which showed excellent improvement for the class. I personally was able to clear all three levels.

    After taping, we then ran a set of drills designed simply to generate our own data on our own abilities, while also preparing us for another drill down the line. The first drill was to simply draw and shoot as fast as possible, and still be able to guarantee a single shot in the A zone at 7 yards, repeated three times. The second was to start with our backs to the target, but do the same thing. The third drill was to step to the left, while accomplishing the same thing.

    Beyond the oft-cited potential to reset an aggressor's OODA loop and the possibility to move further off an aggressor's line of fire, particularly if they end up shooting low left, Pat has also found that some people actually draw and hit faster when doing the side step, compared to simply standing there. He is unsure as to why this occurs; his theories include the idea that people think and react more efficiently while in motion (something sports psychologist have apparently found), along with a possible increase of confidence while moving. Pat emphasized to for us to not take his word for it, but to actually try it out and see for ourselves if any improvements were seen.

    My flat-footed draws were 1.90, 2.04, and 2.03. My draws incorporating the turns were 2.18, 2.19, and 2.29. My side-step draws were 1.91, 2.34, 2.08. Thus, I did not see any improvements during the side-step; however, over half of the class did.

    We then taped up the targets, and then marked certain ones to create the set-up needed for the next class; the targets were grouped into 5s, and the far left and far right targets were marked. This next drill was simply a target transition drill, where each shooter would draw, shoot one of the targets on the far side (did not matter left or right), transition to the other far target and shoot, and then transition back to the first target shot; this would continue for a total of five shots per run, with all hits in the A zone, standing 7 yards from the center (unused) target. Each shooter would have a chance to run this twice.

    Pat noted that the eyes have to lead, with the sights following, particularly in low-light, since it is far more difficult to cheat the transitions, as there is much less usable peripheral vision. He suggested using the body as a turret, twisting the waist or even at the knees, but keeping the upper torso, particularly the arms, to be in line with the target as usual.

    On my first run, I ended up dropping a shot to the left into the C on my fourth shot; my time was 6.15. My second run was a 5.98 clean.

    Pat then talked about reloads; when doing a handgun reload without any kind of retention, four things should happen at the same time. There should be a breaking of the grip/position (to get the gun into one's workspace), dropping of the magazine, sweeping the weak hand toward the centerline to access the fresh magazine, and a focal shift from the sights to the magwell. For handguns, Pat stated that the bullets should be facing forward while carried on the belt (rifle magazines, he's more ambivalent about). After inserting the magazine, the focal shift should move from the magwell, to the threat, to the sights.

    We then ran the El Prez Lite three times. Unlike the regular El Presidente, this was shot at 7 yards, with the targets basically standing next to each other, so the transitions aren't as wide. The shooter still starts with their backs to the target, and upon hearing the timer go off, turns, draws, shoots each target twice, reloads (does not have to be slide lock), then re-engages each target twice. All hits must be in the A zone; any hits outside of the A zone is an automatic fail, and no time is given to the shooter, something that Pat insisted on for most of the timed drills run for the remainder of the course. This drill was run twice.

    My first run I had an 11.46, which could had been improved upon if I hadn't of bobbled my reload. On my second run, I ran out of ammo after my reload; I did not realize that my reload magazine was so low, as I was setting it up so that I would run into slide lock after the 6th shot. My third run went smoother mechanically, but I ended up throwing two shots.

    Overall, only a few people improved from the first run to the second run on the El Prez Lite. Pat argued that this was a result he often saw because people started chasing times, which reverts back to an outcome-based outlook. An obsession with the outcomes would have a tendency to block one's ability to perform. He noted that one should be realistic about one's ability to perform, and not try to chase the performance of those at a higher level (particularly in classes where there are large skill disparities between the students), but merely be concerned about one's own ability to have incremental improvements. As he put it, one should find one's own home, and make small improvements to it over time, rather than trying to move directly into someone else's home.

    Thus, we ran the El Prez Lite three more times.

    On my first run, I had a 10.87 clean. Once again, I bobbled the reload, but then figured out why. I had positioned my second mag carrier in front of the first, so in theory it should be faster to reload from; however, due to the positioning of my Clinch Pick, I was not able to get a good index on the magazine, and would bobble the reloads consistently. I moved my second magazine pouch toward the back, mostly as an admin reload, for the remainder of the course. My second run was a 9.44, my third was a 9.04.

    Pat then quickly summarized what drills were run for the day.

