Author Topic: What Civilian Gun Training Schools Have You Attended/What Did You Think?  (Read 58564 times)

Offline BerserkerPrime

  • Ice Humping Polar Bear
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
  • Karma: 75
  • God, Guns and Oil!
I'm curious to hear (read) about your experiences with different fire arms training schools.  The good, the bad, and any thing else about being trained at Front Site, Thunder Ranch, Yeager's (our TSP Yeager) training, or any others.   

I'd think that my next Christmas present to myself will be traveling to one of these and would your recommedations would be appreciated. 

Berserker Prime

Offline liftsboxes

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1635
  • Karma: 115
  • Quit Whining
I'd be particularly interested in any experiences in New England.

Offline phil_in_cs

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
  • Karma: 6
Suarez International, Designated Marksman Class, in Houston Feb 2009
This class was ok; It wasn't too expensive and I got my money's worth. It was a class on how to be a DM (Tactics, field conditions, related issues), not how to shoot well enough to qualify as a DM, so several of the people that came to the class expecting to learn how to shoot at 200-500 yards were disappointed. God blessed the class with some really serious winds (20 to 25 constant with gusts to 35) so we were able to work in some realistic conditions. I'd give the class 3 stars out of 5. We did a night shooting exercise that was worth the price of admission by itself. It was the first time that group had run that class, so I expect they learned from it too (mostly about the expectations of the students about precision shooting instruction) Student Feedback and AARs here: http://www.warriortalk.com/showthread.php?t=51745

Tactical Reponse, Fighting Pistol, Bastrop TX March 2009
5 of 5 stars, AAR posted here: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=3624.0

It isn't a "gun training" class, but I've also taken an AMOK! class from Tom Sotis of http://www.edgedweaponsolutions.com/
That is another 5 of 5 stars class, and we spent a good deal of time doing what Tom calls "Accessing", which is getting to your weapon (no matter what your weapon is) when someone jumps at you with a knife. You can't be alert constantly, and your attacker will be looking for those openings.

I am taking Fighting Rifle and Advanced Fighting Rifle from Tactical Reponse in Bastrop Labor Day weekend, and will post an AAR here.

Offline Jack Crabb

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 774
  • Karma: 39
I'd be particularly interested in any experiences in New England.

Lethal Force Institute and SIG Academy in New Hampshire.  S&W Academy in Mass.  All good.

There are some traveling instructors that bring their road show to Conn. from time to time.  John Farnum is well worth the effort.

James Yeager

  • Guest
  John Farnum is well worth the effort.

+1000000000

Offline BerserkerPrime

  • Ice Humping Polar Bear
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
  • Karma: 75
  • God, Guns and Oil!
Thanks for the input, I'll check them out. 

James Y, you up for a trade?  AK fishing trip for one of your courses? ;D

Offline Gray Ghost

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 209
  • Karma: 8
  • Yuppy on the outside. Survivalist on the inside.
Re: What Civilian Gun Training Schools Have You Attended/What Did You Think?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2010, 04:16:15 PM »
I recently, 3 months ago, went through Hoffner's Tactical Pistol I class (16 hours). Over all the class was worth the price of admission. It was fast paced, I learned a lot, my speed greatly improved, and my accuracy tightened up a good amount. One of the things I really liked was how much he lectured on and taught about the psychology of being involved in a situation where you are forced to draw your weapon.

The con. Hoffner only teaches one shooting stance. While his reasons behind it are very sound, I would have liked to have covered alternate stances more. My understanding though is that alternate stances are covered in the Tactical Pistol II or III.

I do plan to go back for Tactical Pistol II, Carbine, and Shotgun.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 04:18:22 PM by Gray Ghost »

Offline CR Williams

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 467
  • Karma: 20
    • In Shadow In Light
Re: What Civilian Gun Training Schools Have You Attended/What Did You Think?
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2010, 10:50:13 AM »
Point Shooting Progressions - Suarez International - Roger Phillips instructing.
Close Range Gunfighting - Suarez International - Rick Klopp instructing.

Primo stuff. Game-changing information for a lot of the students attending. High-quality instructors. Good enough that I'm hosting them both at my local range this year for other courses (in Roger's case, to attend PSP; I'll be traveling to attend another course he will be doing this year as well).

Offline fndrbndr

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 315
  • Karma: 9
Re: What Civilian Gun Training Schools Have You Attended/What Did You Think?
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2010, 10:59:07 AM »
Can anyone recommend anything good in Colorado?

Offline phil_in_cs

  • Survivor
  • ***
  • Posts: 157
  • Karma: 6
Re: What Civilian Gun Training Schools Have You Attended/What Did You Think?
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2010, 12:04:40 PM »
Can anyone recommend anything good in Colorado?

I know Tactical Response does a couple in Colorado, and I think Suarez does too.

Since I posted my above reply, I'd taken Fighting Rifle and Advanced Fighting Rifle from Tactical Response. Both were great classes. AAR: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=6830.30

Next up for me are Immediate Action Medical from Tactical Response and Zero to Five Foot Pistol Combat from Suarez International. Both are in May.

AMOK! knife fighting later in the summer.

Offline The Professor

  • Tactical Skittle Assassin
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2754
  • Karma: 385
  • All we have to do is create another universe
Can anyone recommend anything good in Colorado?

It's been a long time, but I've been to all three Gunsites.  I miss the original API (aka Orange Gunsite), swore not to go back when I attended one abomination when it was "Gray Gunsite"  but did it when Buzz Mills took over and Col. Cooper participated again back in 2000.  I consider Orange Gunsite to be the standard to which I compare all other shooting schools.

