Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CSAT Tactical Pistol Operator Course Review

Today I am going to be reviewing a pistol course I recently attended. I went over to Combat Shooting and Tactics (CSAT) for their Tactical Pistol Operator Course.

The good:

A significant reason why I chose to train at CSAT was it's owner and primary instructor Paul Howe. Without overly 'tooting his horn' there is not anyone involved in modern tactical firearms instruction with a significantly better background to do what they do than Paul Howe. [Though he has a few peers such as Kyle Lamb, Pat McNamara, Larry Vickers and Frank Proctor, plus surely some Navy guys with similar credits.] He spent over a decade in a tier one Special Operations unit as an NCO. He was either doing bad things to bad people, or training others to do bad things to bad people for over a decade. When it comes to tactical weapon employment and self defense arguing anyone has much, if anything, on Paul Howe is an uphill battle.

This class starts with a brief introduction to firearms safety as well as the procedures they want you to use for clearing, loading, etc handguns. At this time the rules of the range and administrative considerations were discussed.

We also had a brief discussion of gear options with a focus on a tactical, assault type set up.
After the admin notes we had a period of instruction on drawing, gripping and firing a pistol. We then moved in to a drill based on the instruction.

The way the class worked is that we would come together for a period of instruction. After the period of instruction we would execute a drill. This broke pretty evenly into modules that were 45-50 minutes long. After a module we would reload magazines and ‘fluids in/ fluids out’ then move to the next module.

The class flowed in a logical, cumulative sequence. We took a break at lunch to eat then got back at it till about 4pm. The next day we got together at 8 and began again in the same format as the day before. It ended around 330 on Sunday.

I cannot necessarily recall every single drill or the flow of them but it all worked really well and built on itself. We trained on a variety of drills and the kneeling position.

Instructors were present and walked the line giving reminders and additional guidance as needed. They did a real good job of tempering this to the individual students experience level which varied widely. The DPS SRT member was on a different level than the eager, but decidedly new to guns, couple from San Francisco.

Day 1 ended with shooting some standards and being videotaped.

Day 2 began with watching the video from the end of Day 1. Being able to watch ourselves was a valuable visual of our shortcomings. Reminders were given. Following that we discussed some tactical issues and went over some real world shooting cases. Additionally we had a discussion about concealed carry gear, rifles and active shooter type bags.

After building fundamentals on day 1 we moved into different scenarios for day 2. First we worked on moving with hot weapons around people and shooting for precision in a hostage scenario. Next moved around/ between and shot from vehicles. After vehicles we worked on point of aim on a target wearing a t shirt and shot standards. After that we shot from behind barriers. The class culminated with us shooting the CSAT instructor standards to receive a score which can be used as a reference point for the future.

Specific take aways. Way too many to mention.

Draw to high ready and firing was trained. It was in line with the modern isosoles method but not strictly speaking a ‘4 step draw’. Paul said the reason for this is a fixation on sub steps (between holster and shooting) leads to artificial stops in the middle. This lead to a draw with the hands coming together at the high ready then pressing out fast into position, prepping the trigger while extending the arms, and shooting once you get the front sight. The result was a smooth movement that was natural.

Draws started from what Paul calls ‘interview stance’ in a natural athletic position with your hands together at roughly chest level. The reason for this is it’s a good universal position for a potentially violent situation. You can fight with hands, block, etc from there.

From other life experiences this is a good compromise between some sort of fighting stance which is aggressive and can be seen mistakenly by witnesses and being ready to get clobbered with your hands at your sides. In the past I have used the open hands towards people stance but Paul’s option is just fine. Really the difference between a fighting stance and these other stances is fists being closed and slightly higher. Either way the point to have your hands up and ready to react is significant.
Natural point of aim was a big point of the class. Going from a natural athletic type stance such as ‘interview’ through your draw should put the front sight on target at pistol fighting ranges. We still used sights but the goal is through proper mechanics that when you make the decision to shoot and your pistol leaves the high ready it lands on target.