    Class ended at this point, at 2105.
    Last edited by Default.mp3; 20 December 2016 at 19:47.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Tucson, AZ
    Class started at 1400 on TD2. Weather was quite a bit warmer, starting at about 70 F, with overcast skies and some wind, and reaching the mid-60s F after sunset, which was about ~1730, and with cloud cover becoming more patchy as the day wore on, allowing a mostly full moon to poke in at times.

    We started out with a quick overview of Pat's plan for the day, followed by a reiteration of the safety brief we had yesterday, going over the 4 rules of gunhandling again. In reference to the first rule, always know the condition of your weapon, Pat related a personal anecdote: when he first joined the Army's SMU, during a CQB training exercise, he entered a room with an empty chamber, getting a click instead of a bang. He was able to chamber a round immediately afterwards, and had hoped that no one else had noticed, but alas, he was docked 200 USD from his paycheck due to this mistake. In relation to the third rule, Pat stated that he saw some poor muzzle awareness both on TD1, and today, during the time before class when people were loading up. He stated that someone actually directly muzzled him; he was not going to call that person out, but he hoped that they come to the realization of what they did, which played into his theory about allowing people to realize their own mistakes and issues allows for a stronger lesson. The briefing ended with Pat emphasizing the mindset side of training: "limits begin where vision ends".

    We then shot the first drill of the day, what Pat termed the National Match Mod. It is a SHO drill, with three strings, 15 rounds total. Starting at the 50 yard line, doing slow-fire, fire 5 rounds. Then, at the 25 yard line, timed fire, which equates to 5 rounds in 30 seconds; there will be a 15 second, 10 second, and 5 second warning. Finally, still at the 25 yard line, rapid fire, which is 5 rounds in 15 seconds. Scoring is as follows: starting with a maximum of 75 points, deduct 1 point for anything in the yellow, 2 points for anything in the orange, and 5 points for anything totally off target.

    I was able to score a 69 on my first run.

    Pat then gave us some tips for shooting the National Match Mod. At the 50 yard line, take all the time needed. If you start shaking, just stop, lower the gun, and relax, before bringing it back up. Squeeze the trigger nice and slowly throughout the entire pull. At the 25 yard line, during the timed fire section, it should all be in the A zone basically, as 30 seconds should be equivalent doing slow-fire; one should be done with at least two shots, and about to break the third, by the time the 15 second warning is called. For both the timed fire and the rapid fire portion, draw as fast as possible to maximize the amount of time you have. On the rapid fire, having a proper grip to mitigate recoil is important, to minimize the amount of time waiting for the sights to settle again. At the same time, do not exceed one's own shooting pace; it's better to have three good hits on target, and miss out on two due to running out of time, than to have five misses within the time. We then ran the National Match Mod once more.

    Like most other people on the rerun, I was able to improve, bumping up my score to a 70.

    The next drill was the Running and Gunning. Starting at the 15 yard line, run to the 50 yard line, then back to the 15 yard line. Draw, fire 5 round two-handed, reload, fire 5 round SHO, reload, fire 5 round WHO. Scoring is your overall, plus any penalties incurred, in which anything in the yellow adds 1 second, anything in the orange adds 2 seconds, and misses add 5 seconds.

    On my first run, I had a raw time of 45.29, with two shots in the yellow, so a 47.29 overall time.

    Pat stated that this drill emphasizes breathing; he draws the gun at about 4 steps out from the 15 yard line, and breaths at the same time; he also breathes at each reload. Pat said that making bad hits is usually what kills peoples time, given that a 70 yard run doesn't generate that much difference in time.

    Like most people on the second run, I improved, with a raw time of 33.22, again with two shots in the yellow, so an overall time of 35.22.

    Pat then talked about having baseline courses of fire that one always returns to, as this can allow one to see if they were improving, holding steady, or declining. Pat knows is general area of performance for the drills he was running us through, and suggested we keep track of our performance on our baseline drills for performance tracking.

    We then set up for the 500 point aggregate, which is shot on B-8 targets. The course of fire is as follows: shot at 15 yards, slow-fire 10 rounds two-handed, slow-fire 10 round SHO, slow-fire 10 rounds WHO, timed (30 seconds) 10 rounds draw and fire, rapid (15 seconds) 10 rounds draw and fire. For the sake of ease of scoring, the slow-fire was shot on one B-8, the timed and rapid fire were on a separate B-8.

    I was able to score 293/300 on the slow-fire sections, while 196/200 in the timed and rapid fire section, for a total of 489/500. For the slow-fire sections, like the Pick Your Poison drill, I took my time, and was the last one done by a fair margin.