Back when they were in Texas,  The wife and I visited Clint and Heidi Smith at Thunder Ranch several times. We're going out to their new place this September for a combo class as a refresher.

Been to a lot of other courses over the past 20 years.  Used to do them as both training and vacation.

As to the Question about Colorado training, turns out that MagPul is planning on a couple of courses hereabouts later in the year.  This is a physical training class that follows the methods taught in their "Art of the Carbine" series.  I'm trying to get them to schedule a TacMed course here, too.

Larry Vickers can sometimes be coerced to coming out this way, as well. He had some stuff scheduled for last year down at the Pueblo ranges, but it suddenly got cancelled.  Hopefully, he'll be back.

The Professor


Offline donaldj

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1382
  • Karma: 87
    • Keep and Bear, LLC
I just went to the Michigan Appleseed event in Williamston, MI.

Here are my notes on the weekend's instruction. I went to the web to add images for clarity.


As an organization, the group seeks to rekindle the patriotic and liberty-oriented mindset we enjoyed near the beginning of our Country. The groups founder feels that Americans have lost this mindset, and seeks to re-expose, re-educate, and if possible, re-awaken Americans to these ideals. They are not political, endorse no candidates for anything, and are not an organized "militia" (in the modern sense of the word).

The program is designed to teach rifle marksmanship. Not combat, shooting on the move, or other paramilitary applications. It is designed to teach how to shoot, and how to shoot well, using not-so-modern techniques (more on that in a minute...). It was incredibly effective. My shot groups went from about 1 inch at 25 yards to, literally, 0.5 inches at 25 yards (bullet holes were touching with significant overlap). I have been shooting since I was 6 years old with little formal training. This was a great way to get my shooting to a level above "amateur".

Lesson 1: The safety rules:

   1. Keep the muzzle in a safe direction
   2. Load the rifle only when instructed to do so
   3. Finger off the trigger until ready to fire
   4. Report all violators of the rules


Lesson 2: How to line up a shot

   1. Line up the front and rear sights. Simply center the front sight in the rear sight (a scope does it automatically for you). (“Sight Alignment”)
   2. Keeping the sights lined up, bring them onto the target. (“Sight Picture”)
   3. Take a deep breath in. The front sight will dip. Let your breath out, watching the front sight rise until it barely touches the bottom of the bull’s eye - now hold your breath (“Respiratory Pause”). You have just used a natural act - breathing - to establish your correct elevation. (Don’t forget to get your NPOA!)
   4. Focus your eye on the front sight. It may be a little hard to do at first - you naturally want to look at the target - but focus on the front sight.-
   5. Focus your mind on “keeping that front sight on the target”. This is the big one!
   6. Now the tricky part. While you are doing step 4 and 5, take up the slack and squeeze the trigger straight back - but keep your concentration on the front sight! Don’t let the front sight off the target. You are trying to do two tasks at once, and the more important is to Keep the front sight on the target! This is the part where practice really pays off.
   7. When the hammer falls: 1) keep your eyes open, 2) take an ‘instant’ mental photo of where the front sight was on the target when the hammer fell (“Call the Shot”), and 3) hold the trigger back (“Follow through”). In field shooting you want to quickly observe the impact of the bullet on the target and the target reaction. If the shot is a miss, try to spot any bullet splash so you can correct the next shot.



Lesson 3: Use of the rifle sling

The loop sling: The rifle sling, in my mind, was to tote the rifle from point A to point B. In pre-Vietnam era rifles, the sling was actually a method of rifle stabilization. Take the back part of the sling off the rifle (the butt stock end), make a loop, and wrap it tightly above your bicep. The other end attaches to the rifle fore grip. It should be short enough so that when you bring the rifle up to shoot, there is some decent tension in the sling. This tension forces the rifle into your shoulder and into your supporting hand, making an extremely stable shooting platform.

You can see the proper way to attach it here:
http://img153.imageshack.us/i/clipupselftighteningjo3.jpg/

and use it here (albeit, the slings should be under more tension than they are in this pic):
http://www.gsldefensetraining.com/photos/Appleseed15.jpg

The hasty sling: There is another method to sling use called the hasty sling. Since the sling was also used to tote the rifle, this method was used when the rifleman did not have time to create a loop sling (or if he preferred this method). It involves holding the rifle vertically and high, putting one arm through the sling all the way to the shoulder, rotating the rifle down, and bringing it to bear. I did not practice this method while there. Note: Utilizing the hasty sling requires pointing the rifle straight up and lowering it onto target. As such, many venues will not allow hasty sling techniques since they cannot be applied in a muzzle-safe direction.

Apparently, first generation M16's were ill-suited to sling stabilization of any type due to the flexibility of the barrel. Some bull barrels are being made to resist this. More info is being sought.


Lesson 4: Establishing NPOA (Natural Point of Aim)

We first started in the prone position. Since it is the most stable shooting platform, it is easiest to see how to do it.

This image shows the prone position:
http://www.stu-offroad.com/firearms/appleseed/appleseed-4.jpg

In this position, every muscle should be relaxed. Your sights will then be at a point on the target. If you're not on target, you must move yourself to get into a relaxed position on target, NOT move the rifle to the target (muscling it over). If fully relaxed, you will be on target during an exhale. One of the instructors demonstrated this by closing his eyes while on target with a laser-pointer taped to his barrel. With eyes closed, you could see the point of aim rising with his breathing. Had he been muscling his rifle onto target, this would have started to drift off target.

