Now that we have two training courses under our belt, Jim and I have made some further adjustments to the Vuurwapen Concepts course curriculum. The second course incorporated some pistol shooting, and all subsequent courses will expand on that. Most notably, however, we're moving to a three-day course format (with an optional fourth day at the beginning for refreshing fundamentals). This will allow for additional training and evaluation time over the two-day format, although the course fee remains relatively low at $450. We've scheduled courses for October 11-13 and November 8-10, again at Sniper Country in northern Utah.
Also relevant to potential students is that we have added approximately half a dozen instructors, all of whom have special operations experience in military or federal government units or agencies (or both). Their expertise varies from breaching to trauma medicine, although all are extremely proficient with firearms and capable of passing these skills on to others. We're working on bios and further information, but a lot of these guys are still working in their respective fields, so various security concerns may require that some information be withheld. I know this sounds super secret squirrel, but trust me, these guys are really impressive. Their expertise is also very relevant to the courses we're teaching (including the concealed carry portion of the class), and will allow for expanded course options in the future.
We will have at least three and most likely four instructors at each course. This will allow us to move from course module to course module smoothly while providing as much one-on-one instruction as possible.
Soon I will also share the Vuurwapen Concepts website and other cool stuff. Things are moving along quickly and I'm excited for what the future holds.
I wear flip flops almost every day and have done so for nearly my entire life. Therefore, I wear flip flops while shooting. This seems to upset some people when I post photos or videos online, so I'll take a moment to explain further.
Train How You Fight
I have said this a few times lately, but it really is important to "train how you fight." A long time ago, I was working on the "Lifesaving" merit badge. I had the fastest rescue time in part due to my ability to kick off flip flops much faster than the other kids could remove their shoes. Someone complained to a counselor, who said, "Andrew always wears flip flops, so he should wear them here, too." The same principle applies to concealed carry.
When I go to the range to practice drawing from concealment, I use the exact belt, holster, pistol, and clothing setups that I use for everyday concealed carry. Most people seem to agree with this sentiment - after all, it's pretty silly to do all of your shooting practice with a 1911 from the low ready if you carry a .38 snubnose in an ankle holster. I simply extend the concept to include my footwear.
While many people see flip flops as a detriment or drawback, I see them as comfy and easy to put on/take off. Did I mention comfy? I live in an area where triple digit temperatures are common, but even when I lived in Alaska I wore them during the summer.
There are occasions during which I wear shoes or boots: when I'm riding a motorcycle, when I'm on a long hike or walk, and some of the time when I work on cars, motorcycles, or airplanes. I will therefore sometimes wear shoes while shooting. For example, if I ride my motorcycle to the range, it would make sense that the shooting that day would include shoes.
Most of the time, however, I wear flip flops... so I wear flip flops while shooting. There are a number of reasons why people find this objectionable - here are the more common criticisms.
"But You'll Get Hot Brass Between Your Toes And Then Shoot Someone"
There are a number of arguments against shooting while wearing flip flops, and one of the least valid (to me, at least) is the "hot brass" argument. I can simply say from experience - shooting three or four times per week, every week for years on end, wearing flip flops at least 60% of the time, that I have only had hot brass land on my feet or between my toes a few times. For me, it is a non-issue. I have no problems maintaining bearing and muzzle discipline while I make a minor movement to rid myself of the troublesome case, whether it lands inside my shirt or between my toes. However, I have a higher pain tolerance than most people seem to have, at least in this regard.
"But You'll Lose A Flip Flop And Then Shoot Someone"
If you take a look at the above photo, you'll see that my right foot is curved in an odd manner and my little toe is sticking out somewhat. This is due to how I run while wearing flip flops: I curve my feet so as to keep the footwear attached. Yes, I (used to, before I hurt my knee) occasionally run while wearing flip flops. My all-time best mile run while wearing flip flops and carrying a 30lb backpack is 8:16. It is almost entirely avoidable to lose a flip flop while running, if proper methods are used.
