A couple of months ago I was supposed to take a class with Granite Firearms Training (GFT) here in AZ, unfortunately due to my job I had to cancel at the last minute. I still really wanted to be able to get some training from John at GFT but there were not any classes that were lining up with my schedule so I asked him if we could schedule essentially a custom/private class. This past Friday schedules aligned and I was able to get that class. Because the class was private there were only two students and one instructor, so a pretty damn good ratio if you ask me.
Prior to the class I talked over the list of topics that I wanted to cover in the class. Then when we met that morning we took input from the second student and we went from there. One thing that I immediately noted is that a lot of instructors have pre-defined courses that they teach and there may be some variance throughout the day but essentially they will teach the same class over and over again; this was different because we were basically on the spot asking for specific topics and John was able to fully accommodate in a way that made it seem like he had taught this exact syllabus/lesson plan a dozen times previously.
We started the day with a good briefing, which included safety and medical and instructor expectations, and we moved from there. The first part of the day was broken into two parts, handgun and then rifle. For each platform we moved from a basic warm up and skills assessment by the instructor to reloads, strong and support side shooting (one handed and two), shooting from cover and working as a team (there was a lot of depth to it but those were the general categories). Because there were only two students we were really able to get a lot of individual feedback and input after each drill. After we were put through the paces on both platforms individually we broke for a quick 20 min. lunch and to add some layers as the rain was starting to fall and temps dropped a couple of degrees. As I was layering up I was mentally remarking on how much I appreciated that every time we would do a different drill afterword we would pause and John would explain the applicable real world connection (personal to each student) to what he just taught.
The second half of the day was the combination of running both platforms together; we utilized all of the skills emphasized during the first half of the day and combined them and of course worked on transitions between the two platforms. We progressed from mostly stationary drills quickly into moving and shooting, John made a very good effort to keep relocating the targets and setup different courses so it was not the same thing over and over. The class culminated with what I though was a very unique method of simulating moving targets and unpredictability. Targets were setup down range and then cover obstacles were setup between the targets and us. Then, one at a time, the instructor guided us by holding on to the back of our armor (or jacket) and moved us at varying speeds and random directions all over the range, and called out at random the number of the target we were supposed to engage. It forced us to make shoot/don’t shoot decisions as he would sometimes call a target that we did not have a fully clean shot for due to obstructions; he also called out malfunctions forcing us to transition platforms. It was one of the most fun and valuable scenarios I have done. After that it was time to doff the gear, break down the range and help pack up.
I got out of the class more then I had expected to; John is a really impressive instructor and he is all about building up the student as opposed to breaking them down. He teaches principles and techniques rather then telling you it’s “my way or the highway” and for everything he teaches he can give a full experience and “been there done that” reason why that is what he recommends. The value to what I got out of the class far exceeded the price of the class, which was exceedingly reasonable. I will for sure take further training from GFT and feel luck to have it as a local training resource right here in my back yard. To any of my fellow ITSers here in AZ, if you have the opportunity, take a class with Granite Firearms Training.