Saturday, January 30, 2016

Training - 2016 Resolutions for the Experienced Shooter

Experienced:   having skill or knowledge from doing something

                         having experience

So before we dip our toes into a few resolutions, let’s ask the simple question . . . “Are you experienced?”  Notice the definition . . . “having skill or knowledge from doing something”.  Take this is a bit of a gut check . . . been to the range fairly frequently this year?  Did you take new coursework?  Do you have the knowledge and skill to properly care for all your firearms? As a test of skills . . . can you complete the Winchester Marksmanship Qualification for Defensive Pistol II at the Expert Level.  (Yes . . . I know, lots of qualification shoots out there, but the Winchester program is a solid test of fundamentals.  If you don’t like it – choose something different.)  If you have done, and can do these things . . . nice!  Congrats on your hard work.  However, if you can’t . . . please stop kidding yourself and make THIS YEAR, right now – the year you take your personal protection serious.  Honestly, I could give a crap less if you lie to yourself and end up in a ZipLoc . . . but I DO care if you’ve chosen to carry to defend your family . . . and then can’t when TSHTF!  Don’t be that guy/gal.  OK?

What to do, what to do.  As with the previous post on this topic, I have a fondness for “3s” so let’s focus on three individual areas you can work on.


It should come as no surprise that I believe every individual who carries a defensive handgun should take coursework EVERY FRICKIN’ YEAR!!  Take something.  There are a whole host of “big name” trainers out there at very reasonable prices – they are surely an option.  That said, every region is “that guy” or “that gal” who conducts training in their area, has a solid reputation, has good reviews, teaches skills you either don’t have or want to polish . . . don’t overlook them because they’re not “known”.  Any instructor who can clearly articulate why they teach what they teach in a logical fashion, that can demonstrate what they teach and has no hesitation to shoot drills on the range as a way to demonstrate them . . . has things for you to learn.  And, probably at greatly reduced costs.

DVD coursework is also a good supplemental way to go.  While it is NOT the same as face time with a trainer, if you genuinely are a shooter who spends real range time working on your skills, video coursework can broaden your knowledge base on everything from the legal aspects of a defensive shooting to a new types of shooting drills and techniques.  My only caution here is . . . youtube is NOT your friend!  Purchase DVD coursework from solid, reputable instructors.  Take your time to read the reviews, look at any preview material and then make a smart choice.

On-Line training fits a similar niche.  I’ve been a member of the Personal Defense Network founded by Rob Pincus for a number of years.  They are probably one of the best sources of on-line information on a broad range of topics.  And, they have a very large video library as well. 

Finally . . . READ!  There are a number of authors out there who publish magazine articles, books, blogs that have good, solid information.  Pick up something every day to read on the use of a defensive weapon, on drills, on how to use range time to your best advantage . . . and a whole host of other topics.  Take advantage of them all!

Do  a “Deep Dive” on your everyday carry gun

Do you really “know” your EDC defensive weapon?  “Yeah . . . I carry a Glock . . . or a 1911 . . . or a Sig . . . or a FN . . . or a . . .” But . . . do you really know your gun?  I pray you can do a quick field strip, clean and lubricate.  Can you go past that?  Can you change damaged firing pins, extractors, strikers . . . things that live in the rear of the slide but that the average shooter rarely – if ever – touches?  Do you have a spare parts kit for your EDC gun?  Do you know it’s history – and not just the history of your particular firearm but the history of it’s development.  How did it get from a drafting board into your concealed carry holster at your side?  Take some time and get to know the tool you have chosen to defend your life, the lives of your family and folks in your charge.

Individual training

I’ll give you the same advice I gave to the new shooters . . . buy your 1,000 rounds of training ammo TODAY!!  In fact, since you are going to be growing as an experienced shooter, you may what to bump that up to 1,500 or 2,000.  For me personally I’ve already received 2,000 rounds of 9mm, 1,000 rounds of .45, 1,000 rounds of .223 and probably 3,000 rounds of .22 though to be fair that’s mostly for new shooters and some of the coursework they take from me.  It takes live rounds to learn recoil management – and you simply must do the work.

