Tuesday, June 27, 2017

MAG 20 6.24-25.2017

This past weekend I attended Massad Ayoob's MAG 20 Armed Citizens Rules of Engagement. Take some time to read Mas's bio. I won't repeat it here but he is the foremost expert on civilian use of force and self defense shootings in the United States. He has 43 years of LEO experience and expert witness testimony. He has also written several authoritative texts on the the subject. I have been trying to attend this course for several years so was glad I finally had the opportunity

MAG20 stands for Massad Ayoob Group 20 hours. This course was all of 20 hours. 10 hour days with 10 minute breaks after every block. Lunches were working affairs eating with one hand and taking notes with the other. It was definitely a grind. I wrote at least 20 pages of notes over the two day course. 

There were about 15 people in the class from all walks of life. I won't get into specifics of the course as much of it is proprietary and I don't want to inadvertently post something I shouldn't. I will say however there was lots of information that will take some time to digest and I will definitely need to reread my notes to aid in my comprehension.

Mas is not considered the Subject Matter Expert on this for nothing. He constantly interjected cases by name to illustrate his points. Looking up and researching all of them will be a class in itself. If you carry a gun or anything else to defend yourself or others if needed, you would be negligent not to get this information.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Advanced Pistol Handling 6.22.17

As part 3 of my personal June 2017 training tour and my second Personal Defense Network Training Tour course for the year I attended Advanced Pistol Handling taught by Jamie Onion. I previously attended this course in September 2015 and wrote about it here. From experience both teaching and attending I.C.E. courses in the past I knew that no two classes were alike and the curriculum was based on student ability and application of skill so taking the course again would be like taking a course that was more than likely different than the previous iteration.

The day was perfect for training and the class was small. Four of us attended and as one student said it was almost like one on one instruction. The day would show that none of us were novice shooters. We progressed quickly through the standard Combat Focus Shooting drills of Extend-Touch-Press, Up Drill, The Balance of Speed and Precision, and Presentation From The Holster. Lateral Movement and Assessment were added in fairly quickly as well as Multiple Target Engagements. All this took roughly an hour with adequate break time to hydrate and reload magazines.

After every one established basic competence we moved on to multiple unorthodox shooting positions. Knowing what I know I brought some knee pads as my left knee was recovering from a previous injury. We shot from kneeling, sitting, prone , supine facing the target and suping facing away from the target. We incorporated assessment and presentation from the holster in all positions. As Jamie said the context was not that these were good shooting positions, but that you can not guarantee what position you will be in when you shoot and this course was about exposure to these unorthodox positions. From every position we would work our way back to our feet. Reloads were done in context as the stimulus of slide lock was experienced. We then conducted a "flow drill" where we moved continually through every position and reacted appropriately when given the stimulus to do so. I paced myself and moved slow and my knee held up fairly well although it did bark at me a bit. After the Flow Drill we did some strong hand shooting with strong hand only reloads.

We then took a lunch break and after lunch we came back and warmed up with another session of BoSP. We continued with strong hand reloads and then moved to weak hand shooting and weak hand only reloads. These drills reminded me that I probably need to rethink my reload placement. The chances of a CCW holder needing to reload is small and the chance you will do it weak handed only even smaller but Primary,Alternate, Contingency, Emergency is the way I live my life.

About this time it started to pour rain and flash lighting. So we moved inside for about 30 minutes and continued to work on some unorthodox positions dry fire. After the rain was done we went back outside and moved back to the 75 yard  line and did some work from 3 different positions firing at extreme distances. My best hit ratio was actually from my normal kinesthetically aligned stance. I hit the target 4 out of 5 shots.

