Thank you for for the great recap of your training. This kind of training is something that is at the top of my to do list as soon as time and funds permit.
This is a discussion on AAR: Perroni Tactical Training Academy - Advanced Handgun Course I within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Finally got around to typing this up. For a lot of folks this is going to be a big review of whatcha already know. For ...
Finally got around to typing this up. For a lot of folks this is going to be a big review of whatcha already know. For those like me, this could well be an intro course in and of itself, minus the physical doing of the things I’m typing. Experienced and inexperienced shooters both, chime in with opinions.
Our class was taught by both Tom Perroni and Brad Naylor (bio’s here so I don’t bore y’all with details), with Tom doing most of the talking. The course begins in an office complex for the classroom session, including all the usual topics: safety, ammo and ammo malfunctions, carry conditions, basic drawing and handling, etc. On each of the desks is a binder that contains most of the material needed for the class, but mostly that was so we have something to follow along with; the important parts Tom illustrates in his speaking. In fact, much of what’s in the binder he included as an example of what not to worry ourselves over. His goal for the class is to give us an introduction course on how to fight with a handgun, not to overload us with extraneous details.
First off, cursory run-down of general safety rules. Four basic rules, NRA safety rules, yadda yadda. He told us pretty bluntly that since basic pistol proficiency is a requirement for the course, and this was a fighting course and not a basics course, it was expected that we already knew the rules and he was just reiterating them. Also, given that his chosen weapon is a Glock (as was every other weapon in the class except mine), he also reminded us of the primary safety of the gun is us; keep yer finger off the damn trigger until you’re ready to shoot. That said, there were zero safety issues at any point during the two days, so either he was right in that we didn’t need much going over or his “reminders” were sufficient.
After this we went over cartridge malfunctions, mostly so we could go over how to handle them. Misfires and hangfires incur the tap-rack-fight treatment, and he emphasizes the word “fight” instead of “bang” because getting back into the fight is the crucial part. Squibs... well, kinda screwed on. If you get one and know it, seek cover and clear the gun as fast as possible or you’ll have to make due without. That was about the time Tom went over the phrase “two is one, one is none”, and suggested we keep a backup on us if at all possible. For defensive ammunition, he strongly emphasized that the first priority of self-defense ammunition be reliable. Everything else comes secondary, and we have to always understand that a pistol is not a reliable man-stopper so no pistol bullet will ever be a be-all-end-all in a gunfight.
Next up, carry conditions. If one’s not in the chamber, you’re carrying a several hundred dollar hammer. Unless you’ve got a revolver or an H&K P7, it takes two hands to rack the slide and bad guys aren’t usually nice enough to afford you the space or time to draw, rack the slide, and fight. Moral of the story is if you carry a gun, carry it ready to fight.
Now we finally get into the preliminary information for actual handgun use. Positions and gun handling were next. Strong emphasis was placed on use of the low-ready and retention positions, and he explained to us the difference between TV’s low-ready and real low-ready (Hollywood got it wrong, who knew?). We also went over Sul, since most of us had only passing familiarity with it, and explained that unless we found ourselves in a stack about to go room-clearing, we probably wouldn’t use it much as we would the low-ready or retention position (gun close to body, gripped with both hands, and pointing away at a threat). Just some good knowledge to keep in the toolbox. He also went over the “manipulation position”. Effectively, it’s the basketball sized area directly in front of and slightly below your chest. The sole purpose of this is to give a common area from which to work on the gun during malfunctions, to conduct reloads, to conduct chamber checks, really anything that involves manipulation but not shooting the gun. The idea is that the closer our hands are to our body, the more dexterous they are. I found that to be correct when it came to chamber-checking and reloads, which I got to do a lot this weekend.
Taking a leaf from Mr. James Yeager, “The root word in ‘gun fight’ is not gun… It’s FIGHT.” And so we now move to principles of fighting with handguns. He subscribes to the FAST idea: Fight, Assess, Scan, Tac-reload. These are pretty simple; fight means to shoot to stop the threat, assess means to see if you hit, if he’s down, are there more in that direction, etc., scan means turn 360 and see if there are any other issues needing to be addressed, and tac-reload because you always holster a fully-loaded weapon. Tom’s also a believer in MOVE: Motionless Operators Ventilate Easily. Good point to get across to us new folks to handgun fighting.
