Heiho Consulting Two Day Tactical Carbine Course –Eastern WA

Primary Instructor
John Holschen

Assistant Instructor
Nick Collins

Hosted by Okanogan Co Sheriff’s Department

Training conducted at OCSO department range in Okanogan WA

Training conducted Mar 20 1200-2200 hours and Mar 21 0800-1800 hours



In addition to shooting the class, this course was a first for me as a host and the first time that we have brought outside trainers to our department range.

For this AAR, I am going to include comments on my experience as a host and as a student.

This entire process started for this class actually started back in September 09. I was just back off a deployment and made the 500 mile round trip to take LMS Pistol 2 with Kevin Williams. In order to make it to the class on time, I had to leave my house at about 0230 as I worked the night before. I showed up for the class beat which is obviously not optimal for conducting training. I looked at this and the added expense of travel (food, hotel, gas, wear and tear on my car, all the other things that add up) and the extra time that I have to spend away from my family and thought that there had to be a better way.

Out here in the middle of the woods in Washington, we may not have an Applebee’s or Target, but we do have a pretty nice department range. I started contacting a variety of trainers to come out and run some classes on our range.

Paul Howe was one of the trainers I contacted about running a carbine course. I talked to him and was told that he does travel to the West side of the Mississippi. However, he did put me in contact with another trainer named Eric who is also a LE member and trainer from Western WA. Eric is an adjunct instructor for Howe and is authorized to teach his entire syllabus.

In Oct-Nov 09, Eric and I were working on the details of the course. For this class, one of my primary goals was to get some low/no light carbine training in as it is one of the many things that does not get worked on nearly enough. In order to facilitate this, we had to plan the class for after the snow goes away, yet there is a short window before it starts staying light out too long to make this feasible. After deconflicting my schedule, his schedule and days that the range was already tied up we settled on March 20-21 2010.

The other nice thing of running a class format where the first day goes into the night is that it allows for a late start. My intention was that hat the guys who were coming over from the west coast and making the same 500 mile drive I usually make would be able to leave in the morning. Not having to worry about a hotel room for an extra day, or not getting any sleep the night before is a pretty nice perk for someone coming in from out of town.

Early November Eric ended up tearing his ACL while at work and had to back out because he did not think he would be off light duty in time to run the course. He sent me the resumes of two instructors that he highly recommended that were ready to step up to the plate and make the class happen.

One was John Holschen and the other was Mark Renniger.

For my own selfish reasons, I had two different tracks I wanted to go with the course. Having a LE day job and with one of my main goals being to get some outside training for the firearms instructors with local agencies, I was looking for a class with an LE slant. For my weekend job, I am an Infantryman in the National Guard with three trips to Iraq behind me and looking onwards to potential trips to A-Stan, I also wanted training with a military slant.

There is A LOT of crossover when it comes to running a gun with either the LE or .mil sector.

There are also some pretty significant differences though.

I was in the process of talking with both Mark and John about the class. It ended up that I was able to vet John through two guys I work with that have pretty significant professional relationships with him.

Unfortunately, On Nov 26th the decision was made for me on whom to go with when Mark was gunned down in a coffee shop with three fellow officers.

Prior to Eric recommending him, I had never heard of John Holschen. Like I said though, I was able to vet his abilities as a gunfighter and an instructor through two guys that I trust empirically. I also had been sent a copy of his CV to help out with the descion making process.

In Dec-Jan of this winter, I worked out some more of the details of the class with John.

I spent a lot of effort pushing the course with LE agencies throughout Eastern WA over the following months. My timing pretty much sucks though. Looking at department budgets right now, things are not good. For whatever reason, when the money goes away, the training budget generally gets hit first. It is also hard to justify sending an officer to a class with tuition, ammo, overtime, travel, per diem, etc when other officers in the department are being laid off due to lack of funds.

The other big source of bodies that I was talking to fill the slots were with my military contacts.

I was looking at an overall class size of 12-16 students.

As of March 1st, we were had 15 students that had committed to the class. Between the 12th-14th, I had 6 people back out/change their minds. On the 12th, I opened the class up to non-military and LE guys and started putting on a heavy handed recruiting drive. I got three signups in the following week with this and we were sitting pretty at 12 students for the minimum manning. Then Murphy decides to play games with my OODA loop yet again and I have a WSP Trooper and an Army Captain both have to cancel due to last minute work issues. I got their emails at 2200 on the Wed prior to the class. At that point I was prepared to start calling people to tell them the course was canceled if necessary.

Looking back, there were some communication issues on my end that could have gone different. I also assumed (yeah, yeah, I know) that when people I have known and worked with for years said “don’t worry man, I will defiantly be there, I just need to get my wife to open up the purse strings” that they meant they actually intended to be there. I 100% understand that work comes up and on occasion family stuff happens. However, in order to get a real no bullshit assessment, I should have pushed a bit harder on some of the guys to either cough up a deposit or to stop saying they will be there.

The other big issue as far as organizing the course that I ran into was with the money. Never overestimate the intelligence of a department money person. In February, I heard from the Spokane PD that they would be sending SOMEONE. Up until a week ago, that is all I knew. Repeated attempts to find out who was coming, or to get a good email address for them went unanswered.

Despite thinking that I had been pretty clear in my emails on who to cut the checks to, somehow one department was confused and wrote the check out to my department rather than Hieho Consulting.

The important parts of these SNAFU’s were that John was awesome to work with and that I will be much better prepared to make things work for the next classes.

Learning occurred.

So, that was the run up to the class.

As far as the course itself goes-

We had seven localish LE members (one came from Spokane, a few hundred miles away, but he is still on the Eastern side of the mountains). The departments represented were-

Twisp PD
Spokane PD
Tonasket PD
Okanogan Co SO (three attendees)
Colville Tribal PD

Over half of these guys are either department firearms instructors, SWAT dudes, or both.

To round out the class, we had three guys that are non LE. Two of which I had taken at least two classes with in the past and one who I had never met before. One of them made an epic 7 hour drive each way to come up Vancouver WA and the other two came over from the coast to attend.

At no point during the class were we held up by someone. Everyone showed up with a positive, winning attitude and I was impressed with the overall skill of the shooters.