Since we decide to shoot when leaving the high ready the trigger is being prepped from that point to full extension where you shoot. This movement is quite fast. The goal was under 1 second to hit a 6X13 vital zone at 7 yards. I achieved this goal albeit dead on with no margin for error.
The point to do things consistently was significant in the class. Example, every time you work the slide on a pistol grab it overhand. I was definitely guilty of using a ‘pinch’ technique for administrative stuff in the past so this was a point of improvement for me. The point of this is to be consistent across the board.

Dove tailing from that point the key that shooting is really all about consistence was pressed.
Both in the course of instruction and on the spot corrections to shooters Paul made a big point of only adjusting one thing at a time. I believe in the course of instruction the reason for this is to isolate a variable and guide shooters to the right answer FOR THAT VARIABLE. Over the course of instruction we worked through these in a logical sequence to end up in about as good of a place as a person can get in 2 days. For on the spot corrections Paul did the same thing. The reason was that a person can only really focus on changing one or maybe two things at a time.

The importance of automatically re acquiring your site picture after a shot was made. The reason for this is that it saves the time of doing so and thus speeds up the follow up shot if needed.
In a tactical sense we discussed managing encounters. The basics being awareness, verbal engagement [“I don’t want to talk with you today. Get away from me, do it now” doesn’t leave much room for ambiguity. If somebody ignores that they are deaf or planning something bad.], the use of objects such as vehicles or gas pumps to create space and such. This also lead to some interesting discussion on use of force with currently serving LEOs in the room.

Use of force is a really complicated discussion and I would not hesitate to give any form of legal advice. That being said one might want to look at how their state treats civilians in use of force scenarios. In say Texas the odds are a person who acts reasonably is going to be OK, not so much in California. Just another thing to think about.

So much more stuff than I could remember. Honestly it was 2 days of drinking from a fire hose.
The Bad: I wasn’t able to take this class last year. Was signed up but work messed it up. Something came up and it was going to be OK, just narrowly. Our schedule was delayed 3 days out (from the class) and I was stuck in the Middle East. Paul said no big deal and cut me a full refund. A year later it worked out for me to take the class.

The Ugly: I didn’t take this class a decade ago.

Hardware:
Pistols- The class was probably 40% Glock, 30% M&P, 15% Sig and the rest were a mix of different pistols (a couple of those new H&K’s and I think some sort of new Walther.) Two of the SIGs were duty guns for Texas LEO’s and the other was a guy from San Francisco. He had a real hard time managing the DA first shot on that gun. Darn near pulled every one of them. He is going to buy a Glock.

Most folks shot compact or full sized handguns. A couple guys had subcompact Glocks. One swapped out in favor of his G19 and the other has a young guy (like under 18) who shot Dads Glock 30S the whole time. His had was pretty darn sore. Most guns were in 9mm, there were quite a few .40’s, about 3 .45’s and one guy using the Texas DPS issued Sig in .357 SIG.

Gear:
Most shooters were using some sort of OWB kydex belt holster. A few like me had drop type rigs. The LEO’s were wearing their Batman Belts with Safariland holsters.
I used a TT Duty Belt, my Safariland 6125 with a ghetto rigged leg strap, and a TT double mag pouch. Would have used my HSGI rig but I wanted to keep it simple. From here on out I will practice mostly with the HSGI Costa Leg Rig.

Planned Gear Changes:
Pistol- Grip force adapter to let me get a slightly higher grip and have more surface area on the gun.
Gear- I could use a couple inch longer leg strap for the Safariland. Otherwise I think I’ll stick with that rig for awhile and see how it goes. I need some of those belt keepers to keep my inner belt and duty belt together, especially if I’ll be wearing it for awhile.
Conclusion: The class rocked and I strongly recommend it.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Obligatory New Years Post

It is New Years Eve. A good time to reflect on the last year and look forward the next year. I pretty much covered the tangibles of buying this or that in the New Years Resolutions piece so no need to rehash that. I got PRK corrective eye surgery which is pretty awesome. We recently got a new dog.

This year we ran a Fighting Load Contest. You can see the all the entries here. That was our second big winter contest. It ended up running piece mil till the summer. In some ways I was quite happy with it and for a variety of reasons I was not so pleased about some parts of it. You might note it is now winter and I have not said anything about a contest this year. Well that is because we are not doing one. Maybe next year.