Some of his guidelines are as follows:
- ACT, do NOT hesitate.
- Be aware of available concealment and cover (and know the difference).
- Do not crowd cover.
- Maximize your distance from danger (note the acronym MOVE above).
- DON’T linger in doorways (again, see MOVE above). He describes why doorways are called the “fatal funnel”, as a sheriff’s deputy in the class also attests to.
- ID your target.
- Watch hands, waistbands, and pockets.
And last but definitely not least,
- DO NOT GIVE UP IF HIT, most people survive being shot with a pistol.
We reviewed, then moved on.
Because we were about to be manipulating our own pistols, we geared up and moved on to dominant eyes. Remembering the discussion elsewhere about dominant eyes, I brought it up with Tom and he directed me to USAEyes.org’s Dominent Eye Test Card. Print it out, cut out the square in the middle, and follow the directions. Hold it out, focus on something, and while still focusing slowly bring it back until it covers one eye; the eye still looking through the square is the dominant eye (you can also look through the square at an object, and close one eye, then the other; if the object moves when one eye is closed, the open eye is your dominant eye).
Next comes grip. God damn was this a helpful section. Perroni and Jerrett are close and have worked together a lot, so their grip style is identical: fingers over fingers, thumb over thumb. The strong hand grips the pistol as firm as a handshake (no firmer). The weak side fingers should wrap around the strong hand; wrists should be close together. Supporting hand heel should be in contact with the weapon grip. Thumbs should rest on top of each other. Extending your trigger finger along the frame, the tip of your trigger finger should line up even with the tip of your weak-hand thumb. Jerrett’s video explains this, but doesn’t really show it to the camera very well. The stance gone over is Isosceles, but little emphasis is placed on stance except for marksmanship purposes; staying still long enough to acquire a perfect stance isn’t really a good idea (remember the MOVE acronym?). In fact, the two most important things for putting hits on target are sight alignment and trigger control; everything else is supplemental.
On the subject of sights, we move into new territory for me. Perroni’s recommendation is to line up the top edge of the sights with the top edge of the intended target; the distance between the top edge of the sights and the bore line of the pistol is significant enough that if aiming for the top of a 1.5” dot (like his torture dots) as described at close ranges will put it through the middle of the dot every time. Where the dots on the sights are doesn’t really matter, and can actually distract the eye from focusing on the sights correctly. Before messing with new sights, he suggests blacking out any white dots and using just the blacked out iron sights for a while. I’m going to try this in a different way than he suggests, probably by using construction marker paint and drawing a line across the top edge of the front and rear sights and blacking out the white dots. Who knows, might work, and is cheaper than buying new sights.
Did I mention “focus on the front sight and only the front sight” yet? He said that a lot.
Trigger control was as simple as him drawing with a marker a line across the middle of our fingertip. Focus on keeping the trigger pull consistent, and if you have a short reset trigger then use it. He really pounded “catching the link” as he called it, citing it as one of the few examples in shooting of something you can do to increase both accuracy and speed; it's worked for me in the past, so I can attest to it. My 1911 doesn’t have the short reset trigger the rest of the class’ Glocks did, but I managed alright anyway. ;)
Drawing the pistol was taught using the “five-step” method taught by Front Sight; useful practice but nothing really new. We did some dry-fire exercises with this to practice grip and trigger control as well. The last classroom topic we went over is “arch of movement”, meaning that the human body is made of water and is never gonna sit completely still. Just keep the sights lined up and the bullet will go where ya want it to.
This part will be much shorter, promise!
The range session included everything we’d learned up to this point practiced in live-fire drills. Most of the targets used were torture dots, especially when Tom wanted to see how well we had down the basics; if we couldn’t put a round into any one of the ten dots on command (“Fight”, so we’d connect the dots in our head quicker) from 3, 7, and 10 yards, we kept practicing basics until we could.
