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Robert, LA “The Wong Range”
November 6-8, 2009

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Let me begin by thanking Tommy and Joe Wong for opening up their private range for the very first time in order to allow this class to happen. This training would not have been possible without their continued support throughout the week and the days leading up to the class. Also, I would like to thank William Phebus (Narco) for all of the leg and logistic work he did to get everyone signed up and everything in order. I can honestly say that the class went off without a single issue.

Atmosphere- It was amazing how down to earth Chris, Travis, and Mike were. I never was a Magpul groupie, and I had only seen what was on YouTube and some AAR’s about them, but aside from their great products, they are the real deal. Not that you would ever know it by looking at them or hearing them talk off the range, these are guys that have put really bad people in the ground in really bad places. You would almost expect some kind of elitism about them, but it just wasn’t there. I consider these three to be true Warriors, and I do not use that term lightly. When it comes to “been there and done that”, they have the t-shirt and the cap (and Travis has it in several fashionable colors and the shirts in about one size too small.) Seriously, these guys are the real deal when it comes to tactics that work against real adversaries, and they are funny as hell and a blast to be around. I normally wouldn’t include a Coastie like Chris in a Marine Corps quote, (LOL), but when it comes to these three and their skills, personality, and enthusiasm…no better ally, no worse enemy. These are the people I like to surround myself with.

With 19 shooters, I can honestly say we had a great group of guys. Often with type A personalities in an intense environment working as hard as we did, people can get a little edgy. Everyone got along and helped each other out getting gear, setting targets, picking brass, and even helping each other fill mags. A member of the Wong family catered the lunches at the range, and they were awesome. We had spaghetti, jambalaya and fried chicken, and pulled pork sandwiches. The Heath bar brownies were da’ bomb. I hope they made it home to Mike Lamb’s fiancé. LOL.

Having the meals catered to the range seriously helped us manage time. More importantly, it provided a family atmosphere where we all got to know each other and have some fun. The greatest value was whether we were firing rounds downrange or breaking bread, it was a learning opportunity. Travis, Chris, and Mike spent every minute of the day lecturing, running drills, or answering questions. Even while we were “gassing up” they were giving people tips about gear choice and placement and answering all kinds of questions about Magpul products, different weapon systems, and anything else they were presented with. These guys are a wealth of knowledge. Let’s just say we definitely got our money out of these guys. LOL

The entire class also ate dinner every night together after the range session at one of the Wong’s unbelievable restaurants, and I think everyone had a great time and was amazed by the food. Of course, with that many gun guys, the dinner conversation was a lot of shop talk, but we had a great time and many, many laughs. Basically, we were learning from 0800-2100 everyday.

In order to fully understand and appreciate why the things are taught in these classes the way they are, you have to understand where it comes from. All of the instructors have actual combat experience consisting of multiple tours in multiple locales. That said, they have fired many rounds in many places when it counts most. The curriculum is designed around what they have seen works, and most importantly, what they have seen does not work.

Their techniques are reality based and not theory based. They have been used in actual gunfights where people survived because of them. That said, the Magpul Dynamics philosophy of Reality, Consistency, and Efficiency is the core of not only Magpul Dynamics training, but Magpul products in general. That is why you do not see them spitting out a Magpul version of every other polymer or plastic AR add-on out there. Before they will put their name on it, it has to be value added and fit into their concepts of Reality, Consistency, and Efficiency. Economy of motion drives every technique, with the end goal being faster more accurate rounds on target. Their techniques are also grounded in the body’s natural response to what they call “body alarm reaction” or what I call “Oh **** moments”. When you get an adrenaline dump because someone is trying to kill you this instant, what will your body naturally do? Their techniques work in conjunction with your body’s natural reactions instead of against them.

After initially watching class clips on YouTube and seeing their DVD series, I was wondering if their high speed / low-drag military operator techniques would translate over to law enforcement and civilian shooters. I was pleasantly surprised, once I became a little more educated about their philosophy, that the techniques and ideals they teach transcend occupation or affiliation. They work because they make sense.

Day 1-Everyone showed up on time and ready to send rounds downrange by 0800—highly motivated group of individuals. We had a total of 19 shooters, and Chris Costa, Travis Haley, and Mike Lamb were our instructors. Off the top of my head, we had about 4 cops, 3 broadcast industry people, a dive supervisor, a father son team, one unemployed, and two CHP instructors, among others—a very diverse group.

Orientation-William and I began by thanking Mr. Joe and Tommy Wong for the use of their private range. This class absolutely would not have been possible without them, and the accommodations were perfect. We covered all the administrative issues, leaving egos at the door, and an extensive safety brief. After that, everyone introduced themselves and the instructors took the floor.