Set some training goals.  For me I’ve committed to complete the Winchester Defensive Pistol Qualification 1 and 2.  Honestly, they’re not particularly hard but they go a long way towards demonstrating that you take your craft seriously and should you ever be involved in a defensive shooting, that time on the range may well help you win the second half of a gunfight – in the courtroom.

I am still a big fan of NextLevelTraining’s SIRT pistol.  Actually I have 5 of them that I use in the classroom.  That said, they’re in a Glock 17 (and now M&P) form factor which is the defensive weapon I carry.  I probably spend a minimum of an hour a day on my dry fire range working on presentation, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger press.  It DOES NOT help with recoil management . . . but it does a world of good for virtually every other aspect of defensive shooting.  I would encourage you to see if this fits in your budget and pick one up. 

A solid alternative is the LaserLyte Laser Round.  I have one for 9MM and for .45 ACP.  These allow an added level of safety in that they FILL the chamber in your carry gun when you use it insuring that a live round is not ever loaded in your gun.  And, they provide first-round impact indication.

Solid work on a dry fire range can multiply many times over the value of live ammunition simply because a lot of the “grunt work” can be accomplished before you every hit the live fire range.

One final request . . . if you have chosen to carry a defensive handgun to defend yourself, your family or folks in your charge . . . then carry . . . every day . . . everywhere you legally can.  When a bad guy presents themselves as a lethal threat there is no time to run to the car, to return to the office, to zip home, to open the safe, to load your defensive weapon . . . you have no time . . .

I DO NOT want you to look back on this year wishing you’d carried, wishing you’d taken coursework, wishing you’d truly learned how to run your gun . . .

So . . . get off your ass, do the work . . . and we’ll chat at the end of the year to see how it went.  Have a GREAT and PRODUCTIVE 2016!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Training - 2016 Resolutions for the new shooter

Perhaps a bit tardy . . . but it is that time of year to set some goals for 2016.  And while there are plenty of areas in my life that I need to lay down some markers in, let’s focus on the firearms side of the house for this post.  While I want to touch on what I view the three primary shooting groups – new shooters, experienced shooters and instructors – for this particular post we’ll start with the very new shooter.  I’ll roll out my thoughts for the other categories over the next few days.  So, let’s get started.

Prospective or Very New Shooters

I have three primary goals for you – take at least one good defensive shooting course, buy a defensive handgun that fits you and your lifestyle and that you can control and finally start a consistent training regimen to improve your skill set.  So let’s chat about these things a bit.

Begin with coursework from a reputable instructor.

One thing is certain, if you walk into a gun store intent on purchasing a handgun . . . you will probably walk out with one.  It will be a toss-up if it is truly one that will work for you.  I have a number of friends that work at gun stores that will do their very best to make sure your handgun will truly “fit” you.  Sadly, in many cases they are the exception.  Many sales folks at gun stores are just that . . . sales people.  Good coursework will get you past this particular hump.

So how do I fine a reputable instructor???  It doesn’t need to be hard.  First, the oldest training organization in the nation is the NRA.  While they take a lot of crap in the news, one of their primary goals is to provide training for new shooters.  Find a local trainer, talk to them and see if they feel like a fit.  And let me add one more thing . . . get references!  If ANY trainer is unwilling to give you the names of two or three folks that have taken instruction from them – take a pass on them.

Ask local law enforcement officers.  If you don’t know any personally, ask some of your friends if they know a local police officer or sheriff’s deputy.  Trust me – these officers are well aware of local instructors and can help you steer clear of the bad ones.

Once you choose an instructor do your homework.  It’s impossible to hide in today’s world.  Ask your friends who may have taken coursework from them, search Google for any reviews of classes people may have taken, review the instructors web page or Facebook page.  Take your time, do your homework and then schedule a course before you buy your first handgun.  In fact, most instructors have a variety of handguns available for you to try.  It may cost you to replace the ammo you shoot or there may be a rental fee, but you’ll have an opportunity to see and feel how the firearm fits you before you lay down hundreds of dollars for that first handgun.  When you leave the course you will know how to safely use a handgun, you will have been given a solid foundation on how they work, how to use them, hopefully some information of the defensive use of a handgun, spent a number of hours on a range actually learning to shoot . . . so that at the end of the course, a foundation has been laid for you to begin to build your shooting skill set.

