- Oct 5, 2008
- Reaction score
- Where ever I work.../Edmond
On 6 & 7 June I was lucky enough to be able to attend this class in McCloud, Oklahoma at the Meadhall range complex. I originally had to bow out of this class over a month ago due to travels related to work. Fortunately a last-minute schedule shift brought me back to the area in time to attend and a spot opened up just days prior to the class from a student dropping out. The purpose of this write up is to offer an overview of the class itself, the core subjects, some of the teaching methodology, the instructor and my take-aways.
The initial description for the course was as follows:
“Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics (ASAT) is a 2-day, 20-hour course designed to inform and instruct lawfully armed citizens in their defensive decisions and equip them with realistic skills that enable an effective and lawful approach to personal security concerns.
Employing a highly dynamic combination of lecture, demonstration, and practical application, the course goes past the concentration on shooting skills that most concealed carry classes focus on and provides a combination of “hard” and “soft” skills and strategies “Beyond the Gun” that opens minds and options for armed citizens.”
The TL/DR Version:
The essential idea of this class is to give a student solid skill sets necessary to actual ensuring their own safety. It goes far beyond the “hard“ skills of just shooting. Shooting is covered but it was in no way the sole focus of this class and the majority of our work was done from 7 yards and in. We also worked medical In the form a basic but solid block of instruction of stopping the bleed as well as some other essential aid. These medical skills are seldom sought out by folks even though they are far more applicable to everyone’s day-to-day lives. On top of these ‘hard’ skills we worked on ‘soft’ skills such as identifying criminal actors, pre-assault indicators and managing unknown contacts. To help students blend the two and begin working problems correctly starting on day one there were decision making exercises which started in the classroom and carried over later to the shooting range areas. These brief but regular exercises allow students to begin working through various options that they had available to solve potential problems. The emphasis was to react reasonably and proportionally to the difficulties that they were facing. This was a thoroughly welcome approach and something I have only seen in a few other limited and/or special classes. Strictly shooting classes are fun and do have definite value but when the only tool you have is a hammer every problem in life starts looking like a nail that needs to be flattened. As we are currently seeing in the news cycle from all over these States, United, actions taken in defense of oneself even if legal, appropriate and reasonable can have far-reaching repercussions.
I would personally deem this class to be critically necessary and appropriate for anyone who goes armed in our society but hasn’t sought out training aside from a basic pistol class or two. I would hope that it could give them a solid base of a few foundational skillsets that have been well-drilled, an idea at the level of responsibility they have with their decisions and a desire to seek further, specific training that they might not know exists. For those who regularly seek out training there is still much value to be had and you’ll surely pick up something new.
Total round count was around 700.
Briefly about the venue:
This was my third class at the Meadhall training complex. Every time I stop by I am more impressed with it. The range goes to approximately 300yds but I believe they can get a touch more out of it.
The range is equipped with turning targets which is a rare luxury and a different level of stress if used. It also has two movers available. Neither was used for this class. Immediately adjacent to the 50yd line there’s a covered area with picnic tables, fans and heaters so it can be made far more comfortable no matter the season. Also immediately adjacent are nice, air-conditioned bathrooms for both sexes. Rolling shade structures were available for use on the range proper and became a god-send later.
The classroom is an exciting new addition. There is a large, comfortable training room fit for many tables, students to match and a great A/V/projector system. I’m sure this will be handy for traveling instructors who no longer have to bring those tools along and John Murphy took full advantage of it at the class. There’s also a well equipped kitchen area and great bathrooms for both sexes. This makes for a great learning environment where students can focus on soaking up the knowledge they are there to attain.
The sole focus of the facility is to host classes. This means there are no issues with lookie-loos or schedule conflicts like there can often be at gun clubs.
