After Action Review by Chad, 10-32 Solutions
I wanted to throw this up for Dave and Mike at Timm Training. Shooters looking to get training are always looking for feedback of who are good instructors vs not-so-good, and I feel that they have enough potential to be a good resource for shooters in the MN/WI/Dakotas area, especially the Brainerd/Twin Cities/Twin Ports areas.
My background is I am a WI LEO, and certified through WI's DOJ as an Instructor to instruct Academy-level curriculum and am a WI DOJ Firearms Instructor in the Unified Tactics block, with other various certifications and training in that field. Also, for full disclosure, I run 10-32 Solutions, a training division for my company on the WI side of the Mississippi that is working towards similar goals that Timm Training is. I have been active on various forums, and usually participate in AAR's of training that I attend, and in reading of ones that others attend. The knowledge and experiences that can get posted in good AAR's help all of us, and I was asked to do one based on my observations from my background. I do not have any financial interest in Timm Training, and was there for the sole purposes of learning and reviewing.
Timm Training Instinctive Carbine 1 AAR –Comprehensive
Who: Timm Training- Training company staffed by Dave Timm and Mike Davis. Dave and Mike are current LE, and between the two of them they have training and experience through military combat deployments, competition shooting, LE and tactical topics, and Civilian CCW concerns.
What: Instinctive Carbine 1- This is Timm Training’s basic carbine use course intended to take the defensive carbines that much of the public has purchased and begin to instill the fundamentals needed to know how use them as the tool that they are, either for defense, competition, or recreation.
Where: Brainerd area- While the range itself was a half-hour drive from Brainerd, the area is considered the center of MN, and is also considered to be the recreational area for the Twin Cities. It is an area that is a perfect location for what Timm Training has to offer.
Why: Most people (Guys most often) honestly have an inflated sense of their shooting abilities due to their egos. It takes a true man to realize they are not God’s gift to shooting and they aren’t going to be able to grab any rifle and stop the hordes like Doc Holiday/Chuck Norris/John McClane. People don’t usually think that they are as good of a pilot as Chuck Yeager or as good of a race driver as Dale Earnhart, but it is quite common that many think they can win a match or a fight if needed with their rifle without proper modern training. Note I said modern training, and it is an important distinction. It takes a real man to realize that the pursuit of knowledge is never ending, and that developing the skills of shooting and developing competencies with firearms use is a road that will provide challenges and enjoyment to those that travel it. It takes a lot for a person to admit to themselves that their beliefs were wrong and to explore new methods. Instinctive Carbine 1 is Timm Training’s perspective on how to begin seeing how defensive and competitive use isn’t like shooting your deer rifle, and what is important along the way to help you succeed.
I have known Mike and eventually Dave for a few years now. I also am a sworn officer in LE for nearly two decades and have instruction experience similar to theirs. I met them when I was attending training to continue my own learning and have kept in contact ever since. Our mindsets are similar, and while we do not agree on everything we all subscribe to the same view that what we teach and learn are not the ways, but “A” way. They asked me to come up and take the course from them to help them evaluate it so that they could know where the course strengths are and what suggestions I would have to help them make it better. They know that I am brutally honest and fair in my views, and that I give the good along with the bad. I am used to AAR’s after tactical incidents and training, where the participants air out everything good and bad. No one can learn and improve if everyone plays lip service and are yes men to the Team Commander and Leaders. The only way learning occurs is for personalities to be put aside and honest evaluations and discussions occur. It is with those ideas in mind that I was asked to attend the course, and what follows is an AAR that Timm Training asked to be written to be passed on so that some of the lessons learned in class can be read by others to help them in their own training.
I have attended a lot of courses over my career, with varying instructor personalities. One of the things I really enjoy and appreciate is Dave and Mike’s ability to maintain an air of professionalism, but also the ability to be down to earth and approachable. Because they are current LE and work Patrol along with other duties of theirs, they know what it means to be in the public and have the humility that goes along with that. To a lot of people, that means a lot.