I do sometimes have a flip flop fall off of a foot while I am moving backwards or stepping over or near obstacles - the back edge of the footwear will catch on something and be propelled off my foot. To avoid this, I keep my heels high if I am backing up or stepping over obstacles while wearing flip flops. Unlike keeping them on while running forward, this is not entirely avoidable. However, like the brass hitting my toes, it has almost no discernible effect on my shooting. I will simply finish whatever the string of fire may be and then retrieve my errant footwear.
"But You'll Hurt Your Foot And Then Shoot Someone"
Because I wear flip flops every day, I am rather used to stubbing my toes or people stepping on my toes or getting splinters or cactus spines stuck in my feet and so on. I even had a toenail ripped out once. Therefore, it is not a big deal when these same things happen while I am shooting. As I said before, it is not a problem to maintain muzzle discipline when something unexpected happens. If it is hard for you to not dance around pointing a gun at people with your finger on the trigger when a minor problem occurs, maybe you should not own or use guns.
Valid Reasons To Not Wear Flip Flops While Shooting
I can think of two valid reasons to not wear flip flops while shooting:
- My feet get really dirty if I'm shooting all day
- It doesn't look entirely professional
So in the future when I'm teaching a class, I might avoid wearing flip flops, simply because it might not present the professional image someone might expect when they pay good money for training. However, for day-to-day practice, I will continue to use whatever footwear I happen to be wearing when I leave for the range.
Last weekend was the first of what will hopefully be many firearm training courses taught by myself and Jim Staley of Deliberate Dynamics. Writing about it wholly from my perspective would be a bit self-serving, so I'll share some photos/video and the feedback I solicited from the 14 students who attended the course. If you're interested in attending our next course, scheduled for July 27/28, you may sign up here.
I asked for their honest opinions, and will summarize/compile them here in the interests of brevity. If any students wish to comment on this post, they are welcome to do so (some already have).
The stuff everyone liked:
- Taking high speed video of each student on the range and reviewing it in front of the whole class back at the lodge really helped everyone improve their manipulation and understanding of the firearm. Here's a sample of most of the group, although each student was filmed individually as well.
- Chronographing each rifle/ammo combination, as well as taking photos of the muzzle flash of each, was educational/useful/enlightening.
- Many students had no idea that they were capable of shooting as far as they ended up doing so (depending on rifle, ammo, and shooter, 500 to 900 yards). Everyone was shooting an AR-15 in 5.56/.223.
- Shooter/spotter drills with the target unknown until the timer buzzed were very useful.
- Reloading and target transition portions of the course greatly improved the shooters' efficiency with the firearm.
- Everyone seemed to love the range and the lodge.
- The group was great and everyone got along swimmingly.
The recommendations for improvement:
- There was a lot of downtime, especially on the first day. Some of this couldn't be helped, as we only had one high speed video camera and one chronograph. However, we'll definitely be cutting down on this in the future, organizing the curriculum so that there are multiple training evolutions occurring at once.
- Including items such as a shooting mat or binoculars on the recommended gear list would be nice.
- Incorporate a more rigorous final test/drill/competition/exam/feedback. This was originally planned, but would have resulted in a lot more downtime as our planned course could only have been used by one shooter at a time. We will, however, be incorporating this into the curriculum in the future.
- We had some technical difficulties with vehicles, although they did not present a major obstacle to the course or to the shooters getting range time.
If I may, here are a few accolades from students:
- "I felt like it was a good use of my time, I learned a LOT and I enjoyed myself."
- "Overall I know I learned a lot more about myself as a shooter. And your high speed video definitely helped everyone diagnose issues they wouldn't have otherwise seen. Nice job."
- "I want to say thanks for putting on such a great course. I've been through a good number of schools and classes in the military that were just miserable. Yours was a good balance of seriousness and relaxation to make it very enjoyable."
- "I had a great time shooting with you guys. The drive was long as all hell, but I loved the location and learned that my shooting platform while standing sucks and my reloads are inefficient and full of fail."