Briefly about myself:
At one point I was ‘into’ guns, worked at a shooting range and no idea of what I didn’t know. After some practical life experience living and working on the road all over the US doing mobile construction I learned that I was deficient in many ways. I started my training path in 2008 by first going to Dean Caputo‘s diagnostic AR armorer class followed immediately by a carbine class with Pat Rogers. After that I was hooked on learning more about myself, improving my skillsets and building whole new ones. Since that time I have trained with quite a few folks to include Jim Smith, Tom Givens, southnarc, Ernie Langdon, Michael Seeklander, the late TLG as well as many others and several training organizations. I’m always excited to learn things I didn’t know before and find questions I cannot immediately answer.
For this class I used the Gen3 Glock19 that’s been my constant companion since 2009. It has gone through several evolutions but for the last 6 years it’s been consistently equipped with Trijicon HD/XR sights, a gadget striker control device and a Vickers magazine release. The only other thing on the gun is the gummy remains of some adhesive grip tape on the slide; everything not specified above is OEM Glock.
The holster used was Keeper’s Concealment’s new CornerstoneAIWB holster. It was actually one of the pre-production prototypes and it is kicking ass for my uses. I used one of Raven Concealement’s excellent double magazine pouches and mounted it all on one of Ian Martin’s tough as nails double-layer, sewn leather gun belts.
On a note I had no malfunctions in the class aside from a slide failing to lock open on empty every now and then. This is an issue I need to address for myself via further training and a return to basics in my pistol work. I used to cut the tabs off of my Glock slide stops but I’ve decided to discontinue that practice. No stoppages during the class were encountered shooting a mix of Federal AE9FP, Speer lawman 147gr or Federal 147gr HST. I believe I fired approximately 700 rounds.
Once registered for John Murphy’s class I received a forwarded email from the instructor. It was actually a link to a series of presentation segments he had done at previous courses. They were in-depth conversations regarding many of the core principles of becoming a competently trained individual for the purpose of carrying a concealed weapon. In addition to the topics and decisions that need to be discussed when carrying a concealed weapon the videos also delved more into the practical application of defending one’s self. Pre-assault indicators, managing unknown contacts, awareness, tactics, discussions on lethal force and defense of a third party were some of the things that were discussed. The set of 10 videos totaled about three hours of very solid content all on their own. They were easily consumed in pairs and trios in the evenings after work. Some of these topics are things that I have read on extensively over the years or trained on extensively at other classes. Some of the topics were not though and regardless of whether I was familiar with it or not I greatly appreciate it Mr. Murphy‘s presentations. I found them to be thorough, thought-provoking and very good at setting the stage for learning to occur at the coming class. I also believe that they helped significantly with the retention of many of those lessons with the rest of the students. I look forward to referring back to them in the future.
The class started is 0800 in the air conditioned classroom with all of the students coming in sterile. This was by specific request for how we were to start this training day; guns, chemical sprays and knives were secured in our cars. After very brief introductions and a rough overview of what we were looking to accomplish in the next two days we jumped right in! Students were each issued for the duration of the class an ankle medical kit with a CAT TQ and an Israeli pressure dressing as well as an inert POM pepper sprayer and one inert reload. For the first hour or so we talked about many of the topics that were addressed in the videos that were sent out to us before the class. It was very refreshing that on account of those videos everyone in the class was pretty well on the same sheet of music as far as discussing these topics. We discussed them at length and covered newer and more relatable content that had not been available in the videos.
Following this we began practical exercises with managing unknown contacts or ‘MUC’, credit for which was given to Craig Douglas. After working some basic evolutions we began working movement options and then chemical deterrents into the mix. This latter part was exciting for me as I’d had no prior training on them before. I picked up many new and useful things. We students had each been provided with an inert POM sprayer. John helped us to find appropriate ways of carrying and deploying them. We then put work in with them on the instructor in that sterile classroom environment. Lessons were learned by many, myself certainly included. None of the work done Involved full contact, grappling or anything of that nature.