Equipment that I used: It has been very difficult for me to replace any ammunition that I use for training. I had to make a choice and I told Mike and Dave up front that I would need to do the majority of the class with my Smith & Wesson M&P1522 carbine in .22 Long Rifle. While rimfire ammunition at this point is probably harder to get a hold of than other calibers and probably more valuable to me as a shooter, I can’t use it for duty. I know that my Black Hills is still a year out. The M&P 1522 is one of the best investments I have ever made, and it maintained an accuracy level comparable to my M4. My sidearm is an M&P9 that I switched to a year ago, and no real issues with that except that it absolutely does not like the Rem 115-gr FMJ’s I had for training. I have grouped 6-8” groups at 25 yards with that ammunition, and I am trying to use it up so I can switch to a 124-gr load that the barrel has shown it prefers. My 1st-line belt setup has stayed pretty standard over the years. It is an ATS War Belt sleeve that has a pretty common load out for sidearm, a spare rifle and pistol mag, EAG dump pouch, and Blue Force Gear trauma kit. The most recent item attached was a Peters Custom Spada rifle mag holder. I got one of these from Greg Peters this past spring, and it has exceeded my expectations. I used the MOLLE attachment and it sits at exactly the right angle from my body to allow me to wear armor and still draw from the belt, and it has securely held all magazines I have tried in it, from USGI, Magpul, to the rimfire MP1522. The rest of my magazines sat in a modified Tactical Tailor MAV 2-Piece chest rig with an X-harness. It’s a rig that I have set up for anything I might be involved with, be it work, a walk in the woods, or training.
Class starts with a classroom portion that goes over some of the standard topics like safety and expectations. It is good for everyone to be on the same page for firearms safety, and it never hurts for a quick review of the safety rules to make sure we don’t get complacent. Dave and Mike also covered topics involving differences in various zeros and why they recommend the 50 yard zero for their purposes. Carbine optics were discussed, and Dave brought out his “Red Dotted Stepchild,” an Aimpoint M4 that he had a habit of dropping to prove a point on durability. That RDS was then used by a student for the class as a loaner, and it proved again why Aimpoint is the standard that it is.
The classroom portion continued with a discussion on ballistics. Much of the class learned how the .223/5.56 cartridge is ballistically the safest inside of structures due to the fact that it penetrates less than handgun bullets or shotgun slugs. I’m summarizing this data, but the myth that 5.56 bullets will go through a house and the next one across the street still holds fast, and it was nice to see this information, summarized as it was, presented.
It is very important for a new student of defensive rifle use to sit down for a introduction course first. There is so much information that can be delivered to that student, ranging from stance and grip, to manipulations, to ballistics, to gear, and on and on. Mike continued with a quick demonstration and explanation of some of the gear that can be used to carry magazines and sidearms, summarizing 1st and 2nd Lines. One of the good things about the focus of what they try to instruct came from what Mike said about gear: “It’s all about being practical” Choose the gear that fits what you need it for. For example, one very new shooter of retirement age knew that there was a requirement to be able to have 5-6 AR magazines on the line. This allows for more time to be spent shooting and less time spent walking back and forth loading magazines. He purchased a Eagle/Blackhawk style mesh nylon vest that allowed him to carry them. It didn’t fit him well, it inhibited his pistol holster, and by the 2nd day his back had had it. It honestly wasn’t going to be something that he would likely use in how he was planning on using his carbine. I threw Mike a USGI magazine bandoleer that I carry in my loadout stash to loan him. It was a simpler concept, something he was more likely to grab with his carbine if he needed it, and didn’t give him the fits that the vest was giving him. It was too late to save much of his back pain, but he was able to focus more on learning the weapon than struggling with a distraction.