We ran with a noon start on Saturday in order to give the guys coming from the coast some time to get there and because we knew we would be running late into the night. The first two hours of day one were spent in the classroom with lectures on a variety of things. I know I was getting fidgety and ready to get out on the range. John and Nick covered a lot of the basics while in the classroom. Load/unload, safety brief, reload and other topics. One really nice thing about the class is that John is right handed and Nick is left handed. Whenever it came time to demonstrate something for “wrong sided” guys, Nick had his carbines setup for lefties and was able to show how things worked for someone with his affliction.

To me, the most interesting part of the day one lecture to me was the thirty minutes or so where we discussed detailed ballistic charts for the AR-15 and how it related to zeroing. John explained the pluses and minuses of zero’s at 7 meters, 25 meters, 50 meters and 100 meters. The color coded charts that were part of the student packet helped with a visual of what exactly the round is doing in its flight path and confirmed why the zero I have been running is the best choice for me.

One of the strongest attributes that John has an instructor is that he obviously spends a lot of time analyzing the “why” of things. Then he spends a considerable amount of time validating it with either a timer or force-on-force. Despite him knowing what he believes works best, I am not sure I heard him say EVER “don’t do it that way” or “no that is not the way to do it”. It was ALWAYS “this is the way I do it and here is why. I tried to do it that way years ago and this is why I changed the way I do it now."

The entire weekend was interspaced with the “why” of doing something rather than just how to do it.

After that, we went to go zero. We started with our iron sights and moved to our optics for those of us that were running them. Two guys ran irons only, one had a C-More and the rest were a mix of Aimpoints and EO-Techs with everyone running some form of the AR-15 platform. During the zero process, things continued to run a bit slow. There were some weapons that were not zeroed prior to the course. There was also one guy who had some bad ammo from one box out of his case where things were oversize and he kept on getting stuck rounds in the chamber. I saw at least one case of a bolt that had been taken apart to be lubed prior to the class and the firing pin retaining pin was inserted with the firing pin not fully forward. This was quickly identified, diagnosed and fixed while zeroing.

One really neat thing was that John came with some of the most interesting zero targets I have seen.

He had separate types for both a 100m and 50m target. Nine of us chose to go with a 50m zero and one decided to go with a 100m zero. After choosing what your zero was going to be and posting the appropriate target, we went back to the 50m line. The neat thing about these targets is that you use the center aiming point no matter what, but there are three different impact zones. One is calibrated for if you are shooting at 25m, one at 50m and the other at 100m. This allows you to use your offsets to get a good 50m or 100m zero even if you only have a 25m range available. Printed on the side of the target is a chart with adjustment values for a wide variety of popular optics. Aimpoints, EO-Techs, ACOGs, Troy irons, standard irons, ARMS irons and others are represented.

I felt that things continued to move pretty slowly through the zero process and to be honest was getting pretty anxious about if the pace was going to pick up or not. I do not feel that round count is an indicator of the value of a class, but about 4 hours into the class, the only rounds we had fired were zeroing.

Things started to pick up the pace a bit after that and really got rolling on the second day.

For the rest of the day, we shot a variety of drills on both number/shape targets and bad guy targets. For me, the most interesting parts if the training for this period related to how the human eye sees and assesses targets. John quoted the work of some in depth studies on how the human eye “sees” an actual bad guy as opposed to a picture of one on a flat target like you have at most ranges/classes. Everything “clicked” when the targets were crinkled up and puffed out from the backer to present a more 3d appearance. The added difficulty in determining whether it was a shoot/no shoot target as well as identifying aiming points on the target were an eye opener. Another valuable training point was when some black spray paint was used to frost the edges of the bad guy target so you do not has as distinct of a picture as you do with normal targets with a white background. I can see a definite real world application to drill this as bad guys do not walk around backlit with a white back unfortunately. We also worked on properly scanning and assessing multiple targets and how to drive the gun between targets.

At about 1800 hours we took a break for chow and met back up at the range for our night shoot.

We had a classroom discussion on building searching with a weapon light and how to bounce the light around to where it needs to go without flagging anyone with your weapon or violating any of the four firearms safety rules and other subjects.

After dark at about 2000 hours, we hit the range and shot some drills. Some of the most valuable skills to me were-

-Post shoot scanning at night
-During reloads, how to keep the light on the bad guy
-For the unwashed masses that do not run a pistol mounted light (suckers, hehe) how to maintain light on the bad guys after transitioning
-Shooting number/shape targets to force proper scanning and assement skills. This is something that I found me cheating myself on during the day, but at night, you can’t do your scan until your light comes on. Making cheating much more difficult.
-Added difficulty of determining if the target is a threat at night and what to scan for.
-It was also interesting to see the differences in throw and light color between different weapon mounted lights. Quality LED lights seem to be the way to go now.
-I was happy with my Fenix light. A LD OV-2 was represented and put out some very usable light as well as some of the Surefire weapon lights.
-It was the same with being able to see the differences between the different muzzle devices in use.

At about 2200 hours, we finished our first ten hour day and everyone left to get some well earned rest prior to a 0800 start on day two. For those that were staying in hotels, they had a 5-10 minute commute to and from the range. One diehard drove an hour plus to be in the same bed as his girlfriend and some of the us from the local departments got the short end of the stick as far as commutes go. It is tough to complain though with the lack of traffic around here.

The next morning we started fast on the range and picked up speed throughout the day.

We ran a bunch of drills that were designed to balance speed and accuracy. We worked on transitions and did facing movements, positional shooting and a variety of other skills. There was an excellent piece on post shoot verbalizations with what and when to say after using lethal force in a CONUS situation. Some of the most enjoyable drills on day two were when we shot at steel set at about 90 meters from different positions. The most valuable part of day two for me was the hour long mindset lecture in the afternoon. Proper mindset has never really been an issue with me for as long as I have been seriously training with firearms. I found myself nodding along with what he had to say and having memories pop into the back of my mind as different aspects were discussed. Just like everything else that was discussed throughout the course, John and Nick did a great job of explaining the why of an issue.

After the lecture, we went back outside to the range and started gunning again.