Buy a defensive handgun that fits and that you can control. 

Let’s see if I can say this simply . . . BUY A GUN!!  I believe we have reached a point in our history where an armed America is called for.  With a government approaching a near dictatorial mindset, with a global Caliphate seemingly intent on rapid growth and expansion and with much of our country’s civilized behavior becoming more than a little frayed around the edges . . . I believe a defensive firearm in the hands of every citizen legally permitted to have one might just help settle things down just a bit.  Remember, constitutional rights that are not exercised and allowed to wither and die on the vine will never be regained.

Finally – take your individual training seriously.

A single day’s course . . . a single weekend’s course . . . 4 hours to 16 hours in the classroom . . . 4 hours to 8 hours of range time . . . simply will not make you a competent defensive shooter.  No matter how much you want it to.  What they should do is provide you with solid foundational information that is comprehensive enough to allow you to be able to go out and purchase a firearm that will fit your purpose, that will fit you and that you can control.  So, by the time we get to step three . . . you should have a defensive handgun in your hand.

My standard advice is that every January you find one of the online ammo “deals” and purchase 1,000 rounds of “ball” ammunition for your firearm.  Ball implies a solid lead core wrapped in copper – Full Metal Jacket – FMJ.  For a 9mm this is typically a 115gr bullet.  For a .45 APC it’s usually a 230gr bullet.  These are simply target rounds and not meant for defensive purposes.  At today’s prices – January 2016 – you can fine 1,000 rounds of 9mm for $240-ish and .45 for $350-ish plus shipping and handling.  This is your individual training ammunition. 

I want you to commit to visit the range monthly and fire 100 rounds each month.  You can do this in a single session or break it up to two 50 round sessions.  Work on the basics, driving to the threat, smooth trigger press straight to the rear, good follow through.  Work on your balance of speed and precision – good solid, effective hits as quickly as you can.  Do not sacrifice accuracy for speed . . . you will need BOTH in a defensive encounter.  And, spent a handful of rounds each visit working on precise shots as well.  You also have a couple “off” months in the mix for those times when things just don’t work out. 

A couple of things about live fire drills.  In many areas of the country most live fire is done at ranges that simply do not allow a draw from a holster or movement.  While this is understandable from a liability point of view – it does little to help you hone your defensive skills.  Still, you must work with what you are given.  So, do your range work from the high compressed ready.  Work on your stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press, follow through and a thorough scan and assess.  (Please, none of the tacti-cool quick glance over the shoulder!)

The rest of the process . . . your presentation from concealment, movement, reloads . . . the “rest” of the equation that faces a defensive shooter can be done by dry fire drills.  The obvious caution here . . . MAKE SURE YOUR FRICKIN’ GUN IS UNLOADED!  Check it three times.  I strongly recommend the use of a LaserLyte round to insure you cannot possibly have a live round in the chamber . . . and you get some visual indication of your first-round hit.  I’ve also taken a pass on the indicating target that is reviewed in the above post.  I find that I can see the hit just fine.  Whether you decide to use an indicating round like the LaserLyte or not – the process of doing your dry fire drills a number of times a week will allow you to smooth out the presentation process, reduce your first round engagement times and – when married with your live fire range time – move you towards becoming a defensive shooter that truly does have a skillset to defend yourself, your family and people in your charge.

There are no shortcuts.  Becoming a skilled defensive shooter takes time, effort, dedication, financial resources and a true desire on your part.  For your first year as a defensive shooter – get things off to a good start.  Follow these steps, do the work . . . I think you’ll be happy this time next year when it comes time to set your 2017 goals.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Review – SNAGMAG

I expect I’m no different than other “gunnies” – I’m always looking for gear that works better.  And given the vast number of manufacturers making after-market equipment I am far from the only one out there searching for “stuff”.

One particular quest I have been on for some time is a magazine pouch.  Yeah . . . I know . . . such and so makes a great one!!!  Well chances are I’ve tried them.  I want to make one differentiation here – I’m not looking for one to take to coursework, I have a very nice OWB two mag carrier that works just fine.  What I have been searching for is one that work with my EDC spare magazine.

