I spent the last three days at Southern Exposure Training in Lakeland, FL completing the Viking Tactics Nightfighter course. Southern Exposure is a training only range run by Irv and Watfa. I consider both personal friends, but even if we weren't, it would still be the best place to take a class I've ever been. Irv's been to over 250 courses himself, and knows good trainers from bad. He doesn't invite the bad. Watfa takes care of Irv and the logistics. It leaves the trainers free to train and the students free to learn. It is my first choice for training, and not only because it's an hour from my house. Their website is http://www.southernexposuretraining.com/ and well worth your time to visit.
Viking Tactics is run by Kyle Lamb, who retired from the highest level of the U.S. Army's special mission units with combat service in some famous battles and shitty places. Kyle was the primary instructor, aided by "Chili", who retired from the same unit as Kyle did and also has a lot of combat experience. Both are not only warriors of the highest caliber, they're also excellent instructors. Just because a guy can fight doesn't mean he can teach. Kyle and Chili can do both, and I am lucky to have been able to train with them.
Nightfighter is a capstone class, in that you have to have completed both Viking Tactics Carbine 1.5 and Viking Tactics Streetfighter to be able to enroll in the class. If you look hard enough, I have completed multiple AAR's on each course. Kyle explains it as Carbine 1.5 teaches you the positions, Streetfighter makes you apply them using vehicles, and Nightfighter makes you do everything you learned in the dark. I have been taking Viking Tactics classes for six years and this is the first time Nightfighter was offered. It was worth the wait.
TD1 was broken into two parts-a daylight session to get zeroed, discuss some theory, and run a few basic warm up drills. and the evening session. During these drills, Kyle stressed activating the light to get used to it. The night session involved running the same drills, in the dark, focusing on accuracy and light manipulation. You found out real quick if your shit worked or not, and both Kyle and Chili would offer advice on what had worked for them and what had not. I won't repeat the entire program of instruction, but we did a good amount of shooting. We used both hand-held and weapon lights.
TD2 was another two part day. For that, we were joined by Don and Sam of TNVC, a company that sells night vision equipment. We were treated to a discussion of how night vision worked, what options were available, and how it was integrated into equipment and used in the field. Don and Sam also brought sample equipment that the student could try for themselves. Vehicles were introduced into the scenarios and we shot on steel and paper, both handgun and carbine.
TD3 was the final two part day, where we worked into the vehicles, shooting through windows, and generally going through different scenarios involving shooting through vehicles, out of vehicles, utilizing as much cover as possible, and trying to get hits in the dark, using a light, while trying to make yourself as small as possible. Each day ran from 1200-2100 for shooting, and then there was a debrief after the shooting stopped before going home.
Gear wise, I used my issued Sig M400 11.5 with a SigRomeo4 optic in the Sig mount. My optic mount failed on TD2 and would not stay locked in, so I replaced it with an Aimpoint CompM4 I had in the safe. The optic itself worked fine, as did the rifle. I shot a couple of Glock 19's with modifications by Boresight Solutions and RMR's. I had match barrels in the Glocks that did not work particularly well with the Magtech ball I was using. I suspect a little Flitz and a judicious use of a drill will clear that up for me. I had not shot much with RMR's before, but became sold on them after this class. Once I figured out the ammunition issue, the pistols performed flawlessly. I was okay with my performance. I have lost weight and my movements are better. However, I can still completely shit the bed on a moment's notice by doing things such as using my handheld light to backlight my RMR sight to try to see the target (pro tip: that doesn't work) or trying to will bullets to hit instead of using sights. I am hoping to be able to shoot more of that type of work prior to the next class.
I had previously shot with every other student except one guy who was Kyle's army buddy from the 82nd Airborne who drove in from Louisiana. Some of the cast of characters present were lawdogX, Ben from Boresight Solutions, Old Fred, Ricardo, Mike from Rampart Coatings, Carl, Steffon, & Andrew from Ft. Lauderdale, Josh from Homestead, Andrew, Jack, Johnny, and several others. Everyone was safe. Everyone was switched on, and I enjoyed seeing my friends almost as much as the shooting. There wasn't a bad one in the bunch.
In sum, it's a journey to get to this class. The journey is well worth taking for its own sake, but the class was a culmination of what I had learned over the years. I strongly encourage anyone who can take these classes to do so if you care about being a better shooter and more aware of how to do work around vehicles and in the dark. I would like to thank Kyle, Chili, Irv, Watfa, and my fellow students. This was the most fun I've had in a while, and I learned a lot as well. Can't wait to shoot with all of you again.
-edited to correct the acronym for Tactical Night Vision Company