AAR - Pat McNamara 3 day TAPS, Sig Academy, Epping, NH; 8 July – 10 July

Pat McNamara 3 day TAPS, Sig Academy, Epping, NH 8 July – 10 July

 

I, along with at least one other Lightfighter (that I know of, roger up!), attended Pat McNamara’s three day Tactical Application of Practical Shooting (TAPS) class at the Sig Sauer academy range complex in Epping, NH (Map below). We booked this class through Alias Training in March of this year. Tuition was $700 for the course, and 750 rounds of rifle / 750 rounds of pistol ammunition were listed as required.

 

The student to Instructor ratio for this class was 32:1, of which approximately 10 students were Sig Academy instructor staff.

 

The class experience level appeared to range from completely locked on to one or two who appeared brand new to gun handling. It was heavily populated with cops, especially tactical officers, from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, and one or two from New York.

 

This AAR is certainly far from a complete picture of the course, both purposely and as a function of my memory. I can or will expand upon areas if anyone has questions, however I have purposely NOT detailed much of the POI. I don’t say this to sound like a dick, but I don’t intend this to be a free dissemination of intellectual property belonging to the instructor.

 

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TD 1: Class met at 0800 at the range. It was hot. Pat gave a short lecture on Performance vs. Outcome training, how athletes think and how it improves what level they can perform at. Pat’s energy was apparent to all in attendance, and I could tell he is exceptionally passionate about what he teaches. He laid it right out that he knows he is a civilian now, but feels he is still serving by helping train law enforcement, armed citizens, and military members of our nation.

 

Pat gave his version of the safety brief, which has been adequately covered before on this forum. I’ll briefly touch on what I can recall: 1) Always understand the status of your weapon: Pat doesn’t like “treat every weapon as if it were loaded” because…. Not all weapons are always loaded. If you are dry firing in your house or cleaning your gun, and YOU have verified it is not loaded, then it is not loaded. 2) Never cover anything with your muzzle that you do not wish to destroy. 3) Keep booger hooks off the trigger and the safety on until the shooter has a sight picture and is ready to fire. 4) Know what lies between you and your target, beyond your target, and to the left and right of your target. This requires a focal shift for the shooter to recognize not just the target and immediately behind it.

 

Pat pointed out that many trainers and ranges teach a dogmatic method of “safety”, which makes the safety brief an administrative exercise. (This concept came up later, when talking about “search and assessing” after firing. Pat reiterated many times the need to remove theatrics and administrative tasks whenever possible. This does not include loading the weapon when it IS an administrative task, like before beginning a stage of fire or leaving base on a mission).

 

We fired a variety of drills encompassing Basic Rifle Marksmanship throughout the morning, before utilizing pistols in the afternoon. The drills were well thought out and challenging for both weapons. While the range was large, the firing line was rather crowded.

 

Pat kept the pace of the course well timed, especially with the hot temperatures. We would fire a drill or two, then gather to discuss and move into the next drill.

 

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TD 2:  Hot again, high 80’s, but with a good breeze across the range. We started with a reiteration of the safety brief. Not many people spoke up when Pat was asking questions and quizzing us on the previous day’s material, perhaps because it was intimidating for some to throw out answers with 32 others looking on and possibly be wrong.

 

We started with pistols from the 50 yard line with a drill Pat called “Limits Begin where Vision Ends”. We fired 5 rounds with both hands, 5 rounds strong hand only, and 5 round support hand only on ISPC targets. We ran through that twice, with the goal of improving our score the second time. Pat mentioned that if he only had 50 handgun rounds with which to train, this is the drill he would do as it vastly improved his closer-in shooting.

 

We fired the “Einstein” drill, which is 10 yards, 2.5 second par time, single shot from the holster into the “A” zone of an IPSC target. We did that 5 reps each.

 

Then we put up SR-1 bullseye targets and moved to the 100 yard line. We fired 10 rounds standing, checked the targets, fired 10 rounds kneeling, checked the targets, and 10 rounds sitting. We taped up the targets and went back to the 100. We fired 5-5-5-5 rounds each, standing/kneeling/sitting/prone. We went through this twice, again with the goal of improving from first to second time (which was also a theme throughout the class).

 

We then ran through the El Presidente drill with shot timers. We didn’t bother downloading pistol magazines, so the reload was slightly artificial because it was on a pistol with the slide forward and a round in the chamber. We went through this three times (I think). All hits had to be in the A zone on the IPSC, and each round you had to improve your time for “SUCCESS”. If you tossed one shot out of the “A” zone, you got a “NO GO” for time. Pat stressed living in your “house” for how long you need to take to do this drill, and improve the structure of your house.

