A lot has happened since June when I wrote the last entry. I was sitting in a motel room in Warren Ohio resting for day two of “Critical Defensive Handgun” class with Paul Carlson. It was a great class and you can expect a full review coming in the near future. At the time of the CDH course I was kicking around the idea with my fellow Valkyrie Defense business partner Jason about where we wanted to take the next level of training to. We had a few ideas in mind but after the CDH course we had our eyes opened up to the benefits of the Combat Focused Shooting program and decided that weekend that we wanted to bring that to our students. In the following weeks we put in three treacherous days of insane amounts of stress, intense levels of learning, personal growths, personal failures, and more McDonald’s’ food than I ever want to see in such a short amount of time ever again. In the end of the week we were lucky enough to graduate as ICE Defensive Firearms Coaches. To me it was a huge success not just for the low passing rate of participants, but because it was extremely challenging and I feel I grew to whole new level of instructor. After coming back and teaching a few classes we added a ton of new material to our Concealed Handgun Course and are now offering a taste of Combat Focused Shooting to all of our Concealed Handgun classes now.
Valkyrie Defense is now offering two new classes to its lineup, Fundamentals of Home Defense and Counter Ambush Concepts. Each class is powered by Combat Focused Shooting and ICE Academy. We recently taught one of the CAC courses in Coshocton and had a great turn out. The Debrief went well and everyone provided great feedback. One of the students said that he might put together a little after action report for us to use however we would like. We told him that would be fine but we wanted him to be honest. I wasn’t expecting a three page essay but I am really glad he threw it together for us. I asked if I could share it on the blog to see if I could get any feedback from the readers and he said I could. He does a great job of giving you a glimpse into the day of a Counter Ambush Concepts as a student, and what to expect if you ever plan on taking a class with Valkyrie Defense Group. I will admit now that I had to edit a small part of his piece. He went into detail about the evaluation at the end of the day and it was a bit of a spoiler for future students. Now on with Jon’s report…..
I am going to attempt to give my review of Valkyrie Defense “counter ambush concepts” course that I recently complete. It is detailed in nature to give a full review from all perspectives. That said it is hard to write this review objectively because I have known one of the instructors for almost 20 years now as a close friend. We have different tastes in many things which has always led to a friendly rivalry in approach and naturally an almost excessive amount of smack talk. This was no different in firearm choice, even down to a caliber standpoint. More on that later
I was very very hesitant to take the course when I was first invited. I recognized this was their first class beyond CHL courses and wanted to be supportive, but from the description was I ready? The description I got was combat effective accuracy, with significant stress, and working on applying drawing from a holster when faced with an ambush situation and applying counter effects to target. Hmmmm…. My holster situation has always been a self-conscious spot for me; what is comfortable and deployable versus what conceals against my thin and smaller frame? (NUOSU concealment, you get a shout out here because I like your work and we just haven’t had time to get together on the right concept). I was reassured just bring whatever it is that you conceal on a daily basis and we will figure it out from there. So I packed my cheap kydex IWB, which is so unpractical to draw from, and then brought my SERPA OWB that looks like I have a tumor growing. Combat effective accuracy??? I have always only practiced on making groups as tight as possible centered on the “X” ring. Am I really ready to sign up for being stressed and not focusing on accuracy? This defied all logic in my head.
I show up for the morning, and already the smack talk emerges as I start to unpack my bags. Lets start with the gimme: yes I do have a range bag and it is made by Paul Mitchel. Your are correct the shampoo guy; the bag was free, it houses all my gear perfectly, I have had it for years, and I am starting to enjoy the hard time I get for it. Next, I unpack my H&K USP compact and full size pistols. I routinely carry both of these guns and have found a comfort level with the grip, the mag release, mag size, and have enjoyed good accuracy with them. We debated technology aspects of creation, which from an engineer prospective I am very interested in (forged rifling…..HELLO!!! very cool). Enough of the personal smack talk on to the course work
The course started with a brief of why we are here and what we want to get out of the day. Surprising to me the range at which the majority (greater than 75%) of attacks occur; less than 10 feet. Why have I practiced shooting with a pistol at 20 yards for all of my life then? We discussed bullet design and the plus and minus; naturally I tried to crank up the discussion and get into the specifics of bullet design and ultimate choice. I was very satisfied with the opinions; heavy to caliber bullet weight and proven stoppers, forget the gimmick flavor of the month projectiles (I carry Winchester Ranger daily). Caliber choice from a medical standpoint; maybe my .40S&W with huge muzzle energy numbers isn’t that big of an advantage? My humility kicks in at this point; gun choice. What’s the best design from a citizen carry standpoint? We went through the positive and negative aspects and it made me rethink the trigger orientation of what I brought. Do I really want two different trigger configurations and two different sensitivities to train to get used to?