Another block of instruction that we worked was with basic life saving skillls. Using the provided gear we went over correct applications of tourniquets and pressure dressings several times. These skills would be worked and reworked at various points through the class. We also touched on some of the more in depth medical skills that are out there but the point of which was to help folks understand that it is a needed set of skills and that further training and work sustaining it is required. I do wish that we had been able to spend more time on things like pressure points and direct pressure to control bleeding but there are time penalties for having so much to cover and only two days to do it. I believe the focusing on proper and rapid applications of tourniquets and pressure dressings to be appropriate for an emphasis on self-care. After these evolutions we went to the range which is where we spent the rest of the class that day and the next aside from cool-down breaks, lunch and debriefing.
On the range we began with working basic mechanics of the draw and marksmanship fundamentals. Everything we worked was first discussed and then demoed by the instructor. All work was to be done from concealment and this served as a great way to get folks warmed up, get their heads in the game and let the instructor assess any issues that needed to be fixed from the start before proceeding. No safety issues were encountered and a few draws , and handgun/hand mate ups needed tweaked. As the day progressed we ran through various evolutions. We also began regularly working various ready positions that allowed for good problem solving/MUC work as well as a fast or surreptitious draw from concealment. I will begin integrating some of these into my own shooting regularly.
We began working numerous drills with facing movements and then verbally engaging targets either voiced by your training partner or the instructor. Once folks were getting into the groove a new wrinkle was added. The John’s figured out a system of designating the targets for the students to approach them in certain ways. Verbal feedback from the target to the student was provided by either the instructor or one’s training partner. This allows for students to begin working problems while trying to manage an unknown contact, moving, verbally challenge them and, if. needed, begin applying force in the form of (inert)OC, the presentation of a firearm if appropriate and even the use of that firearm if needed. From that point forward our skill-building drills were regularly followed with practical application evolutions one on one with the instructor. There was phenomenal value here. It broke the monotonous repetition of ‘every drill is a shooting drill’ which is a superbly valuable thing from a training standpoint. No two of these practical applications was identical or followed a script so a student needed to stay mentally engaged. An evolution that ended without gunfire or weapons being drawn was just as valuable as one that did not. Many discussions were had and lessons were learned across the board.
Drills involving shooting off against your training partner were worked to demonstrated reaction times and to let students work some of the various ready positions we‘d covered. Among other things we also discussed the moral and legal ideas of ‘reasonableness’ regarding the force being used whether it was harsh language, chemical deterrents or lethal force. This discussion lead into exercises on how long it actually takes to stop using force, shooting in this case, once some visual result has been achieved.
At several points in the day during blocks of instruction with everyone huddled up to talk the entire class would be given a medical drill. A command of what was to be used and where would be given and self care would commence. It would usually catch folks a touch off-guard and add stress which was not an unimportant factor. I have only seen this done a few select places like DARC but I really appreciated it’s integration into the curriculum as more than just a point of instruction.
The second day started with with the same emphasis on good marksmanship and decision making as we went back through some of what we’d done the day before. We also availed ourselves of one of Meadhall’s rolling sun shades which made the day far more pleasant. On the range I calculated the heat index to be approximately 109° at our 48% relative humidity at the end of day 2. Under the covers that dropped to a positively comfortable 94°! Meadhall for the win.
We began working on reactive drills from various conditions. Another drill had us shooting brain boxes but it would be a specifically designated one. Targets had been set up like three-headed monsters and a specific head would be designated while a student was in the middle of a shooting drill. They then had to observe this and correctly follow up with a shot to that brain. On day two we also began working our way back from the targets. 90% of our work had been done at the 3, 5 and 7 yard lines as these are some of the most directly relatable and encountered distances during criminal assaults and street encounters. We did work our way back past 7 yards for a bit. After this we began integrating everything we’d learned into more complex one-at-a-time practical exercises. They again had us using the full gamut of tools which we’d been working with. Most of us finally expended our second inert POM trainer during this time.