    Pat then gave us some tips that might improve our performance for the 500 point aggregate. For improving the slow-fire, don't look where you don't want to shoot. If you do happen to send a round way off, don't focus on the failure, but move on; this particular drill is a marathon of sorts, and there are many opportunities to make up the lost points. On the rapid fire portion, getting a good grip and fast draw maximizes the amount of time one has to refine the sights. Keep the eyes on the sights the entire time, and keep squeezing the trigger consistently. Once again, it's better to have a few good hits and run out of time than a bunch of bad hits (or misses) and make the time.

    I improved on my second run, like most people, hitting 295/300 for the slow-fire and 196/200 for the timed and rapid fire section, for a total of 491/500. Interestingly enough, I was able to beat Pat's score, as was the GM in the class; Pat later related to us that this drill and Running and Gunning were the two drills he had never been beaten on before today (which thus leaves only Running and Gunning at this juncture).

    Pat stated that for the 500 point aggregate, one should strive for at the very least a 400.

    We then replaced all the paper targets with some steel ones (B/C zone steel targets) and set up some VTAC barricades, with Pat going over the use of cover and/or concealment. According to Pat, we should look at cover as just being another piece of terrain, and one should always be seeking better terrain in a fight; don't get too attached to a piece of cover, and realize that mobility translates into survivability. Unlike some instructors, Pat does not see crowding cover as being a huge sin; on rifles, he stated he would almost always crowd it, in order to utilize the cover as a way to also stabilize the gun. With handguns, he's a bit more ambivalent, but still argues that many people who preach "don't crowd cover" are limited by a flat range mentality, where targets stay static and don't move around.

    He then went over reloads a bit more. One reloads when one has to, or when one wants to. With that in mind, whenever cover is available, reload in it. On reloading itself, Pat doesn't particularly care how one drops the slide, whether its with the strong hand, the weak hand, or even a rack, so long as one is able to do so consistently. For the purposes of the barricade drills, Pat wanted us to assume to that we were not alone, but working in a team, so we were to communicate when we were reloading (Pat prefers just calling "mag", as it is short and unambiguous) and moving. Thus, this adds two things more things to the original four things that happen simultaneously when reloading: break the grip, drop the magazine, centerline sweep for the new magazine, focal shift, communicate, and move to cover. Pat then noted that a reload, whether forced or not, creates a lull in the fight for both you and your opponent; thus, after reloading from cover, do not re-engage from the same position as before. Instead, change sides of the cover, or elevation, or even both, before re-engaging.

    We then shot the barricades free-form, with each shooter shooting as they saw fit, to try and get comfortable with utilizing the barricades and communicating.

    After that, we then set up three courses of fire, all next to each other. They were to be run so that if we failed a course of fire, no time should be given. The first one was Set It Off. Each shooter has three magazines, each with three rounds. Starting at one barricade, hit the target once, then run to the other barricade; a total of five hits on the target are needed. Communicate as needed, and reload in cover. Any left over rounds subtracts 5 seconds from the final time. When running with a handgun, simply run normally, with the handgun in the hand, and pumping the arms normally; if one needs to move, then move with a purpose.

    The second course of fire was the Delta 7. The shooter starts with full magazines. Starting at cone 1, the shooter draws, and gets one good hit on target; from then on, the shooter moves to cone 2, then cone 3, then cone 1, then back to cone 3, back to cone 2, and back to cone 1, getting one good hit on target at each cone. This drill stresses being comfortable with moving with the gun, while also noting visual acuity, as one is seeking the next movement point mostly out of the peripheral of the vision, or even needing to look back quickly to find the movement point.

    The third course of fire was The Scrambler. Pat stated that this course was ambiguous on purpose, to force the shooter to think about the proper course of fire. Each shooter starts out with three magazines, one loaded with two rounds, on with three rounds, and one with four rounds; these magazines can be carried and loaded in whatever order the shooter chooses. After the buzzer goes off, the shooter moves from the start point to one of the barricades, and engages the targets in a method that conforms the rules. The rules are, all targets are to be engaged once, except for the multi-hit target, which is to be engaged four times. One can engage only targets of one color at each barricade. The shooter must communicate movement and reloading, and must reload in cover, and re-engage from a different location after reloading.

    We were instructed to run these courses of fire as a round robin; this current run on The Scrambler would be for practice, while the run after dinner would be for championship.

