Breezy Point, MN
WX: Storms and rain started in the early morning, but cleared up by 0830 so that we had a dry start to class at the scheduled time of 0900. Temps started in the 70s, but the sun quickly came out and temps climbed fast to the mid 80s with full sun.
Student Overview: 10 (full). The class was populated by a mix of people with varying backgrounds and experience, with the class being primarily civilian/non-LE. All students were properly qualified to be in this class, so we did not need to delay anyone due to the need for remedial instruction.
One student of note was Johan Boden, who is the head ballistics genius for Federal Cartridge and CCI/Speer, and the parent company Vista Outdoors. Johan has had a hand in developing several of the modern duty/defense loads on the market today. Besides that, Johan has a distinguished military past and is a phenomenal shooter, very smart guy, and probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet. It was an honor for us that Johan attended this course with his wife and one of his friends.
The staff bio can be found on our website @ http://www.learningfirearms.com/info/staff.html
I am new to the team, and the site has not been updated so a little about me:
I served 8 years in the US Army Reserves, deploying as a combat support MP to Iraq in 2003-2004 and left the Army as a Staff Sergeant. I have been a suburban and metro police officer for 10 years, working as a patrol officer, investigator, agency and SWAT armorer. I currently work for a major metro agency as a patrol officer, field training officer and firearms instructor. Additionally, we were accompanied by Ben and Trevor, who do our media support and assist as range safeties, as well as assist with marksmanship instruction.
Moving Handgun is a course designed to provide students with skills relating to movement while shooting, or movement between shooting actions. The course teaches students how to move deliberately and rapidly in various directions to engage targets, and how to do this safely. Students are required to have a documented basic level of handgun instruction prior to starting this course.
The concept behind our training is that we only train in skills and tactics that we can back up with reason. We only endorse training that we believe has purpose and makes logical sense. If a student asks us why we are teaching something and we can’t justify it, we have a responsibility to evaluate that training and make changes so that we CAN justify it.
Students had to have prior training in pistol shooting that covered the fundamentals. This was not an introduction/beginner level class.
Students were requested to bring 400rds of pistol ammo, and most students shot between 300-400 rounds.
Defense/duty grade handguns in 9mm or larger caliber were recommended.
The class started with an intro of instructors, as well as an intro of the students. We covered basic housekeeping matters, and then discussed our philosophy that while money can be refunded, time cannot. As such, we know that we have an obligation to make this training worth peoples’ time. Dave gave an explanation behind why this class was created, which is because moving is integral with the use of a firearms. This class has reach beyond tactical use by professionals, because it translates over to things like home defense or personal protection by the armed citizen, as well as applicability to competition shooting events like 3-Gun and IPSC. There was a discussion about the differences between competition shooters and tactical shooters, and the parallels the truly do exist but tend to be overlooked. Both sides want accurate rounds on target as fast as possible. The question here is the method of delivery, and the followthrough that occurs after the rounds are delivered. There are things to be gleaned from both sides. From there, we got down to business and got onto the range.
From the start, we did a quick review of the fundamental. Our company philosophy is that there are no “advanced” shooting skills, just fundamentals that have been perfected. In this case, we wanted to go over basic fundamentals as not only a refresher, but a warmup for students to ease into what would be a rather long day. We start by going over the load and make ready command, which calls for you to do exactly that- Load and Make Ready. Many people take and administrative approach to this procedure, and they don’t perform the loading procedure in a manner consistent with how they would use the pistol in the real world. We teach students the common concept of keeping the firearm in the workspace, so we harped on students to perform their loading procedures in their workspace, which for the layman is up in front of your forward vision, at or above shoulder level. This keeps you “in the fight” or helps you to maintain view of targets in any engagement or competition. We teach to draw and make a presentation before loading. Students often will not do this and load administratively down by their waist, and they wind up throwing away a chance to do another draw stroke and presentation rep.