I thought I hand found “it” about a year and a half ago with the Galco IWB Leather Mag Carrier.  While it held my spare magazine securely, by the end of the day it was just plain uncomfortable.  So I went back to my default carry gear . . . my rear left pocket.  Honestly this works OK but the position of the magazine is a toss-up when you execute a mag change forcing me to reorient the magazine on the way to the mag-well.  Not ideal.  The other thing I noticed is that most pockets last about 6 months to a year before the magazine wears a hole in it . . . my wife has some fairly direct thoughts on that particular characteristic.

So, I keep looking.  Enter the “SNAGMAG”.

This is a simple kydex pouch designed to give the appearance of a knife that is clipped to your pocket.  It is designed to ride in my left front pocket but since that is where I carry my wallet and Surefire 6P Defender flashlight I moved it to my rear left pocket – my normal location to carry my spare magazine.

As you can see the design is very simple – an open sleeve that wraps the magazine holding it firmly in place.  A very beefy clip to hold the carrier in place with a back-plate that is tall enough to appear to be the side of a knife while reducing the visibility of your magazine.

They come in form factors to fit virtually any magazine – in my case is it a double-stack for my Glock 17 carry weapon.  Here you see how it appears on my body.

So, some thoughts . . .

The SNAGMAG does remain securely in place.  When I reach to reload my G17 I don’t have to dive into my pocket, figure out which way the magazine had turned and reorient it on the way to the mag-well.  It remains secure in the corner of the pocket and remains vertical throughout a day’s wear.

It releases the magazine easily.  It’s not a battle to withdraw the spare magazine.  And the carrier remains securely in the pocket.  It has an extended tab designed to catch on the inside of your pocket when carried in your front pants pocket.  While not being especially effective in the rear left pocket, the clip and the “grip” of the pocket is enough to keep things in place as I withdraw the new magazine.

While not inexpensive at $35, I don’t find the price out of line with similar products either.  My primary issue is “Does it work?”  In my case, after a couple months of daily carry I am willing to say “Yes, the product works as advertised!”  And, for me, it works in the real world as well.  You can find the SNAGMAG on Amazon at the link here.

So there you have it, a quick review of the SNAGMAG.  If you pocket carry a spare magazine and have been searching for something to make that a bit more secure and efficient that just chuckin’ the mag in your pocket – give the SNAGMAG a closer look, I think it may just “fit the bill” for you.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Review - AAR BIT - BP Instructor - Phase II Intro - 1-8-10-2016

This will likely be long, it was a busy 3 days.  Grab a fine bourbon, scotch, cup of coffee . . . put your feet up and let’s get rolling.

I have a purpose in doing AARs.  First, it lets me sort through things, see what I believe went well and not so well, provide a place for those that attend to offer their thoughts, provides a place where those that attend can see the photos I took, it gives those looking to take coursework that I teach some idea of what the heck they’re getting into coming to me . . . and it offers up what I do to other instructors, to see how I do things, to see if there is anything of value in it for them.  We are all it “this” together, we all want to become better shooters, safer shooters, better instructors, better students . . . and sharing thoughts, ideas and results is one way to help make that happen.  All IMNSHO – of course.

Let’s get a couple items out of the way first.  I am NOT A FAN of the changes coming to the NRA.  I like taking new students from the beginning to the end.  I see a number of problems on the horizon (I’ll detail them later) that I pray are being addressed.  And I keep hearing rumblings that BIT will also move on-line as well – I would consider this a near fatal decision when considering teaching new Instructor Candidates how to teach.  I will continue to voice my displeasure and to encourage being more hands-on for such fundamental coursework.

That said, I like the Phase II coursework very much.  I took the ICs through it and we spent a great deal of time both on a SIRT range and the live fire range working through what it will take for a new and inexperienced shooter to pass the Red shooting test.  I will cover this in its own section farther on in this post.