Nearly every drill started from the holster, and all started at closer (“contact”) ranges before being backed out; for those of us who can’t draw from a holster out the ranges we can visit, this is great practice. He’d call out a number, we’d draw and shoot one round into the target. When we shot multiple rounds into one or multiple targets, he’d remind us often to let the front sight dictate the cadence of fire. Since he taught us proper grip, he didn’t expect any of us should take long in reacquiring the front sight, but since the class was small and he could keep an eye on us he wouldn’t let anyone shoot faster than they could accurately hit.
El Presidente’s and its variants were done a lot; since I was the only one there with a concealment holster, I got to see the difference in speed between drawing from concealment and drawing from duty rigs. I kept up plenty fine. This was about the time when most of our shooting was in trios in what he called “failure to stop” drills. Two to the torso, one to the head. Even shooting torture dots, it became a theme to shoot two in a lower dot, one in a higher dot.
One handed, strong- and weak-handed, were done a lot, as were “injured officer” drills where the weapon started on the floor and we had to treat one hand (instructor’s choice) as injured, and on command scoop up the gun and fire a shot into a given circle or at center-mass if using the FBI-Q targets. Since folding barricades were available at this range, we made use of these to demonstrate we knew how not to crowd cover and how to give the target “an eyeball and a gun barrel”, and nothing else (both two-handed and one-handed, strong- and weak-handed.
If at any point you had to reload or had a failure (we had no failures in the class), you can bet Tom or Brad would be right behind you shouting to “Run the gun! Get back into the fight!” That was pretty good motivation for most of us, and added an element of stress that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.
The last range work-out of day one was low-light drills. It’s cool that my Surefire can blind people for a little, but that doesn’t mean **** when it’s making you a beacon to shoot at. He showed us how to grip the lights and the handgun (back of hand to back of hand), and killed the lights. On command, light up the target and fire, then MOVE!. If you left your light on too long, “TURN THAT DAMN LIGHT OFF! That ******* thing is a bullet magnet!” If you didn’t move after using the light, “You’re going to get your *** SHOT if you don’t move!” Real eye-opener, and definitely a worthwhile drill that emphasized both speed (IDing your target and lining up sights) and accuracy (hitting your target shooting one-handed in low-light).
Break for the evening, come back to the range early for shoot/no-shoot.
We started at the range today because the shoot/no-shoot exercise takes up space we wouldn’t have if the range was open to the public. A projector is brought in beamed onto a shower curtain (or something). You, the shooter, would be shown a time-series of slides and have to react to whatever’s on the screen after being given background descriptions by the instructors (“You hear a noise in your backyard and step out to see an unidentified man. He is not supposed to be there...” that sort of thing). Sometimes it’s harmless (a person raising their hands and backing away), sometimes it’s not (a person presenting a weapon), and sometimes it’s a cop (who shows you his badge). We were “strongly encouraged” to give loud, clear vocal commands to the subjects. The worst one at this was the kid from New Jersey, but he was still pretty good considering this was the first time he’d ever been faced with making those sorts of decisions (or even thought about having to make those sorts of decisions).
My only “bad shot” that I remember (that sounds reliable ) was on a woman who grabbed for a nearby gun after being told to get “get the **** away from that gun”. Apparently she decided right about the time when the trigger was pulled to drop it, but in my defense she still grabbed it after my commands otherwise. ::)
Next up, Virginia DCJS qualifications. Nobody scored less than 280, mine being the lowest score because I can’t shoot for crap left-handed at 15 yards. That and I learned leaning the gun against a barricade is not a great way to get accurate shots.
More of all of the drills from Day 1, and my dad and I both did a lot of awkward position shooting: shooting from on our butts, backs, knees, “fetal” position (as in, getting knocked down and being attacked while we try to shoot the threat). We also had drills with advancing targets, where we had to shoot them the moment they started moving and keep shooting until told they weren’t threats.
The final drill we learned but only did a little of was team commands. Set up into pairs, we would trade shots, and when a reload was required we’d have to drop and call out “Drop!”, reload, call “Up!” and wait until being tapped by our partner or until our partner replies “Up!” so we don’t get plugged in the back of the head. Good drill, but we ran out of time before we could do a lot of it. Range was getting too busy and we never got to do any moving/shooting drills. (Advanced Handgun II, maybe?)