To start, we had students shoot the Learning Firearms 5x5 drill. The target is a black target rectangle that is the size of half a piece of paper, stood on end in a vertical configuration. Five shots are fired from each position to a par time, which gets faster as you get closer to the target. This drill for pistol involves two shooting stages. In the first stage, students shoot from 25yds. Students then move together and shoot at the 20yds when prompted. The target is then scored for those hits. After that, students will fire strings at 15yds, 10yds, and 5yds. The goal is to clean the drill with all hits, and meet all par times set. When we do this drill in the start of a class, we do it without the time standards to serve a warmup and initial assessment of student skill. This is basically done “cold”, which is when the drill was designed to be shot. This drill is very good to use as an assessment, because paper does not lie when it comes to marksmanship. Too many people shoot at silhouettes or steel and take a hit as a hit. After this test, several people relented that it was time to go back to shooting paper for accuracy when they went back to their home ranges. Remedial attention to the basics is never a bad decision on a regular basis, and every shooter-myself included-should be reviewing the basics on a regular basis.
The first course of instruction covered a review of the fundamentals of pistol shooting. For our instruction, we break down the fundamentals through PAD, or Presentation, Aiming and Delivery. The presentation is how we grip the gun, draw from the holster and to prepare to point down to the target. Grip and draw fundamentals were demonstrated using a red gun for safety. We teach to grasp the grip with the final firing grip from the start, draw and immediately rotate the gun forward so that the pistol can be quickly punched outward onto target.
Another aspect to presentation involved stance. While the weaver and isosceles are commonly pushed, there has been more merit recently behind an standard athletic stance being a good option. The athletic stance is the typical stance you would use for anything from playing golf to preparing to run with a rugby ball or football. It is a less rigid platform that allows you more versatility in your shooting. This was a concept that people later realized came into effect, but that will be touched on later in the AAR.
The next step was demonstrating aiming and how to control the pistol with the grip. We discussed how the sights of pistols tend to be accurate and on target to 25yds or more, but people have accuracy issues at range due to how they superimpose the front sight over the target, which appears smaller at range. The last step is delivery, and we went over the need to have all of the fundamentals locked in when the trigger is pressed to the rear. This included trigger control for both firing and a controlled reset at the shooter’s pace. A key element to this instruction was explaining flinching/anticipating the shot, and how anticipating is not always a detriment to your accuracy. Dave detailed the actions he’s seen in national level competition with all of the major shooting champions, where they intentionally anticipate the shot in order to compensate the recoil at the high speed that they shoot. If they don’t anticipate this recoil, their pace slows. We were keen to explain the difference between rapid shooting with intentional counter-actions versus having a flinch and not having a sufficient amount of experience to control the pistol.
To demonstrate how the PAD concept is put into practice, we performed a walkback drill from 3yds, where we had students shoot 4 rounds from the 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 and 25yd lines on a B8 bullseye target. On the THREAT command, students had to draw from the holster, and the shots were to be taken at the pace of the individual student. To be expected, shot times slowed as distance increased. Some students were good enough shooters to maintain a good pace throughout, but most that were slightly less experienced wisely slowed to ensure the best possible hits. A couple students were pushing themselves too much and their targets showed it. Groups opened up and fliers started noticeably showing at 15yds and out, which is to be expected. Shooting precision at distance (relative to pistol) is always a tough order, and several students noticed that their precision game had languished. One student announced “I need to start shooting more paper”, which is not a bad idea for any of us. Paper doesn’t lie.
Once students had an opportunity to view their targets, we moved on to talk about how we do not believe in the “advanced” skills concept. This is not an uncommon theme in modern shooting and training- both for and against-and in our instruction, we don’t have anything that is “advanced”. We simply believe that there are the fundamentals expertly employed.
