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A different kind of training

Every year, I make an effort to attend at least one software conference. In years past, I attended several conferences around my area such as the Kansas City Developers Conference and St Louis Day of .NET.

I decided to take a break this year and do something different.

This weekend, I drove down to Farmington Missouri to attend the “basics of tactical shooting” course taught by Asymmetric Solutions. What drew me to Asymmetric Solutions was their impressive set of instructors with real world experience. Most, if not all, of their instructors are combat experienced special operations veterans.

I usually go to an indoor range once a week, but all of my shooting thus far have been from a static position using paper targets. I knew I wasn’t well rounded, so I wanted sign up for this course.

I didn’t know what to expect at first because I imagined the course being filled with military-esque characters. But as I arrived at the facility and people started to gather, I was pleasantly surprised to see there were a wide range of people from new shooters to very experienced. I felt like I was somewhere in the middle.

Our group had 14 students (3 women and 12 men) and 1 instructor (Dave). The day started off with dry firing exercises such as drawing from the holster and re-holstering. We moved onto practicing magazine changes and the difference between combat and tactical reloads. As our group became comfortable with handling our weapons, we started incorporating movements into our practice. We learned how to move forward, backwards, turn left/right, and make 180 degree turns.

The afternoon was dedicated to live fire exercises. Our instructor ran us through a variety of exercises on the range that incorporated everything we learned in the morning. We also discussed how to clear any malfunctions that occur during the operation of our weapon. I started off fairly decent when we were firing from a static position. As soon as we started incorporating movements or target discrimination drills, my inexperience started to show. Fortunately, our instructor was quick to explain what I was doing wrong and how to address it. It was a good learning experience for me to hear what I needed to improve on and listen to what the instructor was saying to other students as well. This was also a great opportunity for me to practice firing from my holster since it’s not allowed at the indoor range.

I believe I was the only person in my group that had a weapon with a manual safety. I brought my M&P M2.0 to the class. The majority of the people in my group, including the instructor, had a Glock. I know a lot of people balk at the idea of a manual safety on a pistol, but since my Sig P938 has a manual safety, I wanted to practice with another pistol that has a manual safety as well. It quickly dawned on me how much extra work there is to remember to flick on/off the safety each time I draw and re-holster. I’m fine with that, but it’s something I’ll have to practice to let muscle memory take over.

Some of my important takeaways:

  • Don’t be a robot. Practice drawing smoother and don’t have sharp robotic moments.
  • I take too long to sight in my weapon after I draw. I need to start sighting in my weapon as I extend my arms.
  • Slow down during target discrimination and acquire the next target before taking action.
  • Practice smoother magazine changes.

Our instructor Dave did an excellent job explaining each concept and technique to us. Most importantly, he explained why they were important in the real world. With so much emphasis placed on safety, there wasn’t a single time during the whole day where I felt unsafe. Trigger discipline, muzzle control, and gun checks were paramount. I believe everyone in our group had a good time.

The only negative thing about the course was the amount of time we spend waiting for our turn during the live fire exercises. Since the class had 14 students and each exercise only had 2-4 active participants at a time, we spend a lot of time watching and waiting for our turn. It was really hot outside this weekend, so standing around in the sun for 8 hours was brutal. I think this is the closest I’ve ever been to getting a sunburn. It would have been better if the class size was smaller or if they split us into two groups during the live fire exercises to allow students more opportunities to practice. However, the course was still worth it.

I am definitely going back to attend their advanced courses in the coming months. Hats off to Asymmetric Solutions and my instructor Dave for providing an excellent training environment.

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