Blackwater - I am impressed!!
This is a discussion on Blackwater - I am impressed!! within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; You may recall that I had a trip planned to Blackwater to take their level II handgun course. I got back Sunday (14 May 2006) ...
May 25th, 2006 01:30 PM
Blackwater - I am impressed!!
You may recall that I had a trip planned to Blackwater to take their level II handgun course. I got back Sunday (14 May 2006) but the reason I haven’t posted anything is I caught some kind of infection and just haven’t felt like thinking or anything else until lately.
The short version is, it was some of the best training I’ve ever had and I’ve had lot’s of training at various schools.
I took two Beretta 92FS’s with me and a Sig 226R. I was able to borrow a Glock 17 and used it the first day of class. Well, that was really only Monday afternoon since we had some classroom time in the morning. I was quite surprised that Glocks were held in such high esteem by some pretty impressive people. I should make this clear that Blackwater itself does not promote Glock. If anything Blackwater promotes Sigs, since there is a Sig 226 Blackwater version available. But it was clear that Glocks were highly thought of by individuals. For example, my instructor preferred a Glock 17 and he shoots with the likes of Rob Leatham, et al.
An experienced Blackwater ”operator”, or I suppose, contractor, was back in the States and in my class to sharpen up his skills. His handgun was a Glock 22, although he shot a G-17 in the class. His words of praise were, “…they go bang every time you pull the trigger and they’ll run reliably with little maintenance." I asked my instructor if he thought the G-17 he loaned me would go the 2500 rounds of the course without cleaning. He said that that wouldn't even be considered a high count for a Glock without cleaning. So anyway, I decided to shoot a Glock and see if I had missed something. Glock is a fine gun; I think it may have surprised my instructor when I showed up Tuesday morning with a Beretta 92FS instead of the Glock.
Tuesday I alternated between the Sig and Beretta. By Tuesday afternoon I had settled in with the Beretta. That’s not to say that it’s the best, or better than Glock or Sig, but it really started working for me. Once I settled into one gun, my hits improved throughout the remainder of the week. I will say though that I’m not sure that Beretta gets the respect it deserves.
We were doing speed reloads from slide lock. This was more review than new, but it did get us tuned up for the week’s shooting. My Beretta slide locked back; I dumped the empty mag, brought the gun into the “work space” as I reached for a fresh mag. I inserted and seated the mag and the slide slammed shut chambering the round - automatically! “Oooooh!” I thought, “something special just happened; my slide automatically closed without me doing a thing! It’s a shame it won’t do that every time.” But, it did do it again; and again, and again, and again. It was almost like I’d have to be careful to keep it from closing automatically. But that’s not all…
Wednesday was strong-hand/weak-hand day; everything would be done with one hand all day. When we got to “speed” reloading, which is really a misnomer when using only one hand, it could be more aptly called an emergency reload. In fact, that seemed to be the preferred term even when two hands were used. Anyway the drill was, when the gun went to slide lock, dump the empty mag, holster the gun, insert a fresh mag, draw the gun, and either release the slide via the slide stop lever or by hooking the rear sight on the holster or belt. On the very first drill, when I seated the fresh mag (with the gun in the holster) the slide closed! In the holster! All I had to do was draw the gun and fire a round. It did that time after time.
I guess this is important: I was using a Blackhawk CQC carbon fiber holster. I really don’t believe the slide would have released in a leather holster. Most of the week, I used the Blackhawk SERPA holster with the retention lever. Very fast.
I was not aware that a Beretta would so readily release the slide when the mag was seated. You really don’t have to seat it very forcefully, but it is important to contact the rear of the mag base. That seems to work every time. I showed my instructor what was happening and asked if that was good or bad. He said that he didn’t have a problem with it. He also didn’t have a problem releasing the slide with the slide stop lever. I realize that’s controversial, but this guy has “been there, done that” in the real world and in competition.
Blackwater's instruction and training is excellent. It is a well balanced mix of shooting and tactics. The tac-2 course (as it’s often called) is real-world based, not competition based, although there is, by nature, overlap. I'm already thinking about taking the level II course again next year.
We shot a lot of paper and steel targets. We did moving forward and moving backward drills, gun malfunction drills both one handed and two handed. We did lots of emergency and tactical reloads.
We did lots of draw and fires. We did multiple targets and moving targets. Most of the week was firing from the "line", i.e. no cover, but I think it was on Thursday that we set up barricades and shot from cover. I think we could have done a bit more of that, but we did enough to get the methods down.
We shot from standing, unbraced kneeling, went over braced kneeling but didn't shoot from it, and two prone positions including a roll-over prone that I perfer.
Ground fighting was included and we shot in every position from the ground you can imagine including on our backs, over our head, with the gun upside down.
