Suarez Course Blog

This is a discussion on Suarez Course Blog within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; When the weather gets better I'd like to run some force-on-force drills wearing just a long-sleeve t-shirt, rather than a t-shirt, thick sweatshirt, and jacket. ...

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  1. #16
    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    When the weather gets better I'd like to run some force-on-force drills wearing just a long-sleeve t-shirt, rather than a t-shirt, thick sweatshirt, and jacket.
    That's the way to do it.

    What is really nice about this course is that you get to see how to run some decent FOF. Now you can take that and run it with some shooting buddies on your own.

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  3. #17
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Day 4

    Weather report: Much better! About 10-15 degrees warmer than yesterday, partly cloudy, no precipitation. Definitely much nicer than the past few days.

    This morning we started off with some hand to hand stuff, mostly disarms and trying to trap the gun in the holster. This is something I really wanted out of this class. For quite a while I've felt that not knowing disarming techniques represented a pretty big hole in my repertoire. We started off trying to trap the opponent's gun in the holster, focusing on trying to get "two against one": both of your hands on the opponent's gun arm. One of the lessons I took from this drill is the importance of having a weapon you can deploy with your off hand while wrestling with a guy. Even after you've got his gun trapped, the longer you are struggling with him the better the chance that he's going to break free and shoot you. You can try throwing him around into walls or the ground, but there are times when it would be nice to stab him or empty your gun into his spine. Unfortunately, sometimes it's your gun hand that's holding his gun in the holster. Being able to draw a BUG or knife off handed would be a real advantage in this situation. Right now I carry a knife in my weak side pocket, but it's not something I'd feel confident about deploying in the middle of a fight (part of this is because the clip is set up for right handed carry, so when you put it on the left side nothing's really in the right place for opening it and I've got to get it turned around before I open it). Gabe and one of the students had some big Cold Steel folders ("That's not a knife. This is a knife!" sized knives). I may have to get me one of those (and some real knife training to go along with it).

    After doing that for a while, we moved on to disarms. Gabe showed us three techniques, depending on how high the gun was and where our hands were. After some practice in pairs, we went at it with airsoft. We started out at close range (close enough to easily reach the weapon) then moved it out further and further, maxing out at 3-4 yards. At close range, the disarms are really effective (provided you don't flub them) but as you get further out, it becomes more and more likely that you'll take a round before getting a hand on them.

    Next, we tried the exact same drill (facing an opponent at 3 yards who has a gun on you) except you went for a gun rather than a knife. The really interesting thing is that even at 3-4 yards, the outcome was generally better going hand to hand than using a gun. If you try to draw on a guy who has a gun on you at three yards, the best anyone could do is turn it into a tie, with both guys firing at about the same time (even this takes really explosive movement off the X, a fast smooth draw, and good skills shooting on the move). In the real world this would mean that both parties end up dead. Going hand to hand often meant taking a hit before you closed the range, but provided you really got off the X fast that hit was usually a peripheral one (probably survivable as long as you win the fight). Trying to outdraw a drawn gun the best outcome that you can hope for is that both of you end up dead. This is definitely a, "die less often" situation. A drawn gun pointed at you outside of arms reach is a real sucky situation, and going hand to hand against them is the best of a bad set of choices. Still, I found it very surprising that hand to hand was the best choice that far out.

    The other important thing I learned is that if you attempt a disarm it had better work. A failed disarm generally resulted in the guy attempting it getting shot. I don't want to be standing there with a mugger pointing a real gun at me while I'm thinking, "OK, we covered this in Gabe's class six months ago, how does that disarm go again?" I'm definitely buying a red gun and disarms are going to be a part of our local shooting groups monthly get together.

