After Action Review - Carbine 1 by Staff
After Action review: Timm Training Instinctive Practical Carbine Level 1
June 29-30, 2013 Breezy Point, MN (Brainerd area)
This was our first offering of this course and we were very appreciative of everyone who attended. We made no secret this was the first time we were teaching this course and we were up front about wanting feedback from those who attended. Mike and I have taught a basic carbine 1 day course a few times as well as conducted private classes, pistol courses etc and we were receiving a lot of interest in offering a two day carbine course of our own. Our philosophy is training should be worth your money, but more importantly worth your time. I was taught when I was young I could always make more money but you can never make more time. That has really stuck with me and I always apply it to the training I provide. The last thing I want to hear is that someone thought a course was a waste of time.
Writing is not my strong point so this wont be as good as some of the other AARs out there. It was our pleasure to have two guys willing to come and write AARs for us not only for the class but for us to reflect on as well. More on that later.
Course and our background:
There are some really great courses out there as well as phenomenal instructors; we are familiar with them as we also host these courses every year as well. We feel there is a great benefit to bringing in these trainers, first because we feel in order to be good teachers you always must remain a good student. We have gotten feedback that not everyone can either afford the cost, time, ammunition of some of the multi day courses and are interested in doing something more local.
I am excited to see that people are interested in obtaining training. It is our philosophy that to be a responsible gun owner one should be well versed in how to use it through quality training. Sadly I have attended some courses that I would not call quality and the only positive thing I took from them is what not to do.
Both Mike and I subscribe to being students always and we seek quality training ourselves to keep us sharp. We both have practical experience in the field with full time LE serving as our departments armorers and instructors. Mike has military experience in active duty combat serving in the field and as an armorer, he is also a former paratrooper. Mike’s experience is a big asset he brings to the table. In addition to LE, I also work in the industry with product development, production, and technical services and I compete in 3 gun in local and national matches. Between our experience, training, and vision we worked for countless hours, which became weeks and months to develop this course.
We could have easily copied some of the courses we have previously attended or teach a version of the patrol rifle courses we have taught in the past but we wanted to do better. We looked at what we felt should be the core of a level 1 course as well as what blocks we wanted to build on. Now that being said after the course, we are making some changes, as much as we practiced, taught to each other etc, nothing gives you the feedback of the course itself and dynamic of the different students. This course was solid fundamentals, then applying those fundamentals, operations, and drills to perform the material presented.
Some instructors will say nothing can be learned from the competition side of firearms, others will say only this or that can be taken, and then you have the competition side which doesn’t always understand the tactical side. In my experience the one thing I see as a common goal is an accurate well-placed round fast. In a LE or defensive situation there is an obvious advantage with being the first to make good hits, in competition the fastest times means a better finish. I have had the pleasure to shoot among some of the best shooters in the world and in talking with them everyone says it’s all about applying the fundamentals. Our take on this is to apply the fundamentals to a point where they can be compressed into smooth movements to put a round where it needs to go fast.
I have learned a lot of lessons from 3 gun matches mainly because it provides an opportunity to shoot. Sadly we don’t practice as much as we should and I enjoy the game of competition and also take the trigger time as a learning opportunity. Now I don’t agree with all of it and quite frankly there are some very un-practical things in the game that one should never do on the street. But, being able to grab a rifle and make hits from bad breath range out to several hundred yards with in seconds of each other, making those rounds connect very fast is a skill no doubt that one can benefit from. It is that philosophy that we can take some lessons from the game side, the practical tactical side and present lessons that build in making a solid shot, fast. The marksmanship side of competition is one I love to learn from. Apply that with some sound tactics, practical gear and application and you have the core of what we wanted to build in a class.
The class had 11 students, 9 of which registered and attended as a traditional student would. Two students were guests; both are full time LE and guys that we have the honor of calling friends. Both are great guys, knowledgeable, great shooters, and have been around long enough where we know they wouldn’t be afraid to tell us if we sucked. I have to admit having these guys there writing everything down added a little something from this side. By now you have read their AARs above.
Our students ranged from early 30’s to over 70 as we had some seniors. Background ranged from no training at all, some had prior multiday courses under their belt and some have attended our basic carbine and pistol courses. The best thing was everyone had an attitude that was positive and they wanted to learn. Those who have taught LE classes know that sometimes this positive attitude isn’t always present with “captive” audiences.
All in all we had a great class, everyone progressed in the course and made demonstrable progress.
We saw different rifles then what one might expect in a 2-day course. The difference with a local type course versus the top tier courses in our experience is pretty common. I attend as many courses as I can, usually the ones we host, and I try to attend different training courses, matches, and competitions in my area to check things out and stay current. Usually the guys that are into the high level courses are also into gear and keep current on the same. Some of the students in this course had no or very little formal training and saw some issues with their gear. I see this all of the time at 3 gun matches, a guy shows up with gear A only to find it doesn’t function at all like it should. Same things occur in classes, now this isn’t meant to be a comparison of tactical type gear versus game gear. There is a difference and there can be some overlap but one should always buy the best they can even if it means waiting a little longer to get quality. I am a big believer in buy once cry once.