After final discussions on the specific runs we’d made we closed down the range. Brass was policed, a task made MUCH more pleasant with the rolling shade structures of Meadehall and the target line was cleaned up. Students were allowed to either stow their gear as desired or, preferably, reload with defensive ammunition and make ready for carrying out into the world. Once the range was in good order we retreated to the air conditioned classroom for a debrief and round table discussion of the class. We turned in the loaner gear we had been issued and were then given a live-agent POM unit.
While billed as an advanced class the shooting itself really wasn’t. Everything was focused around rapid multiple hits tightly centered in the upper thoracic area and, if need be, the brain. Where this branches out from being a generic pistol class with good instruction though was integrating the above into movement, target discrimination and problem solving. The purpose of the class was to give students some of the fundamental building blocks of solid self-defense skills. While we discussed many things there is only so much time available in a two day class. It’s easy to hit everything and have nothing stick. The skills we got into we covered well and drilled extensively. Coupling that with the threat management, deescalation and threat management stuff that we did was absolute money. The students in the class were a broad cross section of society from vets to college professors, general contractors, IT folks, gun/training monkeys such as myself and one police officer. The latter gentleman was a tough shooter and wound up being my training partner about half the time. He summed up the class as almost ‘academy light’ and I am inclined to agree with his assessment. There aren’t many classes that get folks to threat-assess, respond appropriately and deescalate or leave if possible.
I absolutely loved seeing the practical integration of medical skills and drills into the range time. I believe that were supposed to start doing that in a buddy-drill format on day two but we spent a lot of time working the practical exercises which was not at all a misuse of time.
I have been through ECQC twice with Craig Douglas and done multiple rounds of not very fun defensive donnybrooks at DARC. I still took away many good lessons from this class. One of my favorites was the POM pepper spray units. I fully recognize the value of OC and I’ve tried at various points in the past to integrate it into my daily personal use. I’ve either found the canisters hard to carry and harder to deploy effectively either because of their size and lack of discernible orientation (Sabre Mk-3) or wrong-handed pocket clip setup (Sabre Mk-6). I was aware of the POM brand before this class but I had not had time to I investigate the them for myself. I am now a believer in their system.
We need more classes that integrate defensive skills beyond just shooting holes in targets. There is huge long term value in learning how to do more than just hammer nails. I absolutely commend John for the class he’s put together.
John Murphy is someone I’ve heard of for years and always in good context from shooters and trainers I’ve come to know and trust. I found him to be a consummate professional and safe instructor. I greatly look forward to training with him again in the future. This class will likely be going through a change of names to better reflect the scope of its topics. I believe John will be emphasizing the importance of and focus on street encounters and tactics to deal with them.
His website can be found at https://www.fpftraining.com/ I look forward to pushing a good baker’s dozen of my friends his direction for this specific class next time he offers it in this area!
Noted gun issue:
Interestingly enough immediately following the class I decided to strip my handgun to clean and then inspect it. Those that know me might be shocked. After finding some excessive wear I hadn’t noticed before I began looking a bit deeper. At the insistence of a fellow student from the class who is a far more accomplished pistol shooter in his own right and an armorer to boot I yanked the locking block out of my pistol. I discovered that it had been broken in two for some time. It likely broke early in the class or just prior to it. I am normally a spare parts whore but I did not have a replacement part for this item handy. Communications with Glock folks that I know determined that this specific part (OEM part#4361) has been discontinued and is no longer available. While Glock would likely take care of it under warranty I have no desire to let my old frame be crushed and replaced with a new one. If you need a locking block for a pre-2012 Gen3 Glock 19 know that Lone Wolf Distributors makes an identical part from stainless. It was made for some of their custom frames and it appears to be an adequate, serviceable replacement for the now discontinued and unobtainium OEM part.
Guns wear when you actually shoot them. Weird. Lube them. Replace wear parts on the manufacturer’s suggested intervals and periodically clean them to facilitate inspection and replacement of things that need it.
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