We went over the draw stroke and ready positions for the handgun. We function with three primary ready positions: High ready, low ready, and compressed ready/chest index. The high ready is also known in other circles as a high port or SEAL high port, and it is where you have the pistol muzzle-up and forward, and you are looking just over the front sights with that front sight in your immediate line-of-sight (LOS). The low ready has the muzzle forward and down slightly, just below the LOS. The compressed/chest position pulls the pistol into the strong side, indexing the pistol and grip hand into the lower rib cage for control. The two main ready positions (low and high) were for preparing to engage the target, and the low tucked was for controlling the pistol during movement or scans. We also quickly went over the temple index and when it is applicable, which is typically for VIP operations, but has applicability for parents with children so that they won’t muzzle their children, which tend to be down below your LOS.
We quickly went over doing the 360 scan, and the safest way of doing so by not stepping bea. In doing this scan, we have the students pull their gun into the low tucked position and use their weak hand/reaction hand to (I don’t care which one you call it) to act for defensive protection or control by lifting the hand about chest or shoulder high and off the gun. The scan is then performed. We had students start to engage a target on the “threat” command with the choice of 2-5 rounds. We don’t typically use a prescribed number of shots so that students are left to do their own target hit evaluation. When they completed their engagement, they were to do their follow-through, which encompasses both the target assessment and 360 scan. I immediately noticed that several students were shooting and immediately yanking their pistols down and off the target. This effectively takes you out of the fight and requires you to go through a full aiming and trigger sequence if you have to reengage the threat. We started correcting students and reminding them to not be in too much of a hurry to come off target, and students were immediately receptive. It was a good learning point for all.
As we shot, students were tasked with changing up their ready positions in order to evaluate which position they liked better, and which was more appropriate given a circumstance. A student was using a high ready and had his pistol too low and out of his LOS. I coached him into raising the pistol so that his front sight was in his LOS, so that he could track that sight and quickly superimpose the sight over the target. He did a couple reps and then immediately had a lightbulb moment and commented how much faster he was getting on target. The tracking of the front sight is what allows you to get the sights on target faster, and he immediately recognized this.
In doing the scans, I saw people were either only looking briefly and maybe covering about 200-270 degrees. I started standing in peoples’ blind spots, which is typically on the strong side, as we have them turn to the weak/reaction side during their scan. Several students were clearly not looking at me at all. I started holding up fingers to see if they picked up how many fingers I was holding up, and when I asked, there were awkward pauses and realizations of the need for attention to detail. At the same time, Mike was standing directly behind some students, about 5yds back, visibly holding an opened pocket knife. Even directly behind students, few initially noticed him holding that pocket knife. Again, students realized they were missing important details. During the scans, many students were also lingering far too long looking behind, and it was apparent that some students were not sure how long they should be scanning for. The answer of course is as long as you need to, but the lack of experience led to some indecision or lack of confidence in this individual assessment of threats.
I made it a point to discuss the importance of situational awareness on two levels. The first was to make sure that students recognized that they just engaged a known threat, and that while there may be a need to scan for other threats or problems, they still need to be cognizant of the existence of the KNOWN threat. I pointed out that we are not coroners, and we don’t pronounce people dead or neutralized or stopped. For LE purposes, a suspect isn’t secured until they’re in handcuffs. In the case of a citizen, this typically isn’t applicable. You have to limit your distractions or divisions of attention so that you can still remain aware of the known threat. Spending too long scanning can allow the threat to return without your control.
The second point was about what people should be looking for when scanning. Human vision is very good in certain conditions, but our vision works in different ways depending on where we are in our field-of-view (FOV). At the outer edges of the FOV, we have pretty good panoramic vision with your vision being good at picking up movement and light. As you move inward, you start to process colors and shapes better. The center of your FOV is where you you best pick up details. We as humans are not unlike predators in the wild, with eyes on the front of our faces and not on the sides. We are target focused. This is apparent when you activate the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and engage that fight or flight response. The SNS causes tunnel vision, and that is how we identify and evaluate threats. I discussed with students the need to completely scan the full 360, and then quickly process information. I pointed out that the point of the scan was to identify additional threats, and not to simply just look at things.