Then we worked fairly extensively with barricade shooting and proper use of cover. The obvious focus was presenting the least amount of you to get shot while gunning down the bad guys. One neat trick that was brought up was to staple a 6-9 inch strip of cardboard to the sides of your barricades so that shooters can practice getting their rounds as close to the barricade as possible without worrying about the barricades being shot up when a round accidently gets too close to it. We did get a few visual demonstrations of just how much deflection you can get when you do skim a round off a 2x4 from a barricade.

To build on the barricade shooting, we added buddy team movement and communication to advance your position. Being that in a class like this, there are guys from a bunch of different backgrounds and teams and that there is no standardized verbiage out there, there were some moments when we were stumbling over our words trying to remember to try out what John and nick suggested rather then what was ingrained through our past training. Overall, everyone seemed to be onboard with what everyone else was trying to say and we made the drill work.

We finished out the day with some speed drills firing 10 rounds each at 20, 10 and 5 yards. Interestingly enough, we had one shooter that was able to get a faster time shooting 10 rounds at the 5 yard line out with his semi-auto AR-15, then one of the LE shooters could with his FA M-4.

Policing of the brass and a little BSing was in order before shaking hands with everyone and us all going our separate ways.

In addition to everything that was stated above, some things that I wanted to emphasize. When shooting paper, everyone had their own targets. There was no cross shooting of targets. When it came time to work on driving the gun between targets, we used dot targets that have six dots on them and while you may be shooting at your neighbors target board, you were shooting at your own dots. This made it easy to poke fun at people as we did the walk of shame to tape over targets and ensured I could not blame anyone else with my constant calls of “I need another roll of tape down here.”

It has been said a lot of times before, but it bears out saying again. John did a great job of explaining the “why” of things. He took extra time to tell exactly how he came about his opinions and how he validated them. John also has a very commanding voice and presence. This makes it easy to listen to a lecture. Even when you are sitting in a nice warm room and itching to get out a go shoot. The comment was made by another student that he has the voice of a television announcer.

I have known Nick for many years and he did an excellent job of supporting John, covering left handed weapon manipulations and other blocks of instruction.

I am guessing I went through about 1000 rounds total. 350 on the first day and 650 on the second maybe. There were about 50-100 pistol rounds fired.

The weapon issues I saw were-

-Broken ACLM charging handle
-Rounds getting stuck in chamber
-C-More sight that kept turning off
-GI Mags not locking in weapon even when downloaded
-Vltor Weapon light mount screw backing off and light falling off weapon
-Bolt not reassembled correctly after lubing

There may have been others, but I am not sure.

One other thing that I really appreciated is that the instructors were both very upfront with the fact that they have no LE experience. They were teaching how to run a gun from their considerable experience. They were very clear to take what they taught and to see if it fit within the legal and policy guidelines.

Overall, I was very happy with the conduct of the course and the personalities involved. I defiantly got my money’s worth and recommend training with John if you get the chance.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.

We had someone out there taking a bunch of pictures on the second day. I tried to take some pictures from the night shoot, but was not able to make it work with my point and shoot. At some point in the next week or so I will post some when she gets them to me.

A big thanks goes out to Tait, Michael, Matt, Matt, Rich, Ty, Craig, Justin, John for coming out to train with me. Without you guys, this would not have gotten off the ground.

A special thanks goes out to Nick and John for their hard work and long hours in making the weekend go off without any major hitches.
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"Why did I shoot the God Damned Cow?  Because it was a God Damed Threat!!!"-Rhino
Original Post
I'm very pleased that I was able to make this course and even though I didn't know what to expect, I implicitly assumed that it would be a quality course. Having trained with Scimitar2 a number of times in the past year and talking with him about his ideas for bringing quality training to the east side of WA, in my mind this was a given. It's interesting hearing the full story and I'm sure things will get easier, and if not easier at least you'll see the SNAFU's coming from farther out Razz .

I've trained several times with classes that where predominately LEO (or MIL) and my goals are the same as when training with other civilians: keep an open mind, stay focused and do nothing to detract from the experience of others. If the course uses examples (and they will) that are very specific to the law enforcement or the military domain I try to extract the civilian analog on my own, it is always a good mental exercise. Though, in general, fighting skills and their building blocks are the same across the board.

It was interesting being on the other side of the coin in terms of travel time to training. With my work schedule lately and the long drive I was definitely dragging for the first part of the class. The key, of course, is to recognize that fact, account for it (focus), and drive on. The OCSO range facility is truly excellent, I won't list the features (except the reactive pistol targets hooked to a computer, which I'll talk about later), but they have good reason to be proud of it. I found myself looking around going “damn! The citizens of the OC know what is important”

I also agree that the class started slow. I know that has to be a fine balance that an instructor must maintain with a heterogeneous mix of students especially while setting the ground work for training concepts that aren't as common even at an “intermediate” level (low light) and every instructor formulates their own baseline for a given class. I also found that the hold-over/offsets tables that John provided to be excellent, and the conditional color coding system he used to show POI/POA is very nice. I maintain the same type of information for each type of ammunition/weapon that I use in my notebook. Matching his numbers up with my own tables was informative (his charts where based on M855), you can definitely see the drop off in training brands. Now looking at the same charts as everyone else in the room I was able to reaffirm my choice for a 100yd zero and everyone else was able to reaffirm their choices for a 50yd zero. Funny how that works, I find the minimal offset at 50 to 150 to be helpful for me, but really what matters is knowing your offsets and those are all about the same (but not quite) at 25 yds and in.

The actual zeroing of weapons in a class has to be another balancing act, move to quickly and you could have a number of students who are losing valuable training because they won't hit at range/night verses “lets just confirm this shit and get ta' trainin”. This course was much closer to the former. I do agree though, the zeroing targets where nifty.

Things really did pickup after that though. John discussed his approach to white light usage in some detail, and as Scimitar2 points out well in his AAR, he discusses the “why” in detail. I won't go into great detail on his approach (I wouldn't be able to do it justice), what I distilled from it is that once you decide to use your light then keep using it until it is no longer advantageous to do so. “flashing” a target then firing in the dark probably gives up your advantage to quickly, keeping the light on target until it is on the ground and no longer a threat and you have assessed the situation is the more likely scenario also. Also, keeping the light on while moving allows you to move to locations you have cleared.

