AAR - Presscheck Consulting No Fail Pistol 23-24Sept20

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AAR - No Fail Pistol

23-24Sept2020, Meadhall Range, Oklahoma

Firstly I need to apologize for taking so long to get this done. I normally take a week to ten days to get an AAR out so I can have time to soak up my notes, talk with other students and let strong thoughts and passions, good or bad, dissipate a bit. I’ve rewritten this several times over the last few weeks and believe now that it is at least acceptable.

TL:DR — if you want to partake in a self-guided tour of your current marksmanship abilities; if you want to shoot with really sharp folks that will make you want to improve; if you’ve only ever had lowest-common-denominator training with watered down standards and need an honest assessment; if you need to better understand mindset for the use of force, especially when the costs are high. This might be a class for you.

While I’m glad that I went and I took home a few lessons, pointers and a new focus on precision with a handgun I don’t believe I will be taking this class a second time. — End TL:DR

I attended the No Fail pistol class put on by Presscheck Consulting at the Meadhall Range. This will be my AAR of that weekend.

Despite some smart phone versus website issues I was eventually able to register for this class while working in the western half of the United States and got spot number 20 which was the last one available. This was my Second time attending one of Chuck’s classes; I attended the excellent Night Fighter class back in Nov19 at this same facility. I wanted to attend the follow-on rifle course this weekend well but it wasn’t in the cards due to cost and ammunition.

Class began under Meadhall’s overhang at 0810 after the last administrative minutia had been completed, range fees collected and folks were settled. Initial talk about the class, the curriculum and its goals as well as safety, medical and the four rules lasted until 0850 after which we headed over to the range to get started. The entirety the first day was spent between 25 and 15 yards shooting B-8s both freestyle and strong hand only. At the beginning of each iteration students were expected to perform as they knew how to the best of their abilities. Prior to repetitions of the same exercise points of instruction were generally given to the class as a whole to help with some of the more common issues. Progression was made by many students tightening up their shots as we moved through the different evolutions. Exactly 15rds were shot at 10yds and nothing was shot closer on TD1. We had a 30min lunch break under the overhang starting at 1300 prior to repeating the day’s curriculum strong hand only. Total expenditure for the first day was 374rds.

TD2 started with rounds down range at 0810. We basically repeated the same sequence of drills on B-8s shot the previous day but did everything wrong hand only. Aside from allowing everyone to start off with a 10 round string of slow-fire done freehand nothing was made easier to accommodate the shooting done wrong hand only. This course of fire lasted 160rds. Once complete we moved into target transitions. After working target to target transitions for 92 rounds over multiple iterations we broke for lunch. Lunch was about 45min before getting everyone back out onto the range. Following lunch we began blocks of instruction regarding shooting and moving. The movement started with simple fore and aft planes of movement in relation to the targets but we also worked lateral movements while shooting, moving around various small obstacles to stress spatial awareness and then angular to lateral movement paths while shooting. Every movement performed we would follow up with an iteration going in the opposite direction. This made sure that both the right handers and the southpaws received the full gamut of issues to work through. Our targets for the moving and shooting portion were a mix of B-8s and small steel which worked very well to help people improve and keep them honest. Following the moving and shooting work ups we fired up Meadhall’s mover system so that students could get some time on moving targets.

We wrapped up the day with shooting the Bianchi Cup as a class on Meadhall’s twin plate racks. Shooting wrapped up for the day at 1740 and we commenced with brass call immediately after that. My total round count for TD2 Was 437rds.

My total expenditure of ammunition for the class was 811rds.

Personal notes, thoughts and observations:

– Notable to me were my own gun issues which manifested as five failures to eject within the first 154 rounds we shot before lunch. I exchanged the entire frame and extractor assembly on my Unity ATOM 19 for my known-good OEM Gen3 Glock 19 that I’ve had for many years. No further issues were noted but it does remind me that I probably need to gut and replace all of the fire control parts on both of these guns with as much use as they’ve had. I adopted the ATOM system in 2016 because I didn’t know what optics were going to come out on top for use on pistols. At this point I have a far better idea of what I like, what I need and what I don’t. Given that and the issues with the ATOM I’ve had over the years I’m planning on a pair of 19s with milled-in Aimpoint Acros and a 19 sim kit milled for the same.