Aaron did a number of demos. One I especially appreciated was a demo demonstrating sight alignment requirement for defensive shooting. I wish I could remember the distance for sure that he did this at but IIRC, it was from 7 yards. He fired a very carefully aimed shot to the X in the head with the sights perfectly aligned. He hit the X; we quickly came to expect that kind of precision from Arron. Then he fired four more shots with the sights aligned thusly: the top of the front sight aligned at the bottom of the rear sight groove; the bottom of the front sight aligned at the top of the rear sight; the front sight aligned fully to the left in the rear sight and then fully to the right. All shots were in the 'A' box of the head. The purpose was to show how much the sights can be misaligned and still get a good hit. We all admitted that none of us thought the hits would be that good from 7 yards with such maligned sights.
Then he said, “You'll get fairly close even with your eyes closed…” and demo'd an "eyes-closed" shot. The hit couldn't have missed dead center by more than 3/4" of an inch. Aaron acted surprised, and he probably was, but I know we were all impressed and humbled! He was shooting better with his eyes closed than we were with them open. And, he had the wisdom to not try it again. LOL.
Thursday we did an interesting thing. There were 9 of us in the class and Aaron said that he wanted each of us to think of a drill to work on and the entire class would do the drill. We had some interesting drills. The drill I chose was to load the two mags on our belt with 6 rounds and load the mag in the gun with 5 rounds with one more round chambered. The drill would be for the first person to draw and fire the six rounds in the gun as fast as he could get hits until the slide locks back, reload, fire those 6 rounds, reload and fire the last 6 rounds. By the time the last round was fired, the next guy began in cadence. The drill went over pretty well so we did it a second time.
One very interesting drill was offered by the Blackwater contractor taking the class. We split up into two teams, lined up at the 50 yard line. Each team had 12 plates to knock down. On the start signal, the first person in each team ran to the 10 or 15 yard line (can't remember which) drew and fired one shot. No matter whether you hit the plate or not, you only get one shot. He then runs back to the team and tags the next person and that person does the same thing. The losing team had to police up the range at the end of the day.
The next drill, as it turned out proved enlightening in spite of the fact it came from a "gamer". The drill was to stand at the 25 yard line and shoot plate racks strong-hand only. Anticipating the difficulty, and perhaps frustration of such a drill, we all moaned, groaned, and whined about it when he presented it. There were four plate racks as I recall, maybe five, so each student would shoot one rack, they'd be reset and the student would move to the next rack and a new shooter would rotate in. Realizing this could take a while for everyone to shoot down some 24 plates from 25 yards, strong-hand only, the instructor limited us to 6 shots per rack. The enlightening thing was it wasn't quite as difficult as I anticipated. I only missed one on the next to last rack and had 5 for 5 going on my last rack, had 'zeroed' in on the sixth plate when they did a rack reset. I whined and they let me take my last shot. I missed. I still wonder what would have happened if they rack hadn't reset. Oh, well, it did, and the miss lies squarely with me, and nothing else.
We did an interesting night shoot on Wednesday night and some house clearing Friday.
It was a great week, a great course, great instructor, lot’s of shooting (about 2100 rounds I’d guess), good tactics, and even good food.
Then on Saturday, I took the Advanced Highway Safety Course. Talk about pressing a Ford Crown Victoria to the limits……but that’s another topic.
May 25th, 2006 10:54 PM
Is this course open to anyone? If so where do I find info on it?
May 25th, 2006 10:56 PM
you need to shoot what you like, not what someone wants you to.
May 25th, 2006 11:15 PM
Sounds like one heck of a time Ron - bit of everything and 2100 rounds - phew - that has to be good
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
"To own a gun and assume that you are armed
is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."
- a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.
May 26th, 2006 12:19 AM
thanks for the review makes me want more than ever to get somthing like this up and running in my budget guese i better lay off buying guns for a while lol sounds like you got a big ol grin on your face as you type this
May 26th, 2006 09:14 AM
The Blackwater Level I and Level II Tactical pistol courses are available to anyone with a clean record - they do background checks. The course I described was the level II course. The Level I course is a pre-requisite and they make no exceptions. But the level I course will be every bit as instructional as the level II, it just won't cover as broad of a range. It will give you a sound foundation for shooting, tactics, and you will do things you can't do on your own.
Originally Posted by Gunnutty
Here's the Blackwater website:
It has course descriptions, schedules, and boarding info.
May 26th, 2006 09:19 AM
You got it - I do have a big grin on my face.
Originally Posted by ssssthesnake
It's money well spent. You'll learn how to do it right, why, etc. It'd be worth giving up a few guns if necessary to afford the course. I got the impression that in the Tactical I course, they now do penetration demos on various structures, car bodies and windshields.
It's an eye-openning experience that will never leave you.
May 26th, 2006 11:07 AM
Excellent, detailed write-up! Thanks for taking the time to post it.
Originally Posted by Tangle
NRA Life Member
Northwest Florida Defensive Pistol Shooters Member
May 26th, 2006 01:50 PM
Thanks for the in depth review. Sounds like an outstanding time....New drills, fresh tactics, mucho shooting, and food? Sign me up. I agree that is a cool feature on the Beretta's. I had a 92FS at one time that would do the same thing....I really enjoyed that at the range.
"Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."
May 28th, 2006 01:15 PM
I thought about taking some course down in the US, but your Homeland security laws deem me a threat and us non-US types can't take firearm or security course down there without written permission of the State department.
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