Going through carbine skills such as reloads, transitions and remedial action in a low light context really places a focus on the orientation of the weapon/light. During both the night portion and the following 2nd day portion we where re-enforcing skills within that lowlight context. With John's white light approach, the light needs to remain on target (or assessing your environment). Meaning, if your primary goes down, you transition and you don't have a light on your pistol, your carbine becomes your 8-lb flashlight. The same light orientation holds true for reloads and type I malfunctions (if you can't transition). For tactical reloads (and to a lesser degree with emergency reloads) I have a tendency to bring the barrel of the weapon up, this comes from (I think) an exaggeration of the “bringing the weapon into my workspace”. It becomes very apparent that during lowlight conditions it makes me project a bright target indicating beam out into the night sky and completely out of there zone where the threat might be. During the day 2 portion of the class I was getting worse at this for several reasons:

  • It wasn't dark so I couldn't see the beam
  • I was running a can and need more gym time
  • I was defaulting to the way I've practiced, especially during times of stress.


Most of the times I defaulted either Nick or John would comment on it or I would catch myself part way through and adjust. In truth, the most likely time that I would ever employ my carbine would be a low light home defense scenario and keeping a light on the situation will be an absolute must. I'll be focusing on this in dry fire.

There where a number of other drills that incorporated speed vs accuracy, differing firing positions, barricade shooting, moving to cover/concealment, team communication (John advocates using more verbalization rather than curt move/moving cover/covering types of statements and explains the “why” of this well). I was trying to keep in mind and utilize the low-light focused skills while performing each of these drills.

Another point about transitions. Keeping both the carbine up (as a flashlight) and using the pistol as a strong hand only primary brought me directly to a skill development point that Kevin W. discussed just one week ago during an LMS intermediate pistol course. Generally there are 2 ways to go strong hand only (and forgive me if I butcher this description).

  • Take a step forward with the strong side leg and “blade” your one-handed stance.
  • Maintain the same stance as one would doing two handed shooting.

Kevin advocated #2 in last week's course for several reasons though I don't remember them all, one was accuracy related. It also turns out that this stance is the only way to really get effective pistol hits when using the carbine as a flashlight.


I mentioned the reactive pistol targets above, during day 2 lunch one of the students (and also one of the people responsible for designing, building and running the range in addition to his other LE duties) started up a pistol “program” and a few students where using it. It was a real treat shooting pop-up head sized steal plates at ~15-20 yds, the system varied lateral location and distance as well as exposure times. The targets where also colored to facilitate (I assume) shoot/no-shoot scenarios. I was doing OK, but madkow with his blaster was tearing it up (he also torn-up the carbine course, great shooting all around).


A bit about gear. I decided to use armor in this class, I ran a Mayflower low-pro carrier with Velocity Systems IIIA soft armor and PPI in-conjunction level IV plates. My chest rig was a Mayflower QD slick rig (attached to the carrier QD buckles) with a BFG tenspeed 3 mag shingle and tenspeed 2 mag pistol pouch and a TQ-now with a CAT. This set up is very, low profile, even with mags I can throw a coat over it and it's really not noticeable. I used a the same war belt set up that I've had for almost 2 years; ATS warbelt on an SOE cobra riggers belt, with an Eagle FB AR mag pouch and a 2 mag Eagle FB pistol pouch. CSM dumper, ATS single mag pouch with a Surefire G2 with TNVC drop in bulb. Safariland 6377 ALS holster on a UBL, ATS small medical pouch with blowout kit.

My primary: BCM midlength 16” on a Sabre Defense lower @~10K rds.
My secondary is a HK DA/SA P30 (@ ~9K rds.

I ran a Surefire 556AR suppressor during this course, kept the gun lubed and it ran with zero problems except an aftermarket charging handle that broke. This was the ACLM Ambi charging handle, one of the “ears” that holds the pin that secures the handle portion broke, I basically pulled the charging handle and ended up with “parts” in my hand. This handle has been on the gun for about 8 months with fairly intensive use (carbine courses, regular dry fire malfunction drills). Here are a couple pictures:





I had a couple BCM Gunfighter charging handles with me (a mod3 and mod4) I grabbed one and happened to grab the smaller lever version and was back up and moving in minutes. The BCM worked well and will be remaining in my carbine. The ambidextrous function of the ACLM is a luxury that I don't need, especially if it comes with an additional point of failure. Granted, this is a sample of one, useless for identifying trends, but the actuator is unarguably a failure point not present on other charging handles.


I had a very positive overall experience with this course and it was great to get some exposure to new instruction and techniques at state of the art facility with some hard shooters and good guys. I would gladly make the trip again and look forward to more training on the Right side of WA.
quote:
Originally posted by rykyard:
The same light orientation holds true for reloads and type I malfunctions. For tactical reloads (and to a lesser degree with emergency reloads) I have a tendency to bring the barrel of the weapon up, this comes from (I think) an exaggeration of the “bringing the weapon into my workspace”. It becomes very apparent that during lowlight conditions it makes me project a bright target indicating beam out into the night sky and completely out of there zone where the threat might be.


I've been thinking about this and in retrospect I'm fairly sure I would usually have the light off during these types of situations, especially if I had a partner to cover me. My stating that the instructor's recommended weapon orientation (flat and on directly towards the threat) while performing these operations doesn't necessarily mean that John was advocating the light being on (I just don't recall).
Hi Guys,

I was one of the civilian shooters at the course. I heard about the forum from Scimitar and others during the two days.

I can't add much to what was already said. John and Nick did a great job. John's voice is booming and his commands were easy to follow and his descriptions of the techniques and "whys" about them were all excellent and practical. Nick was always present ready to offer corrections and suggestions to shooters on the line while John was busy conducting the course of fire. Both of them provided so much information that I certainly didn't absorb it all, but I definitely walked away a better operator of my AR in both daylight and dark conditions.