With rifles everyone was shooting an AR, we did have one student inquire about using an AK but he never registered. Guns ranged from a Colt Competition rifle, some home built guns, M&Ps, two Huldras, LWRC, and DPMS. DPMS is a local manufacturer to MN and they have a strong presence in the area. This isn’t meat to go off on a tangent but we highly encourage the consumer to do some research before buying a rifle. Full disclosure, both Mike and I have a relationship with Mills Fleet Farm and use their two lines of rifles, Huldra in the piston side and our Korstog rifle in DI. Mike shot his Huldra, a model in which he helped develop, for demo in the course and I ran a Korstog. Most of the rifles ran fine but we did have some issues.
One rifle was having very persistent issues with cycling; this was determined to be the ammo. This shooter is a solid shooter and had quality gear; it just so happened in this case the ammo didn’t have enough energy to overcome the resistance of the recoil spring and buffer. Swapping the resistance components would have worked or using different ammo as tested with known quality Federal XM193. Another rifle just plain turned into a stoppage-training machine. We did a quick preliminary check, swapped some parts that were found bad (gas rings) but the issue remained. We haven’t done a full detail inspection to find the source but I think we will have the chance in the future. Other issues came up about accessories and extras. One student had a bipod grip that we removed and another had some sling issues that needed to be re-configured. We instruct and promote (evangelize really) the use of thread locker and witness marks. We had one student have a white light come off, he was willing to share the learning opportunity and shared no thread locker was used.
When going to a class, any class, we strongly recommend the shooter have a relationship with the rifle. Know that it runs, know it has a dependable zero and is set up well.
Moving on from the rifle, we had several issues with second line gear. For most of the students this was brand new and using a vest or chest rig was a learning opportunity. Sadly we had one student get outfitted by a dealer who really set him up with something that didn’t fit him and wasn’t practical. In general the pre set vests with pouches already installed just plain don’t work well. The pouches are usually in the wrong place, have fit issues, and the quality can be lacking. For chest rigs go with the proven big names and get something that you build for yourself. Now that’s not to say you have to leave it, in fact training is a great place to learn and adjust your gear to be the best for you. The rule again applies, buy once cry once, buy cheap buy again, and sometimes again and again.
We started Training Day 1 (TD1) at a local PD using their meeting room. Here we got to meet everyone and introduce ourselves to each other. I am big on having a comfortable environment and without establishing that I think learning can suffer. In the classroom we covered the topics of:
-Nomenclature of rifle
-Rifle gear and set up
-Practicing options, dry fire, rim fire etc
-Classroom presentation of fundamentals
After the classroom portion we headed to the range. At the range we conducted range briefing which including our emergency plans and safety rules. On the range for TD1 we completed:
-50 yard zero
-Range presentation on fundamentals with drills to build on each element
-Presentations of the rifle
-Several drills to incorporate the delivery of well-placed hits
This is a summary of TD1 in a nutshell, if anyone is interested in more details please let me know.
Training Day 2 (TD2) began Sunday morning bright and early at the range. We began with some review from yesterday and started shooting drills to make sure no one forgot everything from the day before. Day two topics were:
-Stoppages and malfunctions, I teach these a little different then others as I use a “level” system. In a nut shell a level one stoppage is an immediate action clearance, level two is a remedial action clearance (fte, double feed etc) something that required further attention then just tap/tug, roll/rack, assess. Level 3 is something that cannot be easily fixed in the field and may require tools or is a game stopper for the rifle and you need to use something else. I developed this system teaching cops, most cops can’t tell you what a type 2 stoppage is versus type X Y Z but they generally know how to clear it. With this system I have had good feedback from the cops of trying to simplify it to like a green, yellow, red system. Thanks to this class I got some more feedback on how to better present this in the future.
-After stoppages, level 3 leads us in to pistol transitions.
-Shooting positions, including kneeling options, and prone
-Downed optics and BUIS
For the moving targets we have two systems that we use, one is based on a RC truck chassis and can really offer some challenges. We use that in conjunction with some barricades as well as a limited area to shoot from simulating a hallway, alley etc. We also use a system based on Louis Awerbuck’s platform, this has a threat subject and two hostages that are no shoots. The platform allows the targets to move, twist and sway to simulate realistic movement. I did have one big oh #$%% moment when Andy had the RC target go down. Occasionally, thanks to the driver (me), sometimes the target will fall over, well I saw some well placed anchor shots that were a little to close for comfort. Well done Andy, well done.
After the drills we finished with a Q&A and wrap up. The feedback we got was very helpful and was welcome to hear what students liked and didn’t. Looking back, especially with the great AARs we will be making some adjustments to this course here on out. As I said before it was our first and we learned a ton as well presenting it and know there are areas we could make smoother, put this next to that, and similar.
Again it was a great experience for us and we truly appreciate all of those that chose to spend their time with us in training.