The 360 scan is something of a controversy today, with some people pushing it and others moving away from it. For us, we use it as a way to break up the tunnel vision and open up situational awareness. There is a real need for maintaining full situational awareness, and I’ve experienced this first-hand on numerous occasions. I work in a major metropolitan area and in many critical or major incidents, we regularly get bystanders who want to disrupt us, get involved, or simply want to gawk. We all know that people today are more interested in pulling out their cell phones and filming the incidents than they are about keeping away and letting things develop. This scan is not only for threats trying to hurt you, but threats to your ability to control the situation. Nosy gawkers and social justice warriors often cause more problems than they think they are solving, and we have to manage those problems. The caveat is that we have to be aware of their presence in order to control those problems.
At this point, we started with the movement portion, which was the meat and potatoes of the curriculum. The start of this movement was basic lateral movement. This started with a demonstration of how we will do it, and the command sequence we will call out indicating the direction. We then went into an explanation of why this would be necessary, and why we feel lateral movement is being taught incorrectly in various venues. There has been a push for a while that is often referred to as “getting off the x”, and has been used by various trainers. As far as Learning Firearms is concerned, this concept pushes movement for the wrong reasons. It is essentially moving for the sake of motion, and doing something without purpose is wasted effort. When you sidestep one or two or three steps, your attacker has to make very little correction to their aim if they are any distance away from you. In the time that it takes you to move, your attacker can easily adjust and reacquire you as a target. Moving 4-6 feet to you is maybe 4-6 inches of motion in the gun of the threat. This is simple math relating to angles. If you are in critical space and dodging an incoming threat, it is a different ball of wax altogether. The issue is that many of these advocates of mandatory movement don’t account for the added effort needed for the student to draw and move, track their target and engage said target. If it is not critically necessary, why do it? As such, we don’t teach people to move “just because”. In a lot of law enforcement training, we’ve seen people being taught to move out of academies. When you start talking to cops trained this way and you bring up these points about WHY they are really moving and why it is potentially wasted motion, lightbulbs start turning on. As an example, Minnesota State Patrol troopers have in the past been taught to immediately sidestep, draw and engage. Here’s the problem- when you’re standing next to a car on a traffic stop, where are you going to sidestep? Not into the car. Your only option is to step out into the traffic lane and into the path of a 3500lb Nissan or 6000lb Ford. So again, why are we moving simply for the sake of motion? Instead, we push for students to only move when necessity dictates the need to move. Is it faster to simply hold your ground and draw? Or does slowing down your engagement time by moving create an advantage? Your actions should come with purpose, and should only be done necessarily; not procedurally.
We did numerous repetitions of the lateral movement, with students taking two large steps and then engaging the target. We discussed the need for the student to decide whether it was prudent to draw the pistol and then move, draw while moving, or move then draw. One thing that we discussed was the time factor, and the need to do things as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you have the ability to do both at the same time, then I strongly advocate for the shooter to draw while moving. There are things that can affect this process, like holster design and placement. Drop-leg/thigh holsters are often worn too low, and drawing from one that is too low while moving is next to impossible. In those cases, you have to adapt your decisions. I pushed for students to draw while moving, and several students who were drawing then moving who moved to drawing while moving were a good half second to full second faster at getting their first round downrange. While this is not the only option, it’s a starting point.
The next step to movement was forward movement. There was discussion about concepts of movement, and previous theories on how to walk that includes simple walking from the athletic stance, the 80’s era duckwalking and so forth. We did dry runs with unloaded pistols so that students could try walking on their own and see what their pistols were doing. They were able to see the movement of the sights over the target.
At this point, students were informed about the concept of First Best Sight Picture (FBSP) or First Acceptable Sight Picture (FASP). When moving or standing in an unsupported position, the first best or acceptable sight picture you get is likely going to be the best sight picture you will get. After that, your sights will being to wander and you will struggle to regain that sight picture. It’s never going to get any better than that initial FBSP, so the shooter needs to be prepared to break the shot when that moment arises.
