By: Kyle Crippen
On the weekend of 29-30 August, 2015, I attended the Defensive Pistol Applications - Close Quarters/Vehicles class instructed by Adaptive Defense Concepts (ADC). I have been an NRA Instructor for Basic Pistol and Personnel Protection in the Home, as well as a Range Safety Officer for almost 3 years. All of my firearms training was either self-taught or with friends. Additionally, I have been a Rider Coach for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation for the past 15 years, and I was a Subject Matter Expert and Instructor while in the Navy. I note my experience as instructor to show I understand various training disciplines and methods.
I was at a Friends of the NRA dinner in March of 2015, and there was an under bed safe with a gift certificate for an ADC class in the silent auction area. I was already interested in the safe, so I did some quick internet research on ADC; the instructors and the classes available. The classes seemed interesting, and while looking around I met Mike Lake, one of the instructors at ADC. I found him engaging and very personable. I won the auction, helped the NRA, and walked away with the safe I wanted and a gift certificate for a class of my choice. Honestly, I did not have a particular reason to pick Defensive Pistol Application as my class; I picked this class because it was the only weekend I had available.
The class consisted of six other students, all with various shooting backgrounds, however I was the only student who hadn’t attended a class with ADC before. All of the students were very welcoming and friendly, I never felt like the “New Guy.” I hadn’t brought a magazine pouch and one of the other students offered me one of his spares without batting an eye. One student was shooting a .45 ACP, I was shooting a 40 S&W, the remaining were shooting 9MM. The capacity of my magazines helped a lot. Honestly, all the students were better shooters than me, but never once did they talk down to me. More importantly, they never tried to step in and coach, and as an instructor I can’t emphasize how important it is to allow the instructors to do the instruction. Day one was mostly working individually, day two was a lot of team work. I never had to ask someone to work with me, and everyone rotated with different members, it just flowed.
The instructors were Jeremy, Mike and Rowland. All of them were very professional. While Jeremy did most of the dry runs and live fire demonstration on day one, Mike did more on day two. However, at any time during the exercises both Mike and Jeremy would step in and help students, including redoing demonstrations. I have complete confidence that any of the instructors could instruct and demonstrate any of the exercises. Although Instructor Rowland didn’t demonstrate any exercises, he was constantly in the background observing the students and would step in to provide guidance and help with techniques. For example: I was behind on one exercise and Rowland stayed with me to offer different views and methods for the objective which helped immensely. All the instructors were open for questions and encouraged questions during breaks.
This was not an NRA-style class by any means. I shot about 750 rounds between both days, at least 500 of those from the holster, and 80% of the time required at least one magazine change. One exercise (that was a dry fire only) was about maintaining control of your firearm in close quarters, if your attacker was able to have their hands your firearm.
Firing inside and around vehicles was eye opening, and examining how I egress from my vehicle was enlightening. I’m now trying to develop muscle memory for unbuckling the same way every time, so that it will not be something I will have to think about in an emergency. The use of cover and concealment in and around vehicles was also enlightening, as a few students (including me) learned how bullets follow flat surfaces of cars, like hoods, and lift gates of mini vans. The training vehicle we started with gave us the opportunity to live fire while inside a vehicle; shooting outside the driver’s window and out of the back lift gate. We also got practice egressing to use the vehicle for cover and concealment. These drills were run as team exercises. After this, we moved on to using our own vehicles, which was a little nerve wracking, however no one had a personal vehicle mishap. ADC also set up a ballistic test to show how bullets react with windshields, and it was a great opportunity to see how everyone's personal defense rounds held up after going through the safety glass, as well as how the trajectory changed upon impact with the glass.
This class was great, and I would recommend it for proficient shooters. As a student it opened my eyes on simple things that changed the big picture. I look forward to taking more classes from ADC, and I’m hoping to take this class again with a Navy friend from Texas. As an Instructor and Rider Coach it gave me a chance to be a student again. I haven’t had an instructor give me the feeling they were as confident in themselves, their course, and their students in a long time.