    After lunch we started on some multiple adversary drills. We started off with one on two. Multiple live adversaries are really difficult, much more difficult than doing a multiple target stage or scenario against paper or steel BGs (particularly when your adversaries are on the tail end of four days of intense shooting training). The best strategy is definitely to try and stack your opponents, but doing this with two guys who are moving and shooting at you isn't easy. One shortcoming of our multiple adversary training is that airsoft guns don't have any stopping power. Since your fire isn't doing to disable either adversary, it's real easy to just get focused on one BG, pumping round after round into him while not paying any attention to the other guy. I really want to shoot a multiple adversary drill with live ammo and reactive targets so I can get a feel for how to transition from one BG to another as they go down.

    Next we threw in a third guy armed with a contact weapon. The contact weapon was interesting, because seemed difficult for a lot of shooters to prioritize them. If you shoot him first, you just end up getting shot to pieces by the two guys with guns. On the flip side, some guys concentrated on the gun armed assailants first, to the exclusion of the guy armed with the knife. While playing the knife armed BG, I was able to close in on the good guy, wrap him up in a one-armed bear hug and bury the foam knife in his ribs because he was concentrating so hard on the gunfight he was having with the other two BGs. When you've got multiple adversaries armed with a mix of contact and ranged weapons, who to shoot first is highly situation dependent.

    One thing I'm really feeling the lack of in this course is the absence of any more freeform simulations or roleplaying, rather than the predefined drills we've been doing for the last two days. I kind of felt this way the first day and a half, when we were doing one on one drills, but this really kicked into high gear when we got to multiple adversaries. We were starting these drills with two or three BGs lined up about five yards away. Other than having them on either side of you, this is probably the most difficult position to start a fight against multiple adversaries. With multiple potential opponents, the pre-fight maneuvering is really important. If you can get your assailants stacked up (put one behind the other, relative to you) it would be a big advantage, since you can take them more one after the other rather than both at once. I can see why Gabe doesn't do this sort of thing, given the limited time available during the course (this was a pretty full two days), but its definitely something I want to explore with our local shooting group.

    After finishing up with multiple adversaries, we went into the classroom to talk about our experiences and figure out what we need to do to win a gunfight. This was a great, freewheeling discussion about everything we learned in the course.

    Overall, this was a great course. I had a really fund time, and learned a hell of a lot. Gabe is an excellent instructor and really has a point of view that's different than you'll get most other places. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to expand their horizons when it comes to personal defense.

    One last thing I'll add. I mentioned back in my day one post that I was a bit apprehensive about my level of experience, particularly for the life fire Close Range Gunfighting course. On the Suarez International website, it even has a prominent warning, "THIS COURSE IS NOT FOR THE NOVICE SHOOTER. If you have not received basic instruction in Defensive Pistol, or have a question about your skill level, please call us first." After taking the class, I think I can give a slightly more nuanced take on the level of experience required. I don't think you have to be a crack shot to take this class and do well in it (I'm certainly not). However, you do need good gunhandling skills. If you haven't got your draw and presentation down pat, it's going to be hard to get the most out of this course. If you don't have good muzzle and trigger finger discipline, you're going to be downright unsafe. However, if you've got good gunhandling fundamentals, you'll get a lot out of this course no matter what your group size is.

  4. #18
    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    Very nice!

    I hope to add the CRG course to my instructional offerings very soon. I would love to get to the point where Gabe would allow me to be able to teach the IGF course. IGF at night would be something that I would definitely like to be part of....as a student or instructor.

  5. #19
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    With the warmer weather today, everyone was a bit more lightly dressed. I wore a t-shirt, with a fleece jacket over it as a cover garment. The rounds hitting the t-shirt were definitely noticeable, and painful enough to make you want to avoid getting hit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweatnbullets View Post
    What is really nice about this course is that you get to see how to run some decent FOF. Now you can take that and run it with some shooting buddies on your own.
    Funny you should mention that. The guy who made arrangements for Gabe to come do this training is a member of our local Polite Society shooting group. There were 7 of us from the group in the class (out of 24) and most of our lunchtime and after-class discussions were about how to integrate the stuff we were learning into our monthly shoot.