The instructors did a great job of laying the ground work by making sure everyone had a baseline understanding of the fundamentals. The first hour or so was a quick lecture on all types of topics from safety, their training philosophy, mindset, and general range operations. They set the tome for a fun but productive weekend.

Zeroing-Chris and Travis talked about the benefits of having a 100 yard zero versus a 50 yard zero, and how to get a 100 yard zero when you only have a 50 yard range. We were allowed to zero either our irons or optics. That said, most including myself, came with a pretty solid optic BZO, so we also had our irons dead-on. I attribute this to Will setting up range prep / sight in day the week prior to the class. Many people came out to help clean up and prep the range, so we took the time to make sure we were at least on paper with our BZO. This definitely helped the class run smoothly. This was also the first opportunity for people to rethink the placement of accessories on their rifle.

TD1 consisted on honing the fundamentals and making sure we had the griping and stance philosophy down. I will admit, that the Magpul Dynamics way of running the carbine was much different than what I learned and taught in the USMC, but after running it for a few hours and breaking it down mechanically, it makes sense and more importantly, IT WORKS. Hand placement is centered on an above the bore line grip in order to control recoil by not allowing to rifle to over-swing. Also, there is no use of the magwell or forward vertical grip as a griping location the hand is placed as high on the bore line as possible.


Urban Prone

Standing Support Side

Dynamic Kneeling

MINDSET- We spent about an hour with Travis Haley talking about mindset. Now I have read all the books, I have been to the LtCol Dave Grossman’s lectures, and I have watched all the motivational slideshows, but to hear someone with Haley’s background speak so candidly and honestly about his life experiences really makes that entire message hit home. Hell, I give a pretty good mindset speech in my law enforcement classes, but it has such a significant meaning when it is told by someone who has lived it multiple times. It takes the concept of individual survival from the academic theoretical sense to that of reality. You are hearing from a man who applied it and survived.

I am a true believer that you do not have to have a body count or be a law enforcement officer to be a quality firearms instructor as long as you stay in your area of expertise, but I can honestly say that it hit home to hear that speech in such a sincere manner from a man like Travis Haley. Besides making the message stick, it makes you take a much more diagnostic look at the techniques being presented instead of just writing it up as the newest coolest technique. When he tells stories of how mindset saved him or a friend, or cost a friend their life, it is real and palatable to the student. I think that his mindset lecture alone was worth the price of admission.

I won’t get into the gory details, but El Effe Costa had a little bug and was under the weather. We took care of his boo-boo, and he decided to take the rest of the weekend off. Mike and Travis picked up his slack. However, let it be known, Robert , Louisiana took out the Costa in one day. ;)

DAY 2-We began Day 2 with the BSA (Balance of Speed and Accuracy) drill. Many improved, and some simply pushed harder. Afterwards, we went over the basic movements to the left, right, forward and back. We worked on moving around our rifle like “a stripper on a pole” We also covered the Supine position.

After breaking for a wonderful lunch of Fried Chicken and Chicken Sausage Jambalaya, we spent the rest of day two on handguns. We covered grip, sight alignment, and what you can get away with on fundamentals for combat effective hits. After that we covered transitions from primary weapon system to secondary. We only shot about 150 handgun rounds because most everyone was already tuned up on handgun.

We worked right through the evening into a night shoot. We covered kinds of lights, and more importantly, light placement. We worked with ambient light and team lighting. We did drills shooting with our weapon mounted lights from cover and discussed backsplash and proper light discipline. The night shoot concluded with steel shooting out to about 75 yards. The night shoot was a big hit. We were ringing steal out to 100 yards at night in varying lighting conditions, Everyone had a blast and learned a lot about proper lighting techniques.

DAY 3-Day 3 began around 0900 with us moving directly into the BSA drill. I personally decided to push my round count on the drills and actually found I had done better than I did the day before with a lower round count.

After lunch, we did team movement drills and also did a three station run including a sniper hide, barricades, and using a vehicle as cover. After running through these drills, we called it a day around 1500 and began range clean-up.


Magazines- Almost everyone was running PMAGS. However, there were a few proud owners of E-Mags, a few Lancers, and one or two GI-Mags.

Kit- Jill from Magpul sent some BAD levers, ASAP plates, and slings. We were able to buy them for practically half price, and most everyone who came with a 2-point sling ended up running an MS-2 on an ASAP plate. The BAD lever is actually BADASS. It totally smoothes out and speed up your reload, and that was after only two days of running it. I am sure with practice and possibly the addition of a Redi-Mag, it will be like butter.

