Where: Red River Firearms, Gainesville, TX
When: Oct. 25th-27th, 2012
Instructor: Chris Costa
A.I.: Stephen Pineau
The morning started with a quick greeting and we unloaded gear and prepped. I was planning on running slick through the course so I went with two Kydex mag pods on my left hip, we were told secondary's would be addressed on day three that he wanted us focused on our primary and running that to the best of our ability before that was introduced into the curriculum. My primary is a Rock River that has a rifle length quad rail and EO Tech optic, yeah a bit heavy but I'm a bigger guy and I like the weight of it (personal opinion). Chris checked all of our primaries and offered any advice if needed on the setup, he said the most common problem is a loose optic which he found a couple. As far as the optic I learned the farther forward the better, you still want the body clamped on the upper receiver but as far forward as possible making it easier to track the dot sooner. Next was the life safety brief and instruction from the safety officers on what was acceptable and what was not. We started with the four firearm safety rules and reviewed them first thing every morning. Side note, do not state the four rules like a Sally, you will regret it. From there we went to zero at 50 yards. I like this because it's what I have learned and gives you a flatter trajectory and I feel the ability to engage the way a carbine is designed to engage. It was also explained that most combat is at 150 yards and closer (I'm sure this can be argued), but really this is when you are "caught dirty" and helps you learn what your hold needs to be at what distance and helps it become subconscious when you engage any target (out to 300 yards which we did day 2). We zeroed prone with our bags and Chris addressed the grip prone, trigger control and breathing to get our rifles dialed in. Next, the seven fundamentals were addressed. Grip, stance, trigger control, sight picture, sight alignment, follow through, and breathing. We moved forward and these were all addressed and how they affect you and how they affect one another. Chris and Stephen worked with us all on these shoring up stability, recoil management, presenting to the target and putting us in a proper aggressive stance while working our targets back out to 50 yards. We worked on reloads emergency and tactical, gear set up and how they affected the reloads and proper access of mags and stowing of mags that still had rounds in them. One thing brought up was cadence, not necessarily shooting in a cadence but shooting way out of one and how that can tell you that your technique is flawed. This meaning if you are all in a nice neat hole, can you speed up your shots and still be combat effective? Where can you find your balance of speed and accuracy (BSA). After lunch we moved further back to 75 yards, 100 yards, 200 yards standing, sitting, kneeling and prone learning how the cone of deviation works with having a greater margin for error with a target at a farther distance than closer and how the size of the target also affects the cone at distance. All this is a ton to take in and I can't stress enough having a notepad and pen with you in a class like this, but the way Chris and Stephen explain each of these and how they will affect you give you a solid foundation to build on and more important the ability when things are not working to reset and work yourself from the ground up to fix the problem. More so you have to practice because this is a tangible skill, if you expect to shoot the same with no practice a week, month, year later and never practice you will loose it.
We started with the money shot, a dollar bill at 100 yards, closest to George's nose gets all the money. I didn't get it, forgot my hold at that range and barely hit the dollar. We dug deeper into BSA and marksmanship with circumstances of which you shoot and your positions and having as many points of contact as possible. Chris and Stephen stressed "the best shooters are the best see'rs" and back to the frequent training for you to be able to do this. Next we got put up against a timer, not to be locked into a specific time to get off shots but timed to see how long 6 combat effective shots took you. This is where the cadence came in and you could really work on your technique. We learned that this way it exposed our competency which is subjective and individual, to shoot it how it plays and get your hits!!!!! Anybody can rip off six rounds in a direction and who know where they go and who you hit but how fast can you effectively do it in the chest, head, pelvis at different distances? Then kneeling and prone were put in and how to go from standing to kneeling to prone gun placement and working the safety in the process, all while staying in the fight and fighting from position to position. After lunch we got violent.... Wound physiology, where to engage a target and what happens in those areas head, chest, pelvis when hit. Timers and switches where when hit, a timer starts expiration of life vs. a lights out shot. Distance came in here while we worked targets and you learned what you can and cannot do and where you can have a loose trouble round. Also engaging at distance where you have more option with a target that is further from you and margin for error. Next was malfunctions and this is worth the price of admission. We learned how to identify and clear all malfunctions. Chris and Stephen went into double feeds(porn star malfunction), bolt override, shallow and deep stovepipe to failure to feed-failure to fire all covered in depth and the process for each. I'm not going into detail here because this is what I feel is the most valuable and really builds your confidence in manipulating your carbine. We ended the day flat on our backs after stepping on our sons Legos in the supine position, where to have the gun on your body to have the most contact and control. Along came a thing that was stressed height over bore and to have the sides of your feet and knees flat on the ground, cause if the bad guy moves left or right you don't want to be blowing your own kneecap off not realizing you shot yourself now thinking you are up against Neo from the matrix (Chris's example). The day ended with a friendly competition against a steel plate at about 35 yards, you had 5 rounds in a mag and had to reload a full mag after those 5 and put another 5 on target the fastest. I had two misses but two students got all 10 on target and the winner did it in just over 10 seconds. Bragging rights.