I was shooting a basic Bushmaster AR 16" barrel with collapsible stock and EOTech. I've never used a red dot in such extensive ways and wanted to give it a go vs. iron sights I am used to. I thought it was an advantage at times and need to continue practicing with it. I do however keep backup sights on the rifle but didn't have to use them as the EOTech worked without a hitch. The Bushmaster had no malfunctions shooting XM193 ammo the entire course. I just put a little CLP on the bolt in the morning and ran all day. Overall, I saw very few malfunctions in any AR save for what was already discussed.

I was using the Fenix TK11 flashlight mounted on the standard arm guard with a GG&G light holder. The holder simply bolts through a heat shield hole inside of the arm guard and holds the light and worked without problems. I may try out a bayonet lug mount just to get a quick detach ability for the light and may be more secure. It would also free up some real estate on the front of the guard for my hands if needed. The light worked without problems and the LED beam is much more intense than older halogen models I saw being used. I suspect, being solid state, that the Fenix is also more durable than halogen bulbs. The lights are also very reasonably priced. I also own an older TK10 that I kept on my utility belt but did not need. The TK11 is much brighter than the TK10 (which is much brighter than halogen versions). The light has a pressure switch tail piece option but I did not use it on my rifle. This light uses two CR123s and lasted the entire course.

This course was the first time I made exclusive use of MagPul PMAGs instead of USGI metal mags. It was clear looking around that PMAGs dominated the course in terms of what people preferred. After using PMAGs all weekend I am now a believer. The PMAGs worked smoother and more reliably than the USGI style mags. They also feel much more durable. All my future AR mag purchases will be PMAGs.

I really enjoyed seeing so many shooters from different backgrounds on the line. I learned a lot talking and watching each of them and how they adapted their shooting styles and equipment.

One thing to add though. I'm not LE or Military but I saw a lot of guys with thigh mounted holsters. I've not been to a course before where I saw them used so this was new to me although I've seen videos/photos of people using them before.

The problem is they put the gun on the thigh. Where the thigh points, the muzzle points. Where the knee points, the thigh points. So if your knee is pointing at someone, so is the loaded gun. This isn't so with a hip mounted gun as it is pointing down whether you are sitting or standing.

In the classroom I realized this when I was walking around and saw guys sitting and realized I was being covered by at least a couple .45 muzzles. One student was sitting with his legs crossed chatting and the muzzle of his loaded pistol was covering the chest of the guy he was speaking to.

I don't know if many people using these rigs are considering that when they are sitting down for lunch they are pointing their loaded gun at their friend's stomach or chest. Or that one is being pointed right back at them. It certainly violates the basic rules of gun safety.

Just something to think about. It certainly wasn't something I had considered before, but now that I saw it I think it's something that others should think about. I'm not meaning this to be a criticism of individuals. I mentioned this to other shooters I know that have worn them and it had never occurred to them either until I pointed it out.

I wish to thank Scimitar for putting together this course. It was well worth the drive and I appreciated the chance to shoot with this excellent group of people.
XOR, the gun is in the holster right? Its not going to go off. Think about it this way. If soldiers/LE were riding in a vehicle with drop leg holsters, the guys in the back would be flagging the guys in the front according to you right? If the gun is in a holster, and you are not touching it, its not a safety issue.

"Never underestimate the predictibility of stupidity" RIP SSG Brad King. KIA April 2, 2007.

quote:
Originally posted by Ground Pounder:
XOR, the gun is in the holster right? Its not going to go off. Think about it this way. If soldiers/LE were riding in a vehicle with drop leg holsters, the guys in the back would be flagging the guys in the front according to you right? If the gun is in a holster, and you are not touching it, its not a safety issue.


I hear you. Not saying these things are likely, but that there is a risk. Pistols going off in holsters has happened before. It's a rare event, yes. There may even be circumstances of operator error that caused it (like clothing that got jammed in the trigger guard when re-holstered). But not an impossible event.

If someone was sitting down and had their gun out of the holster lying on their thigh pointed at me I'd be concerned. Yes, it's not just going to go off by itself barring some type of mechanical failure. But still, I'm not going to be thrilled with the situation and would tell them to point the muzzle away from me. Just because it's in a holster does not make me any less concerned.

I am just pointing out that if you are wearing these things you are definitely going to be covering your buddies with that muzzle when you are sitting. There is no way to get around it. So you have to take the advantages and disadvantages of this type of holster into account.
quote:
Originally posted by rykyard:
quote:
Originally posted by rykyard:
The same light orientation holds true for reloads and type I malfunctions. For tactical reloads (and to a lesser degree with emergency reloads) I have a tendency to bring the barrel of the weapon up, this comes from (I think) an exaggeration of the “bringing the weapon into my workspace”. It becomes very apparent that during lowlight conditions it makes me project a bright target indicating beam out into the night sky and completely out of there zone where the threat might be.


I've been thinking about this and in retrospect I'm fairly sure I would usually have the light off during these types of situations, especially if I had a partner to cover me. My stating that the instructor's recommended weapon orientation (flat and on directly towards the threat) while performing these operations doesn't necessarily mean that John was advocating the light being on (I just don't recall).


I prefer to keep the weapon pointed at the target with my eyes on them the entire time during reloads if I can swing it. I want to be sure I can see where they are moving and what they are up to. I'd definitely try to keep the light on them so I can see where they are moving for my follow-up shots. Otherwise, when my light comes back on after the reload, I may not know where they went. Of course this would also depend on whether they are firing back at me during the reload. Wink
I see where you're coming from XOR, but I have to mention that life is a series of compromises.

I think you're placing too much emphasis on an event that isn't likely to occur that often.
I beleive that certain behaviours and SOP's can reduce the risk to acceptable levels.

I used to ride in the back of an M113 when I was playing soldiers. It's a very small, confined space, packed with blokes, weapons, ammunition, gas bottles, fuel and other assorted flammables and bang stuff.

As the Recon Scout Patrol Commander, the vehicle crew commanders pistol would generally be pointed at my head.

Never really worried me too much, since his hands weren't on that weapon, and I know the mechanical safety of that weapon is reliable, since it locks the trigger and hammer.

My boys and I riding in the back of the car would ride sitting on our packs with muzzles down towards the deck, on an empty chamber if possible.

Why?? Because the F88 (AUG) safety only locks the trigger, not anything else in the mechanism.