Overall at the blog not a whole lot changed. Generally that is a good thing as I am pretty happy about where it is at. Stalled out on the book writing efforts but no use crying over spilled milk.

The first half of last year was weird in a lot of ways which threw some things off. That made me miss a CSAT Combat Handgun class which really bummed me out. Also that fundamental uncertainty shaped all manner of plans and goals in different ways.

It was yet another year without a super grid down collapse. Giving further credence to putting at least some of our preparedness time/ money/ efforts into more practical and less sexy areas like saving money, paying down debt, etc. (HT to Commander Zero who pointed this out.) While those risks exist we should not focus on things that MIGHT happen at the risk of ones that ACTUALLY happen.

As to next year:

Politically/ etc-


Interestingly in 2000 the CIA made some predictions for 2015. 


Since the Rep's will own both the house and senate any additional gun control measures at the national level are DOA. However with President Obama's current YOLO stance on executive orders who knows what might happen. Off the top of my head likey targets would be importation of blatantly non sporting (military pattern rifles, ammo, etc) weapons as well as interpretation of various statutes on questionable letter of the law items like bum fire stocks, AR pistol accessories, etc could happen. I generally rate these as unlikely. The biggest pressure against freedom will come from liberal big money backing local initiatives at the state (and major city/ county) level.

It will become increasingly clear that our current 'recovery' is either A) entirely a figment of our imagination or B) best case only benefiting a small number of people who are very wealthy or in specific sectors.

Person-

Work on relationships. Put effort into the ones which already exist and maybe try to start some new ones with people who bring value to my (our) life.

Be more intentional about my use of time (and to a lesser degree money) towards my priorities. Also look at my self identified priorities and how they do/ do not measure up to my actions to figure out of I need to adjust self identified priorities or stop screwing around and make stuff happen.

Get back to where I want to be physically. Things got off track and I was never really able to get back to the right course. This year one of my biggest goals is to fix that.

Cook more. We have pretty traditional gender roles, in no small part because I work and Wifey stays at home with the kids. Still I find cooking relaxing and generally enjoy doing it.

Preparations-

I will address this a lot more specifically in my upcoming New Years Resolutions post. Honestly it should be called 'Annual Goals' but at this point I'm going to stick with the name/ format. My broad goals are to build an AR pistol, buy some .308, 5.56, 12 gauge and 9mm ammo, beef up our fuel storage and round out some odds n ends. As to food I need to do a real inventory then look to fill the holes which come up.

Blog-

Better allocate my efforts in terms of posts. Do 1-2 more in depth posts with pictures, etc instead of 3 ish medium sized ones. Total post frequency won't likely change and worst case it would slip from roughly 1.3 posts a day ave to 1.1ish.

Build new relationships with different entities (blogs, companies, forums etc) for collaboration, fun, growth and profit.

Maximize passive income.

Anyway that is where I plan on going with this coming year. What are your plans?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Selco's One Year in Hell

So there is this guy Selco. He wrote a bunch of stuff in forums over the last few years (if I recall) and recently started a blog called SHTF School that is a big hit. He lived through the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 90's (or claims to, I have no reason to doubt him and it certainly comes across as legit) and as you can expect learned some hard lessons. In addition to the blog he has a course called "One Year in Hell." Today I will be talking about this course.

It is predominantly a series of audio recordings of a fellow named Jay asking open ended questions and Selco answering them and taking small tangents as they come up naturally. The first few talk about how things were before the war and the time leading up to it. Then he talks about how his group, a large extended family kind of thing, came together and the things developed. He talks about trading and moving around, what worked well and about mistakes people paid dearly for. The whole thing flows like a conversation you could have with someone to sort of 'pick their brain' on a topic. I think there are 30 some odd recordings and I am about half way through them. We will briefly hit the usual format.

Good: Been there and done that. This isn't some random, albeit well intentioned, guy saying what he thinks. This is a fellow who lived through a very rough time telling us what he learned and what his current preps look like. Very valuable stuff.