 

We had a short meeting on rifle reloads and transitions, then went off to fire 3 rifle rounds, reload, fire 3 more rifle rounds, then transition to pistol and fire a single round. Pat stressed that he wanted us to get “meaningful repetitions” and etch the feeling of an empty rifle into our subconscious minds. Pat also wanted us to be sure the rifle went on safe between reloads, and an “attempted safe” before transitioning to pistol.  Pat continuously told us that the safety is “Always an enabler, never a disabler”. We could do as many repetitions of this as we wanted, there was no set amount of reps or rounds. Pat reiterated not overthinking the transition, which I thought was an excellent point: Drop the thing that doesn’t work, pick up the thing that works. There was no scoring and no time for this drill.  Pat told us that the time to perform magazine changes is “when we need to, or when we want to”. This resonated with me, as I don’t get as much work with partial magazine reloads as I used to. Pat said that if you are performing a magazine change with a rifle because you “need” to, then you are probably fucked up and your situational awareness failed you. Pat talked about proximity of the enemy being a factor in whether to reload or transition, and the fact that most everyone can transition to the pistol faster than they can reload the rifle.

 

Just before lunch we had a discussion about malfunctions, the different types, and the ways to clear them. This was good chat because it didn’t appear many of the students had ever heard this before. Pat set up the different malfunctions with dummy rounds and showed the class what they look like.

 

Right after lunch we did the 5-5-5-5 rifle shoot from the 50 yard line on the SR-1 bullseye, for individual time. A zone was no penalty, C zone or head was 1 second added, D zone was 2 seconds added, misses were 5 seconds added. When Pat was asked why the head was still a one second penalty, the answer was “because we aren’t fucking aiming there, you’re aiming at the A zone”.  We ran through this twice, again with the goal of improving personal score from the first round to the second round.

 

We then did a drill calling for single shot from the holster on steel. We broke up into groups of about 5 or 6 shooters, with Pat’s shot timers. Each shooter would shoot three rounds of: straight on, facing uprange to start,  taking a step left (law of averages says something like 90% of males are right handed, and MOST poor shooters miss to the left, so by taking a step left we are moving in the direction LEAST likely to be struck). Times actually improved while stepping to the left, Pat explained this as the fact that our brains function more efficiently while moving than it does standing still.

 

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TD 3: We met at an adjacent range in the Sig complex, with multiple bays. Class started off with a chitchat about shooting around and from barricades/cover, using the multiple VTAC barricades the range had on hand. Pat was quick to point out the dogmatic stupidity that some suffer from when they whine about barrels extending past cover, etc. (but pointed out the POI shift resting a barrel on cover could produce). Pat compared shooting from back in a room and shooting from shadowy areas to being in defilade, as opposed to standing right in the opening of available cover and silhouetting yourself.

 

We did some rifle shooting from the barricades on steel that was about 50 yards away. This evolution went on for as many rounds as we wanted to fire, or however much ammunition we wanted to expend. After we finished firing from the barricades, we discussed communication and the importance of communicating things like “moving” or reloading an empty weapon. We started on one flank of the firing line in pairs of two, with magazines of 5 rounds to increase the reloads we needed to do. Shooters leapfrogged one another with the “success criteria” of not both reloading at the same time, or reloading while a partner is moving. We went across the range one direction, and then back across.

 

We had another chitchat, and walked through the various rifle drills Pat had set up in different bays. There were four different drills (which I will summarize rather than go in super depth, as these are Pat’s drills and if you haven’t seen his YouTube videos or taken a course with him, you should just do that):

 

“Set it Off”, “Scrambler”, “Light the Fuse”, and a drill with one magazine of 20 in which you fire a single shot at steel 50 yards away, safety on, switch shoulders, fire another single round, safety on….. until you are out of rounds. Not for time.

 

The Scrambler was a “practice” run, and if you didn’t meet the success criteria then you received a NO GO for your time. The Scrambler was described very purposely with a set of conditions and requirements, no other information was given. This led a lot of shooters (myself included) to overthink the drill, and forget some of the lessons Pat had taught us earlier on.

 

After lunch we did a walkthrough of the various pistol drills that were set up in different bays, in addition to Light the Fuse and the Scrambler that remained open for rifle. The class broke and we were free to roam between whatever drills we wanted. Everyone went through the Scrambler a second time, during the World Championship round.