We started the live shooting with students walking from the 10yd line down to the 3yd line. Students for the most part did pretty well, but several were shooting larger groups. One student was walking in a very irregular way that I characterized as “pooping in a diaper” while walking. He was bending his legs, keeping his upper body upright, and squatting his butt lower. He was walking slower than everyone else, and he had a look that indicated that he knew he wasn’t comfortable with situation. I coached him into a natural walking gait and talked about how the athletic stance for starting should lead into natural movement. I informed him that he was basically overthinking the problem and to simply walk normally. The key is to use a normal gait for your speed while the upper body maintains the same shooting position as when you are standing still. The student changed back to a normal walking gait and slightly forward lean that was more natural, and his engagement speed instantly increased. He noted that it felt a lot more natural.
The next step to this training was to increase the speed, so we coached the students about human performance and walking gait. The way to think about how to move is to have the same lean angle of the upper body and same lower body gait as you would if you were not shooting. The only difference between the two is that in one, you have a gun. When we increased the speed, students adapted and performed well.
He last step to forward movement was running and planting before shooting. This was demonstrated, and then students were put into action. A major leaning point to this was when we split the line into even/odd numbers so that students had more space to move. We showed people that when you run and plant to stop, and then engage, shooters were rarely standing with an ideal stance. Using an athletic stance allows the shooter to still engage a target with control, even with an imperfect stance.
A discussion was raised at one point regarding heel/toe and duckwalking. One student noted that he was used to duckwalking, but he was walking heel/toe. The human walking stride for most people involves a heel/toe progression, so making this a more deliberate movement is still natural. It’s important to delineate between normal heel/toe walking movement and the duckwalk, which is actually walking with the heel coming down directly in front of and inline with the toe of the other foot and walking in a very deliberate, rolling manner. Both can work, but the duckwalk is exhausting and inefficient. What we don’t want is the monster mash foot stomping, as that causes a lot of movement and concussion through the body.
Backward movement was the next course of training, and we highlighted how actually walking or running backwards is dangerous and almost always results in the person falling. Dave highlighted videos showing this to be common in police shootings, which has actually been a part of Dave Spaulding’s curriculum. As such, we had students turn and run to a rear position, then execute a turn and engage the target. Under this movement when the pistols were drawn, we had students use a compressed ready to control the pistol. This was also done for safety, as well as for control.
The next phase to training was doing more complex movement drills. We start with our box drill, which uses four large plastic barrels to set up the corners of a box/square. We started with students running from point to point and shooting from the points. Students found this to be fluid and efficient. Muzzle awareness and discipline was stressed. We encouraged students to push their speed to induce more stress, and students responded well.
One point of order to this is the load and make ready procedure. We prefer to run a hot range so long as students are responsible. Part of the load and make ready procedure involved my favorite saying, which is “press checks are free”. For the life of me I don’t remember who specifically said this to me first, but I want to say it was Mike Heuser when he was rolling with Pat Rogers. It drives home a point that doing a press check is an easy way to ensure you have a round in the chamber, and that you should take advantage of it every time the situation arises. WELL….someone didn’t. I said my usual “load and make ready; press checks are free” and noticed one student did not check his pistol at all. I again hinted at the prudence of a press check, and this student again did nothing to his pistol. It’s almost as if I had some form of intuition, because as soon as I yelled “THREAT!” He pulled the trigger on the target and was met with a very resounding “CLICK” of the firing pin hitting dead air. This was the greatest reinforcement of the value of a press check. Now, as luck would have it, this student had also trained under Pat Rogers, so I felt a special obligation to do what I did next. As if Pat himself was staring down through the heavens from his holy Deathstar and giving me the nod, I initiated the sign and call of the Moosecock. If you are a past student of Pat Rogers, you will for the rest of your days be subject to Moosecocking. It’s in the fine print.