Timm Training does has a Basic Carbine curriculum where they take people brand new to the AR platform and walk them through information like maintenance, nomenclature, and knowledge meant to help people spend their money wisely on accessories that are practical to what they intend to use their carbine for. The information given during the classroom portion was good quality, accurate information. There was enough to cover that I can see holding a 2-3 hour classroom portion the night before, so that more time could be spent on one on one issues, helping identify gear problems, and address more questions so people understood better some of the reasons why this information is important and how its come about.
We moved out to the range shortly after the classroom portion. Zeroing of the primary sight was done at 50 yards before lunch time. It saves time and ammunition if you can come to class with your carbine zeroed for the most part. I only had to make minor adjustments to change from my duty load to the practice load. For the most part, equipment and rifles were of decent quality. One carbine was set up more for competition with a higher powered magnified optic and a offset dot. The class was good for him, because the dot was mounted 45-degrees to the left of the optic, and as a right handed shooter he found the position of the dot was not as efficient for him for close range targets as it may have been if it was mounted on the right 45-degree side. The rest of the carbines were set up to be used as fighting guns, so to speak. There is a benefit to much of the market, training, and AAR’s that have been posted over the last few years. While there still are weird gimmick products out there, like a rotating rail system, grip sleeves for the mag well, etc, there was relatively few of those in attendance at this course.
One thing about the central MN region is that a certain AR brand is made there. People buy local in order to support that economy and feel a sense of pride in doing so. I will admit, as a young Deputy Sheriff I had the same belief, and felt it was a good thing to have the company close by in case I needed service. Over time, I learned that the chances of me actually needing that service were greatly diminished when I bought decent quality in the first place. I personally witnessed a great many issues with that companies firearms that could have been avoided if we knew then what we know now. The shooter next to me had a lot of fits with his carbine from that particular company. This is not to put that shooter down in any way. He repeatedly had failures to feed and/or fire the first day. It was to the point where his carbine was a bolt action after feeding the next shot instead of a semi-automatic. Generous lubing of the carbine didn’t help, and this shooter switched to a backup carbine he brought the next day.
I brought this point up for a couple reasons. People attend courses like these to learn, not only about their equipment, but themselves. In this case, the student took a carbine he had purchased years ago and had set up for his preferences at the time. This course I felt was pretty low stress for the equipment, but there was something that was making it not work. Knowing the track record with that company, my hypothesis is quality control, but I haven’t been able to speak with him to see the final verdict yet. Once the failure point is identified, he can then take steps to improve the overall reliability. Sometimes this is as simple as improving the staking on the carrier key or castle nut, or by putting in a couple parts to improve the extraction. Something to consider as well is the amount of money that is being invested to take the training. It pays to research ahead of time to find out what carbines, ammunition, and gear works or doesn’t work. That way you can focus 100% of your resources to the skills you are pulling the trigger for instead of having the class and drills progress past you because you were fixing malfunctions. You aren’t getting the value and intended repetition of those drills then.
Last fall, I shot a Huldra carbine at this range to see if I could make it fail. I couldn’t then, and I was pleased to note that some of the students were using Huldra carbines that had been set up as mine was. While I considered this to be a fairly low stress course, it was good to note that the Huldras all worked, and the students using them were able to focus on learning good fighting stances and shot groups on target that I felt were more than good enough to stop a potential threat or score needed points in a fast match.
Zeroing and the first half of the drills on Day 1 were done using a special target that Dave had printed up that used a large cross, various sized circles that had colored rings or numbers, and a generic IDPA/USPSA target shape. Some effort went into designing these targets, and as the drills progressed, Dave had teaching points put in as students were able to see how height over bore works and how easy it is to compensate for it once if becomes a natural factor. Students were able to gain confidence with trigger control by making hits within the ½-inch wide vertical line, and their groups in circles that mirrored the sizes of target areas for deadly force purposes. There were no coincidences in how Dave set his target up, and the drills were well worth it.