 

The pistol drills were “Grid of Fire”, “Bianchi”, “Target Transition”, “Turn and Burn”, and another that the name evades me of (steel target, start at a back left cone, timer goes off, get a hit, move forward, get another hit, move to cone on the right, get a hit, move forward, hit, move left, hit, move back, hit, move right, hit, move back, hit.)

 

Aside from the requirement that everyone fire the Scrambler for a World Championship attempt, we were free to move about the bays and fire whatever combination of drills however many times we felt necessary. As Pat put it each training day, he doesn’t know what time the class will finish, it ends when he sees the “light fading” in shooter’s eyes. We gathered for a course wrap up around 1530. Pat summarized the main points of the course, and we all went our separate ways.

 

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Final thoughts: I am really glad that I was able to attend this class. Pat is a superb instructor, and it’s very apparent that he is highly intelligent. In addition to being a world class shooter, he has the ability to instruct and kept the class at rapt attention throughout the entire three days. He made himself available during lunch time to students and always answered questions completely when asked. Pat’s energy and enthusiasm for what he is teaching motivated the entire class. When debriefing each evening over beers, fellow LF’r and I mentioned many times that we would pay quite a bit just to see a Pat lecture, as it was obvious he had so much to offer that probably couldn’t squeeze into the course. Pat mentioned that he used to think of himself as the nation’s Batman when he was in the military, but now we are carrying that torch. The guy is a legit hero, and by everything I could observe, an awesome dude.

 

The Sig Academy is an awesome, awesome venue. There were no range Nazi’s, the place was clean and well maintained. Brass was left where it lay. A cooler of water bottles on ice was provided each day, and we definitely made use of it. The ranges are expansive and targetry is high quality. Very good place to take a class at.

 

The elephant in the room is the 32:1 ratio. Pat mentioned that he does not know how many students are in a class until he shows up on TD 1. It is no secret that some of his classes have been overbooked, and we knew that going in. Alias even offered refunds to attendees of the particular class linked below, however I recently inquired of some Uniontown students what the refund was, and was unpleasantly shocked to learn the details. I am a little befuddled why Alias acknowledged the problem, but then ran a class 3 or 4 months later with not only the same problem, but worse.

 

http://www.lightfighter.net/to...ay-taps-uniontown-pa

 

I was contacted by a couple different members on here a few months prior to the course, and they said they would not be attending specifically due to the overbook issues. We decided to stick it out and go, treating it is as a learning experience with Alias, Pat, and taking professional training courses in general. I have to assume Alias is losing money and QUALITY students (like those found on here) because people are hesitating to use them. That being said, they will obviously continue to make money from wealthy guys who just want to go see a “big name” instructor and don’t even notice things like overbooked classes. I got the impression that Pat isn’t the type of guy who is doing this solely for money…

 

Speaking of money, my total outlay for this course was:


Tuition: $700

Ammunition (some free from work, some from my existing stock, some purchased, this figure is only counting specific ammo purchased for this course): $400

Vacation days consumed from work: Three ($Priceless)… just kidding, but it was three days

Gas/Food: $150

Housing (campsite nearby): $80

 

Approximate total: $1330

 

 

In summary, do I think the class size detracted from what I was able to extract from Pat’s teaching? Yes, but not catastrophically. I was still able to learn and take nuggets of knowledge from someone who has far more experience than I ever will doing this sort of thing. The difference with the huge class was the lack of personal interaction with the instructor, and not as much individual coaching while firing the drills. Pat NEVER turned a student down or away who asked a question, but seeking him out to ask for feedback over and over was not going to happen. Nobody wants to be “that guy” who goes over to the instructor every two minutes to ask for personalized coaching… at least not in a class of 32. It just wouldn’t work. More than a few classmates mentioned or discussed the large size in sidebar conversations during break or lunch.

 

This may be a case of expectations vs. reality, as Pat’s teaching methods focus toward Discovery Learning and not him coaching you constantly. He treated the class like the adults we all were, and the expectation was that you would implement the skill he had taught during the subsequent drills. Students coached each other and pointed out mistakes (both things that were encouraged by Pat).

 

I am very glad I took this class. I will not book through Alias Training again unless the course specifically lists a max student figure or a student to instructor ratio. I would absolutely take a class with Pat again, but I would want to verify how many other students would be there before I do. Pat’s POI doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to having assistant instructors, as he is the main attraction and he has developed what he teaches through years of experience. I think it is hard or artificial to bring someone else in, unless they have the same experiences Pat does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Joined:      14 January 2010                Location:     Lobster emoticonMAINELobster emoticon

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Lobster, excellent AAR having taken 2 of Mac's classes now TAPS and Vehicle tactics I think you hit the nail on the head. His teaching style would make it very difficult for an AI to be effective, certainly not a knock on Mac at all. Last year in the vehicle tactics course I started a drill and another shooter jumped in with me when I finished I realized it was Mac, right after we finished Mac stayed on the line watching other shooters running the various drills and offering commentary on what he was observing. Pretty cool, and a wealth of information for me. 