A quick comment about the weather . . . it was brutally cold!  -7*F at the start of the day with little wind.  Still sub-zero after around 3.5 hours on the range but the wind had picked up and wind chills were -20-ish*F.  The ICs knew what was coming, dressed for it and sucked it up.  Pretty impressive to watch and I’m very proud of each and every one of them – good job guys!

Alrighty, enough chit-chat – on to the AAR!

Basic Instructor Training (BIT)

BIT is foundational information for all instructors.  It is where the TC teaches inexperienced instructors how to actually “teach”.  To transfer their knowledge, their lesson plans to the student.  Of all the coursework Instructor Candidates take – this one is, without question, the most important course.  Everything from their personal grooming habits, the clothes they wear, their demeanor, how they represent the NRA and shooting sports in general to cautions about their words, comments and writings is touched on and covered. 

Add to that how to organize training teams, prepare to teach a course, promotion of their coursework, how to finance it, what training aids are available and how to integrate them into their presentations is also covered.

And, the actual art of teaching; taking a lesson plan, organizing their thoughts and actually standing in front of a room of students and presenting a portion  – in this case the Basic Pistol course – of the coursework to the “students” (their fellow ICs).  I’m not sure how this would ever transfer to an on-line course only.  And it works so well as it is now – I pray they reconsider moving this to an on-line course.

BIT is a “6-hour” course.  We began at 8 AM, pushed hard all day, and ended at 5 PM (including a 1-hour lunch).  This is pretty typical for me.  The guys worked hard, made solid presentations, asked great questions.  I had a couple that were genuinely surprised when we finished, that it had run so long.  Day 1 was in the can!

Basic Pistol Course Instructor Course – “Old Course”

From a Training Counselor POV this is where I really get to evaluate the Instructor Candidates – their actual knowledge of firearms, their “personality” (are they quiet, BSers, are they “shooters”, can they talk, do they listen, are they willing to take feedback).  It is at this point that the 1,400-ish TCs in the US shape the touch and feel of the instructor community.  I’m hopeful we all take it seriously. 

I genuinely enjoy teaching this course.  This is typically an IC’s first course that they choose to teach.  They’re excited, they’re typically “here to play”, and they jump in and give it their all!  I like it!  And these six guys – Braxton, Rod, Michael, Jim, Peter and Ron – were no exception.  They played hard and willingly added nearly a full day to walk through Phase II – who could ask for more?

The BP Instructor Course pencils out at 10 hours . . . we ran about 12 by the time we wrapped it up.  Through the many IC teaching presentations, the feedback sessions, the suggestions that were made – their progress from the first day and “Introducing a Speaker” to the lesson that was taught on cleaning a firearm – their progress was fast, consistent and – best of all – they could recognize the change in their own capabilities.  Honestly, I could not ask for more out of any IC. 

As part of the Instructor Pre-Course qualification – there are various exercises.  Loading and unloading a single action revolver, double action revolver and semi-automatic pistol.  Each did these with ease which is a good sign they’ve dealt with each type of firearm to some extent.

Then we moved on to clearing a misfire with a semi-automatic pistol.  Again – hands worked smoothly and the words that went with the description of the clearing process were spot on.

I always am a bit apprehensive of an IC being knowledgeable on how to clear a double feed in a semi-automatic pistol, but my concerns were unfounded and each performed the process with ease.

This left the shooting portion of the pre-course qualification.  For this course I shifted the shooting portion around a bit.  Because of the cold, I held it to the end of the range work for the Phase II and had them shoot the target provided in the Phase II booklet.  The only issue here was simply the cold.  By the end of our 3.5 hour range session the temps were dropping, the wind picked up a bit and the wind chill was in the low -20s.  I also had a brain fart and had them shoot two targets with 20 rounds each target.  Heavy sigh.  The results were very good though with each instructor easily staying within a 6-inch group at 45’ with only handful of dropped shoots for the entire group.  I could have not asked for more – especially considering the nippiness of the weather.  Again – great job guys!!

We cleaned up the range, headed back inside for a wrap and handed out certificates (my own, from e.IA.f.t.).  The wrap went well – I am hopeful they will forward their own AARs and I will attach them to this post as they come – or they will do it themselves.  Total course time – 25 hours.  A very busy weekend and a fine time was had by all.