We discussed single action 1911 which was a major point of contention. As an owner of many 1911 I love to shoot them; at static targets, when I have time to flick off the safety, when I have time to reload after 8 rounds, when I have time to correct a FTF (I experience very few, but they are known to be finicky), etc etc etc…. Do I want that additional stressor in a gun fight?
Then we moved onto my beloved USP, double action first shot if I carry in condition one, and then short single action after that. There is a major difference in the trigger feel between the two. Am I ready to be trained for how the trigger will react every time, am I really competent to put rounds on target with two different trigger pulls? For that matter could I push the safety off effectively every time I pulled from holster if I carried in condition two? It was a thought provoking discussion.
Double action only was the next topic, which my significant other carries often. The trigger pull is for days and I can never put rounds on target every time, nor very quickly.
Then we arrived at striker fired platforms. Yuck. Long trigger pull, no safety, how does this make sense. And then we discussed the technology and it has come a long way; short trigger reset and internal safeties helped to squelch my internal resistance to this being a viable option. Consistent trigger pull every time, no external safety to contend with, and good mag size. This may have merit. More later
Still in the classroom setting went onto the situation, the stress, the aftermath, and how to handle all of the above situations. What are the new trends in a dynamic situation, and how to identify yourself as a good guy rather than just the guy with a gun and shots fired in the area. That can be bad news if you don’t know how to enunciate who you are and your intentions.
Safety safety safety safety discussion. I couldn’t be happier with how that was presented
Off to the range. More safety talk. Great. We went to the point of if there is an accident, how do we make a 911 call, where are we, what do we say, how do we apply first aid. There were med bags on site, and the instructors were competent in describing and potentially applying first aid.
Lets talk shooting now ; start slow, practice with finger guns to understand the movement and what is really going on. I feel comfortable, but do the folks around me feel the same? The range officers helped to control that situation and address if there are any concerns. Proper grip was the start, followed by proper stance, punch out and the physics of why that is advantageous. Then we move on to put rounds down range. If you are making one hole that isn’t fast enough. Speed up! Combat accuracy is putting rounds in the center mass, not necessarily the same hole every time. Move on to draw from holster. Then assess your surroundings, then add your natural flinch reaction to a dynamic situation before drawing.
Then start engaging multiple targets, and during the assessment recall what critical information was happening around you. What can you recall was going on so you can recall why you are the good guy not the guy with a gun in a bad situation. Dial up the stress all day, speed up, speed up, speed up. If you do the drill wrong slow down and get it right then slow down. I was so frustrated with reloads I dropped a mag on the ground trying to get it right. Again slow down, get it right, then speed it back up to get in the stressed mind set.
Finally we ended the day with a drill that involved critical thinking to determine which target or targets to engage.
All in all I learned a ton, I applied stress to my shooting, recognized that rounds on target all count the same not just one ragged hole. I rethought my carry rig (I will still carry my DA/SA USP for now), but am actively searching for a new holster solution as well as deploying a new belt option. I have even considered sourcing a 9mm striker fired platform so I can take the course again and see if I improve. The instructors were approachable and funny, helped correct bad habits, and above all else applied safety as the most important part of the day.
I would recommend this course to anyone that has taken their CHL course (despite skill level) if for nothing else to see if your current carry rig is ready for the task. I don’t think there is a one size fits all approach to this question and comes down to what are you comfortable with when you are stressed. Be open minded, don’t be offended with differing opinions, and really think am I able to deploy my gear when stressed and be effective. I know I would question carrying some of my previous choices despite how tacticool we may think they are.
Thanks again to Jon for sharing his experience with us. If any of my readers from Ohio would like to join us or set up a CAC class please contact us by one of our many ways. The next Counter Ambush Concepts course will be held in Sugar Grove, Ohio on September 20th. There are rumblings of another to be scheduled in Coshocton before that so stay tuned to the Valkyrie Defense Group Facebook page and to the Absolute BS Blog Facebook as well. I am going to make a hard effort to cut down the waits in between posts. Thanks for sticking with me and thanks for supporting VDG and Absolute BS Blog.