- "They gave us practical information throughout the course, with explanations of the positive and negative of why something is done. Both Jim and Andrew have a wealth of knowledge and an ability to teach."
- "(I) learned an enormous amount in a very short period of time."
- "I really enjoyed the class. I thought you guys did a great job especially for it being the first time you put this together. It was educational, challenging, and it was also a good time."
For those who couldn't make the May 25/26 AR15 course taught by myself and Jim Staley of Deliberate Dynamics, we have two more classes scheduled: one on June 22/23, and one on July 27/28. The May class is full. If you'd like to sign up, you may do so here.
I was recently sent a photo of some civilian carbine/vehicle training. Some of the things I saw in the photo bothered me, and I'd like to discuss why.
First, I should probably cover my background, as in the past not doing so has led some people to assume that I did not have relevant experience, although the "about me" link above has the relevant information.
I was an FMF Corpsman (8404) and deployed to Anbar province for essentially all of 2006. I have treated injuries ranging from those caused by knives to those caused by multiple artillery shells, and many things in between. I have taken part in mounted as well as dismounted patrols in varying terrain (rural, suburban, urban) and participated in training and security activities at small fixed bases far from higher levels of care or support. During this and other times, I or the units to which I was attached were the target of direct and indirect fire, IEDs, complex ambush, and near ambush attacks. I also co-wrote an SOP (standard operating procedure) on the treatment of injuries sustained during convoy operations. Okay, moving on...
What many people do not understand about "tactical" medicine, or care under fire, is that time can be as valuable as treatment. "Hey!" you say. "In the photograph above, time seems to be taken seriously! That one guy is seriously injured and needs to be treated right away, so the the other guy is treating him while the woman covers them."
Well, that's exactly the problem. In a combat situation - also known as anywhere bullets are flying in two directions - the immediate treatment of casualties needs to take a back seat to the suppression/elimination of the enemy. That's because fire superiority wins fights, and winning the fight allows you to safely evacuate your casualties to a higher level of care. And in this example, we have three people being taught by at least one instructor that it's okay for two out of three shooters to be voluntarily taken out of the fight while the third shoots at what appears to be multiple attackers. The attackers are also apparently from the Revolutionary War, because they've dressed and covered themselves in a neat row from which to attack.
Having one shooter maintain a static position and empty multiple magazines at the bad guys - while shooting from a position and location that opens a large portion of her body open to injury - is a good way to lose a fight. Once that lone defender goes down (and with multiple opponents, that's a matter of probability), the remaining attackers are free to move around both sides of the vehicle and kill the first responder as well as finish off the injured guy, neither of which is maintaining control of their carbines.
Not only could the man providing aid be working with the woman to shoot the bad guys, but the injured guy (who probably got shot because he was wearing his drop leg holster too low), if conscious, could also be shooting while he either waits for or receives treatment. It really doesn't matter what his injury is. At the very least, the uninjured man could put direct pressure on the wound while providing covering fire or looking at the front of the vehicle for bad guys trying to sneak around the front, which the woman cannot see or defend against from her position.
This would double or triple the volume of fire directed at the bad guys, and also provide additional angles from which bullets could be placed on target. The net result would be a more rapid movement of that casualty from the battlefield to a higher level of care. This point seems to be missed by the instructors, although it is somewhat possible that my interpretation of the photo is entirely wrong. I would like to know things such as "why didn't they drive away?" and "how far away are the bad guys?" but those questions are not readily answered by the photo.
My job as a Corpsman was "to keep as many men at as many guns for as many days as possible," because that serves multiple purposes. It helps achieves the mission, which is, after all, why the military unit is there in the first place. It limits the amount of time additional forces may be required to take part, thus keeping them from being exposed to enemy fire. And it allows for the most effective and rapid evacuation of those casualties in immediate need of a higher level of care. Which is why I found the Field Medical Service School admonishment "fire superiority is the best medicine on the battlefield" to be eerily accurate.