Tuesday, October 13, 2020

AAR - Home Defense Shotgun - Beta Course

 Course development is not, and should not be, a trivial task. 

 “Yep, I sat down this weekend and wrote a whole new training course about shotguns!!!”

 No! That’s not how real life works . . . (I new phrase of mine that seems to have bubbled out of late, but it’s accurate in many cases, including this one).  I’ve discussed this before when NAPSI was developing  our initial sets of course work and I detailed that process over three posts.  I’ve included those links at the end of the article for those that might be interested.  However, a short review is in order of how NAPSI goes about it and how it applies to our new Foundations of Home Defense Shotgun course that I beta tested this past weekend.

 The basic concepts of the course were actually put together as fellow trainer Chris and I drove out to Cleveland, Ohio to conduct a Beta course on our Foundations of Defensive pistol nearly 6 years ago.  Much has happened in the interim, much has been learned, much has been incorporated in our 4 current sets of coursework revolving around the handgun . . . it was time to move forward with coursework for a whole new platform

 There were two obvious directions – AR/Carbine platform . . . or Shotgun.  The “glitz” is obviously down the AR/Carbine path . . . however the more valuable path in our opinion was the shotgun path.  Why??  The percentage of families that have shotguns tucked away somewhere versus those that have and AR/Carbine are significantly higher.  Heck, in the Midwest and most states with a significant rural area darn near every rural home has one tucked away somewhere.  It was obvious which path to chose – that of the Foundations of Home Defense Shotgun.

 Actually, the course has been under discussion for nearly two years.  Decisions were made about which common elements could be rolled in, which unique ones needed to be added, what drills would make sense, what types of rounds would be used in the course and a dozen more sets of details and items were discussed.  Over the summer that boiled down to a set of coursework that could be reviewed and discussed by NAPSI’s core instructors and allowed some elements to be wrung out on the range.  This led to the last and final draft and the release of the “Foundations of Home Defense Shotgun”- Beta release ready for field testing.

 Field testing can be challenging simply because of the amount of time required by the “students” – a number of students with a range of shotgun experience that are willing to invest a full day – the coursework will run about 9 hours with a full class – and the additional time required to have them write up their After Action Report (AAR) to give us feedback and suggestions.  Fortunately for me I met most of these folks at the shooting course offered by Jim Erwin that I reviewed just awhile back.  I also picked up a few others as well.  When all was said and done I had two LEOs – one of which is a trainer – both for officers as well as civilians – a shooter friend at Jim’s course, the local gun shop owner and his employee and a new-to-me fellow that had never attended a formal set of firearms coursework.  That’s a pretty darn good mix of experience to help us wring out our FHDS course work.

 For me, it’s standard to create a power point of said coursework.  I hate to keep poking my nose into and out of a course outline book.  That took an additional couple of days before I was ready so this past Saturday, October 10th was class day.  I also like to bring a full lineup of firearms, a full range bag and my two first aid kits – the Boo-Boo Kit and the Blow Out Kit.  Firearms included a break action, a bolt action, a semi-automatic, and two pump actions that I have equipped as defensive shotguns.  I fired up the coffee – opened the box of donuts (there were cops on premises ya know) and we got underway right at 8AM.

 Beta coursework is taught as though each and every shooter – for the FHDS course – is a new or inexperienced shooter.  Even if they were experienced bird hunters, the defensive use of a shotgun bears little resemblance to knocking down a pheasant or duck.  So . . . you start with the paperwork.  I begin each course with sign-in sheets, hold harmless agreements, media releases and collecting the money.  Of course, in this case the course work was paid for by their willingness to act as beta testers.

 Introductions were made, a review of the facility was given, and a medical brief was also given.  I always identify four people – the one with the most medical training and experience (most of the time myself, but not in this case).  Their job will be to respond to the medical emergency.  Second is someone with a good cell signal – their job is to call 911 and let them know that aid is needed.  Third is the person to go to the end of the driveway to make sure the ambulance knows where to go and fourth, a note taker to list everything as it happens.  I also take inventory of any known medical conditions or prescriptions that may cause problems throughout the day.

 This out of the way a short bio helps introduce me to the folks and lets them have some idea of my qualifications and experience.  Finally a short descriptions of the lessons to come that cover the different types of shotguns, fundamental gun safety, specific ways to outfit a home defense shotgun, we cover shotgun ammunition, key elements to home defense and the use of a shotgun to accomplish them, range safety and specific range protocols, live fire training, use of cover and concealment, a final exercise to evaluate the application of newly learned skills, a written exam, my final thoughts and a course debrief and After Action Review. 

 I have a fondness for a Range Shooting Sheet – a spreadsheet that details each drill as far as dry/live, round count, distance to target, and specific times that might need to be met.  This Range Sheet was five single sided pages and covered 16 unique shooting drills, both dry and live fire.  The range work ended up being two flights of three and took around 2-1/2 hours. 

 Just flat out – it’s a very busy day.  Taught as a Beta course, where I have never put my words to the course outline . . . it becomes even more challenging.  All that said, I made the call to my wife at 5:12 PM that it was a wrap and I was headed home.  The fact that I was giving the course to experienced shooters easily shaved an hour off the course.  The fact that I have now actually let the course “words” flow out of my mouth at least once should go a long way to make sure I stick within the 9-hour window.

 Bottom line, after 6 years of using this process to develop coursework, this Beta class simply reinforced that THERE . ARE . NO . SHORTCUTS.  PERIOD.

 As for what’s next for this coursework, we’ll wait to see what the individual student after action reports look like, make any final tweaks . . . but honestly . . . it went well enough that I consider this coursework to be “Live” and will probably schedule one or two classes before our year runs out.  Good job to all the “students” your participation and feedback truly do make a difference in turning out the very best in coursework for future shooters.

 And, if you’re an instructor that’s developing coursework of your own, I will continue to strongly recommend the use of Beta testing throughout the course development – from little chunks as you are putting it together – up to a couple before you finally pronounce it “Live” and ready to be taught.

 If anyone every has a questions about this process you’re more than welcome to give me a call for a chat, more than happy to help.

 Past posts on course development and it’s process.

First Review - Cleveland Trip

Second Review with Iowa Trainer Friends

Third Review - Sucking it Up and Reading the AARs