In the image, you'll note the support art's elbow directly underneath the rifle. This is important. When you get into this position, you should relax every muscle you can. If done correctly, you will look down your sights and see the sights go up and down as you breathe. If the sights go diagonally, your elbow is not under the rifle.  The support hand is also not gripping the rifle, merely providing a resting platform for it.

As you dry-fire the rifle, if you see the sights pulling to the left or right, you're "dragging wood". Your trigger finger must make a C into the trigger guard, not ride up the side of the stock. Look at the trigger in the prone image and you can see space between the rifle and the trigger finger. That space is very important.

They handed out a sheet with various examples of shot patterns and what was being done improperly. It literally covered 100% of the scenarios seen at the range.


Lesson 5: Rifleman's Cadence

Once you have established NPOA, the only thing moving your point of aim is breathing. When you have exhaled, the point of aim should be square on target. Squeeze the trigger slowly and smoothly, and DON'T BLINK. Watch where it hit. Inhale, exhale, repeat. When target shooting, you can pass on an exhale if you don't feel steady enough. But during the AQT drills (see below), you didn't have that option.


Lesson 6: Sitting Position

Sitting cross legged with your support leg over your trigger leg, rest your support arm's tricep against your support leg's shin. No bone-on-bone contact. When your muscles are relaxed, they won't bunch up and cause an NPOA shift. So, your elbow is out in front of your shin. One guy was flexible enough to rest his elbow on the ground and still be sitting cross legged. This is ideal, but not likely to happen with most of us.

Your trigger elbow is likewise mounted in front of your trigger-side shin. Exhale and establish your NPOA. Use your butt-cheeks to "walk" as needed to rotate onto your target, and adjust how your support elbow is supported to gain elevation.  Again, your support arm should be directly under your rifle's fore stock, not diagonal outwards.

Here is a good sitting position (again the sling is not tight enough though...):
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2795/4146563447_22d177d08d_o.jpg


Lesson 7: Standing Position

This is the hardest to master since you have only your feet as a support point, and none directly transferred to the rifle. The same rules apply as above, but it is best to keep your trigger arm's elbow way out to increase the "shoulder pocket" your rifle rests in. Sling tension is paramount here as it is your sole means of stabilization. Any bad habits you make will be amplified here.


The AQT Testing Drill:

The Appleseed Qualifying Target Drill is very similar to what an Army marksmanship qualifier would be like (so I'm told). Because we  were limited to 25 yards, the targets were made proportionately smaller to simulate 200, 300, and 400 yard targets.

Phase 1, you are given 2 minutes to fire 10 rounds from standing into the 100 yard target. This is the hardest one to get points on since you are standing.

Phase 2, you are given 55 seconds to fire 5 rounds into  TWO of the 200 yard targets. You must start from standing, and transfer to sitting before loading. Establishing NPOA in sitting must be done quickly. You must load magazine 1 with 2 shots, and magazine 2 with 8 shots, so there is also a magazine change during this phase.  So...

    * The command to fire is given.
    * From standing, transition to sitting quickly and load 2 shot magazine.
    * Establish NPOA on target 1.
    * Fire 2 shots.
    * Reload.
    * Fire 3 more shots.
    * Establish NPOA on the second target.
    * Fire 5 shots.

Phase 3, you are given 65 seconds to fire 10 rounds into 3 targets simulating 300 yard shots. You start from standing and transition to prone before loading. Establishing NPOA in sitting must be done quickly. You must load magazine 1 with 2 shots, and magazine 2 with 8 shots, so there is also a magazine change during this phase.  So...

    * The command to fire is given.
    * From standing, transition to prone quickly and load 2 shot magazine.
    * Establish NPOA on target 1.
    * Fire 2 shots.
    * Reload.
    * Fire 1 more shots.
    * Establish NPOA on the second target.
    * Fire 3 shots.
    * Establish NPOA on the third target.
    * Fire 4 shots.

Phase 4 is the least stressful, and all points scored are doubled. Simulating 400 yard shots, for 10 rounds into 4 targets. You start in prone (and can establish NPOA on the first target to save time!) and loaded. Fire 2 shots into targets 1 and 2, and 3 shots into targets 3 and 4. You have FIVE MINUTES to take these shots, so its about establishing perfect NPOA and achieving excellent shot placement.

After these phases, the points were totaled. There were a total of 5 drills run, with 215 points necessary to get "Rifleman" and a cool patch.

My results were:

    * AQT1: 190 points.  I did not engage the second target in Phase 2 due to time constraints.
    * AQT2: 192 points. I rapid fired 3 shots in Phase 2 target 2 just to get points just before the Cease Fire was called.
    * AQT3: Did Not Finish. My rifle jammed during Phase 2 and 3, so I sat out and calmed my nerves.
    * AQT4: 197points. Phase 2 continues to haunt me for time.
    * AQT5: 207 point. My rifle jammed twice in Phase 2, and I lost 4 rounds to it. I'd have made Rifleman had this not happened!  Argh! The range officer was very happy with the shot placement and 207 is a very good score with 4 undischarged rounds.