    My first run on The Scrambler went slowly, as I did not pre-plan at all, and was left juggling the rules in my head during the run. However, I did manage to clean it, at 22.83. My first run on Set It Off did not go well, as I forgot to reload behind cover; instead, I reloaded on the move. While I came out with a great time overall, and the other students commented that my reload was smooth and looked great, I had broken the rules, and thus received no time. I did not run the Delta 7, as I ended up observing other people run The Scrambler to get a better feeling of what to do, and waiting in line to rerun Set It Off.

    During this time, Pat observed one of the students shooting Set It Off run using high port. He called this out as being a very poor technique. When I asked Pat about his issues with this running position, he gave three. The first issue is that the high port position simply isn't a natural running position. The second issue was that the sights are no longer in the peripheral vision, and thus the shooter loses awareness of where the muzzle is pointed. The third issue is that the gun then has a tendency to block the peripheral vision, which then causes loss of situational awareness. A corollary to the third and second point is that this makes the shooter more likely to accidentally flag someone when coming down into a shooting position, due to lack of muzzle awareness and possible loss of situational awareness (which might lead to friendlies not being seen). Note that high port is not the same as temple index, which Pat has had minimal exposure to; however, he did not seem to think highly of it, either, when temple index was explained.

    I personally tend to run with the handgun in a hybrid between high port and high ready; my strong side elbow is tucked to my rib cage, with the muzzle pointed upward, so that the tip of the muzzle is about in-line with my mouth, while my weak size arms pump as needed. Part of this is because when I run normally, I tend to hold my hands up fairly high, with not too much pumping; most of my running is long, slow distance, and I have found that keeping the hands up high limits fatigue of the upper body. This also tends to keep my gun close to the number two position, which makes re-engagement happen in less steps, as I am essentially already at the start of the presentation. I have also been experimenting with my strong arm locked down to the side, running with the gun pointed straight down at the ground.

    At this point, 1700, we broke for dinner.

    This evening, Nolan had cooked a stew made of elk and eland, and had ended up cooking too much, so all of the class joined in to help him get rid of it. He also went out of his way to cook a vegetable dish, after having of learned that we had a vegetarian student.

    We resumed class at 1800.

    While The Scrambler was still left up, the other two stations were torn down, and replaced with two new courses of fire, both of which would help combine visual acuity issues and movement. The first replacement course was Blaze X. Starting at the center cone, the student draws, and gets one good two-handed hit on the target. Afterwards, the student goes to one of the four side cones, and shoots either SHO or WHO, the side the cone is in relation to the central cone being the hand to be used to shot the drill. The student must get a good hit at every side cone, and must return to the central cone for a good two-handed hit between each side cone. The drill ends after the student has reached each side cone, and has also returned to the center cone and gotten in one last good, two-handed hit.

    The second replacement course was the Grid of Fire. Starting at one of the far back cones, the shooter draws and gets one good hit onto the target. The shooter then moves forward to the next cone, and gets one good hit; having of just moved on the forward/backward plane, the shooter now must move on the left/right plane. This alternating of the planes of movement continues until the shooter has moved all the way to the front of the grid, and then all the way to the back of the grid again, ending up at the opposite far back cone as they started at.

    Pat had us run these stations round robin, until everyone had a chance to reshoot The Scrambler for championship. He stated that now that we were in a low-light situation, we should watch out for light NDs; any light ND would automatically fail a drill, and the shooter would receive no time.

    Having of talked with some of the other students, I had been told one of the more optimal ways to run The Scrambler, so I was able to run through The Scrambler fast and smooth. Unfortunately, I had two light NDs, brought on by me hitting the DG switch during the reload, so I failed the drill. For championship, the fastest overall time was somewhere in the 12 seconds, while one of the students ran it in 16 second range while using a handheld. Sadly, Pat had not prepared a Certificate of Victory for The Scrambler championship run.

    After everyone ran The Scrambler for championship, Pat gave us the optimal route and set-up for this particular iteration of it, and then allowed for some reshoots just for practice.

    I reran it, hitting around 16 seconds when I experimented with switching the X400U all the way off during reloads, by using the selector paddles, and reached about 11 seconds when simply being extremely cognizant of the amount of pressure my middle finger was exerting during the reload.

    We then tore down The Scrambler, and put in three other stations in its place. The first was a simple VTAC barricade with a corresponding B/C zone steel target, while the second was a simple draw and shoot set-up. For the singles on steel drill, Pat encourages us to not simply stop if we miss, but to keep shooting until we get a hit in; since we should be checking our work through our sights, there should be minimal time down between shots, should the first one miss.