The majority were shooting Hornady TAP training, XM193, Q3131, a little Privi, and some Wolf. I was running Wolf. I intentionally did not clean my rifle after my last range session, and it ran flawlessly for about 1000 rounds of Wolf. I got one failure to eject with the wolf, spray a couple squirts of CLP, and she was off again without incident. She was dirty as hell when the class was over

Ammo carriage-
The class was almost divided in half with people running some kind of chest rig and others running leg drop systems. All seemed to work fine.

Weapon Malfunctions-

Will was running a gas piston replacement system from Osprey Defense. It ran fine for the first 1000 rounds or so and then he had a catastrophic failure. The gas key completely sheared from the bolt carrier group. Not sure why; he was shooting Hornady TAP training ammo and the round that caused the failure did not appear over pressured at all. Luckily this was a T&E system, but there was damage done to his bolt carrier group, charging handle, and possibly his new JP Precision trigger. The sad part is, their revision, a one piece bolt carrier group is due out this week. This incident probably would not have happened with that revision. However, it should be noted that they have been contacted and have agreed to pay for any and all damages at no cost to Will.

We did have a Colt 6920 explode the entire right side due to what was most likely a double charge. I will not get into specifics at this time by request of the victim, but needless to say, it was depressing.

Weapon shot and their configuration:

My Lessons Learned:

General Gear-As usual, I brought way more gear than I needed. I brought about 30 magazines, but I basically ran the same 6 or so until the last day. It would be a good idea if you have a bunch to bring them all preloaded. I will do that for Carbine 2. This allows me to work on other gear issues or relax while other fill their magazines. Everyone did a great job of marking and keeping track of their gear that is normally an issue.

Ear protection- I used the Surefire EP3 ear protection for the whole class. They worked great and were relatively comfortable. Some guys were wearing full muffs, but I find them to get in the way during rifle shooting. Plus, unless I am running communications in a tactical team, I will either have no protection of softies.

Fenix Lights-These things are bright. I was running a PD20 on a Vikings Tactical offset mount, and it was the brightest, farthest throwing light out there. I, like most people, ended up moving my light from the left side to the right. I am contemplating adding a tape switch or switching to a momentary on like the LD20. The size and brightest was awesome.

Optics- I was running and Eotech 557, and Costa swore it would fail. It did not. In fact, it was the same Eotech I tried to beat off of my rifle when I put too much lock-tite on it. That said, I shot Travis’ rifle with the Aimpoint micro, and I like it much better. Also, after speaking with the guys about battery life, size, sustainability, etc., I think I will be making the switch. The other guy who was running an Eotech did have his fall off the gun.

Most guys were running Aimpoint Micro’s, and a few were running magnified ACOGS. We talked about the use of different types of optics at different distances and for different mission needs. For home defense, you will want a red dot system verses a fixed or variable optic due to the close range.

Light placement- I originally had my light placed on the left side of the forearm. Once they showed us their philosophy of properly griping the rifle, it was obviously most of us had to move our lights. During the extensive and intensive night fire, I found I definitely need wither a momentary on button or tape switch for my light.

Ammunition Carriage System- I ran a Blade-tech three magazine kydex leg drop for the entire course for my AR magazines. I found it worked well, but I think I will transition to a belt kydex system to stay consistent with handgun loading technique and to maintain better maneuverability. As a side note, I also found some advice on a better way to wear my pistol leg drop holster. If at all possible, I want to get away from leg drop systems. We will see.

CONCLUSION- Needless to say, I had a great time and learned a lot. I feel confident everyone there did also. The Magpul Dynamics team is knowledgeable and fun. What more could you ask for in firearms training other than great weather and we had that also. I look forward to training with them in January and march and just hanging out with them.

I completely recommend Magpul Dynamics as a training venue. I will warn you though, it will force you to re-think everything you thought you knew about firearms training. These guys take the fundamentals and bring them to a new level.

I think the most important point of their training philosophy is pushing you to your failure point—no matter how good you may be. That should be the goal of any productive firearms training class. I have been in many classes and cleaned whatever course of fire was presented to me. I thought I was doing well. What I began to realize a while back, and Travis, Chris, and Mike drove home this weekend, is that if I am shooting it clean, then I am not going fast enough or pushing myself hard enough.

This class is not designed to make you a faster 3-gun shooter, but you will get faster. This course is not designed to make you a more accurate bullseye shooter, but it will improve your accuracy. This course is specifically designed to push you and your equipment to the breaking point so you know what that breaking point is, how to identify it, inoculate yourself against it, and ultimately move past it to the next breaking point as you continue up the infinite ladder of excellence in preparation of defending your life and that of your family or team mates.
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