Offline Andy in NH

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 276
  • Karma: 15
  • Ex injuria jus non oritur
I'd be particularly interested in any experiences in New England.
I've trained with NE Shooters http://www.neshooters.com/(mostly in Pelham, NH) when they have hosted:
  • Southnarc – Extreme Close Quarters Concepts (x3) - I'm going back again in June - It's worth it!
  • Morrigan Consulting – Intermediate and Advanced Defensive Pistol
  • Summit of an Armed Society (2009) with short clinics by: Rob Pincus, Tom Sotis, Michael deBethencourt, Southnarc, John Hearne, Chris Fry, and Lisa Steele

I've also trained in New England with:
  • LFI-1 (highly recommended!)
  • Secrets of the Concealed Carry Snub Revolver from http://www.snubtraining.com/index.html
           - I look forward to taking Mastering the Concealed Carry Snub in the near future.
  • Appleseed Project - Shot rifleman three times on the first day.  Now on the trail (IIT4) for my instructor qualification.

Outside New England I've trained with:
  • American Firearms Academy – Basic Pistol Self Defense Course
  • Chapman Academy – Basic Pistol
  • Gunsite - 250 and 270
  • Thunder Ranch (TX) - Urban Rifle
  • Defense Training International - Advanced Defensive Handgun
  • EAG – Carbine Operators Course
  • Yavapai Firearms Academy - Tactical Shotgun - Stage I
  • Uncle Sam’s Trade School  ;)

    I can honestly say I have not been to a bad school. I've learned something significant at each one.  The road shows have their strengths, especially when you consider the range limitations the are constrained with. Traveling to a school is also beneficial as the facilities and simulators are great training aids. I've been to several of the schools (or instructors) multiple times, but wouldn't hesitate to train with any of them again - even if it was just for a tune up.  I wanted to get a broad view of the entire spectrum as time and money allowed.  

    On my wish list is:
    • Cumberland Tactics - Practical Rifle
    • Doc Gunny / DTI - Tactical Treatment of Gunshot Wounds

    Some people spend their leisure time and money on deep sea fishing or ski trips (or whatever) - I go to shooting schools.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 09:04:04 PM by Andy in NH »

Offline The Wilderness

  • The Patriarch of Lunatics
  • Administrator On Leave
  • Dedicated Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 1626
  • Karma: 515
    • The Umbafa Chronicles
I just went to the Michigan Appleseed event in Williamston, MI.

Here are my notes on the weekend's instruction. I went to the web to add images for clarity.


Excellent write-up donaldlj!

Thank you for taking such good notes and putting them up for all of us to learn from.

Sis and I will be going to an Appleseed shoot later this year, hopefully.

TW

Offline donaldj

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1382
  • Karma: 87
    • Keep and Bear, LLC
Excellent write-up donaldlj!

Thank you for taking such good notes and putting them up for all of us to learn from.

Sis and I will be going to an Appleseed shoot later this year, hopefully.

TW

Thank you for the compliment.

I think I got about 3/4 of the info down on paper. Putting it into practice is another story. While the notes are good, you definitely got to get out there and do it for yourself.

There was a big lecture on MOA and sight adjustment. I knew it so didn't write the notes down.

They break up the shooting with some stories about the days leading up to the Revolutionary War. It's very historic in its telling, not just a Rah Rah USA! pep talk. It did convey a sense of heritage to what we were doing, and was an excellent backdrop to the rifle instruction.

I can write down the info, but you have to experience the spirit of the event for yourself.   :)

D

Offline BerserkerPrime

  • Ice Humping Polar Bear
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
  • Karma: 75
  • God, Guns and Oil!
+1 Don J!  Thanks for the input!

BP

Offline The Wilderness

  • The Patriarch of Lunatics
  • Administrator On Leave
  • Dedicated Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 1626
  • Karma: 515
    • The Umbafa Chronicles

I can write down the info, but you have to experience the spirit of the event for yourself.   :)

D

True, but good concise reviews likes yours let us decide on our own f we want to invest in the class.

I would like to see reviews like yours for other schools.

Again, good job and thanks.

TW

Offline TwoBluesMama

  • More Evil Than You Know
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *
  • Posts: 3216
  • Karma: 126
  • New Blue in the House
Can anyone recommend anything good in Colorado?

Although not a "school" DH and I took classes at Gunsmoke Guns in Wheatridge Colorado from Rich Wyatt who was trained by Colonel Cooper himself.  We took the one night CCW class and then went back and took the 3 day Essential Pistol Class - part classroom and 2 days range time. Absolutely got my money's worth - I really didn't want to conceal carry as I wasn't confident enough in my skill with a gun.  Rich taught me so well that I quickly overcame my worries. I wanted to go back and take the next level pistol class but health issues prevent this as it involves crawling around, hiding, etc. (left knee is so bad they want to do a knee replacement but because I have Lupus I'm not well enough to undergo surgery - maybe someday!) Blessings, TBM

Offline sludgy_nixer

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 247
  • Karma: 13
another thank you donaldj for your write up. a friend and i are planning on attending an appleseed in the next month or two.
aside from basic training and a few qualifications after that i haven't had any formal firearms training (and that was in '92). i figure
an appleseed would be a good primer and the info you provided is appreciated.

sidenote, couldn't help but notice not a single mention of 'front sight'. does everyone know something i don't? i don't have any plans
to take a course with them, just know their name cause i sent for a free dvd and now get mailers all the time. plus they had/have the
free gun offer for taking a course...which is the kind of marketing that sticks in your head.
i know there was a lawsuit against them at one point but i haven't read up on them lately. got a mailer the other day so i see they're
still in business...which afaik was up in the air due to the legal issues.
so just curious, are they more style than substance?