    We already do scenarios and skills drills, and those are definitely going to start including the stuff we learned. I think practicing disarms is also definitely going to become a monthly feature. One of the things we're talking about is setting up a scenario with standard paper or reactive targets, and having everyone shoot it that way. Then put all our guns away and break out the airsoft and shoot the exact same scenario against live opponents. This should really bring to the fore the differences between shooting at static targets and live targets that move and shoot back. Then, if we have the time, shoot the scenario with live weapons again, incorporating what you learned with airsoft into how you shoot.

    One of the interesting things is going to be trying to integrate these techniques into stuff for a wide variety of skill levels. Teaching this stuff to the experienced shooters in our group who couldn't make it to the class probably won't be that hard. However, we're constantly trying to attract new shooters. Since I joined, there hasn't been a single month where there wasn't at least one shooter show up who hadn't shot with us before. Some of these are experienced shooters (square range or IDPA guys) who just haven't shot the sort of dynamic, open ended scenarios we do before. They can usually get up to speed fairly quickly (though a fair number of them don't come back, I think we kind of take them outside their comfort zone). On the other hand, we also get some very new, novice shooters (I was in this category when I first showed up) and they need a little more hand-holding. Teaching this stuff, in 2-3 hour increments each month, to people who may have just shown up for the first time that month (meaning you can't rely on them having been around for last month's lesson) is going to be a real challenge.

    Last month, we decided to run a separate new-shooter course at the same time as our scenarios. Some of the guys made a really strong effort to get new people to come up: one teaches a concealed carry license class and he brought in a lot of people, another managed to persuade four or five of his friends to come up. The Trolley Square shooting probably spurred a lot of people to come out as well. We ended up with a dozen new shooters and taught a four hour course that started at a level just beyond which end of the gun goes bang and had them doing basic (but fairly solid) defensive shooting by the end.

    Figuring out how to integrate some of Gabe's techniques into a curriculum for novice shooters is going to be challenging. I think that we can teach them some stuff in the intro class. Other things are going to have to be reserved for those who have a bit more experience (we may just try to let them know what some of this more advanced stuff is like, so they know the sort of things they'll learn if they come back next month). I don't know if Gabe realizes how extensive our efforts to attract and train new shooters are at the moment, or just how many impressionable new shooters' minds he may have warped indirectly by teaching us this stuff.

  6. #20
    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    One of the things we're talking about is setting up a scenario with standard paper or reactive targets, and having everyone shoot it that way. Then put all our guns away and break out the airsoft and shoot the exact same scenario against live opponents. This should really bring to the fore the differences between shooting at static targets and live targets that move and shoot back. Then, if we have the time, shoot the scenario with live weapons again, incorporating what you learned with airsoft into how you shoot.
    The ECRG does a lot of this exact thing. That is a very solid formula. Shoot it live....disarm and shoot it in FOF.....then shoot it live again. This cycle works very well....especially if you have some very open minded analytical guys working it over.

  7. #21
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Lessons learned

    Quote Originally Posted by Sweatnbullets View Post
    After this weekend "things will never be the same." The lessons and realizations that come out of this course usually has a quantum shift effect on what and how people train and think. I do not believe that I have met one person that did not have their whole world turned upside down by the IGF course.
    I really like the course, but for me at least, "things will never be the same" is probably overselling it a bit. However, I can see how that might be true for someone coming to this from a different background.

    I think the fundamental thing that most people are going to get out of Gabe's course is that you should focus on how to fight, rather than simply how to shoot (this is exactly what some of the other students said afterward). This philosophy of during to figure out what works in a gunfight is already pretty pervasive in the Polite Society group that I shoot with. Hanging around them had pretty thoroughly inoculated me with the idea that I need to be able to win the fight, rather than just punching holes in paper. For instance, one of the guys in our group has a habit of going "hand-to-hand" with the target stand (knocking it over) if it's within arms reach. That's something I think we'll see more of after this class, but its wasn't totally foreign to me going in.

