Back in 2012 I received an email from a friend that said he had been asked to see if I would like to attend a three-day carbine class and would it be OK to forward my contact information to the instructor. My friend admitted up front that he had not attended training by this company, and could not vouch for the quality of the training.
At the time I was evaluating a Mossberg AR, and was hoping to get in some quality trigger time for an article.
I contacted the training company and accepted the offer. I was told that this would be a “high intensity” course. This was good news as I hoped to run the Mossberg hard.
The owner of the company showed up in a Hummer that was covered in silk-screen graphics. This should have been my first clue as to the smoke and mirrors that were about to take place.
Training Day (TD) 1 was supposed to start at 0800. Waiting to see “if anyone else shows up” we did not gear up until 1030.
The class started with a safety brief. The lead instructor, let’s call him “Bert”, told the class there are four rules to follow: all guns are loaded, keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and watch your background.
You read that right: he either did not know or forgot Rule Two—never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
That was the extent of the brief. Nothing about gear selection, stance, lube, malfunctions, staying hydrated (the class was in the summer in the Arizona desert), etc., etc.
To my surprise, there was no confirming of zeros prior to starting to shoot.
The first drill was to shoot two rounds standing, two rounds kneeling and two rounds prone at fifty yards. This was a Level 1 class and although it had some experienced shooters in it, there was nothing said about the different kneeling positions, different prone positions, etc., for the beginners who made up most of the class.
I didn’t expect to shoot from prone on the very first drill so had not put on my elbow pads. No big deal since the magazine, acting as a monopod, holds most of the weight and keeps my elbows out of the gravel. Or so I thought until “Bert” told me to get up on my elbows under the gun because resting the mag on the deck will cause “jams” (even though there was not any toast in sight.)
When Relay 1 had finished, we did not go forward to look at or tape the targets. We were dismissed and Relay 2 came and repeated the same drill. In fact, no targets were ever looked at or taped the entire first day.
Lunch break from 1130 to 1330.
The majority of the afternoon was spent moving and shooting with empty gun/emergency reloads. Tac loads (reload with retention) were not taught. Besides the first drill in the morning, there was no positional shooting. We shot on the move from 80 to 50 yards.
When a Tempe SWAT officer said that there was no way he’d take a 50-yard shot on the move, let alone an 80-yard shot, an assistant instructor, let’s call him “Ernie”, said it’s good for “suppressive fire.”
In law enforcement or for the average citizen? Really?
Since students had not been told about how to shoot on the move or even the basic fighting stance, several were attempting to shoot Camp Perry style—bladed 90 degrees to the target—while moving. This resulted in several shooters on the relay being muzzled. Of course, they had not been told about Rule 2…
If had not been so sad, it would have been a real hoot to watch them shooting on the move from this same stance. They were not given any correction or advice from the instructor cadre.
Towards the end of day and after only about 150 rounds, the guns of two students on my relay started to choke. Bert said it was likely due to bad ammo.
When my relay went off the line I asked if them if their guns were lubed. They told me they had wiped all lube from their carbines and even sprayed them with degreaser because the flyer they had received prior to the class said, “dry guns work better in a dry environment.”
I pulled their BCGs and they were as dry as Arizona asphalt. Slip 2000 EWL cured the “bad ammo” problem.
Later another guy said his gun was “jamming” (still no sign of any toast). He asked if I would put some of the “oil stuff” on his bolt.
While the gun was definitely in need of lube, the gas key was so loose I could lift it up and down. (He told me his brother-in-law had built it and it was just as good as, well, you know.) I always throw Ned Christiansen’s MOACKS tool in my bag when attending a class. Screws torqued and staked, and lube applied. End of problem.
TD1 was supposed to run until 1700, but we shut down at 1630. Between starting late, ending early and a 2.5-hour lunch break total range time of “instruction” for this “high intensity” class was only three hours. Even though this was in the Arizona desert in the summer, I had not built up a sweat under my armor. We were told to show up at 0900 instead of 0800 the next day.
Noticeable by their absence were SWAT cops from Prescott, Scottsdale and Tempe, and a former student of Pat Rogers. (I only know this because he had a “Moosecock” patch on his plate carrier.)
Although TD 2 was supposed to start at 0900, we did not even get close to putting rounds downrange until after 1030 (again). Even then there was no prompting from instructors to get students on the line.
Upon my arrival I expressed my concerns about TD1 to the owner, let’s call him Elmo, mainly in regards to zeroing the guns. I also told him that without taping the targets and diagnosing hits the drills amounted to ballistic masturbation, as we were essentially just making little holes in the air that filled right back in. Students did not know if they were hitting good or completely missing the targets.
Elmo talked with Bert, and the class was finally allowed to zero their guns. We zeroed at 50 yards.
The Mossberg AR I had brought had already been zeroed at the same distance so I was good to go. However, the shooter next to me had a group five inches left and four inches high (Aimpoint PRO, 1/2 MOA clicks). He asked Bert how many clicks he needed to adjust, and Bert told him go five right and four down.
I hate disagreeing with an instructor, especially in front of other students. However, I was becoming more and more frustrated so I finally opened my big mouth. I told my classmate he needed to go 20 right and 16 down and he should be close to being right on. They both looked at me like I had just dropped my trousers and defecated on the range.
After 30 minutes, making a click or two at a time and a lot of wasted ammo, the student was finally zeroed. Time was 1140.
About then a friend of Elmo’s showed up and told him he wanted to show him his new Saiga shotgun.
Leaving the class standing, they went downrange to shoot it, but only after telling the class that when they came back we would break for lunch.
I left. Needless to say I did not show up for TD3…
It has been said that any press is good press. And that is the reason the name of the company has not been mentioned and the names of the “instructors” have been changed.
Elmo was hoping to get positive ink, so I was not charged for the class. If I had paid, I would have demanded a refund.
I have stated numerous times over the years how important it is to vet an instructor before throwing down your hard-earned cash. I only share this story to show that how important it truly is.