For the box drill, we had students switch to shooting on the move. This presented three different problems. The first was how to move the feet while walking laterally by not crossing the feet. The second was how to shoot when the target was on the strong side, which required students to twist their body, or to face the target and sidestep. The third challenge was making the students actually walk backwards. For this portion, we stood behind them and spotted them for safety to ensure nobody tripped and fell. Students became significantly slower when doing this.
Upon reviewing the drill, students recognized that moving to shoot is faster than shooting on the move. The question was then asked by instructors as to which is ideal, and of course the correct answer is “it depends”. Realistically, we have to adapt to our environment and make the decision based on the individual circumstances.
A diamond drill was set up, which is the same as a box but you know, slanted. The same drills were tested and completed, and students rehashed the same lessons.
We moved to our pinball stage, which involved two barrels and the students running to one, firing, then moving to the other and firing. Ideally, this moving should be running. Students got somewhat gassed doing this, and it was done to induce more stress to get students to pay attention to muzzle discipline and shooting fundamentals while moving.
We set up a zig zag drill, which is offset barrels that students run back and forth to in order to engage steel targets. We set up two sides, and one side had steel. The other side used Dave’s famed RC car that we mount a target to. This target was driven around at speed, and students got a very good understanding of how accuracy degrades when shooting at a moving target.
A steel challenge competition stage was set up, using 4x4 and 6x6 steel plates. There were 15 plates or so, if memory serves me right. We did this stage for time to show students how competition shooting can help with balancing time and accuracy. The fastest shooter was of course, Johan Boden, but a couple students got pretty close.
A side note to Johan’s shooting was that when looking at his paper silhouette targets, all of his shots were in the central nervous system (CNS) or the heart/central chest area. Aside from his exceptional shooting accuracy, his hits were exactly the kind of hits you’d expect from one of the nation’s biggest ballistic experts. It was definitely of an education for the rest of us.
The final evolution of the day was our official 5x5 Drill for time. With this drill, anyone that cleans it with 100% score gets a plaque. The hits are checked after every distance. We had the students start at the 25yd line with their first five shots, and had students shoot individually to the par time. The hits were tallied and nobody passed the first round.
With that, the day was over. We concluded with a debrief and discussion about what was learned. We explained our philosophy that while we respect money being spent, we know that time is more valuable and that we want to make sure that everyone got their time’s worth.
Now, as a takeaway from the course, I realized that our shot accountability was not where I wanted it. I like courses that push for high accuracy standards, and I think that we need to consider increasing our emphasis on shot accountability. We didn’t disregard shot placement, but I think that more emphasis on the accuracy can help our program.
Gear/Guns Notes and Issues:
7 out of 10 students were using 9mm and .40S&W Glocks, and zero had issues with their guns. One student running a Sig P320 had no issues, and another student with a CZ P10C also had zero issues. Another student ran an Arsenal Firearms StrikeOne that did not run. This StrikeOne had three strikes and then kept striking out, because it began having a myriad of mechanical malfunctions relating to feeding and extraction. The malfunctions started with a few early, but as the day progressed, the malfunctions became more frequent. The student running the StrikeOne had to strip the gun and lube and clean it on breaks. The most frequent issue was failure to extract, resulting in double-feeds that required remedial action. The shooter was a retired Marine, so he was able to fight through the malfunctions and clear them. The unfortunate end to the StrikeOne was when the shooter went to rack the slide to eject the round from the chamber, and the poor extraction flipped the live cartridge backward. When the slide was released, the cartridge was forced rim-first into the chamber and wedges in there. Nobody could get the round out, so I took the pistol off the line and used a cleaning rod to push the cartridge out. This was the final blow, and the shooter used his Glock 26 with extended magazines to finish the rest of the class. Not surprisingly, the Glock 26 made it through several hours of shooting with zero issues.