In the event of ND/accident, I was planning (hoping/praying fervently) on that round to be soaked up by the bilge monster (7mm checquer plate deck plating, with a couple of inches dead space) and our packs to soak up any ricochets.

There were more than a few of my colleagues who travelled muzzle up. Like Cpl Jones from 2CAV who died from a ND in the back of a LAV a few years ago.

=======================
Forward!
Where we are, where we belong, where we should be.

  

Location: Back in Bris-Vegas, wondering at the bright lights of the big smoke

XOR-

When we were zeroing and fired our three rounds, we laid our rifles on the ground with the muzzles facing towards the targets, round in the chamber, hammer back with the safety on and walked downrange to check the targets right?

Was that a safety issue to you too?

To me, it is a nonissue.

Guns don't go boom when people are not fucking with them.

They do not rest peacefully in the safe, then at random times snap off a round.

Even the single illustratice point that was used when discussing the difference between an ND and an AD was about a holstered handgun swiping off the safety of a carbine and a piece of gear getting in the triggerguard causeing the round to go off.

quote:
I've been thinking about this and in retrospect I'm fairly sure I would usually have the light off during these types of situations, especially if I had a partner to cover me. My stating that the instructor's recommended weapon orientation (flat and on directly towards the threat) while performing these operations doesn't necessarily mean that John was advocating the light being on (I just don't recall).


As far as this goes-

It is a pretty big "IF" on having a partner covering you for both your likely use of a carbine for self defense and mine while at work out here.

I have been thinking about this all day and thinking back to John discussing it.

I believe that he was advocating the light being on and keeping the weapon on the threat.

The big piece is that it provides you with the SA of what is going on with your target.

I have been working some dry fireing tonight on my reloads trying it with the weapon orintated on target and with the muzzle up and things brought back "into my workspace" like with an oversized pistol.

I am faster with the muzzle on the threat and with the low light component, I will be maintaining my SA of the situation with the light on.

I will need to validate it with some FOF, but at this time, that is the new TTP for reloads that I am going to be training myself on.

YMMV
_________________________________________________________________________________________
"Why did I shoot the God Damned Cow?  Because it was a God Damed Threat!!!"-Rhino
quote:
Originally posted by XOR: Pistols going off in holsters has happened before. It's a rare event, yes.


Please point out one case of this where it did not occur during draw/re-holstering. The entire purpose of a holster is to prevent the trigger from being actuated (many protect the safety as well). If you have a holster that you can pull the trigger on the gun while in the holster I would say that it is a bad design.

Yes it is a prime safety rule but as the t-shirt says, keep your f-in finger off the f-in trigger and it won't be an issue.
quote:
He had separate types for both a 100m and 50m target. Nine of us chose to go with a 50m zero and one decided to go with a 100m zero. After choosing what your zero was going to be and posting the appropriate target, we went back to the 50m line. The neat thing about these targets is that you use the center aiming point no matter what, but there are three different impact zones. One is calibrated for if you are shooting at 25m, one at 50m and the other at 100m. This allows you to use your offsets to get a good 50m or 100m zero even if you only have a 25m range available. Printed on the side of the target is a chart with adjustment values for a wide variety of popular optics. Aimpoints, EO-Techs, ACOGs, Troy irons, standard irons, ARMS irons and others are represented.


I would like to see a picture of the target. Also thanks for posting this AAR.

"The instruments of battle are only valuable if one knows how to use them". SniperSustainment

quote:
Originally posted by Scimitar2:
XOR-

When we were zeroing and fired our three rounds, we laid our rifles on the ground with the muzzles facing towards the targets, round in the chamber, hammer back with the safety on and walked downrange to check the targets right?

Was that a safety issue to you too?


Yes, it was actually. But I wasn't going to complain about it. Being downrange of a locked and loaded rifle that may be hot from firing is not safe. I've never been on a rifle range or course where we just laid down locked and loaded rifles and walked down to check targets with muzzles pointed at our backs. I'm not LE or military so perhaps this is standard practice but I'm just not aware of it.

I understand people like the thigh rigs for whatever reason. I'm just stating that they are putting the muzzle in directions that many people may not be intending.
quote:
Originally posted by XGEP:
I see the problem now, you are under the impression weapons will fire of their own volition.


No, I'm under the impression that you don't point loaded guns at things you don't want to blow a hole in. I'm also under the impression that a piece of lead traveling at Mach 3 is unforgiving and doesn't really matter how it was sent on its way or what it hits while in transit. So why take chances? How long does it take to unload an AR before going downrange? Five seconds?

FWIW. I did unload my gun many of the times when on the ground. It's a courtesy to other shooters that I care about their safety to make the effort.
quote:
Originally posted by XOR:
quote:
Originally posted by Scimitar2:
XOR-

When we were zeroing and fired our three rounds, we laid our rifles on the ground with the muzzles facing towards the targets, round in the chamber, hammer back with the safety on and walked downrange to check the targets right?

Was that a safety issue to you too?


Yes, it was actually. But I wasn't going to complain about it. Being downrange of a locked and loaded rifle that may be hot from firing is not safe. I've never been on a rifle range or course where we just laid down locked and loaded rifles and walked down to check targets with muzzles pointed at our backs. I'm not LE or military so perhaps this is standard practice but I'm just not aware of it.

I understand people like the thigh rigs for whatever reason. I'm just stating that they are putting the muzzle in directions that many people may not be intending.


In all acctuality, it was safe as after firing a few strings of three rounds each, the chamber was so far from being hot enough to cook off a round that it is astronomical.

Alot of the things that are done at Camp Perry in the name of safety are nonissues and create training scars that can get you killed in the real world.

I guess that we will just have to agree to disagree on this one though.

I am glad you came out to the class and hope you took something valuable away from it.

As far as pics of the zero targets go, I will get one up towards the end of the week.
_________________________________________________________________________________________
"Why did I shoot the God Damned Cow?  Because it was a God Damed Threat!!!"-Rhino
quote:
Originally posted by XOR:FWIW. I did unload my gun many of the times when on the ground. It's a courtesy to other shooters that I care about their safety to make the effort.


No it's an un-needed manipulation of the weapon which is more likely to result in a negligent discharge than if you had simply placed the weapon on safe and laid it down.