 

I'm interested now because I am booked for Mike Pannone's concealed carry in 2 weeks through Alias Training to see the Student/Instructor ratio in that class. I guess time will tell, again excellent AAR.

Lobster:

Thanks for the AAR. I'll clock in as one of the many concerned with the Student/Instructor ratio with this class. Having never trained with Pat, I can't comment further than that, but I am very curious is this is isolated to classes he teaches, (teaching style perhaps?), if if it is common with all Alias classes.

I have not anecdotally heard of other Alias classes overbooked, but I'm not exactly a social butterfly in those circles. I get most of my news right here.

It is a credit to Pat's skill as an instructor that he makes overbooked classes run as smoothly as they do. He adapts quickly and devises drills and methods to accommodate the large group.

That isn't to say the huge class doesn't take away from individual learning, because I believe it does. Someone who might approach the instructor and ask a question in a class of 12 might not want to "waste everyone's time" by monopolizing the instructor's time. It wasn't me, but at least two fellow students told me they wanted to ask Pat stuff but didn't because they didn't want to slow up the pace of the class.

I forgot to mention gear and whatnot, I shot like shit with my issued G22, I tried an older one and shot my best groups of the course with it. BCM 12.5" SBR Frankengun with T-1 ran as expected, perfectly.

Biggest surprise for me was the Magpul Maglink. I ran it with two Pmags to validate it's use as my primary on my patrol rifle in the cruiser rack. Despite some slight round walk on the non-inserted mag, I didn't adjust it or do anything different with reloads. I found it to be outstandingly fast compared to a reload from a pouch (for me), and it is cheaper than a Redi-Mod and doesn't modify the weapon (oh and it's available).

 

 

 

 

Joined:      14 January 2010                Location:     Lobster emoticonMAINELobster emoticon

So, April class in Uniontown, PA 29:1, this class 32:1!? Once again short changing the students. What is it this time, another computer glitch? Alias offered a 20% discount to the folks attending the Uniontown class. But after seeing this same issue couple months later, I will def not consider signing up for another class. Hope Mac finds someone more competent to do the admin work, this is BS IMHO.

Thanks for the AAR.

"In the quiet after the storm is when you get a glimpse of who you really are." -Tim Kennedy

I have yet to see an effective teaching style that doesn't allow for the assistance of an additional instructor. Any time you can decrease the student-instructor ratio, it's a good thing. A 32:1 ratio is public school shit...and guys attending these classes are paying Private School tuition.

 

How hard is it to let the first 10-12 students sign up, and everyone after that be placed on a waiting list? 21 days out final adjustments are made and refunds issued if required. 14 days out, roster is finalized and e-mailed to the instructor (or delivered by carrier pigeon or whatever). 7 days out needed targetry and materials are delivered to the range, and final reporting instructions e-mailed to students. We're not talking brain surgery, we're trying to impart some knowledge on dudes paying really good money for it.

My experience with it was that more-experienced students in the class became AIs in their small groups.  Not a bad thing for instructor development, but less than ideal if you're hoping for some one-on-one tune-up from the primary instructor.  Some guys might actually get a little upset to realize that they've paid to be an AI.

 

I thought that the software Alias is using was the same or similar to most online commerce sites.  In other words, there should be "x" number of slots in a class in "inventory" and when they're all gone, there's an out-of-stock indication.  Other online retailers have figured out the real-time inventory thing (i.e. Amazon, SKD, Grey Group) with physical warehouses.  I would think that a virtual warehouse would be even easier.

 

Know what you know; Know what you don't know. -Paul Petzoldt

I realize this is LF and very Alias unfriendly (Passive-Aggressive or not) but you are barking up the wrong tree. Alias itself only had 20 students in the class. As many prospective students will tell you we watched the max number like a hawk and could not fit them into the class. Even though we promised them we would try. Most were cool about it, but several got mad they could not attend. Sig Academy comps were handled on their end. That part wasn't our deal and we did not even have their names or contact info.

 

 

So people can just show up and take the class without being on your list?! If 20 is the number, it's the number, incl reg students, comps or their grandmas. Someone needs to manage that and not point the finger. You are either doing the admin work, or you are not. Has nothing to do with "unfriendly", Paul...this is customer feedback if that means anything. You will probably disagree. 

