By Defensive Carbine Elements Student Robert K.
July 25-26, 2015
Training Location: Sandusky County Sportsman’s Club
Training day 1: Bright and sunny, high of 86°
Training day 2. Cloudy, high of 90°
Carbine: AR-15 style (direct impingement) Stag Arms lower, Rock River upper,
Adco firearms 16” mid-length 1/7 5.56NATO 4150 CMV CL barrel
ALG Defense 13” rail,
Mil spec bolt carrier group,
Aimpoint PRO / Troy folding BUIS
White Oak Armament lower parts kit, Geissele SSA trigger,
Magpul ACS mil spec stock, Moe grip and H buffer
Blue Force Gear Vickers two-point sling
Wilderness instructor belt
UW Gear split front chest rig
Maxpedition roly-poly dump pouch
Glock 17, OWB holster
OWB kydex carbine mag pouch
OWB kydex pistol mag pouch
Pmags and GI aluminum 30 round mags
Oakley M-frame sunglasses
MSA Sordin electronic ear protection with Surefire EP3 sonic defenders
PMC 223 55 gr FMJ-BT ammo 1000 rounds
Reasons for taking this course:
In January of 2005, I qualified Expert with the M16A2 in boot camp. Since then, I have earned my Appleseed Rifleman patch, competed in several high power matches and clinics at Camp Perry, and participated in multiple scoped or precision rifle courses through Adaptive Defense Concepts. That has been the extent of my “formal” rifle marksmanship training, though I am a regular attendee at a monthly carbine shoot held by a local sportsman’s club. I have also taken several handgun courses through Adaptive Defense Concepts and Active Response Training that have been well worth my time. I have never taken carbine specific training before though, and my wife expressed an interest in taking a carbine course after getting her own AR-15. I knew from prior experience that Adaptive Defense Concepts would be able to meet the needs and priorities in our training paradigm, so I signed us up for this course.
Training Day 1: July 25, 2015
The class began with the typical administrative details and we quickly moved into introductions. ADC Instructors Mike Lake and Jeremy Decker were leading this class of six students from diverse training and experience backgrounds. All participants were using some variant of the AR-15.
After a safety brief, we explored the merits of carbine use for personal and home defense. Carbine setup was discussed, as well as slings, chest rigs, blow out kits, mag pouches, and other support gear. After a break for lunch, we headed out to the range to start the live fire portion of the class. This class was run as a “hot range.”
Beginning at the 3-yard line, we practiced bringing the carbine up, disengaging the safety, sighting in on a series of geometric shapes of various sizes on the cardboard targets, pressing and properly resetting the trigger. We repeated this several times retreating in increments to approximately 100 yards and then advancing back to the 3-yard line. I was thrilled with this, having the various sight offset and holds burnt into my mind. Not because I’m some high-speed operator, that operates operationally slaying bodies, or some Viking warrior that suddenly defecates out wrath and vengeance that smites any and all ne'er-do-wells, but for what I am, just an average blue collar guy with a wife and kid who wants to default to the highest possible level of “skills mastered” if the occasion should ever arise.
Why is sight offset important? …because it’s the Achilles’ heel of AR-15 style firearms. Just “knowing” that your sights or optic sit two and a half inches or more over the line of bore is no guarantee that you will remember it under the stress of an armed confrontation. The idea is that repetitive practice will keep you (hopefully), from cranking a round off into that concrete wall you decided to take cover behind. You may be thinking: “But I’m an intelligent, highly educated individual who would never do anything like that.” Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. I, however, am going to put in the sweat equity, money, and time into developing that “default to” level of basic skills with my carbine that I can perform perfectly, every time, all the time.
While shooting at these various distances, instructors Mike and Jeremy were able to diagnose any sight adjustment corrections, as well as technique corrections that needed to be made. Prior to the class, I had zeroed our carbines at 100 yards; I still had to add two clicks of right windage on my Aimpoint Pro during the class. I also experienced some brain freeze during this part of the class, putting rounds on my neighbors target… twice. I did this during a relatively stress-free class, it just tells me much more sweat equity is needed on my part.