We started with the money shot again, better shot George in the back of the head this time but still didn't win any money. We then benched our primary's and started working with secondary's. Chris observed and taught correct draws and bolstering before we moved on to transitions. Like has been said, Costa's rules were very simple use your secondary where you were comfortable and you could get your hits. He said if you are pulling your secondary at 100 yards and firing we are all gonna stop and check your hits and see who is full of BS!! The first thing he taught us was to recognize the need for the secondary and how we may be fast on a emergency reload but transitioning is faster in some cases. Very cool being able to transition but I quickly realized when we started with pistols that I did not have enough mags with me for my 1911, lesson learned. We worked back to 100 yards and forward again while transitioning and talk about learning to a failure point, this was a first for me. But I was reassured by Chris and Stephen you don't have to be the fastest out here. It's more important to learn the process and have it down, the speed will come. Next we learned urban prone on both right and left sides, this was a lot of fun on the rocks out there and where I had some gear failure on my thigh rig I was using at the time but what a better place to have it happen. Chris had us going from standing to prone to kneeling and back up fighting up and down, talk about a workout. We also learned movement from a 90° and 180° angles to engage a threat if caught dirty again and got to see the beard go all Kevin Costner Bodyguard. By the time of lunch even us old guys had it down. After lunch the class split to 1/2 on steel targets a 1/2 on barricades. The steel was set up from 100 yards to 300 yards and this is where all the marksmanship we had been taught came into play. This was very challenging but very cool seeing the bullet impact after the shot then hearing it about a half second later. Using all we had learned and picking off those targets at 300 yards you could really see what that weapon is designed to do. When we switched we were doing moving drills behind barricades at 50 yards against steel targets. Here again we had real application on height over bore and shooting from cover and moving with a partner. We got to end the shooting part of the day engaging three targets in a triple threat and a 12345 center mass procession. These were based on speed and you really had to think about number of rounds and placement on target. We ended with "Blue Falcon" take the first to initials and you can figure it out. You install a malfunction into your buddy's gun and then you go back to your gun not knowing what kind of problem you have to deal with. The threat is called you have to clear your gun and get it back running and get three rounds on target.......
So here it is, this class is packed full of content. A lot of this course is finding out what works for you, Chris doesn't cram it down your throat of there is my way and the wrong way. It's up to you to find out what is comfortable and works with you and the bonus is once you do he teaches you to excel in it. Chris and Stephen are two of the most approachable guys I have ever met, there is no BS with them just real guys. The curriculum is taught in a way of seriousness that this is a class on how to kill someone and that is never forgotten. That being said their attention to safety is top notch and the care they have for their students learning and getting something out of the class is second to none. Chris and Stephen are constantly looking for ways to improve their classes and are always open to the students thoughts. What I really appreciated was the real world experience that Chris has. Whether it be gear or firearm, if you ask him, he will tell you what works and why and you can make your choice from there. I got so much out of this class but I warn you this may say Carbine 1 but it is not a entry level class, I'm lucky enough to be in Stephen's back yard and have taken one of his classes before this and am very grateful for it. That is just my two cents on that if you are planning on taking one of these you do need a good idea of how the weapon functions and how to use it. The only drawbacks I have is I was sore for three days afterward and I mean sore!!!!! Expect to be pushed to a point of failure and that is perfectly good in this situation, that is what it's there for. My personal opinion is I will take this class again next year, I know I got a lot out of it but I know I missed parts too, it's a ton to take in.
So if you are interested and comfortable with a carbine, take the course!!! Chris also says to train with other reputable instructors and learn as much as you can. This class is totally worth it all said and done I ran through 1700 rounds in my carbine and another 150 at least in my pistol so round count is not a issue.