    The third was an actual course of fire, which Pat called Trifection. The shooter starts with three magazines with three rounds in each, standing behind a barricade. At the buzzer, the shooter draws and engages the target. After one good hit, the shooter than switches to the other side of the barricade; the shooter keeps getting hits and switching sides on the barricade until all nine rounds are expended, reloading as needed. The shooter must communicate that they are reloading, not have any light NDs, and have no misses.

    Pat had us run the various stations on our own time and tempo, loading mags behind the line as needed.

    I was familiar with the Grid of Fire and Blaze X, so those did not pose much issue for me on from a thinking perspective, and allowed me to run it at speed. I ran the Grid of Fire a couple times; using my red dot, I was able to clean it in about 17 seconds, and was able to hit 15.75 using just the laser. I found myself being rather slow on Trifection, as I had to be very conscious to not touch off the DG switch during transitions. I also found myself being slowed down by my safety manipulations, as I was instinctively safing the gun during the transitions; however, due to the extremely short distance of the transition, I would usually have finished safing the gun by the time the transition was completed; due to the fact that I needed to break my grip to safe the gun, my overall presentation was thus slowed down.

    I personally stopped shooting at around 1915, and took this time to speak to Pat about a variety of issues, not all of which were shooting related.

    At 2000, Pat called in everyone, to go over what was accomplished today. He talked about some of his training philosophy again, stressing the need for accountability of the rounds fired, the ability to change gears as needed, and the difference between performance-based training and outcome-based training. He reiterated his appreciation for the job that LE does, while also stressing the responsibilities of CCWers. He quoted Vince Lombardi, saying that "he will to win is not nearly so important as the will to prepare to win".

    This course definitely gave me some things to think about. While I had heard the performance vs. outcome issues before, it was quite interesting to see it first hand, with an instructor using it, to see how it would affect not just my own performance, but also the performance of the rest of the class. For the courses of fire that I had not experienced, they were great for the purpose that Pat had intended; e.g., The Scrambler very neatly illustrated how difficult trying to problem-solve under stress can be. I also greatly enjoyed that the class focused very much on accuracy, particularly at intermediate distances, though this is largely because this plays right into my strengths; even before I used red dot equipped handguns, I had been skewed much more toward accuracy than speed. While I would liked to have seen at least one or two drills that skewed a little more toward speed over multiple shots, accuracy tends to be the more difficult component to master for most shooters, so I can understand why it might be left out. And, obviously I would be remiss if I failed to mention Pat's infectious enthusiasm while on the line.

    I did have two quibbles with the course. The first was that the course was somewhat misnamed; I had expected more emphasis on low-light techniques, rather than it being more of a pistol course being shot during portions of low-light. This made the class an excellent place to test your gear and techniques, but did not provide too much by way of instruction on various low-light techniques, at least not formally. The course description provided by Alias originally did not reflect this reality (this was Pat's last class that had originally been scheduled through Alias). Second, I felt that a little too much time was put into the free-form shooting stations; while I can see how it dovetails into Pat's concept of self-learning, I personally would prefer a bit more feedback, simply because I was already aware of many of the courses of fire, and also because I had access to a range where I could regularly conduct movement and shooting, including in low-light, so had been able to run these courses before. However, for those who do not have access to such a site, I can see the free-form sections being a Godsend, allowing them to practice a course of fire that they otherwise have no ability to do so live.

    Gearwise, the only issue I had, besides the poor initial location of my second magazine pouch, was the DG switch. I had long known that light NDs were an issue with such a set-up, but had generally written them off as not being an issue for CCW carry or home defense. I still feel the same way, but at the same time, I now understand better how difficult it can be to avoid light NDs with my DG switches, along with how it can be done. At the same time, I was able to see how much easier some of the one-hand only manipulations were for me, compared to those who had a handheld or had to deal with paddles on a WML. Thus, I feel like I have an even better idea about the the strengths and weaknesses of the DG switch now than I did prior to this class.

    Overall, 676 rounds were expended, 3 of which Speer Gold Dot 124 gr. +P through my carry P30LS, while 500 rounds of Magtech 115 gr. (9A) and 173 rounds of Speer Lawman 124 gr. TMJ (53616) were run through my practice P30LS. No malfunctions occurred.
    Last edited by Default.mp3; 20 December 2016 at 14:13.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Awesome write up thanks for the insight ..... help a dummy out what is a DG switch

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Tucson, AZ
    Quote Originally Posted by Cotton68spc View Post
    Awesome write up thanks for the insight ..... help a dummy out what is a DG switch
    The DG switch is a pressure switch designed for different handguns, to contour to the trigger guard and meet at the grip.

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