We then moved up to more probable self defense distances and practiced malfunction clearing using the Non Diagnostic Linear Malfunction method. This method shows that you don't have to look at your gun to clear a malfunction or reload. The method is as follows. Once you recognize the stimulus of a malfunction you Tap ( the magazine) Rack (the slide), if that doesn't resolve the issue you Reload, If that doesn't work you Lock ( the slide to the rear),Rip ( the magazine), Clear (by racking the slide several times) and Reload again. We ran this drill blindfolded and strong side only. The blindfold was very effective and disorienting. I feel like I did adequately during the drill and dealt with all malfunctions correctly. I forgot to mention malfunctions were induced by randomly placing expended brass in the magazine amongst the other ammunition. We all had to reload and/or correct malfunctions at least 3 times during the drill.

Lastly we worked positions from our knees and chairs so we could transition to drawing and firing in a vehicle both weak and strong side. Once we had the techniques down we fired individually from a vehicle and exited the vehicle seeking cover after unseatbelting. 

The day as always was concluded with a good debrief that gave you the chance to make comments or ask questions. I had another good day. Found some things I need to improve on and reinforced some skills that I needed to reinforce. Looking forward to the next time Jamie is in town. 

Armed Defense Around Vehicles

My own personal training tour for the month of June 2017 continued with the Armed Defense Around Vehicles Course taught by Rob Pincus. This course was part of the 2017 Personal Defense Network Tour. I try to catch a PDN Tour event every year when they come to Iowa. This course was not a skill development course per se but a science experiment in ballistics.

This course was designed to show the effects or lack of effect of different ammunition and firearms on a typical automobile. Throughout the day we fired handguns in 9mm, .40 and ,45 as well as Rifles in 5.56, .308 and .300 Blackout. 12 ga slugs and 00 Buck was also used.

Initially we fired through the windshield from the interior to show the deflection or the "inconsistent predictability" of rounds as they exited. I found that you could with a certain degree of accuracy at least guess where a round may go initially. There were always outliers and WTF moments however.

Next we attempted to skip rounds off the hood of the vehicle to explore the different angle and trajectories this produced.

We moved on to shooting different portions of the vehicle exterior with the above mentioned rounds to test penetration. After every round the interior of the vehicle was disassembled to attempt to track the bullet path. We discussed loss of momentum,spalling and probability of penetration. What I learned was you could assume the vehicle was cover for a bad guy and assume it was not cover for you.

We talked about the results as they related to not "crowding your cover" and other tactics. We learned the best places to obtain cover using a vehicle and what areas may only afford concealment. I learned a huge lesson about what ball and hollow point ammunition can accomplish as well as typical rifle cartridges. The day went by quickly and time was well spent.

As a bonus at the end of the day I got to shoot the new PD10 prototype from  Avidity Arms. Sweet gun. Single stack 9mm designed with all the defensive bells and whistles we advocate in the Combat Focus Shooting Program. Check the course out if you get a chance

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Extreme Close Quarters Concepts

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Extreme Close Quarters Concepts class taught by Craig Douglas AKA SouthNarc. I have been wanting to attend this class for two years and finally my schedule worked out. Mr. Douglas did not disappoint. First I want to say Craig Douglas is a class act. Knowledgeable,professional but encouraging and approachable. That's a great mixture for an instructor. ECQC is described thusly at the Shivworks website:

The Shivworks Extreme Close Quarters Concepts (ECQC) course is a two-and-a-half-day (20 hour) block of instruction that offers a multi-disciplinary approach to building functional,combative handgun skills at zero to five feet. The course is designed to instill core concepts of seamless integration and provide a platform for aggressive problem solving during a life or death struggle at arm's length or closer. We emphasize the common body mechanics that apply across different skill sets. That way, all combative software is reinforcing. Once student skills sets are ingrained, they will be stress inoculated with force on force drill using marking cartridges and protective equipment.