– I shot this entire class from concealment using a Keepers Concealment holster and a Raven Concealment double magazine pouch. I saw one other student work from concealment for the duration of the class and he was an excellent shooter. I was glad to see a few other folks working from concealment on the first day but they didn’t stick with it. I always appreciate seeing folks run the gun and gear combinations that they’re most likely to encounter in their daily lives and jobs.

– The class ended up having 24 students in it. As I understand it the normal cap for this class is 20. We were run for the majority of the class in a single firing order that stretched from edge to edge on the range. During the moving and shooting portions of the class we were broken down into two firing orders for safety and more working space. We ran one at a time on the lateral and diagonal movement work. There were a lot of folks on the line in this class. I’m of the opinion that for more than ten students you really need an AI assisting the instructor both for safety but also to better provide quality observation, feedback and instruction to students. That feedback and corrective action is a big part of what makes it worth spending a not insignificant amount of time, ammunition and money for tuition to go to classes.

– The make up of students on the line ran the entire gamut. There were people I’ve known for many years but hadn’t seen in a long time and folks I’ve known of for many years but had never before met. Some attendees were damn fantastic shooters and professionals. We also had That Guy that was in over their head. My position was second from last shooter on the right side of the line. I was sandwiched between a hard-shooting OHP trooper that made me bring every ounce of A-game that I had and Texas trooper on the end who was the only person in the class running iron sights.

Things I appreciated about the class:

– War stories were kept to a minimum. Every tangent or story told while the class was at work had a very specific lesson or point directly relatable to what we were doing and was only long enough to make that point.

– Targets were replaced/Refaced constantly. This is something I’ve always been a huge fan of doing. Without fresh targets there is no feedback for rounds fired and, in essence, ballistic masturbatuon is occurring. Given the price and scarcity of ammunition the benefit here should be obvious.

– Lunch breaks were short to get folks back on the range faster. Short ‘working lunches’ keep everybody more engaged and onsite. This lets class resume that much quicker and it gives good opportunities to talk and network with others during downtime.

– Refocusing on fundamentals. I shoot a fair number of B-8s. I go through 150-200 a year between my rifle and pistol work. This class reminded me of the intensity and focus that I should be bringing to that work as well as how far outside of my comfort zone I should be pushing myself with regards to standards and distances.

Things I did not appreciate about the class:

– The number of students on the range was too high, especially for one instructor. While you may be able to manage and safely run a line with that many people, especially if they’re competent shooters, there is not going to be much time or focus that can be given to professional observation, feedback and individual improvement. Improvements that could be squeezed out of students are then left untapped and issues which should absolutely be fixed are left unaddressed. Two examples of this stand out immediately to me. First, there was an experienced shooter near me who was getting highly frustrated at the end of each iteration with issues pertaining to their shooting. They would slam their weapon back into a Safariland holster so hard that I was thankful it wasn’t something of poorer construction. After half dozen repetitions of this I had to ask him for my own sanity and his safety to quit before something unfortunate happened. Secondly was That Guy on the line that had no idea of what to do with his support hand. While it certainly didn’t help his shooting I noticed more than once as he ran a compact pistol that his support hand index finger would be laid along the slide and the tip of it was nearly even with the muzzle. At least once I saw this person, during a draw, getting their support hand to the blaster and literally having that finger wrapped around the front of the slide... until making it to full extension pulled their finger off the front of the slide. While not immediately dangerous to others in the vicinity this could have lead to other issues in addition to the self-correcting one. I believe this was mentioned to the student at least once but I did not notice any changes as a result of it.