"In the quiet after the storm is when you get a glimpse of who you really are." -Tim Kennedy

Pat figured it out and is going to post later. Apparently Sig Academy had more comps then I knew about and actually sold seats in the class. Alias only knew of 2-3 comps, so we would have put us at Pat's "Full Class" of 22 total. Sig Academy contacted Pat originally for the class so we were not involved it making the original agreements.

 

Pat stated he worked his ass off to make sure the class went off perfectly. Considering all the reviews have been very positive - including several emails we have received I'd say Pat as always proved why he is the one of the best.

Dinger,

 LF is NOT unfriendly to Alias...however I think there is valid criticism here.  Learn from it.  Pat is an outstanding instructor and I am sure he worked his ass off.  I have taken two of his classes and I have been very satisfied.  

  By listening to valid criticism, you can make your business more efficient.  At least 500 people are online at this moment reading this and other threads...man up

Originally Posted by Va_Dinger:

Pat figured it out and is going to post later. Apparently Sig Academy had more comps then I knew about and actually sold seats in the class. Alias only knew of 2-3 comps, so we would have put us at Pat's "Full Class" of 22 total. Sig Academy contacted Pat originally for the class so we were not involved it making the original agreements.

 

Pat stated he worked his ass off to make sure the class went off perfectly. Considering all the reviews have been very positive - including several emails we have received I'd say Pat as always proved why he is the one of the best.

 

I hope my AAR did not imply that I consider Pat anything less than an outstanding instructor. What he told you is true, he did work his ass off and he taught a great class.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joined:      14 January 2010                Location:     Lobster emoticonMAINELobster emoticon

Lobster Claw,

 On the contrary I think your AAR was well written and your comments very positive.  The suggestions about class size were relevant and needed to be said.  You did it the right way.  There is no doubt that Pat M is the man and one helluva instructor.  

Lobster Claw,

     I agree 100% with your well written AAR. I am one of the two guys from New York who attended the over booked class. Although I was really leery about the class size from the onset, I noticed (like you) Pat handled the class size VERY well. I was actually impressed to see how many things he was able to see and correct at both ends o the line.

     Another think that helped was that at no time did I feel like I was sitting around, waiting to shoot. 

     Ironically, I had the privilege of chit chatting with Pat every morning at the hotel breakfast. I advised him of a past issue I had with another trainer (former Delta) and an over booked class. Pat told me that this class was over booked too, and that this was a communication mix up. I was told this the morning of day one. It appeared (like Paul has said) the Sig group did not communicate the amount of instructors they were having attend. Pat also added that the end result lies on him. To be fair to Paul on this, I am sure this is a hot button topic between Paul and Pat.

    End result – I will not hesitate to take another McNamara class again. Great instructor and great guys.

   PS – Lobster – I was muzzled two times by the same guy (civilian). Like you said – everyone else was pretty well squared away.

VA_Dinger:

Thank you for sharing more of the story on this. It sounds as if Sig shafted you, and the students who signed up for the class. My previous comment was made sure of only the events of the previous Uniontown class, as related here. A 20:1 ratio is a number I'm far happier with, as opposed to 32:1

 

Mistakes happen, as to things beyond your control...being up front counts for a lot with us here at LF I've found.

Nobody did anything intentionally. It's certainly not an issue between Sig, Pat, or myself. I have been with Pat since his open enrollment class #1, I consider him a friend, and working together we have gotten the world to know just how special of a person & instructor he truly is. It's just a misfortunate accident in communication. Sig provided their world-class class facility for Pat to use. My only problem with anything said in this thread is the obvious passive-aggressive references to "Over-Booking" being normal. That's certainly not the case, but they only want to take a shot at Alias. It's OK though. 99% of the market sees right through it and knows what's up.    

 

 

Originally Posted by JON 727:

Lobster Claw,

     I agree 100% with your well written AAR. I am one of the two guys from New York who attended the over booked class. Although I was really leery about the class size from the onset, I noticed (like you) Pat handled the class size VERY well. I was actually impressed to see how many things he was able to see and correct at both ends o the line.

     Another think that helped was that at no time did I feel like I was sitting around, waiting to shoot. 

     Ironically, I had the privilege of chit chatting with Pat every morning at the hotel breakfast. I advised him of a past issue I had with another trainer (former Delta) and an over booked class. Pat told me that this class was over booked too, and that this was a communication mix up. I was told this the morning of day one. It appeared (like Paul has said) the Sig group did not communicate the amount of instructors they were having attend. Pat also added that the end result lies on him. To be fair to Paul on this, I am sure this is a hot button topic between Paul and Pat.