We changed targets to a traditional silhouette for the remainder of the course. Once students were instructed about height over bore issues, we were expected to be able to make hits from distances of 50 yards all the way up to 5 yards. We continued the rest of the afternoon with a number of drills that got everyone familiar with needing to shoot as many shots as needed to stop a threat. I felt this was a good point that Dave and Mike included, as it helps students break habits of only firing a prescribed number of shots over and over again.
Day 2 began with a lot more technical skills for the students. The day was a full day on the range, and started out with a discussion from Dave with getting everybody thinking about gear and carbine issues that people had the day before. Dave covered different types of malfunctions and clearing methods, and after working through drills to get familiar with getting the carbine back up and running, students had a partner load magazines for them with dummy rounds inserted at random.
Transitions to pistols were covered, and Dave and Mike did additional drills involving being able to use a red dot optic without a functioning dot and further did drills where students deployed their back up iron sights if they had them. The last formal drills dealt with lateral, forward and rearward movement while shooting, skills that they felt very strongly were important enough for a basic course.
Dave and Mike had a surprise planned for everyone for the final portion of the class at the end of the afternoon. Dave has a good 3-Gun competition background, and is a sponsored shooter at local and national matches. He designed a course with a shooting box that gave decent room for lateral and forward movement, and it faced an estimated ten targets of varying distances that were meant to simulate hard cover or even people in a crowd. In the middle of this crowd, was a threat target standing on top of a R/C chassis, with Dave holding the controller. On the command, you were to use the box to move if needed to be able to see center of mass if it was hidden by one of the barricades. In the meantime, Dave made the target move, like it was a person shooting at you and trying to not stand still. And he did a pretty good job of it, and was even able to rock the R/C chassis back and forth to make the target dance like a pendulum when shooters got cocky. Dave took concepts of a competition stage and was able to incorporate very realistically elements of how a person might need to employ a carbine.
The second station that they had set up were two sets of Ivan targets set on springs. They were intended to simulate a person that had taken a hostage as well as a couple other bystanders of varying heights. They controlled the movement with ropes, and were able to make the target simulate as if it was a person trying to hide behind a hostage, along with bobbing and weaving movement the hostage taker would likely also have. With all the bobbing and weaving, students were expected to be able to know height over bore and make head shots when able. Again, this was a very good drill that they had set up that provides some needed variety to most traditional classes that only have drills set up on a firing line. There was little down time with these two stations, as both Dave and Mike had people flow through them rapidly enough to accomplish what they intended.
The course was not without humor. I think that everyone had a pretty decent time, and there seemed to be lots of discussions going on with the different students. One point that I think everyone will remember, is when Andy (Unastamus) was up for his 2nd turn with the R/C target. We had all experienced how frustrating it was with how it could move. Everyone had the emotion that you wanted to “STOP!” the thing. Well, during one of Dave’s dances with it, while Andy was shoot at it, it happened to fall over. Andy quickly seized on the opportunity, and delivered a couple quick anchor shots to make a point for the damn thing to stay down. Dave’s expression for a brief second was one of terror, because the target was now at the same elevation as the R/C chassis. It was worth the laugh for Andy to win the fight finally with it.
One of the students asked me why I was taking this basic class, considering my background. As an instructor, I also need to return to basics and fundamentals to keep myself sharp. In every class I go to, I will learn something. This class was no different, and it was good to see another teaching style. Dave has a talent for describing things with catch phrases, and they help the students catch on to various concepts. Dave and Mike are no strangers to running a range, and were able to identify when students needed individual attention.
Instinctive Carbine 1 from Timm Training is an excellent starting point for people looking to utilize a semi-automatic defensive rifle more efficiently, either for competition of defensive purposes. They are a skilled and knowledgeable resource for the people of central MN, and I would not hesitate to recommend a course from them to anyone.
-End of AAR
Thanks for taking the time to read, and hopefully take something away from my experiences.