    A big part of the reason the group brought in Gabe, rather than some other big-name instructor, is that we were already headed down this track, and hoped that Gabe would move us along it. I can certainly see how this course should lead to a big shift in direction for a lot of people, but for us it's more of an acceleration than a change in direction.

    Even though this wasn't a life-altering experience, I still got a lot out of this course. Point shooting, shooting on the move and disarms are definitely valuable skill sets that could really make the difference in whether or not I survive a gunfight. The lack of disarm techniques was a hole in my skill set that had been bothering me for a while. Point shooting and dynamic movement, on the other hand, weren't something I really felt the lack of until I did this course. They filled holes in my repertoire that I didn't know I had.

    I really think that may be why point shooting and dynamic movement debates on this and other internet forums get so heated. Until you've learned how to use these techniques and done some force-on-force training with them, you don't really feel the lack. This is a situation that practically invites true believers (I guess you can count me among their ranks at this point ) to end up yelling at the seemingly ignorant folks who don't see the need for these skills. This is really an area where you don't know what you don't know until you actually learn the skills and put them to use. It's really hard to sell people on a skill when they can't see why they need this skill until after they learn it.

    In addition to filling these three holes in my skill set, I think this has also exposed another. Based on the disarms and gun-arm grabs we were doing this morning, I really think I need to get myself some more hand-to-hand skills. This isn't a totally new thought for me, I've know for a while that I really ought to round out my shooting skills with some hand-to-hand stuff. But I always kind of figured that I've got a gun, I can do some contact shooting stuff and I'll muddle through. This course has really changed my thinking on that. In particular, the stuff we did this morning showing the superiority of combatives in some situations, including at ranges that I would have considered gunfighting distances until today. So I've definitely got to learn some empty hand skills. I figure I ought to learn some knife and stick fighting skills, both so I can learn more about how to defend against contact weapons, and learn how to defend myself in places where my gun isn't available (like airplanes, post offices, and California and most other foreign countries).

    While point shooting, shooting on the move, and disarms are all skills that could literally save my life some day, I think that over the long term the most valuable thing I learned the past few days is how to run airsoft force-on-force scenarios. Gabe's a great instructor and I certainly learned a ton in this course, but there's only so much he can teach in four days. The ability to do realistic force-on-force scenarios, in concert with a group dedicated to figuring out what works in a gunfight, is going to be the gift that keeps on giving. At this point I just have to trot out that old cliché, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." The ability to run airsoft scenarios is definitely a "teach a man to fish" type thing. Already I'm thinking about different kinds of scenarios and I'm sure other people in the Polite Society group that I shoot with are doing the same. The ability to test stuff out in a more realistic environment is a tremendous long-term benefit.

    One of the things I'm really grateful for is that I can take this stuff back and apply it in our local shooting group. I think that's going to tremendously increase the benefit that I get out of this course. In addition to having people to help test airsoft scenarios, having a range where we can do free-form shooting is really going to help develop and retain the shooting on the move skills we learned in this class. Even in the Close Range Gunfighting course, we were only able to shoot at a very limited speed in a carefully choreographed manner. When you've got twelve people on the firing line, there's no way for each of them to go flat out shooting on the move even in the same direction, much less have everyone going in different directions. In our monthly shoots, on the other hand, people shoot one at a time, and we can take advantage of 360 degrees of movement and 180 degrees of shooting. There's even been some talk of a place out in the desert surrounded by cliffs where we could shoot 360 degres. Having the ability to practice these skills, get critiques on how I apply them from others, talk with people about what problems a gunfight presents and how to solve them is just going to be incredibly valuable. Both Gabe's class and our local shoots are great learning experiences in and of themselves, but I think their combined impact is going to be a lot bigger than either of them alone.
    Last edited by Blackeagle; May 7th, 2007 at 01:59 AM. Reason: Spelling

  8. #22
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweatnbullets View Post
    The ECRG does a lot of this exact thing. That is a very solid formula. Shoot it live....disarm and shoot it in FOF.....then shoot it live again. This cycle works very well....especially if you have some very open minded analytical guys working it over.
    We've definitely got that. This is drifting a bit off topic, but I think that only about a third of the stuff I learn in shooting a scenario comes from shooting the scenario itself. Another third comes from the commentary and analysis I get from the people who were watching, and the last third comes from watching and analyzing how other people shot the scenario. Just going and blasting your way through a scenario is fun, but it's thinking about what you did right and wrong where you really learn something.