    End result – I will not hesitate to take another McNamara class again. Great instructor and great guys.

   PS – Lobster – I was muzzled two times by the same guy (civilian). Like you said – everyone else was pretty well squared away.

 

Damn too bad we didn't link up mano! It was hard to tell who was in the club and who wasn't, without violating the "Don't talk about Lightfighter" rule. I was near the guy we are talking about, and the group of us around him watched him like a hawk to try and prevent that. 

 

I too didn't feel like I was ever waiting to shoot, the pace of the class was just about right. I did take a few voluntary pauses to free up firing line space because the compensators nearby/brass bouncing off my face were making it difficult to concentrate during the BRM portions. Maybe I'll blame that as my excuse for poor shooting 

 

 

 

 

Joined:      14 January 2010                Location:     Lobster emoticonMAINELobster emoticon

I attended the NH course and I was very surprised when I first saw the amount of students there. However, it worked for two reasons, One - Pat, and Two - Sigs Facility.  If this was hosted by a typical rod and gun club, the range may not have been wide enough to fit a 30+ shooter firing line.

 

Instructor wise, its not hard running drills with alot of students, but it is hard to correct them and make sure learning is occurring.  I immediately assumed this was going to be tough due to the numbers but Pat is really that good of an instructor.  You couldn't get anything by him, you would see him working with a group the farthest away from you and then when it was your turn, all the sudden he would friggin ninja himself behind you and be giving you adjustments and critiques.  Pat doesn't go for round count in a gun fight or in training. Accuracy is final with him in both regards. This is why he makes it work. Its not a f*ck fest of rounds down range. His drills are structured and focused. He made the numbers work. The final day was alot of drills but Sig had the facility for us. A giant culdasac of small range bays with steel as well as longer rifle ranges in addition. All in the same area. It was a drill a bay and it was probably one of the most enjoyable and self learning days in a course I have had in a while.

 

Pat is a very different instructor than I have had in the past. I enjoyed his course and ill definitely seek him out for another. 

 

In regards to Alias and overbooking, I put no fault on them. In my opinion this happens alot in courses. Ive seen it in law enforcement training, tactical training, DT training, you name it.  Its a mix of a capacity class with host instructors wanting to sit in on the class along with possible confusion on how many spots go to who and then the good old grey people who "thought you said it was ok to go". No ones fault. Ive trained with Sig several times and they are top notch staff and facility. Pat was nothing but the best which I can only assume represents Alias.  Chaulk it up as a lesson for future Alias/Sig courses (which I hope are many more to come).

Joe Mass Cop Blue Line for Life

I will chime in as the brains behind Lobsters AAR as he passed out after finishing his 30 rack of Canadian nastiness (sorry to my friends from the north) after TD2 and I had to take over the typing...

 

This class was our first time putting up serious coin for a class and all the additional expenses that go along with attending an away game like this.  I was excited and not sure what to expect so I read several of the AAR from the boards here. 

 

SAFETY:  I believe that it becomes more and more risky or gets harder and harder as the student to instructor ratio increases, aint no if ands or buts about it IMHO.  An instructor can only be so many places at once.  Pat would sometimes watch from a far from under cover and sometime he would magically go from one end of the line to the other like a "ninja."  I agree that Pat did an amazing job at keeping this a safe course and can also attribute this to a fairly locked on group.  His rules are simple but important and expectations are clear.  Regardless of how locked on people are issues occur and there were several violations and areas of concern.

 

I have no problem saying I expected a lower student to instructor ratio for the "private school" rate as it was described.  Not a zing to Alias and am frustrated with passing of the buck round and round, it has to land somewhere.  The SIG guys were locked on and very helpful as AI but there needs to be a cap at some point... if that means taking a ROLL CALL on TD1 before the safety briefing to make sure only paying customers are present then so be it.  Pat and Alias need to work that out and I believe that it could be accomplished before the class starts like was described by KRAX.  I was hesitant to enroll due to the previous Uniontown issue but it sounded like Alias had it under control.

 

The facilities were great (though I wish someone had put on a big bbq like at some of the other classes).  I wish our team trained at SIG's site all the time as they have good instructors and the facilities to offer a wide array of courses.  Pat's teaching style did not lend it self well to others teaching like him but the SIG guys (and girl) were also well organized, knowledgeable and safe.