Offline The Professor

  • Tactical Skittle Assassin
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2754
  • Karma: 385
  • All we have to do is create another universe
another thank you donaldj for your write up. a friend and i are planning on attending an appleseed in the next month or two.
aside from basic training and a few qualifications after that i haven't had any formal firearms training (and that was in '92). i figure
an appleseed would be a good primer and the info you provided is appreciated.

sidenote, couldn't help but notice not a single mention of 'front sight'. does everyone know something i don't? i don't have any plans
to take a course with them, just know their name cause i sent for a free dvd and now get mailers all the time. plus they had/have the
free gun offer for taking a course...which is the kind of marketing that sticks in your head.
i know there was a lawsuit against them at one point but i haven't read up on them lately. got a mailer the other day so i see they're
still in business...which afaik was up in the air due to the legal issues.
so just curious, are they more style than substance?

I'll step forward and answer this and face the threat of a lawsuit.  Be very, very careful when dealing with Iggy.  I almost bought into his "uber" gun community and am unbelievably happy I didn't.   I'm going to suggest that you do a search on Google for "Front Sight" and "Lawsuit". . .you may also want to search the name of the owner and Scientology.  It is my personal opinion that anyone who wishes to partake in any offers by "Front Sight" will want to do a thorough and complete search, not just on the internet but with the law enforcement agencies servicing Front Sight's area before you go. 

Remember, also, that many people have attended Front Sight and walked away happy.  Just be prepared for one of those Time Share-like presentations.  It is also my personal opinion that Front Sight cannot compare on any level with shooting schools such as Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, Yavapai, or other reputable programs.  Just as with any other school, you will have the supporters and detractors. . .however, I would look very carefully into the experience and professional level of the people who most vocally support any such program.

Just my personal opinion. . .worth exactly what you paid for it.

BTW, Nixer, what sort of dog is that in your pic?

The Professor

Offline ZenGunFighter

  • BANNED.
  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 527
  • Karma: 60
  • Banned
Front Sight's training is pretty good. I'd go. But pay for one class at a time. no memberships, pre-paying, packages, etc.

####Edited out by Berserker Prime#####


We are really blessed with the amount of good training available.
We owe it all to Col. Cooper.

My favorite school is Thunder Ranch. Clint Smith is an amazing instructor and his facilities are well thought out.
I haven't been to Gunsite since it was 'orange' but I'm hearing the the new owner, Buzz Mills has really turned it around for the better.

John Farnum/DTI has a lot to offer.


Louis Awerbuck is on my short list of instructors I want to train under.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2010, 01:59:29 PM by BerserkerPrime »

Offline survivininct

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 396
  • Karma: 8
    • Homeowner's Friend Podcast
I have heard these guys are real good:

http://www.defenseassociates.com/

They use the Blue Trail Range in Wallingford, CT and utilize the services of Chuck Taylor and Massad Ayoob - two guys who know firearms and the law.


Offline sludgy_nixer

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 247
  • Karma: 13
thanks professor. now that you mention it, i do remember the scientology connection...and...well...yeah.
pup is a boxer/lab mix. pic was aug/sept, he's filled out a lot since and doesn't look quite as goofy  :D

Offline BerserkerPrime

  • Ice Humping Polar Bear
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
  • Karma: 75
  • God, Guns and Oil!
Here's another question for you guys...Has your wives, girlfriends, mothers, etc attended any of these schools and how did they like the experience?

BP

Offline The Professor

  • Tactical Skittle Assassin
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *******
  • Posts: 2754
  • Karma: 385
  • All we have to do is create another universe
The wife attended a Female-only Gunsite pistol class and decided to just go back and shoot with the guys. She'd been shooting 3-gun for  awhile and just wasn't all that stoked about the female-only curriculum.

As I mentioned earlier, we've both been to Thunder Ranch back when it was in Texas and did the team courses together.  She absolutely loved it.   Clint and Heidi Smith, owners of TR, are what my dad used to call "Good People."  No nonsense, no BS, and no special considerations because you're a girl.

The Professor

(and Nixer, I thought he looked like he had some boxer in him!  That nose looks a bit too long for a pure boxer.  I have two boxer girls, myself.)

Offline Andy in NH

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 276
  • Karma: 15
  • Ex injuria jus non oritur
Paul Kirchner and I trained at this class together.  He used my written notes and his own recollection to write the review.  For those of you that do not know Paul, he illustrated many of Jeff Cooper's books and is a noted author (The Deadliest Men series) in his own right.

Southnarc is the only trainer I've gone back to repeatedly because his program offers me what I feel is most relevent in self-defense training; integrated, multi-disciplined, realistic techniques.  It's empty hand, knives, and guns all rolled (literally) into one system.

Quote
"Southnarc" Class
September 25-27 -- Pelham, New Hampshire.

I recently attended the three-day Southnarc class presented by NEShooters, the group Jim Conway and Mike Nastek organized to bring first-class firearms training to New England. It was held at the Pelham Fish & Game Club, which has top-notch outdoor range facilities as well as a large room in which we held classes.

There were 14-16 guys in the program (some came for only one day), ranging from their early 20s to their 50s, and I suspect I was the oldest at 57. Jim Conway is older than me, but he mysteriously appears and disappears in a cloud of aromatic pipe smoke and wasn't around for the grappling exercises. Ken Maurer was there for the first day. "Andy in NH" who was there throughout, was good enough to allow me to copy his class notes. This is my best recollection of the techniques Southnarc taught and I hope I'm not misrepresenting anything.

Craig, AKA “Southnarc,” continues to work as a police officer in Mississippi, using his vacation time and days off to provide training, an activity he clearly enjoys. I took a two-hour version of his managing Unwanted Contacts” class at the NEShooters’ “Summit of an Armed Society” last January and that made me want to get further training from him. Craig teaches a variety of combatives, all of them connected through consistent core principles, which address the different directions in which a fight may go. We did two four-hour modules a day and the training was intense. The mantra “Advil is your friend” was repeated by several participants.