Special Mention Topic – SIRT Pistols

No . . . I don’t sell/market SIRT pistols in real life.  No, I don’t own part of the company.  But I am a very big fan.  I set up a SIRT range at the back of the classroom.  We used ad hoc items for shooting bags – one real shooting bag and a couple range bags.  This is what I used to teach the ICs how to run a range and to evaluate and correct their shooting positions.  I find them an invaluable tool to teach new and inexperienced shooters.  Add to that weather conditions such as we had and you can get between 80-90% of your range instruction done with a SIRT pistol and range in the classroom.  If you are not using these, if you don’t use them in your own day to day dry fire training, I would strongly encourage you to add them. 

As an aside, the way one of the ways I justify them is that they cost about the same as a 1,000 round case of 9mm ammunition.  I probably roll through 3,000 rounds of 9mm every year between my own training and coursework I take.  My last case of 9mm cost around $240.  As an NRA instructor you can purchase a SIRT from NextLevelTraining for less than $220.  I have one on the desk behind me as I type this.  When I get out of the chair to move somewhere I pick up the SIRT and send about 25 “rounds” downrange to a LE SEB target.  I probably move out of my chair a dozen times a day leading to about 125-ish “rounds” of practice fire every day.  I can work on stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, multi-round engagements, my balance of speed and precision, and on very precise shots . . . all without spending the $0.24 per round of 9mm required on a live fire range.  Once the SIRT is “paid for” – I save about $30 per day in my shooting costs . . . and I actually do much more “range work” simply because of the SIRT pistol.  Let’s assume I do this 125 rounds 3 days a week . . . that comes out to 19,500 additional “rounds down range”.  And that, folks, has a real effect on your shooting capabilities . . . just sayin’.  By the end of our weekend everyone had decided to pick up a SIRT pistol for their own use and use in the classroom.  I even ordered an additional pair as well.  Check them out – I think you’ll be happy with them.

“Basics of Pistol Shooting Phase II”

Couple thoughts up front here . . .

I took a bunch of crap from a few instructors that I was even going to share this material with my new Instructor Candidates.  There wasn’t a lesson plan . . . how are you going to cut time out of the old stuff to teach this . . . (simple . . . I didn’t, the ICs invested nearly a whole extra day of their own free will) . . . this is way outside the box . . . “I’ve copied this whole thread and I’m thinking of sending it to T&E . . . .  Heavy sigh . . . Really folks, is that where we are as professional firearms instructors???  For the record Ander Lander and I had a FB conversation about my plans and his only caveat was that I make it plain that this was preliminary and that it may well change before final release.  I had no problem with that.  My approach was that I taught BIT in its entirety, BP Instructor in its entirety and then . . . after that was all done . . . we went through Phase II.  That is how I got to this point and frankly if any other TC is looking to do this, I don’t see another way to do it and still pay justice to the NRA coursework as it is today and as it will be tomorrow . . . so put on your big boy/girl panties and just do the work.

Let me say outta the box . . . I like this coursework!  It’s well thought out, the flow is good and it will accomplish the overall goal of turning out a safe shooter that is a reasonably accurate shooter as well – I give this a very well done.  All NRA instructors that have accounts on the website have access to this material, it is on the front page of the “Manage the course” tab.

I would consider this to be much more of a “shooting course”.  Much of the foundational material has been shed and placed in the on-line portion.  So defining parts of a handgun, some of the material that deals with things that don’t go “bang” are gone.  However – ALL of the stuff that deals with safety, eye dominance, shooting positions, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press, loading and unloading a handgun and – to a much greater extent – marksmanship are very much alive and well in this course.  From the booklet – there are four primary exercises:

Exercise 1: Firearm and Range Safety Review  (60 minutes)
Setting: Classroom and/or range
Learning Objectives:
1. Review the three NRA rules for safe gun-handling.
2. State range rules.
3. Identify range commands.

Exercise 2: Fundamentals  (60 minutes)
Setting: Classroom and/or range
Learning Objectives:
1. Determine your dominant eye.
2. Assume a proper two-handed grip.
3. Demonstrate the five fundamentals of pistol shooting: aiming, breath control, hold control,
trigger control, and follow through.