This classroom session was really just a debriefing of everything we’d done and why. It also gave Tom a chance to point us to the back half of our binders, which were full of drills worth practicing, and the Federal Air Marshal qualifications (which he wanted us to do but again, ran out of time) that I’m definitely going to be practicing on. This was more of a general question-answer period than anything else.
Was it worth the $300 + ammo? Hell yeah. I only learned a few things on the “theory” side, but I learned a lot in the actual doing. It's nice to get solid training from someone who trains and uses what he trains for a living. Oh, and being able to open-carry is really, really nice. ;D
My gear worked flawlessly; Springfield Mil Spec, CMC Power Mags, and their reloads (good quality stuff; these folks apparently reload professionally). The Milt Sparks Versa Max II is a great holster, and really comfortable, but gets kinda hot in the outdoors for long periods of time, and warms up real quick to a hot-barreled gun. Surefire 6P LED Defender is a great light, and I'm getting a better feel for the quality behind it the more I use it at work.
Couple of observations: First, my Comp-Tac single-mag carrier can't be used concealed; it just plain sticks out too much. Sucks but oh well, I'd planned to get a more concealable one anyway and mostly just needed something for the class. On my 1911, Ima have to do something about the thumb safety. It's bottom corner is blade sharp, and chewed my thumb up pretty good. I'm debating whether or not to actually swap out the thumb safety or just have it dehorned. The grips are nice, but not grippy enough; I'm surprised how differently a 1911 handles with a smooth as opposed to textured front strap. I just picked up some skateboard tape to put onto the front strap, and I should be good to go there (maybe get some slimmer grips while I'm at it).
The sights I mentioned dealing with earlier, and now have a brush small enough to actually do the deed. I'll hold off until I'm feeling photographic and document the process to put up here.
Thanks for tuning in. :)
Thank you for for the great recap of your training. This kind of training is something that is at the top of my to do list as soon as time and funds permit.
Thanks for sharing your experience and for the links.
I apologize for it taking so long for me to respond. I was out of town doing a training class.
Thank you for posting such a nice AAR on the (2) Day Advanced Handgun Course.
First let me say I am proud of your progress! You left the class with solid Handgun Shooting skills and a method to maintain and improve those skills if you follow my book. Your father also did very well!
However the most import thing you both gained from this class is the confidence that you CAN & WILL prevail in a real world gunfight!
Using the crawl, walk, run, method you progressed well! I think Low light & No Light shooting for you were fun as well as fighting from the ground with a handgun.
But where I saw you have the most fun! And learn the most about yourself was the live fire "FATS simulator! The instant feed back was great! And you did well with solid hits on target, good verbal commands; good use of cover and you didn't die or shoot a cop!
I also think you love my DOT drill NOW! (You did very well!)
Your one handed shooting looked very good as well. The one thing I must note is that you were tactically sound and had good judgment skills.
I am proud of everyone in that class! We had several average concealed carry guys in this class and one Deputy Sheriff.
The most import thing I can stress is that you continue your training. Get as much training as you can from as many instructors as you can and put all the tools in your tactical tool box. All too often we get marred down in one method of training there is no one way to win a gunfight! There will be times you may need to point shoot or have aimed fire or shoot one handed and also reload one handed. You may get knocked to the ground and have to fight your way back to your feet. You must learn to Move, Shoot and communicate.
Also remember when you train to fight, The fight is always 360 degrees so you do not get stuck in the 2 dimensional range mentality That hreats only come from down range or right in front of you. Rememeber threats come from all directions! Use position SUL and scan 360 degrees.
In a gunfight you will not rise to the occasion ….you will default to the level of training you have mastered ………How much of what I taught you have you mastered.
Remember getting new skills in a class and practicing is kind of like buying a new car and making payments. After you make enough payments the car is yours. If you go to the range and "make payments" the new skills will be yours too. Skip a few payments and they get repossessed. So don’t forget to practice the five points to the draw, practice sight alignment and trigger press.
When not on the range “Dry Practice” is certainly better than no practice at all. I hope you can use my book as a reference, but feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have.
Thank You for coming to class with an open mind and leaving with some tools in your tactical tool box!
Perroni's Tactical Training Academy - Virginia Firearms Training