I also appreciate that it is audio instead of text. I will sit down, crack open a beer or grab a cup of coffee and listen to a segment while doing the usual online surfing or just relaxing. It is broken into sections based on loose topics that vary between a bit under 10 minutes and about a half hour which is nice. Easy to squeeze into a busy schedule.

The Bad: The audio quality is not particularly great. You can clearly hear everything and it reminds me of an AM station in the middle of nowhere in terms of quality. I would not say that it detracts from the message.

The Ugly: None yet.

Overall Impression as of now: I am really enjoying it. Definitely very interesting and I have taken some notes and added some things to my lists. The cost of this course is $29.95.The real question as always "is it worth the money?"

Yes I think so. I put a certain amount of money into preparedness research/ personal development. Typically that means a few books a year. For comparison that would typically buy you 1 or 2 preparedness type books. I have gotten more out of the first half of this course than several books (books that I was happy with). Certainly I would look at a fresh perspective by someone who has actually lived through some crazy stuff than another random guys take on basic preparedness.

I will do a more in depth post once I have finished the course.

Disclaimer: I received a subscription free of charge to review.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

4th of July

Well it is the 4th of July. A pretty quiet day here. Obviously we need to maintain security, provide some basic services as well as maintain C2, however on the whole it is as light of a day as possible.No beer or fireworks but there was a pretty good spread of food which I vigerously ate my way through. I've got to hand it to our cooks. They really cook the heck out of what they are given. Having eaten in facilities that are outstanding and others which are horrible I can attest to their knowhow and care of preparation being the difference between something that will (or in extreme cases won't) fill your stomach and fuel you for a few hours and an enjoyable meal that raises your spirits. Those guys work insane hours in probably the least sexy job in the military and deserve more credit than they get. Anyway today leaves me somewhat reflective about a lot of things. I am not going to wax about history or philosophy. Birthday's are a great time for an azmith check. Our country isn't in a substantially different place than a year ago. However we were not in a great place, by any measure, a year ago. The drama in the Eurozone has at a minimum shown a possible direction we could be headed in. We probably have a lot more electronic money floating around than a year ago, but some time back those numbers started sounding like made up ones little kids would use to taunt eachother on the playground so I stopped paying attention. We are getting out of Iraq which is a good thing. I truly hope the best for that nation but the next chapter is going to have to be written by it's own citizens. We are also, at least in theory starting to phase out of Afghanistan. Probably for the best. By this point, a decade into this war, if we have not achieved a desired endstate it is time to take a good hard look at how much more blood and money we are willing to put into meeting our goals. The general concensus is not very much. The hard truth is that the Afghan government is going to have to stand on it's own feet pretty soon. We seem to be involved in Libya and I am not at all sure what to say about that one. Is there a way we can keep a good record of ordinance that is about to go past it's lifespan and just measure that up with a list of countries what have pissed us off? Some logisticial could just allocate the 500 scuds which go bad in a few months toward whomever is currently pissing us off. It would be cheaper than using newer ordinance.

I am concerned about the problems on our border with Mexico. Also the rise of no knock warrants against average people going wrong bothers me a lot. There has got to be some way cops can retain that tool they genuinely need but use enough discretion that normal, fundamentally decent, folks aren't getting killed all the time. If this keeps up a lot of folks may start to reevaluate their stance on cops. Cops might find themselves aweful alone in a big scary world if this keeps up for much longer.

I do not think all is lost. America is a big, strong country with a lot of productive power. Sort of like an exceptionally big/ strong man in a fight, even when we are getting the worst of it a solid punch landed can totally change a fight. A governing body that decided to fuel growth and took some (I'm not talking fixing every entitlement problem over night) reasonable steps to get spending under control could change things in a hurry. That would let us stop borrowing like crazy and be on a more even trading field with China. Businesses having the confidence to spend their on hand cash and people being willing to expand their businesses or start new ventures would radically change the employment situation. These problems could be solidly in our rear view mirror in a few years. I know that outlook is a bit rosy but I want to break us all out of the doom and gloom group think. Anyway I hope you have a good Independence Day
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