These were the modules:
--Managing Unknown Contacts
--Confined Space Shooting
--Practical Unarmed Combat
--Focused Gun Grappling
--In Extremis Knife
--Vehicle Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

This initially sounded to me like a cafeteria-style selection, but in fact the whole course could have been put under the single title of “Fighting for Your Life at Five Feet and Closer.”

DAY ONE
--Managing Unknown Contacts
In this module Craig teaches how to guard against being set up for criminal assault, as well as what to do if you see the attack indicators escalating. Craig put together a pdf document that is available at http://www.safeism.com/pdfs/SNContacts.pdf
In my opinion, this is one of Craig’s most valuable contributions to the self-defense field as it can enable one to avoid an attack in the first place. I don’t need to reiterate what’s laid out in the document, but there were a few additional points I picked up in the class. One is that you do not want to cognitively engage the Unknown Contact, as it distracts you from focusing on pre-fight indicators. Use tape-loop responses such as “Could you hold it right there” or “Stay the f--- back!” (as necessary). Always keep your hips squared toward the contact, weight forward, nose over toes. Do not back away or turn sideways, which puts you in a weak position to resist a sudden rush. It's important that you maintain your high fence, your hands near your head, palms outward, prepared to block a blow. We gun guys have a natural impulse to drop our dominant hand toward our concealed weapon and blade our bodies away from the threat—we do this unconsciously. It is the “unconscious” part that Craig objects to. If you do not intend to signal that you have a weapon, keep those hands up.

Wearing FIST helmets, we practiced using the eye jab on a contact who persisted in coming too close. If that doesn’t settle things, you might have to draw your weapon, or you might find yourself in a grappling situation, fighting for control of your weapon. These topics were covered in subsequent modules.

--Confined Space Shooting
This was the only range session of the weekend. I recently bought a Glock 19, feeling that I should own a 9mm a little more up to date than my Mauser Broomhandle and circa-1942 P-38, and I brought it along. It functioned flawlessly and the Raven Concealment rig was great. Also, I’ve realized that at my age I shoot better without optical correction, as I can see my sights clearly and the target well enough, so I wore non-prescription eye protection.

We learned Craig’s four-step draw, which is somewhat different (and I think better) than what I learned in my 250 in 1986.
1.) Clear your cover garment and establish a grip on your pistol. (I was wearing a loose sweater, so with my left hand I’d reach right over to where my pistol was, grab the sweater near the bottom, pull it to the high center of my chest, and hold it there with my hand held flat.) Your dominant hand approaches the pistol with the thumb flagged out. The web of your thumb hits the grip and the fingers close first on the front strap, then slide around the grip, pushing away the underlying shirt.
2.) Draw your pistol straight up toward your armpit, wrist locked and thumb flagged out until your thumb’s tip catches the underside of your pectoral muscle. Your elbow is straight behind you, high enough that you are straining your trapezoids. Your pistol should be pointed ahead at about a 45-degree angle downward.
3.) Push the pistol to high-center chest, close against the body, and rotate it to horizontal as you collect it in your support hand, which closes over the firing hand, thumb forward. Your dominant thumb then drops across or onto the support thumb.
4.) Extend the gun straight out and level to the firing position—how far that will be depends on the proximity of the threat. Craig doesn’t have a preference between Weaver and Isosceles positions.

Craig says that he’s not a point shooter, but a “visual reference” shooter. That is, ideally he likes to have full extension with an “equal light and level” sight picture, which he calls the ultimate visual reference, but at three feet, firing from position 3, he will settle for a visual reference over the top of the pistol.

Our first exercise was to stand a few inches away from our target and lean our head into it, draw to position 2, and fire. This simulated a grappling situation and underlined the importance of consistently placing your thumb in the pectoral so you know where the muzzle is directed.

In another exercise, we fired from position 2, stepped back and fired from position 3, then continued to fire as we moved back about six steps, learning the concept of “appropriate extension based on proximity of threat.” Only at the fifth or sixth step were we at full extension.

One exercise had us shooting from behind a high table with a man right up against us on either side and behind. We had to perform our draw properly in order to clear the table, and the men around us underscored the necessity of keeping all movements close to the body.

The day’s final exercise was a real crowd pleaser. It involved firing at multiple targets, starting from the driver’s seat of a parked car. I think the class member who volunteered his car for this purpose should receive an award. Also, I'd recommend a medal of valor for Craig, who sat in the passenger seat. The first task in this exercise was to perform a tactical seatbelt release, almost like the draw. Left hand slips under seatbelt, right releases buckle, left sweeps belt away. Draw gun, two-hand grip, turn in seat counter-clockwise, left leg drawn up, both knees against door, lean back, muzzle not extended through window, and put two shots in target at driver’s side window. Then, turn clockwise in seat, hand on wheel for support, reach across Craig and fire two shots, one-handed, through passenger-side window at a target about 15-20 feet away. (Southnarc tip: If your passenger is getting hysterical, give him/her an elbow in the sternum to settle him/her back as you extend your shooting arm. [Note: not recommended if passenger is Southnarc.]) Then turn back and open driver-side door with left hand. (Southnarc tip: Underhand, palm-up hand position on door handle keeps your forearm down, making it less likely you’ll put a bullet through it.) Push the door out with your left foot and keep it there as you get your right foot on the ground. (Southnarc tip: Careful--getting out of a car while handling a gun can be a recipe for a shit sandwich.) Run to the target in front of left bumper, put head to target, fire twice from position 2, then fully extend and place two head shots in a target 15 feet in front of car.

