I've taken this class twice now and if I can I will take it once a year just to make sure my marksmenship and more importantly my mindset is at a fighting level.
For this class the instructors were James Yeager and Kyle Lynch. I've met James twice before and I learned near dizzying amounts of skills and lessons from him each time.
It was a pleasure to meet Kyle Lynch. A very soft spoken and friendly person and very impressive shooter.
You can find Bios for James Yeager on the Tactical Response website under About Us.
I saw some familiar faces at this class from earlier in the year, a great couple guys that work as partners for an armored car service.
A San Francisco Police Officer, some computer techs, and even a San Francisco District Attorney!
Day one was all about safety, shooting fundamentals, and staying in the fight.
We started off with safety. The 4 rules that we all should know by heart.
1. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sites are on the target and you've made the decision to fire.
2. All guns are always loaded, do not treat them any differentlt.
3. Do not let your muzzle cover anything you're not willing to destroy or kill.
4. Be aware of your target and what is beyond it.
We hit the range and got on line. Next Kyle went into what a correct draw stroke was, how to perform it safely and smoothly, and what the benefits of it are. Next up we loaded our weapons and started shooting. First stronghand, and stronghand only, then weakhand and weakhand only.
Whenever someones gun didn't fire for any reason we were to tap the magazine, rack the bad round out and get back in the fight. Every time out hand hit the floorplate of a magazine we were told to MOVE and get out of the line of attack we were now standing on. "If you arn't shooting your feet should be moving!"-James Yeager.
Now the guns cold fail to go bang for a couple reasons. One, it was wet and freaking cold. Machines and bad weather don't always mix well. Two, bad ammo does exist. And the only garenteed failures were caused by plastic dummy rounds randomly inserted by the students to force them to clear a malfunction, and train them on what to do if you expericance one of the two loudest sounds in the world... A click when you expect a bang. I love and hate those little plastic buggers.
After the different hands we went to different knees, why you might take a knee rather than just fire standing, and how to scan your area and look for the bad guys buddies if they exist.
We engaged multiple targets with varried rounds. If your gun ran out, tough stuff. Stay in the fight. I spent a few drills with my SOG Spec Elite 2 in my hand on my empty Glock 17 on the ground.
For some of the shooters this was a new frame of mind. At most ranges if your gun runs empty and you drop it on the ground and whip out a knife or ASP and get ready to bleed out or beat in an attackers skull, you'll end up with some really weird looks.
*Side note, from seeing some of the guys at this class reaching for their 5th or 6th magazine I'm going to observe/say, that if you've never experianced the rush you feel when you run out of ammo and realize if you were really in a life and death fight with a man less than 10 feet from you, you're training with way too much ammo. Try limiting yourself to 3 mags. Get used to running out of ammo and having to go to your next tool, and your next, and whatever else you need to go to until the fight is done.*
With this completed we broke for lunch.
After lunch it was right back into the stuff with new targets.
Now we're making hits on targets we all recognize. Kyle and James covered, why certain hits work better than others, why some don't work well at all, and even dispelled some myths.
We again worked on using different hands, knees and different hands, drawing from covert ready, and turning and shooting from left/right/backside.
We finished up day one and packed it in at 4pm.
Day two started early and we were right into the mud for some ground fighting.
"Sometimes the first sign you're in a fight is being knocked on your butt."-Kyle Lynch.
From here we learned to draw our weapon without blowing our toes off or blasting our legs, working the new angle you might be at in relation to the bad guy, and how to scan from your back.
After everyone was good to go on their back it's time to get back on your feet and get moving again. How to sit up from your back and shoot, getting to your knees, shooting while getting to your knees, standing up and shooting while doing it.
Again, this was totally new to a lot of the shooters here, and frankly it's still a little nerve racking to me. Shooting with one hand while getting back onto your feet and making good hits while doing it is stressful if you're going slow. If you push yourself to do it fast enough that you get a good adrenaline shot, it's a real eye opener.
Now that we can get on our feet it's time to get some distance between us and the badguy and possibly shooting him some more while on the move. Forward and back, and making hits that matter while doing it. Some of the students that are restricted by their local ranges had never shot a gun while their feet were moving, at all. This got them out of thier comfort zone and showed them what is required to make hits on a bad guy while making it harder for him to hit you.
For those of us that have shot while moving before, it was great to get more practice and push our comfort zones to get good hits faster, reload while moving faster, and finish the fight.
If you fell while moving and shooting, well you now know how to fight back to your feet... GET IN THE FIGHT!
Next we shot multiple bad guys while moving horizontally. If your gun stopped moving, MOVE. "Is it more important to shoot the bad guy or not get shot?"-James Yeager
More than a few guys found out how ingrained it is to have your gun go click and slow down and start fixing the gun. If you've done it for years this is the perfect place to fin out what is in your muscle memory that can get you shot.
Next up we got into the use of cover and concealment. What is and isn't cover and why it's important to know the differences.
Once we knew how to use it, we got to use it. Shots from kneeling, standing, prone, and fetal positions on both sides, using strong hand or weak hand, all the while exposing as little of yourself to the bad guy as possible.
Now it's time to fight to your cover. Moving and shooting and getting the cover between you and the bad guy. Lot's of great lessons learned here for the first time movers and some very vital lessons reinforced for the more experianced guys.
After the the shootign was gun and everyones hands were sore from tapping, racking and getting back into the fight we cleaned up the area and moved back to the benches for the real meat and potatos of the class. The Mindset lecture.
I'm not going to try and sum up, describe, or duplicate this lecture. To do so would be an insult to the lessons it teaches and unfair to James.
I will say that I've heard this lecture three times. And I cannot ever see myself tiring of hearing it.
As for the other students, sitting there in their chairs, enduring the coldest storm California has had in 50 YEARS... Not one of them moved their attention from what I could see.
The lecture also contains a great amount of legal information. And more than once James asked our District Attorney to please correct him if anything he says is incorrect or would not work in our state. The District Attorney, as far as I know, found no fault in what the lecture contained.
This class changed the way I looked at the world a year and a half ago. I walk out my door each day with a different sense of self worth, and a different confidence in my ability to handle critical situations with my mind or if need be a weapon.
I would like to thank James Yeager and Kyle Lynch for their instruction and dedication to their students. And I would also like to thank everyone that signed up and endured some truly aweful weather, with eyes open and smiles on their faces everytime they could manage to get blood back into their cheeks.
I really do. If not a new skill, I know I'll atleast learn where my new comfort zone is and where I need to start pushing myself.
I hope it was a worthwhile course for you.