 

I used my duty glock 22 and a BCM 11.5 which is my patrol and team gun.  No problems at all even when dirty and dusty.  I too did was up and down with my pistol shooting and enjoyed the 50 yard drill as a centering type of activity.  We also wore out duty belts and were basically the only ones not in a battle belt.  This worked for the most part but we should have put our PC's on for the last day for rifle mag changes (especially during the scrambler but it was hot as balls. 

 

TD1 and 2 were spent on a large/wide range but due to the size we had to shoot in several waves and this definitely slowed down the operation.  Did we get everything done that we wanted to yes, would we have quit earlier or taken more or longer breaks with a smaller group? Probably.  I would have preferred a smaller group and more one on one time with Pat or even more time as a group diagnosing the targets to learn.  Like Lobster stated, maybe I have a personal issue between expectations vs reality and that's on me but my skills are not there enough to teach myself and I know that.  In the end it was nice to bring it back to BRM and do some discovery learning about canting, pressure on the barrel, etc.

 

TD3 was not impacted by group size at all and both Pat and the SIG crew did a great job setting up approximately 7 round robin stations to keep people moving and shooting.

 

This brings me to a point about Pats teaching style.  People take his classes because he is intense and knows his shit.  His character/personality are very motivating.  He thinks quickly and is great at analyzing shooting issues.  His drills keep you moving and thinking and can be applied to civ. sheapdogs, LEO, MIL, etc.  In saying that if you are looking for Pat to hold your hand or provide you feedback frequently then this is not the class for you.  I don't think that he would change his style whether there were 10 people in the class or 30.  He gives a great discussion about expectations with each drill (this is the "splain" part which is then broken into manageable nuggets of info), follows up with a demonstration and then shoots with the group most of the time rather than walking the line.  Pat bust his ass and makes a good plan for each day.  He is able to adapt to the conditions of the group as needed.  I imagined it as a chartered fishing trip in which the captain drives the boat and then fishes with you.  He would be able to educate you and deal with major issues but would expect you to think through your own issues.  This may not be for everyone.  For me personally I could have used more attention as I was clearly one of the bottom shooters in the class.  He will instead give you some of the tools to teach your self and he will approach your for any glaring issues.  Pat's wisdom was much appreciated and I was excited to learn from him and bring back a little of his energy.  Ill just quote Lobster as I was the other half of these conversations and cant say it better:

 

"Pat is a superb instructor, and it’s very apparent that he is highly intelligent. In addition to being a world class shooter, he has the ability to instruct and kept the class at rapt attention throughout the entire three days. He made himself available during lunch time to students and always answered questions completely when asked. Pat’s energy and enthusiasm for what he is teaching motivated the entire class. When debriefing each evening over beers, fellow LF’r and I mentioned many times that we would pay quite a bit just to see a Pat lecture, as it was obvious he had so much to offer that probably couldn’t squeeze into the course. Pat mentioned that he used to think of himself as the nation’s Batman when he was in the military, but now we are carrying that torch. The guy is a legit hero, and by everything I could observe, an awesome dude."

 

Thanks for a educational course and fun experience and it was nice to be there with some other LF'ers.

Paul,

 

Lightfighter isn’t “Anti-Alias”. Lightfighter is “Pro-Professional Development.” Per the LF Mission Statement: “Lightfighter was created for Service Members and Law Enforcement Professionals. This forum is for the discussion of tactical issues and is for the enjoyment of the members. This forum is populated by Military, Law Enforcement and related industry individuals.”

 

When circumstances negatively affect professional development, they are brought to light so that others can make the conscious decision to attend or not attend training from certain trainers / providers.

 

Examples of this include safety violations (trainers shooting their own AI in a shoothouse), integrity issues (trainers claiming OGA status), and overbooked classes. 

 

I elected not to take this class directly based on the fact of over-booked classes prior. This was unfortunate as Mac is on my short list of Instructors to take a class with, largely based upon the POI of a course he helped develop for AWG that I attended and stellar reviews from folks of TMACS training classes. Despite your assurances that it would not happen again, it did. I was also looking forward to Mac's Combat Fitness Seminar until I was informed of its cancellation due to Mac's injuries (Hope you're recovering well, Brother. Your country still needs you.)

 

A significant portion of LF knows how training works. They know how training business models / plans / strategies work. They know how forecasting works. They know how rosters and accountability works. They know how comp slots work. So when you say Alias booked 20 PAX maximum, and that you issue 2-3 comps to Sig Academy - how did you not know Sig sold class seats? Since they originally contacted Pat for the class, did he know they sold seats? At what point did it transition from a Sig Academy class to an Alias class? Was there not cross-communication reference booking between Sig and Alias? Did students who booked direct through Sig Academy pay Sig Academy direct?