After everyone was hitting the right spots on the target at all the various distances out to 100 yards, the instructors covered speed reloads and tactical reloads. We performed multiple iterations of each, after which we were informed we would be responsible for our own ammo management for the rest of the class. I had recently purchased dump pouches for this class and they worked very well for the tactical reloads. For the speed reloads I used a belt mounted kydex magazine pouch at the 9 o’clock position, with the bullets forward, same as my handgun magazines, topping off the kydex pouch with mags from my chest rig. With my gear set up this way I was able to carry 10 AR magazines.
We ended the day with a debriefing; everyone contributing one thing that they learned during the day of training. All of the students contributed worthwhile observations about the class.
Training Day 2: July 26, 2015
After a review of the prior day’s safety brief, we began our training day with a discussion on the terminal ballistics of .223/5.56 rounds and optimum load selection for self-defense. In addition, different battle-sight zeros for the carbine were covered in great detail. Bring a pen and paper to this class, as this is very helpful and useful information. After we both reviewed the information for the various rounds discussed, my wife and I decided that the Federal Fusion 62 grain MSR load would be a reasonable choice for our own defensive needs.
After gathering our gear, we assembled back at the firing line to shoot from 3 yards out to about 50 yards to shake out any cobwebs that developed overnight, and to see if anyone needed any last minute sight adjustments on their carbines. Following that, we set up at the 300-yard range where Mike and Jeremy had set up multiple steel targets from 100 yards to 300 yards. Everyone was able to decide for themselves which zero they would use. The 50-yard zero seemed to be the most prevalent, but I had made the decision to zero both of our carbines for 100 yards. With the Aimpoint Pro, I was able to make regular hits on the steel at 300 yards. We got to shoot at these distances until everyone was confident in their zeros and holdovers. Alternate positions were also demonstrated and practiced. This is when I had my one and only malfunction during the class; an ejected casing bouncing back into the chamber while I was in the “rollover prone” position.
After breaking for lunch, we proceeded to shoot some cadence drills. I was really surprised at how fast I was able to shoot accurately while practicing these drills. Mike and Jeremy covered the importance of communication and how to talk with your partner while shooting and moving. As with ammo management, the expectation was established that if you needed to load your carbine or clear a malfunction, you communicated with your partner while they covered you.
The when and why behind handgun transitions were covered and practiced, followed by malfunction drills, strong side versus weak side shooting, pivots and turns. We practiced all of these until we were very comfortable with them before learning to shooting on the move. We worked through several right to left, left to right, forward and backwards, backwards and forwards, “box” drills, and partner “box” drills.
After taking a short break to hydrate and top off magazines, we assembled on one side of the “cowboy town” at Sandusky County Sportsman’s Club and Mike and Jeremy demonstrated how to work through the town with a partner while shooting, moving and communicating. We were partnered up and took turns maneuvering to the various designated firing points while communicating and shooting from some very awkward positions to cover our partners’ movement. Instructors Mike and Jeremy then demonstrated the “3 to 5 second rush,” which is a form of bounding overwatch exercise. I felt these were worth the cost of the class by themselves, as they put together all of the skills we had been working on. After that was completed, we practiced a drill called an “Australian peel,” which got the barrels hot, and was a fun way to end the shooting portion of the class.
We ended the day with another debriefing session. All of the students contributed several things that we learned over the previous two days. When I mentioned several training priorities for my wife and I earlier in this AAR, this course achieved all of them. This was important to me because I wanted my wife and I to leave with certain skill sets solidly ingrained: sight offset, trigger reset, speed reloading, tactical reloading, shooting while moving, weak-side shooting, holdovers at distance, communications, transitions, and positions. Mike and Jeremy set a pace that didn’t have you moving any faster than you were capable of learning the information at hand. Though the schedule was pretty full, we didn’t feel rushed, and were able to perform the drills as many times as needed until we felt confident with that particular skill. I wanted a class with a walk, crawl, run progression so that we both wouldn’t get overwhelmed, yet would still set us up for success. I vote with my wallet when it comes to whom I want to train with, and ADC continues to get my business. I would recommend you do the same.