Jul 31, 2012

AAR: F2SConsulting "High Stress" 7/28-7/29 (2012), High View, WV

“The storm before the calm.”


Summary

This is the second class (private) with F2SConsulting which I have taken this year.  The first class was a two day practical carbine course.  That class gave me a hunger for more specific instruction, including tactics, "what-if" scenarios, stress-inducing situations and breaking through "barriers" both literal and figurative.  Since this class was held late in July, shooting and range-work was something many of the students who attended, including myself did/do often, given the weather.  This class required working operational knowledge of how your rifle, pistol, and kit functioned, and how to fix it if it quickly.  Stressful situations occur unprovoked and unanticipated often times, mitigating that stress which ensues quickly, helps to reach a successful result.  When a firearm is used in a deadly force style situation it is as stressful of a moment as there can be, in my opinion, training to manage that and the issues which may arise before, during and after, are very important.  I will not go in to detail concerning every drill we ran, some of the pictures show a few so I will describe some aspects, but rest assured that the level of stress during drills Jack put us through is not something any of the students will soon forget.  My objective for this class was to pinpoint specific issues which I need to work on/out which arise during stressful situations/scenarios and how I react to those situations.  I want to turn "unconscious incompetence into unconscious competence" (Grossman, On Combat) as quickly and effectively as possible.  Jack puts things into perspective, slowly increasing the stress level on each student, respective to their abilities, in order to force adaptation to a specific situation.  The objective was to induce stress in such a manner to make it manageable as to not allow the student to lose control, something I found Jack to apply very skillfully.  The class is the first of its kind I have attended and the result was a better understanding of how I personally was able to adapt and defeat stress while performing with firearms.



Equipment
SCAR 16s w/ H1 on Larue, PWS SRX, Insight WX150, Larue handstops, "Good Iron" brake, MS3 sling
Glock 17 (Gen4) w/ TLR1s, Ameriglo Pro-I sights, Scherer 3.5lb trigger
ATS Warbelt w/ fastmags, protech mouches, safariland holster, 5.11 dump pouch
PIG Gloves
Tyr Tactical BPC w/ Camelbak
Wolf 9mm 115gr
Wolf 62gr .223

The First Half (Day1)
We started with the formalities of a safety briefing and a general overview of how to make sure everyone stayed alive and left with as many holes as they came with.  Jack explained what he thought stress was and how he was going to go about conveying that to us.  There was no zeroing, there was no kit choice discussion, there was a quick overview of what we were going to be doing and we got into it.  We started off running some benchmarks, to see where everyone was and how much stress they could be put through based on their abilities.


Most of the drills we ran were timed and scored, including a transition drill as pictured above.



Accuracy, however, was king and if you failed to put rounds where they were supposed to be, even under the stress of a buzzer, timer and score you had to pay.  Everyone ended up paying at least once for throwing a shot here or there.  Some got it easy, others got it hard.  



 
Most of Day 1 was about drills and proving that you had the capacity to make accurate hits on a small target when under pressure or stress.  While we had a "break" every now and then it was nothing substantial and Jack worked through the breaks to help the students that needed instruction in certain places - such as accuracy.
 
The Second Half (Day1)
One aspect of stress is the unknown, especially with shooting at/into objects which may obstruct the desired outcome.  Since vehicles are everywhere, and there may be a chance that shooting into a vehicle becomes reality, Jack gave us some targets to shoot at with different ammo-types to see what happens.  Takes the stress out of not knowing where the bullet may go.


We shot far away, close up, all types of different ammo from rifles and pistols, and the results varied to a degree which gave certain impressions on ammo choices and penetration.  I shot Hornady Critical Defense in 9mm, 115gr.  At 25y the bullet penetrated the windshield but split and lost mass.

 

Good to know, if I had not tried that specific ammo I would not have known exactly what it does when hitting a windshield.  Others were shooting everything from Gold Dot +P to HST (which ran the best, in my opinion), there were a few other defense ammo used but I do not recall the specific names (I am sure other students will correct me and I will change this later).  We shot rifles as well, and for the most part, windshields did not do much to stop them, then again neither did pistols.





We had some fun, and the windshields lots.  Stress reliever!

 So Day1 concluded and we were all sad.  But we went and got beer and steak so it was not so bad.  Things learned during Day1 was that accuracy is absolute and no matter how fast you move, how fast you draw, or what type of kit you have, you better make good hits or bad things happen.  Which set the stage for Day2.

The First Half (Day2)
We started Day2 off with some heavy lifting and building, Jack decided to pose with the newly build structures, trying out for some magazine covers, it did not work out.
 

We responded by shooting the targets behind them. 


We checked our progress in-between shooters





Always making sure we made good hits on target.


Whenever there was a window still in one of the doors we took the opportunity to practice muzzle striking:





We moved on to some head to head shooting, under time and accuracy constraints, not to mention random stress-training modifiers.


Why yes, that is a Panda hat.  Why is he wearing it?  Good question...

The Second Half (Day2)
This where things started to take a swing for the awesome.  Like I said in the beginning of this AAR, I will not get into what made it awesome, but it got really awesome.  Stress levels went through the roof and you guys will just have to figure out for yourselves exactly what Jack had us doing...


We got into shooting moving targets

Sometimes it moved fast, sometimes...it did not...(he was fine by the way)


We did some super secret squirrel stress type stuff and then moved on to team building while under time constraint employing stress-inducing training modifiers.


This was the best stress inducing scenario/drill I have run with a partner.  Awesome stuff.  We did this for a bit, do not want to post a lot of pictures since it would give away the whole thing.


We finished off the course by destroying what was left of the cinderblock wall.  It just goes to show you that if you think you have cover, you do not.

 

Conclusion
I had originally asked Jack if he could put together a "stress" class for LE/MIL/CCW people who may find themselves in a situation which would require them to use deadly force.  He was game, so thankfully all the stars aligned and blamo, this class came into existence.  I can honestly say that I am very happy this class was what I had in mind.  Situational stress is very difficult to see coming and when it arrives you either know what you have to do or you are going to be running for your life, if you have enough time to react that is.  Now I am not saying that after this class we, the students, are some super cold blooded, stress defying ninja operators.  What we were able to learn was extremely precious in the sense that it cannot be learned by yourself at the range, or even if you went out with a few friends.  This class, and the drills/scenarios/stress-modifiers which were employed are a direct testament to Jack's ability to push a concept onto the students.  He showed us the course of fire, demonstrating it, then proceeded to run each student through that same course of fire, adding stress as he observed it to be necessary based on that students skill level.  Everyone ran their firearms safely, even under stress modifiers, and pretty much everyone ended the course with very noticeable gains in performance.  My only gripe with the entire class is that I expected a night/no-light shoot, which I was very happy with doing in the February class.  But I completely understand that since we would have literally thirty minutes of shoot time once the sun sets that it was required to skip it.  Live and learn, I chalk it up to my personal eagerness to get this class scheduled as soon as possible and that is something I did not take into consideration that the sun does not set until very late in July.  Regardless of the no-go night-shoot,  we still put a solid 12 or so hours in the first day and around 10 the second.  There were two other classes going on the same time/location (different part of the range) and we were shooting before them and we were shooting after they left.  As all things this is just one class which made me open my eyes (some more) into stress type training with firearms.  Jack had some great ideas and I know we did not even begin to scratch the surface of them.  If Jack does another high stress styled class it will be another "must" attend class.

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