  9. #23
    Senior Member Array Sweatnbullets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackeagle View Post
    I really like the course, but for me at least, "things will never be the same" is probably overselling it a bit. However, I can see how that might be true for someone coming to this from a different background.

    I think the fundamental thing that most people are going to get out of Gabe's course is that you should focus on how to fight, rather than simply how to shoot (this is exactly what some of the other students said afterward). This philosophy of during to figure out what works in a gunfight is already pretty pervasive in the Polite Society group that I shoot with. Hanging around them had pretty thoroughly inoculated me with the idea that I need to be able to win the fight, rather than just punching holes in paper. For instance, one of the guys in our group has a habit of going "hand-to-hand" with the target stand (knocking it over) if it's within arms reach. That's something I think we'll see more of after this class, but its wasn't totally foreign to me going in.

    A big part of the reason the group brought in Gabe, rather than some other big-name instructor, is that we were already headed down this track, and hoped that Gabe would move us along it. I can certainly see how this course should lead to a big shift in direction for a lot of people, but for us it's more of an acceleration than a change in direction.

    Even though this wasn't a life-altering experience, I still got a lot out of this course. Point shooting, shooting on the move and disarms are definitely valuable skill sets that could really make the difference in whether or not I survive a gunfight. The lack of disarm techniques was a hole in my skill set that had been bothering me for a while. Point shooting and dynamic movement, on the other hand, weren't something I really felt the lack of until I did this course. They filled holes in my repertoire that I didn't know I had.

    I really think that may be why point shooting and dynamic movement debates on this and other internet forums get so heated. Until you've learned how to use these techniques and done some force-on-force training with them, you don't really feel the lack. This is a situation that practically invites true believers (I guess you can count me among their ranks at this point ) to end up yelling at the seemingly ignorant folks who don't see the need for these skills. This is really an area where you don't know what you don't know until you actually learn the skills and put them to use. It's really hard to sell people on a skill when they can't see why they need this skill until after they learn it.

    In addition to filling these three holes in my skill set, I think this has also exposed another. Based on the disarms and gun-arm grabs we were doing this morning, I really think I need to get myself some more hand-to-hand skills. This isn't a totally new thought for me, I've know for a while that I really ought to round out my shooting skills with some hand-to-hand stuff. But I always kind of figured that I've got a gun, I can do some contact shooting stuff and I'll muddle through. This course has really changed my thinking on that. In particular, the stuff we did this morning showing the superiority of combatives in some situations, including at ranges that I would have considered gunfighting distances until today. So I've definitely got to learn some empty hand skills. I figure I ought to learn some knife and stick fighting skills, both so I can learn more about how to defend against contact weapons, and learn how to defend myself in places where my gun isn't available (like airplanes, post offices, and California and most other foreign countries).

    While point shooting, shooting on the move, and disarms are all skills that could literally save my life some day, I think that over the long term the most valuable thing I learned the past few days is how to run airsoft force-on-force scenarios. Gabe's a great instructor and I certainly learned a ton in this course, but there's only so much he can teach in four days. The ability to do realistic force-on-force scenarios, in concert with a group dedicated to figuring out what works in a gunfight, is going to be the gift that keeps on giving. At this point I just have to trot out that old cliché, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." The ability to run airsoft scenarios is definitely a "teach a man to fish" type thing. Already I'm thinking about different kinds of scenarios and I'm sure other people in the Polite Society group that I shoot with are doing the same. The ability to test stuff out in a more realistic environment is a tremendous long-term benefit.