I understand where you are coming from, I have had the weapon safety rules hammered into me my whole life. But also understand that YOU should not point a weapon at anything YOU don't want to blow a hole in. Have you never set a loaded weapon down before? Have a gun on the nightstand? etc? That's pointing at something you probably don't want to put a hole in, but once again unless someone is handling the weapon it is not going to fire on its own.

I don't expect you to agree with me or even understand where I'm coming from. But realize that the reason this was never a safety violation, just like the holster thing, is because it takes negligent action to have a negligent discharge. That cannot happen if the weapon is not being handled.
quote:
Originally posted by XGEP:
I don't expect you to agree with me or even understand where I'm coming from. But realize that the reason this was never a safety violation, just like the holster thing, is because it takes negligent action to have a negligent discharge. That cannot happen if the weapon is not being handled.


No I get it. I understand that every time you fat finger that thing you can touch off a round. A friend is a pilot and I believe one of the (old or still current???) FAA rules for armed pilots was to stow/secure the gun before takeoff/landing. That's a horrible idea because you are manipulating that weapon out of the holster and it is safer to leave it alone.

So, your point is valid and understood completely. At a training range we just don't agree. If I have a big berm I can point the weapon and unload it before going downrange I will do so. Our disagreement is just whether this is worth the risk of the added handling of the weapon. I just think the risk of an ND into the berm with nobody downrange is worth taking to not have the rifle pointed at me when I'm looking at targets. I understand your point, though.

But back to topic. The class was excellent, the student excellent and I was not in fear for my life. Thanks to Stefan for putting in the effort to put it together.
quote:
Originally posted by Scimitar2:
quote:
Originally posted by rykyard:
I've been thinking about this and in retrospect I'm fairly sure I would usually have the light off during these types of situations, especially if I had a partner to cover me. My stating that the instructor's recommended weapon orientation (flat and on directly towards the threat) while performing these operations doesn't necessarily mean that John was advocating the light being on (I just don't recall).


As far as this goes-

It is a pretty big "IF" on having a partner covering you for both your likely use of a carbine for self defense and mine while at work out here.

I have been thinking about this all day and thinking back to John discussing it.

I believe that he was advocating the light being on and keeping the weapon on the threat.

The big piece is that it provides you with the SA of what is going on with your target.

I have been working some dry fireing tonight on my reloads trying it with the weapon orintated on target and with the muzzle up and things brought back "into my workspace" like with an oversized pistol.

I am faster with the muzzle on the threat and with the low light component, I will be maintaining my SA of the situation with the light on.

I will need to validate it with some FOF, but at this time, that is the new TTP for reloads that I am going to be training myself on.

YMMV


Agreed, I think portions of my AAR conflict with each other, probably because I don't fully understand the concept or at least how to articulate it. What is important is that I endeavor to relate what I can to my frame of reference.

quote:
Originally posted by rykyard:
In truth, the most likely time that I would ever employ my carbine would be a low light home defense scenario and keeping a light on the situation will be an absolute must. I'll be focusing on this in dry fire.
quote:
Originally posted by XOR:
quote:
Originally posted by XGEP:
I see the problem now, you are under the impression weapons will fire of their own volition.


No, I'm under the impression that you don't point loaded guns at things you don't want to blow a hole in. I'm also under the impression that a piece of lead traveling at Mach 3 is unforgiving and doesn't really matter how it was sent on its way or what it hits while in transit. So why take chances? How long does it take to unload an AR before going downrange? Five seconds?

FWIW. I did unload my gun many of the times when on the ground. It's a courtesy to other shooters that I care about their safety to make the effort.


If something is going on that you believe to be a safety problem, you need to speak up right then and there. Everyone is an RSO. Plus it would have given the instructors a chance to discuss it with you.

You have a bunch of very experienced people trying to help you learn. I would listen to them.
quote:
I believe that he was advocating the light being on and keeping the weapon on the threat.

The big piece is that it provides you with the SA of what is going on with your target.


At the Thunder Ranch Urban Rifle Course Clint Smith and his instructors were also adamant about keeping the rifle muzzle on the threat and keeping eyes on them as well during mag changes. Their advice matched almost identically to John's FWIW. Clint discussed that the few seconds you take your eyes off the target can allow them to escape your vision or pull a weapon and catch you off guard. I now train to keep the weapon and my eyes on target during as much of the gun manipulations as I can barring some malfunction that requires me to take a look.
quote:
Originally posted by XOR:
quote:
I believe that he was advocating the light being on and keeping the weapon on the threat.

The big piece is that it provides you with the SA of what is going on with your target.


At the Thunder Ranch Urban Rifle Course Clint Smith and his instructors were also adamant about keeping the rifle muzzle on the threat and keeping eyes on them as well during mag changes. Their advice matched almost identically to John's FWIW. Clint discussed that the few seconds you take your eyes off the target can allow them to escape your vision or pull a weapon and catch you off guard. I now train to keep the weapon and my eyes on target during as much of the gun manipulations as I can barring some malfunction that requires me to take a look.


Keeping your eyes off the weapon and on the threat or scanning for a threat isn't what I'm talking about, that is a given.

What I've been trying to understand is how to assess the tactical advantage of a white light while dealing with things like reloads with retention or type I malfunctions. Of course, the operational environment will have the most impact on that balance and the situation at the time will dictate. Lifting the barrel of my weapon up (at times it was 45' elevated) while performing a tactical reload is a training scar, whether to have the light on or not (by default) while doing one as part of my individual training is what I'm trying to convey. Scimitar2 articulates it better than I, and as I said above, I agree with him.
As far as the weapon-manipulation-and-keeping-the-white-light-on-the-bad-guy thing goes, I think we are all acctually more in agreement then not. Looking at things objectivly, I think that semantics are being a bit of a stumbling block.

At every point it applied, John stressed the importance of moving to cover at anytime possible. He also stressed that if your primary goes down at the distance we were at to either transition to your secondary, or to close the gap and shove the muzzle of your rifle through the bad guys rib cage up to the gas block.

As part of the briefing for the drills, he stated that he did not want us transitioning at first UNTIL this became the specific drill. The stated reason was to get used to the manipulations in the dark as things change whne you cannot see them. This was a vaery valid teaching point.