– Instructor feedback on individual performance was lacking. As a result of the above issues there was even less time available for individual assessments of shooters, their performance and what changes they could make for improvements. I believe my only interactions with the instructor while on the line and shooting were the two times Chuck happened to walk by as I was in the process of snatching a shot, one of which I salvaged and one I didn’t. He would ask me to call my hit based off my follow through, pat my shoulder at the answer and move along. I guess I called the hits correctly? Some pointers tips and corrective actions would be given during demos and between shooting evolutions to the class as a whole and I heard them being given to a few folks on other parts of the line. Compatriots of mine at the other end of the line had similar things to say regarding the lack of feedback. I believe that one of the most important aspects of seeking out occasional professional training comes from being under the direct observation of someone who can dispassionately assess shooters‘ strengths, weaknesses and provide paths to improvement and, especially if needed, corrective training. It is for this reason that I specifically go once a year to one of two handgun instructors who’s teaching abilities I have great respect for. For the cost of the class and the number of rounds fired I was very disappointed to not have any direct feedback on mistakes I am surely making and how to fix them.

– Certificates and proof of instruction. This is the second class I’ve taken with Chuck. My first was the excellent Nightfighter class offered at the same location back in November of last year. Like that class this one also did not have a certificate to show completion of the course. This may sound like looking for a merit badge but the certificates do provide proof of attendance and accrued training. Some entities will allow for this to be placed towards their annually required continuing education credits. I have had some of my training questioned during interviews for work and applying to take classes with folks and groups that do not know me. It is very useful to be able to show a record of ones learning path and commitment to improvement when needed.

Follow-up:

I sent this AAR to Chuck as a courtesy before posting it publicly. These points are added to the AAR as a result of the conversations that followed.

The class size issue was something we talked about briefly at the class as well. Chuck took responsibility for this class growing to the size that it did. A hard cap on the size of the class is something he said he would be adhering to in the future.

The course description for No Fail Pistol is apparently going to be rewritten to remove the portion about diagnostic feedback from the instructor. The goals of this class are specifically about teaching throttle control and decision making as opposed to shooting mechanics.

End of course certificates are available by emailing the instructor to request one and noting the date on which the class occurred.


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YetiSam

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I was at the class in front of target 4 or so (in between middle and left end I guess?). I had no idea there was a THAT GUY in the class it was so far away. Can agree about the size of the class, but was still very happy with the instruction. It really helped me break through a plateau I have been on for some time. The one terrible thing about the size of the class was I felt I only really got to chat with the dudes that were near me. After 4 days (I took rifle also), most folks seemed like strangers still.

I guess it helps I didn't expect diagnostic feedback from listening to some of his Patreon stuff, but I can see how that would be pretty disappointing if it's in the description.

Appreciate the line about the certs, I was bummed about it too.
 

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I’m glad to hear that you got a lot of good out of the class!

I didn’t expect feedback on the mechanics side of shooting to be in any way the primary focus but I did expect it to happen where needed. I would’ve been fine with not receiving much or any feedback like that myself had I seen it being applied where it was far more needed.

I don’t really believe it’s possible to have a class where you focus on the end result to the exclusion of the mechanics and foundational skills to get there. This wasn’t a basics class by any stretch and if you’re showing up to it you should already have your shooting wired relatively tight. Having said that if there’s students not shooting as well as they should be but they’re in the ballpark that would seem a place where corrective feedback can have great value. To me process and the end results go hand in hand. A class without both halves of that is basically just a get together to shoot at B-8s and anybody can do that.


How was the rifle class? I wanted to show up and observe for a bit on Sunday but I thought better of it with the head cold I’d been fighting off during the preceding days. I heard you guys ran the scrambler drill.


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YetiSam

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If the Pistol class was you know what's possible and here are methods to achieve that, the rifle class was you may not know this is possible, but here are ways to do it.

He did a lot more instruction on ways to build a good position and then we did a lot of shooting 100-300 on small targets using kneeling/sitting/standing. Some hasty prone at 300 hitting 8" plates stuff as well. Then on day 2 we did a lot of barricade type stuff applying cants and finished running the scrambler 3 times. That OHP cop you were shooting near busted all our asses on that. That dude can shoot and move.
 

Defcon Shooter

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When I go to Gunsite Academy the maximum Student to instructor ratio for square range work is 5:1 Scenario driven drills are minimum 1:1 although many are 2 instructors one student. The week long class wife and i took this month had a square range ratio of 5:2. I hate when you see that shadow growing behind you knowing you are being carefully observed for issues :ooh2:
 
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