    One of the things I'm really grateful for is that I can take this stuff back and apply it in our local shooting group. I think that's going to tremendously increase the benefit that I get out of this course. In addition to having people to help test airsoft scenarios, having a range where we can do free-form shooting is really going to help develop and retain the shooting on the move skills we learned in this class. Even in the Close Range Gunfighting course, we were only able to shoot at a very limited speed in a carefully choreographed manner. When you've got twelve people on the firing line, there's no way for each of them to go flat out shooting on the move even in the same direction, much less have everyone going in different directions. In our monthly shoots, on the other hand, people shoot one at a time, and we can take advantage of 360 degrees of movement and 180 degrees of shooting. There's even been some talk of a place out in the desert surrounded by cliffs where we could shoot 360 degres. Having the ability to practice these skills, get critiques on how I apply them from others, talk with people about what problems a gunfight presents and how to solve them is just going to be incredibly valuable. Both Gabe's class and our local shoots are great learning experiences in and of themselves, but I think their combined impact is going to be a lot bigger than either of them alone.

    Blackeagle, this is really a great post (no, not because of the point shooting part.) The "teach the man to fish" portion is worth it's weight in gold.

    These post really let me know that you have your head screwed on tight and I look forward to kicking stuff around with you in the future.

    Gabe may put on a great course, but it is the students that take it to a whole other level. If you would like to join in with a group of guys that have been growing this stuff for years stop by at Warrior Talk. You will be surrounded by a group of guys that think an awful lot like the guys in your Polite Society group. This may also help you with ideas and concepts for your on going training.
    Last edited by Sweatnbullets; May 7th, 2007 at 04:42 PM.

  10. #24
    VIP Member Array Blackeagle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweatnbullets View Post
    If you would like to join in with a group of guys that have been growing this stuff for years stop by at Warrior Talk. You will be surrounded by a group of guys that think an awful lot like the guys in your Polite Society group.
    Funny you should mention that. I registered for Warrior Talk last night (Gabe had mentioned it during the class). An edited version of my daily posts from this thread will be going up over there sometime soon.

  11. #25
    Distinguished Member Array SixBravo's Avatar
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    GREAT posts Blackeagle! Looks like I'm going to be talking to Gabe over the summer!!!
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  12. #26
    Member Array N.M. Edmands's Avatar
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    SixBravo, your 15 minutes away from Gabe-- "watcha waitin fur !!"
    Oh yeh? Well this was sent from the scary black electrical box under my desk, so there!
    "It aint how good you shoot, it's how cool you look doing it." [Fred Sayer 1994]
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  13. #27
    Distinguished Member Array SixBravo's Avatar
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    Actually... I'm about 5 minutes from Gurley St. since I moved. haha Waitin' on cash flow. Goin backpackin and climbing all next month with an old friend. Kinda impedes training... haha
    The Gunsite Blog
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    "It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon." - Justice Scalia, SCOTUS - DC v Heller - 26 JUN 2008

  14. #28
    Member Array lostone1413's Avatar
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    Last weekend in Oct I signed up for Gabe class on Point and Sighted Shooting It's two days at the YRL By the way i'm up in Cottonwood
    Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.
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  15. #29
    Senior Member Array Matthew Temkin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lostone1413 View Post
    Last weekend in Oct I signed up for Gabe class on Point and Sighted Shooting It's two days at the YRL By the way i'm up in Cottonwood
    I will be one of the instructors in that class and I plan on adding some combatives and knife defense to the program.
    Looking forward to meeting/working with you.
    I hope some others from this and other forums will be in attendance.

  16. #30
    Member Array lostone1413's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Temkin View Post
    I will be one of the instructors in that class and I plan on adding some combatives and knife defense to the program.
    Looking forward to meeting/working with you.
    I hope some others from this and other forums will be in attendance.
    I look forward to meeting you to. Matthew if you read this I know your one of the top point shooting instructors in the country. What is your opinion of First-Fire. Is it really much different or is it more hype?
    Today, we need a nation of Minutemen, citizens who are not only prepared to take arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as the basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom.
    John F. Kennedy

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