During the first warm-up 5x5 drill, I noticed that one shooter was shooting low and left pretty consistently. An early discussion concluded that the sights were brand new to him, and then digging deeper I learned that the gun he was shooting was also brand new. He opted to use his new CZ P10C that he essentially had very little time with prior to this course. His previous gun of choice was a Springfield XD. Many handguns have different ergonomics and grip configurations, and it is not always an easy and fast transition to move from one gun to another when there are significant ergonomic differences. This shooter was a new shooter with about a year of experience, and he did very well regardless of this issue. We discussed with him how he was sort of restarting a learning curve when going from one gun with a specific grip and trigger feel to another gun that was different, and he compensated and adapted quickly and quite well.
A student showed up with a Glock MOS topped with a brand new Vortex RDS that I believe was the new Venom RDS. He got it a day or two before and did not zero the RDS to his pistol prior to coming to class. He was shooting low/left from 25 and 20yds right out of the box, but was still on the paper. This student was a good shooter, so I’m inclined to believe that his zero was off a little bit and that it wasn’t shooter error. Later in the day, his reticle started flickering and at one point the reticle went out completely. I was present when this happened, and he informed me that the reticle was gone. I suggested that he check the battery compartment to make sure the battery wasn’t losing contact, which is usually the first cause of this issue. Sure enough, the battery cover has backed off and needed to be tightened. I don’t know if this permanently solved the issue, but the student did not report any further issues and he continued the day without any observed problems.
This brings up a very good point, in that classes like this are good for shaking down equipment and gear by putting them through their paces. That being said, it’s a good idea to zero your optics and test-fire equipment before hand and do a basic shake-down on your own before class to eliminate as many issues as possible. For non-basic rifle classes, we mandate that students show up with zeroed rifle optics/sights. Pistols are no different, and students should not be showing up with an unzeroed red dot sight (RDS). If his zero was dramatically off, we would have had to dedicate time to getting him zeroed on a break, which could have taken away from the course. In the event that it was taking a while, we would potentially have to mandate that the student use a different pistol, or remove the optic for the remainder of the course. Why remove the optic? Well, the pistol did not have sights that were high enough to co-witness through the optic. If your optic does not have a built-in backup sight option, you need to invest in suppressor-height sights that can co-witness through the optic window.
One student was running from concealed Appendix IWB, and had a good quality kydex holster setup. He had obviously trained with this holster, and I observed that he had excellent trigger finger control to safely holster his pistol every time. AIWB is a safe option when the shooter is safe and has trained properly with their holster. Another student was running concealed IWB at the 3:00 position, and he was also very quick and proficient with his drawstrokes. He was also very safe with his reholstering. This goes to show that the safety of a carry platform is greatly influenced by the shooter, and not so much by the specific platform. Quality holsters also make a difference in draw stroke efficiency and reholster safety.
A student was running handloads, and he felt a light pop when firing a round. Wisely, this student knew to stop everything and not fire again. Upon disassembly of his Glock, a bullet was located in his barrel indicating a squib load. This student was to be commended for catching the squib, but it highlighted the point that we prefer students to use factory ammunition only.
Several students looked like lobsters at the end of the class due to sunburn and insufficient UV protection. We always recommend sunscreen, and we provide some sunscreen for student use as a way to help reduce sunburn. While everyone is welcome to get as tan or burned as they please, the problem here is that extended heat and sun exposure can cause heat injuries like exhaustion, cramps and blisters. We have a shaded canopy area, as well as provide complimentary bottled water and sports drinks on ice for students. Still, there are measures that I highly recommend that can solve the problems of heat exposure and UV burns. Numerous companies now are making long sleeve shirts that have UPF protection, which blocks UV radiation. These shirts wick moisture and keep you cool in direct sunlight. Fishermen and hikers have been using these garments for a long time, and I highly recommend that you look into these shirts. The best I’ve found are ones that have hoods, as they can be pulled up over or under a hat, or you can just leave them down and they still shield your neck from the sun. There is no worry about your sunscreen wearing or sweating off, and these garments are very lightweight and do seriously keep your skin cool. Columbia, Simms Fly Fishing, Orvis, FreeFly, Patagonia and other companies sell these shirts and I highly recommend them for long shooting days.