The course was being held at a large range complex west of Faribault Mn. It was about a 4 hour drive from where I live in Iowa and I planned on car camping at the range. The first half day started on Friday evening so I left about 1200 to drive up and make the 1800 start time. Upon arrival I checked in and waited. Shortly after my arrival others joined me. Craig showed up shortly before 1800. There was another pleasant surprise as my friend Michael Anderson of Shoot The Gun  would be co instructing. I have helped Mike as a role player during his phenomenal Landing The Plane course on multiple occasions and knew him to be a top notch instructor.

The first evening was devoted to developing our skills in managing unknown contacts, Due to previous reading and courses such as Landing the Plane I was familiar with many of the techniques but putting them into practice was not always as easy as expected. Craig said our goal was to remain on our feet and remain conscious. De escalation and avoiding confrontation are very necessary skills to accomplish this mission. We also talked about body positioning. One of the drills we had to do was, from what I gathered, a right of passage in this course. I gather this, because out of all my friends and acquaintances that have taken this coursework not one person mentioned it! This drill was called the Billy Goat drill. The purpose was simple, go forehead to forehead with another student and using only the leverage from your head gain a dominant position. This will definitely teach you balance and squaring up your base. The other thing it does is give you a large raw spot that turns into a huge scab on your forehead. I will be wearing a lot of hats the next few weeks.

Day 1 ended about 2200 and I retired to my Jeep to sleep until the 0800 showtime next day.

After a decent yet hot night of sleep I woke up and brewed some instant coffee and ate a few PBJ for breakfast. Day 2 would start with range work.

We spent the morning shooting in close proximity to the target. We worked on the adaptive presentation of the firearm. The thumb pectoral index and appropriate extension based on distance from our attacker. The drills enforced the need to not "float the gun" and to place shots relative to our distance from the target.

The afternoon consisted of the unarmed skills and in fight weapons access. Craig uses wrestling and jiu jitsu as the "operating system" for this instruction. As I am familiar with both I felt I caught on to the material well during this phase. We talked about and drilled, under/overhooks, wrist/bicep ties and infight weapons access. The afternoon was incredibly hot and very physical. We took frequent short breaks for water. Despite this we had one gentleman that dropped from the course due to heat related issues. At the end of the day we experienced our first "EVO". These are designed to pressure test the techniques learned in a force on force environment. Despite my comfort with the material I found putting it into action against a motivated attacker half my age was not easy. This EVO was very instructive in showing me what I can expect to accomplish in an environment such as this. If you don't want to rely on magic fairy dust and rainbows you need this kind of pressure to validate your techniques and choices.  I retired to my spacious accommodations tired and sore at the end of the 11 hour day.

Day 3 dawned bright and early for another range session. We worked on Vertical and Horizontal shields. These reminding me of my training in Krav Maga. We also incorporated techniques from the day before in a more fluid fashion.

In the afternoon we worked weapons disarms and retention. We culminated the day with some 2 vs 1 Evos, which required you to combine all the elements of MUC and the techniques we had learned earlier. These were not scripted and turned out how they turned out. Some ended in gunfights some ended in wrestling matches. Some like mine ended peaceably. At the end of the day we used a vehicle as a platform to use these techniques in a cube or restricted environment.

A thorough debrief was conducted with Craig thanking each and every student for their attention and attendance..classy. Here is what I took away from this course:

1. I will definitely attend again at my earliest opportunity and will recommend to others. If you carry a gun or any other tool for self defense this training is essential.

2. Accessing weapons during a fight isn't as easy as it sounds. I got exactly one shot off during my evos. Timing is everything. If you are someone that counts on that gun as a magic talisman then when you are denied its use what will you do?

3. You need to train until you can fight and problem solve at the same time

4. There are some great people in this world that take responsibility for their own safety. So be nice to people you never know who can kick your ass. 

5. Never camp in MN in June. I am springing for a hotel next time

There ya have it. Get to a Craig Douglas class if you can.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


Haven't posted in awhile. Nothing significant going on. Expect a post about my experience at the Extreme Close Quarters Combatives course this weekend. Until then here is a video of me doing burpees