As I got into the car for my turn, I heard Jim Conway call out, “Uphold the honor of the Ravens, Paul!” So if you noticed a slight diminution in your honor Friday, blame me.
After the range class, as some of us were hanging around and others had already driven away, Craig got talking to one of the students who was a police officer and ended up demonstrating how he and a partner would cover an occupied vehicle they had stopped. Very interesting stuff.

"DAY TWO
--Practical Unarmed Combat
Day two of the program started with the assumption that we had failed to manage the unwanted contact and found ourselves in a fight. In a fight, Southnarc has two primary objectives: Stay conscious and stay mobile. That requires that you protect your head and stay on your feet. Craig says that under the conditions of an assault it is unrealistic to expect to be able to anticipate blows and block them successfully. Instead, he recommends one all-purpose head-protection measure: With the elbow bent, raise your left arm until your bicep is pressed against your left cheekbone and your forearm extends back, pressed to the side of your head near the top; at the same time, raise your right arm, elbow bent, bicep pressing into right cheekbone, forearm across your brow and crossing your left forearm near the elbow. Your shoulders should be hunched, your elbows close together. To achieve this position quickly, it is imperative that you start from the high fence position described earlier. Dropping one of your hands even six inches makes a noticeable difference in the speed with which you can erect this block.

Craig notes that most fights end up on the ground, but points out that that may be because most fighters don’t know how to stay on their feet. We got a feel for balance with the “billy goat” drill, where we squared off with a partner, leaned into each other with our foreheads touching, and tried to push each other off balance without using our arms. This left most of us with conspicuous abrasions on the middle of our foreheads, like the rug burns you might see on a devout Muslim.

--Focused Gun Grappling
In the afternoon we continued to practice grappling, but this time with the object of keeping our opponent’s hands away from our beltline, where our weapon would presumably be holstered. Basic holds were underhooks, overhooks, biceps ties and wrist ties. Key concepts were keeping our hips squared to our opponent, our center of gravity low, and “taking up space,” i.e., keeping close contact so we were allowing him minimal room to maneuver. We then practiced tying up the opponent’s nearest arm or getting to his side or back so that we could access our weapons. We went on to practice these techniques with Fist helmets and Sims guns.

We practiced defending ourselves when on our backs on the ground. Here again, the key concept was to keep our hips squared to the opponent, pushing off of one foot or the other so as to turn toward him whichever way he maneuvered, while holding the other foot slightly raised and cocked to kick at his legs. You want to keep your ankles crossed to help protect your groin, and kick with your foot held horizontally to increase your chances of hitting your opponent’s legs, never aiming a kick above his knees. If he gets above your hip line and drops on top of you, twist onto your side, and dig your feet into his hips to push him away and reestablish your defensive position.

We also practiced getting back onto our feet during the ground fighting. There was a young, very fit guy named George who trains all the time in a variety of combatives and whom Craig used as his partner to demonstrate moves. We all got a chance to try to get up while ground fighting with George. George took it fairly easy on us and some of the guys managed to get on their feet. After we all had a turn, Craig took on George, and as good as Craig is, he had trouble getting on his feet as long as George kept up the pressure. As Craig said, “Fighting is fighting, and there is no easy or glamorous way to do it.”

We practiced an interesting scenario. Cars were parked outside the clubhouse building to simulate the immediate aftermath of a rear end collision. You are put in the driver’s seat of the car that had hit the car in front. There is a car immediately behind you, which prevents you from backing up. At the start of the scenario, the other driver, played by Chris Fry, a large and powerfully built combatives instructor, comes storming out of his car wearing boxing gloves, swearing, and heading right for you. What do you do? I suppose that ormally I would make sure my door was locked and my window rolled up, and take out my pistol. However, we were not armed and the window wouldn’t roll up because the key was not in the car, so after 4 or 5 seconds of my dithering Chris was bopping me in the head (gently) through my open window. After doing the exercise we could watch others go through it, and everyone I saw either did what I did or got out of the car and quickly got pushed up against it and pummeled.

Craig’s solution was this: he immediately got out of his car, and as Chris approached he scooted to its far side, all the while saying, “Sorry, man, sorry, it’s all my fault, my insurance will cover it, look, I’m calling 911 right now, no problem, etc.” The point being that he got out of his car--which is a deathtrap in that situation--and used it as a barrier between himself and his opponent, thereby preserving his mobility. This makes sense even if you are armed, especially if it turns out the other guy has a gun too.

DAY THREE
--In Extremis Knife
I hadn’t had any knife training so this was particularly interesting to me. First off, Craig had everyone lay their knives on a table so we could all fiddle around with each other’s stuff as he discussed the various pros and cons. Unfamiliar with the Spyderco wave action, I pulled it out of my pocket a few times and had some trouble getting it to work consistently. “That’s three practice reps—1,997 more to go,” someone told me.