On a range with nine other shooters, at night, with only a few hours of acctual "gun" time together (after the opening lecture, zero, breaking for chow, low light lecture, etc, we had only been shooting for a handfull of hours together), having shooters break off the fireing line to seek cover in order to address any stoppages would have been criminally negligent.

What I was refering to earlier when talking about keeping the white light on for reloads was an emergancy reload and I think me not being specific about that has lead to some of the confusion.

If you are gunning somone down, and run out of ammo at night, it makes alot of sense to me to keep the white light on him. This is what I remember John teaching.

HOWEVER, the specific drill for an admin reload went like this-

-Gun down bad guy
-Scan 360 w/ light (due to safety considerations, we only scanned to our front in about a 90 degree arc with our weapon lights, then we completed our 360 degree scan with our muzzles pointed in a safe direction) (also, it was covered that in the real world, we would be moving to cover and getting away from our last firing position, but again due to safety concerns, this was a nonstarter)
-Conduct reload with retention
-Scan 360 again
-Move again
-Communicate

The scan-reload with retention-scan was hammered over and over again.

Maybe I missed out on something, but I am not sure that I remember him saying to keep the light on your bad guy for reloads w/ retention, I thought that was only for emergancy reloads.

The one of the pieces that I was trying to convey and I did not think I did it very well was that I had a "lightbulb on" moment when I started focusing on keeping the weapon level rather then bringing it muzzle up a bit. It made a difference in my natural motion for reloading and helped me get back on target faster for an emergancy reload.

This bore out during the night shoot when I was rellying alot more on body mechanics to get the magazine in the magwell and I could not cheat myself nearly as easily as I can during daytime.

The important part of training and esspecially in training with different instructors is to figure out what passes the BS test, try it, validate it and decide if it is going to work for you and either incorperate it into your personal training, or discard it.

Once I have started engaging someone at the distances we were shooting, I think it is a pretty good idea to keep my white light on them untit they are down and I have scanned. If I have to do an emergancy reload, I will keep it on them.

Also, for anyone that is reading this, please keep in mind that we are talking about taking a four hour hands on block of instruction that was recieved when myself, rykyard and XOR were tired (from long drives prior to the start of the class for them and from an early morning helping get things setup for me) and I know that I was well into my information overload stage at this point in the training day.

I think that this probably has something to do with any confusion going on in this thread.

The fact that there is this much discussion going on about is awesome and reinforces to me that having the low light portion of the training was needed.
_________________________________________________________________________________________
"Why did I shoot the God Damned Cow?  Because it was a God Damed Threat!!!"-Rhino
Agreed. Semantics for the most part.

The last thing I want to do is miss-represent what was being taught. The fact that I've struggle to articulate myself is a reflection on my own understanding of the domain, combine that with fatigue and a desire to make associations of my own that may not be valid just adds to any confusion.

I'm damn sure thinking about lowlight situations and training for them now and thats a very good thing.
quote:
The one of the pieces that I was trying to convey and I did not think I did it very well was that I had a "lightbulb on" moment when I started focusing on keeping the weapon level rather then bringing it muzzle up a bit. It made a difference in my natural motion for reloading and helped me get back on target faster for an emergancy reload.


I agree. I wasn't clear enough earlier but at previous training this same tactic was emphasized during the daylight course and in the darkened shoot house (didn't do night shooting)(Video). Keep the weapon level and pointed at the target, eyes forward, reload and continue engagement if needed. Don't raise the gun to reload. I found I was back on target faster because I was moving the gun around much less after reloads.

quote:
The important part of training and esspecially in training with different instructors is to figure out what passes the BS test, try it, validate it and decide if it is going to work for you and either incorperate it into your personal training, or discard it.


John's demo of putting the light in everyone's face really sank in for me the idea that keeping the light on the target at all times is not a bad idea. 200+ lumens in the face brings out an instinctive response to look away. It also provides a cover for the reloading process.

I'm now thinking that keeping the light on has a lot of merit. I've considered rigging up my spare Fenix next to a target pointed at the shooter and testing with it on and off to see how accuracy is affected shooting back towards such a bright light on and off. I get the feeling the groups are going to open way up when staring into the light.
quote:
Originally posted by XOR:
[QUOTE]
I'm now thinking that keeping the light on has a lot of merit. I've considered rigging up my spare Fenix next to a target pointed at the shooter and testing with it on and off to see how accuracy is affected shooting back towards such a bright light on and off. I get the feeling the groups are going to open way up when staring into the light.



On Hackathorn/Vickers Low Light Intensive Course (If I remember correctly), LV challenged this theory of being `blinded` by a light and thus unable to return accurate fire. While it does provide a distraction, it does not prevent someone from effectively engaging you. To demonstrate, HoserB (KevinB) had a Surefire shone in his eyes while engaging a target with accurate fire...no problem.

Great reviews guys and good on you Scimitar for organizing an event like this for other LEOs. It`s great to read about other trainers through these AARs.
The key to running "light on" or limited light is to very much understand the right time and place. For urban L/E work, there is a "time and place" for the "wall of light",and it is very viable. Equally, there is a time when it isn't such a hot idea. Ken Good and I actually became friends over debating this issue like old women. Sounds like it was a good class.

"If I had a Grandpa, he would look like Delbert Belton"

Let those who love the LORD hate evil. The one who guards the lives of his godly ones will rescue them from the power of wicked people. Psalms 97:10 Trooper Troy Duncan-EOW 5-19-84 Deputy Erik Jon Telen-EOW 8-21-2001

Class Photo






















I will post more pics as I get them from our photographer.

The zero targets will go up in a day or so.
_________________________________________________________________________________________
"Why did I shoot the God Damned Cow?  Because it was a God Damed Threat!!!"-Rhino
Good to see they are teaching to no t hump your cover and use some good distance of the barricades. Good stuff.

"If I had a Grandpa, he would look like Delbert Belton"

Let those who love the LORD hate evil. The one who guards the lives of his godly ones will rescue them from the power of wicked people. Psalms 97:10 Trooper Troy Duncan-EOW 5-19-84 Deputy Erik Jon Telen-EOW 8-21-2001

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