Training, training, and more training. Tactical training, firearms training, movement training... just training. Before you spend money upgrading your gear, put some time and money into upgrading your skill sets.
We met the guys from Shoot and Move, with offices in Tallahassee, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia, through Twitter and made plans to do some tactical firearms training with them. After months of planning the trip around Mike's schedule it was me and Jayson headed up to Tallahassee... why? Mike had his reasons but all I heard was this:
We loaded up the SUV with the Tavor, PS90, a couple of handguns, and around 2,000 rounds of ammunition on hand. I'm sure that list would give Mayor Bloomberg and his ilk visions of terror but I'm sure our readers are thinking it was just a good start. On the way up we saw a billboard for Ocala Armory and decided that any gun store that takes out a full billboard on the interstate is worth a stop. We weren't disappointed in the least. Good store, great guys, and this...
Nothing says great training day like smoke grenades
We get to Tallahassee and, in a rare moment of foresight, decide to write out directions to Shoot and Move. Following breakfast at Up in Smoke BBQ we headed out for Shoot and Move. Our hand written directions became pretty valuable when we lost signal halfway there (thanks a lot T-Mobile). With our finely tuned sense of direction, we pulled up to the Coon Bottom Gun Club, home of Shoot and Move just moments late.
We did a quick meet and greet with the cadre that included staff from both the Florida and Atlanta locations while filling out the obligatory paperwork. Among the instructors on hand were former military special operations personnel, current and former SWAT officers as well as a broad spectrum of specialties. Of course, all of the instructors are NRA certified as well.
Rather than run through one of the typical classes, the guys at Shoot and Move ran a hybrid class for us to work everything from basic pistol and rifles to vehicle based weapons manipulation to running and gunning through barricades. A damned fine day was ahead of us.
We started out on a standard pistol range with draw drills and progressed through drill after drill including barricade manipulation, slicing the pie, and a whole lot of shooting and moving. With just Jayson and I there and a full cadre we worked quickly and were soon running, sliding (it sounds cooler to say sliding than the whatever the ungainly movements we were making were... they were meant to be slides), and dropping to the ground to engage targets. When it all came together, it looked something like this (with a bonus malfunction clearing drill):
Bonus prize to the first person to correctly identify the malfunction
One moment that really stood out to me was when I was running through a drill, the mag went dry and, as I've always been taught, speed reload and finish out the drill as quickly as possible. Kris came up to me afterwards and talked about civilian applications and training like you fight. When the mag goes dry in the real world it won't be a half empty mag, set number of rounds situation. With my carry, I'll have fired 11 rounds already before reloading. That's a damned serious gunfight and when that mag goes dry, it's a di di mau reload and assess situation. Winning a gunfight is as much about keeping a clear head and thinking properly more than it is about hurrying.
We broke for lunch and got news of an incoming rain storm that seemed fitting for running the rifles so we are and got back on the range. We ran through the gamut again from basic positioning of the rifle, proper footwork while moving, moving in various directions, techniques for clearing horizontal barricades (car hood, etc), and the list goes on and on.
Oh yeah, and Smoke Grenades:
As we were wrapping up for the day, the guys shared a few of their in house drills - the Presidente and the Jihadi are the names of two of them - and we had a blast competing in them with the guys. I still say that I could have beat Mike's time on the Jihadi if I had remembered I had to sprint that last leg to the target. I'll beat him next time even if he is a decade younger than me and practicing every day.
We always like to give credit where credit is due and the guys up at Shoot and Move do it right. The training was quick to ramp up and continued flowing throughout the day. The atmosphere was light-hearted with lots of joking between drills (reloading takes forever in a full day of shooting) and then business-like and on task when it came to getting in repetitions.
The Tavor and the PS90 threw a little curveball into the mix as they are not the typical AR or AK platform and require some different teaching for effective manipulation but the instructors had no problem adapting and coming up with effective methods and solutions. I take that as a good sign that the school is always looking to learn more and improve on it's already top tier curriculum and knowledge base.
One of the instructors with us that day is a former prosecutor and a practicing attorney. The benefit of his experience to the concealed carry classes at Shoot and Move seems like a big plus. Many people leave CCW classes with more questions than answers on legalities and think Jeff's background allows people to feel more comfortable with the answers they receive.
When we go to different schools it's the little things that make a difference. People spend far too much time wrapped up in comparing resumes. The variety of backgrounds among the instructors at Shoot and Move (military special operations, law enforcement, SWAT, even a former prosecutor who bring a unique point of view to the CCW classes) gives students a more diverse skill set and group of people to learn from. At the end of the day, the problem with comparing resumes is that it says nothing about the quality of instruction. Barry Bonds is a hell of a baseball player, but do you really want to hang around him all day?
Good people, good training, and a good time... I really can't summarize it any better than that. Whether you're getting started in shooting, looking for your concealed carry license, or moving through advanced tactics and training the guys at Shoot and Move will push you to learn as much as you can while having a great time.
Check out their Facebook page for more information on the goings on. For detail on classes, go to their website at www.ShootandMove.org