As far as folders in the front pocket, Craig prefers to clip them in the appendix position rather than along the seam because he likes to keep hand movements as close to the centerline of his body as possible. Craig likes a blade that opens by a movement of the thumb rather than the index finger, as it allows you to maintain a better grip, and he prefers assisted opening, such as the Kershaws have. (If even a little hand flick is necessary to get the blade fully open, it may not be possible in the grapple.) He doesn’t worry much about the locking mechanism but prefers axis locks to liner locks. Craig’s own design for a folder is the Spyderco Pikal Knife C103GP. http://www.spyderco.com/catalog/details.php?product=267

Craig’s “Clinch Pick,” a short fixed-blade knife, designed to be worn handle down and near the belt buckle, looks ideal for the sort of grappling we had been practicing. In that situation, a knife you can quickly bring into action is a decisive advantage. >http://www.themartialist.com/pecom/shivworks.htm<

Craig holds the knife in a fist with his thumb locked down, not along the back of the blade, as some teach. He likes knife handles that permit a reverse grip.

Craig addressed the claim that knife thrusts do not require much force since flesh provides little resistance to the blade. Since the blade has no shock effect, Craig says that’s all the more reason to hit hard with it, as while someone may not realize you’ve stabbed him, he’ll notice if you knock the wind out of him with the same blow. Also, there is the matter of compression: with a powerful thrust, you can create a 6- or 7-inch wound channel with a 4-inch blade.

Craig prefers the point to the edge because in close quarters you may lose track of the orientation of your edge, but you won’t lose track of your point.

With practice knives we practiced front jabs to the face and neck—Craig’s preferred target—and forward grip reverse slashes to the guarding hand and inside knee, which is a very difficult attack to block. In this move, a forward thrust ends with a whipping motion, slashing the target as the knife is retracted. You make as many stabs as possible, Singer sewing machine style.

Craig likes the reverse grip, which is often treated disparagingly, especially in knife-fighting styles based on sword technique, such as those that were taught by the US Army circa WW II and Korea. Craig points out that backhand blows with a reverse-gripped knife are very powerful and hard to defend against. Obviously, these are not delivered from an arm raised straight up above the head, “Psycho” style, but close in, with hooks and jabs, the way a boxer delivers blows. Craig says that if there is one non-firearm defense technique that he would want a woman to know, it would be reverse-grip knife fighting. He considers it a real equalizer.

--Vehicle Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
You’re going to have to find out about this last module elsewhere. Friday night, when I checked my messages, I had several urgent calls from one of my clients needing me to do a rush job over the weekend, so I had to head home Sunday afternoon to get it done. I assume it involved the front seat of a car, FIST helmets, Sims guns, and Advil sales.

This was a terrific class. There’s nothing contrived about Craig’s system: it makes sense, comes together logically, and it is firmly grounded in real-world experience. He’s also a great trainer: knowledgeable, patient, good-humored, open to questions and able to demonstrate everything he teaches. As he put an underhook hold on me, I asked him why I couldn’t just punch him in the head.
“Try it,” he said.
“Try it?” I asked.
“Yeah, hit me as hard as you can.”
I tried it, several times, and it didn’t faze him. A punch on the skull from a 4-inch wind up doesn’t do much damage. Afterward, I tried to picture rolling around on a dusty floor with Col. Cooper, punching him in the head, and could not conjure up that image.
Craig makes the class an enjoyable experience and a good time is always a plus.

Thanks also to Chris Fry, who put in a day with us voluntarily. He’s another terrific trainer who taught a session at the January “Summit.” He is friendly, knowledgeable, and has really thought through his program.

Offline BerserkerPrime

  • Ice Humping Polar Bear
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
  • Karma: 75
  • God, Guns and Oil!
OK, it looks like you folks have been having an interesting discussion while I've been at work!

For god sakes folks, this is a forum of mostly like minded folks who are pooling experiences and knowledge here for everyone to make use of. 

I will keep this simple since this one little sliver of the TSP was started by me. 

No personal attacks. If you personally had a bad experience with someone or an institution, that's relevant, but beyond that, keep it simple. 

I can assure you Fred and Zen and anyone else that questions TSP Moderator/Administrator intentions, loyalties, morals, values or beliefs, this is a very solid, hard working, professional, experienced and the most upstanding folks you will find on any forum.  Their mission is to keep the TSP as professional, productive, and value added as possible and they do it all on their own time with only the best intentions.  Understand that all Mods/Admins take great pride in keeping this forum the best it can be to ensure that this forum has the highest credibility possible.                                                   

BTW: Thanks to all of you for your valuable contributions (before thread derailment) and I look forward to more information!

Keep it lite folks, we're on the same team!

Berserker Prime

Offline BerserkerPrime

  • Ice Humping Polar Bear
  • Moderator On Leave
  • Survival Demonstrator
  • *
  • Posts: 2073
  • Karma: 75
  • God, Guns and Oil!
I cleaned up this thread and deleted severel entries in an effort to stear this thread back on topic. 

Thank you all for all your information, I plan on going on "vacation" next year and going to a good shooting school with the wife.  I want to ensure we go somewhere she will enjoy. 

v/r BP

Offline ZenGunFighter

  • BANNED.
  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 527
  • Karma: 60
  • Banned
I cleaned up this thread and deleted severel entries in an effort to stear this thread back on topic. 

Thank you all for all your information, I plan on going on "vacation" next year and going to a good shooting school with the wife.  I want to ensure we go somewhere she will enjoy. 

v/r BP

Thunder Ranch, if you are bringing your wife. Clint and Heidi are great hosts and invite the students to at least one meal.
Although I don't know if they have any opening left. they go quick.

Offline Stein

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1853
  • Karma: 66
Firearms Academy of Seattle:

http://www.firearmsacademy.com/

I have taken two courses and am signed up for Tac Handgun later this month.  I have had and heard nothing but the best comments from anyone that has taken a class.  They have an amazing setup out in the middle of nowhere.  From my point of view, the prices are very reasonable and the level of instruction is top notch.