 

Communication is the flow or exchange of information between two elements - Sender & Receiver. When there is a break in communication, miscommunication occurs...

 

Excuses have a maximum effective range of zero meters. First it was a computer error, and now it is lack of cross-talk. Both are amateur level mistakes that should have been noticed and corrected far before TD1. The computer error should have been noticed when your Organization processes payments, builds the e-mail list, and finalizes the class roster. The cross-talk should have been noticed when the hand-off was being prepared from Sig Academy to Alias Training. This is Business 101 stuff, that your Organization should already have well in hand with protocols in place to account for it.

 

But what I find most galling is your attitude. Most individuals I know would be bending over backwards to identify and rectify mistakes - whether it was their own fault or not. They would bite the bullet, issue refunds, and develop SOP's to ensure it never happened again. They would own it, and they would resolve it. What they would not do is complain of persecution on the internet, of passive-aggressive opinions, and generally act like it's not their fault and nothing can be done about it and it's okay.

 

Because it's not. Those going to training deserve direct mentorship. Those going to training deserve not to be muzzled by inexperienced personnel. These are people who carry guns for the profession. If they cannot say "If I were to go to combat / get into an Officer Involved Shooting tomorrow, I would be the most trained from this class today" - it should be viewed as a personal failure of Alias. It's hard to see / correct safety issues in a 32:1 ratio environment no matter how awesome the instructor is.

 

So do what professionals do. Do what leaders do. Own it. Fix it. Or quality individuals will elect not to utilize your company's services and you will either die out with the dinosaurs, have your training cadre leave for greener pastures, or rely on a less professional student base to fill classes. Your choice. And your trainer cadre, if they so choose.

"I came here for one reason: to attack and keep coming.- Ultimate Warrior

 

"Americans don't deserve America." - Timmy

I wasn't at this class but have trained with Mac before at a class booked by Alias as well as having taken a different class at Sig Academy.

 

I have no doubt that Sig Academy putting additional instructors out probably helped this class move along better than it would have at a less robust facility.  I'm also pretty sure that Mac can run a class of 50 students if he had to and I know he's also taught classes when only 8 students showed up.  

 

Sometimes its luck of the draw as far as what you get when hosting/teaching and some of it is the inevitable friction of having a lot of moving parts to make an open enrollment class happen.

 

This was an open-enrollment class of paying students who have to take time off as well as paying for their own travel expenses, not a pre-deployment .mil contract for an infantry company.  Whether you agree with it or not, the expectation is higher from the customer.

 

Re:  "passive-aggressive" attitude, I read that more as a paying student trying to give Alias a polite but professional criticism to help improve things in the future.  Fairly or unfairly, between the Uniontown thread and now the Sig thread, Alias' reputation is taking a hit.  There is clearly a demand for training with Alias instructors, it's just a matter of how well that service can be delivered.

 

Having said all that, I would train with Mac or any other instructor booked through Alias.  I have more positive experiences than negative ones with Alias and without companies like Alias, it would even more difficult to try and find quality training.

 

 

 

 

Originally Posted by mac65:

Mac here. RGR all. I've got to shoulder some of this. Un-F*&#ing it.  BTW, Sig Academy rocked.

Welcome aboard. As someone who's trained with you in the past, I can testify to the first rate quality of instruction. I look forward to training with you again.

 

Oh,and I was one of the 8 students in a Mac class.  It was like Augustus Gloop in the river of chocolate. So much awesomeness that it was impossible to take it all in, but I damn sure tried.

"Hold my beer and watch this"

" I have no doubt that Sig Academy putting additional instructors out probably helped this class move along better than it would have at a less robust facility.  I'm also pretty sure that Mac can run a class of 50 students if he had to and I know he's also taught classes when only 8 students showed up.  "

 

 

You misunderstand. The Sig Academy instructors were there as students. No doubt they were an asset in terms of extra eyes who are trained in running safe ranges, but they were not there to instruct. They did assist Pat with setting up the range on the TD 3. I agree with you Pat could probably run a company-sized class without fail. I think the chief (and really, only) complaint from most is the disconnect between expectations for personalized instruction for $700, and the reality. 

 

Pat, thanks for a great class! I'm hoping my comments aren't coming off as bitchy, I really enjoyed all three days of training.

 

 

 

 

Joined:      14 January 2010                Location:     Lobster emoticonMAINELobster emoticon

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