When: November 19, 20th, 2016
Where: Alpha Range, McHenry, IL
Instructors: John Johnston, Melody Lauer
Overview: Two day course designed to teach parents or people with children in their lives strategies to effectively handle violent situations that might involve the use of a handgun. The class included both classroom and live fire learning with emphasis placed on shot accountability and muzzle awareness.
Equipment: Glock 19 with RMR06 in an ATEI milled slot, Overwatch Precision Tactical trigger installed. Raven Concealment Eidolon holster mounted IWB, strong side, behind the hip. Raven Concealment Phantom and Copia mag holders were used OWB for training purposes in the locations where I would normally carry magazines IWB on my non-dominant side. I am a right handed shooter. Glock factory 15 round magazines and Magpul 15, 17, and 21 round magazines were used with no magazine failures throughout the course. I had an issue at the end of day one with the trigger bar on my OP trigger not engaging correctly and firing upon trigger reset. I switched out the frames and continued with my backup frame with OP trigger with no incident. Root cause is not known at this time and trigger is going back to OP for examination. Day two was run using the original frame with a spare trigger Overwatch Precision Tactical trigger I installed after TD1.
Training day one began with instructor introductions and student introductions. We had 8 students of varying backgrounds including two mothers. The skill levels ranged from beginner to USPSA grand master and everything in between. After student intros, we moved into a course overview and the background/genesis of the course material. It was stressed that this course was not developed in a vacuum, and they cited numerous people such as Claude Werner, Craig Douglas, Chuck Haggard, Greg Ellifritz, and others as having input on the course material and Point Of Instruction (POI). We moved into a power point presentation that included videos of various situations where people encountered violence while accompanied by children. One of the things that we discussed very early on was the notion of “Shielding” children or people by moving in front of them, and the negative outcomes that have resulted from people doing that. This would be a point driven home in many iterations of the instruction throughout the course. Student participation and discussion was a key element in the classroom, and later on, in the range portion, and Melody and John were very encouraging of questions and clarifying remarks from the students. We ended the classroom portion after about four hours, and broke for lunch. Lunch was a group affair (for the most part), across the street where discussion continued the atmosphere was very casual, and more knowledge was exchanged.
After lunch, we gathered in the range, and the safety brief was given. In addition to the “4 rules of firearms,” a fifth was added to the mix: Keep the firearm inaccessible to unauthorized individuals.” This is very important given the multitude of instances where children have gotten a hold of firearms and negative outcomes have occurred. Melody and John are of the opinion that this includes off body carry such as a woman having a pistol in a purse. “If you are going to carry off body, you must retain positive control of that purse and firearm” was the message conveyed. An example of a recent incident was given where a child reached into a purse that had a gun while the family was out shopping and he managed to discharge the firearm and kill his mother. This was one of many examples of the need for accountability and responsibility in each of our decisions that we make involving firearms, including the accountability of where our rounds go, and where our muzzle is pointing. This segued into the instruction of the ready position we would be using, the Thumb Pectoral index ready position. The gun is brought back close to the body in either a two or one handed grip and the muzzle is kept perpendicular to the ground. Examples were given about the use of other “administrative” positions such as Sul, low ready, and Temple Index, and how now that we are involving children that are shorter than us in the equation, muzzle awareness needs to be among the top priorities of how we conduct ourselves. Our live fire portion of the day consisted of a baseline skills run through with some heavy emphasis of one handed shooting. Accuracy and round accountability were continually stressed. There was a feeling of natural progression through the skills, and we moved fairly easily through this stage. Melody and John were able to help a couple of shooters deal with technical problems with ease, and without slowing the class down. Day one ended with a run through of the FBI qualification course in which I scored a 98%.
Day one was well processed, and aside from some hiccups with students and timing, ran smoothly. Multiple times during day one, it was reinforced that everything we were doing was leading up to what we would we would be executing the next day. John and Melody adapted to the skill level of the class well, and were able to move through material as needed to keep things from becoming stagnant. It was evident that this was still a new program that was being refined, but through the give and take between John and Melody, I was able to be relaxed and learn. Safety was priority number one at all times, and the focus on Muzzle awareness was almost overwhelming, but it was a very important aspect of the training.
We hit the range at 9AM, and jumped right into the fray. I’m going to be more vague today about specific drills and techniques due to that being the IP of the instructors. We started off discussing much of what we did the day before, and we had a ballistics demo to demonstrate the effects of various cartridges and rounds, and to draw attention to the fact that shielding your child with your body is likely a losing proposition. It was stated, and I must emphasize that this was not scientific, and it was acknowledged that no concrete conclusions should be drawn by the demo, and that it is a visual example and teaching moment instead of data collection. We then transitioned to live fire drills and learning. We used weighted backpacks and a “Sand Baby” provided by the instructors to demonstrate various carry positions of children, and learned a method to safely “drop” a baby that has sufficient motor control and musculature from our arms onto the ground in order to open up distance between ourselves and the child. Much emphasis was placed on using strollers, shopping carts, or any method of corralling the kids in order to be able to safely open up distance to direct the possibility of incoming bullets away from our children. Priority of life was discussed with every student agreeing that it is more important to protect our kids than stay alive at their expense. Movement away from our children was discussed, and situational awareness of where our muzzle was in relation to surrounding individuals was stressed throughout the day. We had a great break down about the various administrative “safe” positions of pistols including the Pectoral index ready position, Sul, and Temple Index. One of the things discussed and demonstrated through timed fire was the idea that given our role as a “Civilian” (Non sworn armed individual), it is most often better to keep our gun holstered with our hand in a “ready-to-draw” position, than be running around with our gun out. The entire time we were shooting and learning, context was stressed as we all know that no situation will be the same as another, and that we were learning tools to apply in different situations with there being no “one true solution” to any specific problem.
We ended day two with a modified FBI qualification using some of the techniques we learned that day, and I scored lower than my initial qual with a 93%, but I’m OK with that. After we got the range cleared, we had a small feedback session where not only did the students give feedback to the instructors, the instructors (namely Melody) gave us feedback on what they saw throughout the class.
In the two training days of the class, I learned some strategies to better deal with potentially violent situations while in the company of my family and children. The class got me to critically analyze how I interact with my environment when I am out with my kids, got me to think about new ways to protect them or get them out of my way in the event of a potentially violent situation, and opened my eyes to new levels of accountability in regards to muzzle awareness and shot placement. I would most certainly recommend this curriculum to any parent that owns a firearm and intends to carry while out and about with their family.