Exercise 3: Loading, Cocking, De-cocking, Unloading, and Pistol Maintenance  (60 minutes)
Setting: Classroom and/or Range
Learning Objectives:
A. Load, cock, de-cock, and unload a single-action revolver.
B. Load, cock, de-cock, and unload a double-action revolver.
C. Load, cock, de-cock, and unload a semi-automatic pistol.
D. Review how to safely clean a pistol.

Exercise 4: Shooting Positions and Shooting Qualification (2 hours)
Setting: Range
Learning Objectives:
A. Demonstrate the five learning steps to shoot from the benchrest position
B. Demonstrate the five learning steps to shoot from the Isosceles position.
C. Shoot the course qualification.

For all the consternation my decision to include this in this Instructor Course caused since there was no specific Training Guide, if you pass through each of these exercises you will quickly note that ALL OF THEM ARE COVERED IN THE CURRENT COURSEWORK.  So, if you teach the standard BP Instructor Course, everything is covered – no worries.

So . . . some thoughts . . .

You need to be a shooter.

What do I mean by that?  (All my own opinions – not meant to reflect the NRA position AT ALL – just my take-away after running this thing.)  This particular module is “shooting centric”.  With the exception of the safety aspects and teaching the “Big Three” – this is a “range centric”, “shooting centric” piece of coursework.  While the old BP course got the shooter to safely get rounds on paper . . . this course is much, much more shooting focused.  The instructor needs to be fully familiar with running a range, running a course of fire on a range, with fixing shooter problems from their stance to their trigger press and all things in between.

And . . . if you can’t actually shoot – meaning walk out to the range now. . . right now . . . with your favorite firearm . . . and shoot a qual target – you might need work.

If the NRA Instructor Course was your last professional development course – you might need work.

If you don’t send a couple hundred rounds down range each and every month – you might need work.

It is very difficult – IMNSHO – to truly assist a new shooter with becoming a better marksman if you don’t work at refining that skillset yourself.  In the old BP course there was hours and hours of “other things”.  Things that consistently got brushed aside by student comments by the two questions on the review sheet that asked . . . “What did you like best?” and “What would you like more of?”  The answer, hands down, was always “I want more range time!”  Phase II answers that request in spades.  And if you, as an instructor, aren’t up to the task of truly moving a new shooter to a reasonable marksman in 3-4 hours on the range . . . please take the time to polish your skill set, it will help us all.

I’ll skip all the classroom time where the two courses overlapped and move to the actual shooting portion. 

Phase II Range Work

I began with the SIRT range in the classroom and ran my standard “drill”.  As well as introducing the words I use on the range.  A brief summary . . .

Firearms begin on the bench, ejection port open, slide back and canted 45-degrees to the right with an empty magazine next to the firearm.

“Load your magazine with xxx number of rounds.”  Shooter loads the magazine, DOES NOT TOUCH THE FIREARM.

“Pick up your magazine, pick up your firearm, step to the firing line”  Shooter follows the commands.

“Load and make ready”  Shooter inserts the magazine, racks the slide and comes to the high compressed ready.

Shooter is now ready to shoot the dill.  Shoots the drill and stands at the high compressed ready until they hear . . .

“Unload and show clear”  Shooter drops the magazine, cants their firearm so the ejection port is up and then butts the end of the empty magazine next to the open ejection port.

“Thank You”  As I pass behind each shooter at the end of the drill and check their firearm to insure it’s empty I say the words “Thank You” so they know they are empty.  The remain in this position until all shooting positions have been checked.

“Ground your firearm and your magazine”  The shooter leaves the firing line and returns to the table grounding their firearm, chamber up and canted 45 degrees to the right.  Then they lay their empty magazine next to it and wait for the next loading command.

I run every course of fire this way . . . without fail . . . every time.

Shooting Drills – Standing, Two Hands

1 round engagement – magazine is loaded with a single round – fired to the commands DRIVE, TOUCH, PRESS.  This is repeated 5 times.

1 round engagement – magazine is loaded with 5 rounds – fired to the commands DRIVE, TOUCH, PRESS.  This is repeated 2 times.

1 round engagement – magazine is loaded with 5 rounds – fired to UP command.  This is repeated 2 times.

1 round engagement – magazine is loaded with 10 rounds – 5 rounds fired “slow fire” on each UP command.  This is repeated 2 times.

Clearing malfunctions is done along the way and as required.  We had the “typical” problems I find with .22 ammunition and then the weather with -20-ish wind chills contributed.  But, all in all, things flowed well.

Perhaps more of an explanation of my DRIVE, TOUCH, PRESS drill.

From the high compressed ready the shooter DRIVES the muzzle directly at the center of the target.  It is during this step I correct “casting” and “bowling” issues as well as maintaining their muzzle straight forward.

At full extension they TOUCH the trigger taking up the slack only, but not pressing off a round.  Here I can refine their finger placement.

And finally – PRESS – the trigger slowly and smoothly straight to the rear.  Here I can work on jerking the trigger or anticipation.  If I do this for 15 to 20 rounds I have plenty of time to tweak the presentation and trigger press of the shooter.

When we get to UP – the shooter simply executes the DRIVE, TOUCH, PRESS on their own including the follow-through at the very end.

Each IC ran a flight of 3 shooters through this set of drills to smooth out their range skills.  And I have to repeat – in spite of the cold temps – each of them did the job very well!

Each IC shot the “RED” drill set, you can see their results in the photos as well as the included Instructor target – though, again, I had them send 20 rounds at each target rather than 10 . . . my mistake.

And that ended our day!  They were pretty happy to leave the range, the wind was coming up and we were approaching -30 with the wind chill . . . time for a warm classroom and the last of the coffee!

Questions and thoughts that came up about Phase II

Cost came up almost immediately.  This is a full day range course with around 200 rounds of ammunition being required if someone shoots the entire set of qualification courses of fire.  I have traditionally included ammunition since it was typically limited to around 50 rounds.  This course steps into the realm of marksmanship – a step past just safely shooting their firearm.  In fact they’re required to pass the RED course of fire.  I expect I will require them to bring ammunition or charge them an additional $28 for ammunition costs . . . we’ll see.  Time wise, it’s as long as if I were teaching the old course so my standard charge will not change - $95 including range fee.

So the big question here is what is the NRA going to charge for their portion?  I would guess $50 to $100.  That would bring the cost to my student up to $145 to $195 range.  Honestly, that’s going to be a hard sell.  In many states – and please, I KNOW THAT WAS NOT THE INTENT OF THE BP COURSE – it is used for the CCW permit class, or at least a portion of it.  I can sell a $95 course over a $40 online course that gets the person their carry permit . . . but not much more.  Just a reality.  So we’ll see how that all shakes out, but here in Iowa it is a real concern.

While thinking about this I did have a thought . . . simply make Phase II the NRA Basic Pistol Course.  Just pull the plug on the on-line course all together.  As a PPITH and PPOTH instructor I want a new student with a good foundation in handling their firearm and being able to shoot.  Phase II will accomplish that is spades.  Lengthen it a bit, formalize the shooting drills, move it to about a 5 hour range day . . . and the product that would be sent forward to PPITH and PPOTH would be awesome!  If the NRA wants to move forward with the online information – make it just that – supplemental online information . . . not required.  Just a thought.

Another question revolved around folks that took the online course, passed it but know nothing when they come to class.  Whether they pencil whipped it, had a friend do it – whatever, they just come to class essentially knowing little to nothing.  What to do with them?  Time taken to bring them up to speed will take away from folks who played by the rules, do we really want to take time away from them to bring the laggards up to speed?  The general feeling was that they would be sent home, their money would be kept and they could come back to the next class actually prepared.  Bottom line, this will need to be worked through.

So there you have it – BIT, BP Instructor and Phase II.  A very busy weekend but honestly Phase II was a pleasant surprise.  Very good piece of coursework, just have to see how the online stuff and it play together in the real world market place.

Photos are below . . . yep, it was nippy.  Thanks to Braxton, Rod, Michael, Jim, Peter and Ron – very good job gents!  Thanks for coming!!