Day: November 11, 2015

Class Review: Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun

“When people get shot with a shotgun, they tend to stay shot.”  –Tom Givens

Tom Givens

Tom Givens

For the second time this year I had the pleasure of participating in the Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun course.  The first time was as a student.  This time, due to the lovely and gracious Lynn Givens being occupied in whipping all of the male shooters in a Gunsite 250 Pistol class en route to an Expert rated certificate, I had the honor of being Tom’s assistant.

The class was held on the same picturesque range as the previous day’s Defensive Revolver Skills course.

Context

My favorite thing about Tom’s teaching style is that he puts everything into context.  There is a reason for every drill, technique, etc, and it is thoroughly explained.  In his shotgun class, everything is put in the context of a person using a shotgun for personal defense within their home or business.  For instance, a business owner isn’t going to take the time in the middle of a hold-up to attach shell holders to their belt; the problem will have to be solved with the ammo in and on the gun.  This is a much different context than the use of the shotgun in a military environment

As problems with operating a shotgun are typically shooter induced, the class is strong on robust manipulations and repeated drilling on the fundamentals of operating the weapon and loading techniques.

Yes, You Have to Aim

The pictures below show two separate targets shot with Federal Flite Control OO buckshot.  As you can see, the patterns are tight enough that the shots clearly have to be aimed.

Flite Control: One round at three yards

Flite Control: One round at three yards

Elite Control

Flite Control: Three rounds at 15 yards

Chris Baker of the Lucky Gunner Lounge was a student in the class.  He wrote an article on choosing buckshot for the home defense shotgun and created the video embedded below.  The video has good information on different loads, and they currently have a series underway focussing on shotguns.

Patterning & Set-up

Following all of the shooting drills, the class patterned their shotguns out to 15 yards with the buckshot loads they brought with them as well as with Flite Control.  Tom also discussed his preferred set-up regarding sights, magazine extensions, etc.  This too was in context as he discussed this topic with personal defense in the home/business in mind and not a peace officer on a manhunt.

Choices

For some reason the mention of a shotgun as a personal protection tool offends people who prefer a carbine or other option, and they feel honor bound to justify their choice.  Usually, their reasoning is fueled by misconceptions or misunderstandings of the capabilities of the shotgun (that should set some such people off).  The fact is that the versatility and the fight-ending effectiveness of a proper shotgun load can’t be denied.  I personally have more confidence in a magazine tube full off Flite Control than I due a magazine of 9mm or .223 to solve an immediate close to intermediate range problem.  If you choose otherwise, be happy in your choice.  If ever I have to shoot someone; I want them to stay shot.

FBI Police Firearms Instructor Course

I recently had the opportunity to complete the FBI Police Firearms Instructor Course. In order to attend the course, candidates had to pre-qualify by successfully shooting passing scores on five courses of fire. Three of these courses were shot with duty pistols, one was shot with a patrol rifle, and the other was with a shotgun. I do not know the total number of candidates that applied for the class. On the day that I shot my pre-qualifying rounds, only eight out of 12 of us shot the requisite scores. Twenty-four students qualified and were enrolled in the class. Twenty-three students successfully completed the program.

FBI Firearms Instructor Certificate (1)

The high point of the class, in my opinion, was a block of instruction taught by Frank Proctor. Mr. Proctor is a member of the Unites States Army Special Forces, and he is also a USPSA Grand Master as well as being an IDPA Master. His block was concerned with weapons manipulations and focussed on “processing” what was happening throughout the shooting process. I look forward to being able to take more classes from him in the future.

Tiger McKee also taught a block of instruction on weapons manipulations. I picked up several teaching points from him that I will be incorporating into future classes.

Of the academic blocks, I found a block on Critical Incident Amnesia to be very informative. Of note, this material applies not only to officer involved shootings to both victims of violent crimes and citizens who find themselves in situations in which they must use force. This block is one that will go well beyond the range as it will also come into play when conducting interviews.

There were blocks on many other shooting and academic areas such as law enforcement officers flying while armed, lesson plan development, and ballistics.

As for the overall course itself, in comparison to the Firearms Instructor course at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center, the GPSTC course involved much more teaching of the prospective instructor on how to teach the art of shooting. The FBI course had more of a focus on developing the instructor’s overall firearms knowledge. The GPSTC course was also centered around the pistol with the shotgun being the only other platform utilized in that course whereas the FBI course covered pistol, rifle, shotgun, and, yes, the revolver.

Another area of comparison is that the GPSTC course is taught completely by academy staff, and the program is the same regardless of staff instructor teaching it. The FBI course utilized many area instructors, and it appeared the subject matter could change significantly depending upon the instructors that teach in a particular class. Also, as this particular class was held in Alabama, there was a strong tendency towards the Alabama POST (APOST) standards, which fairly closely mirrored those of the FBI itself. The APOST courses have much more of a focus on longer range accuracy (50 yard shots with the support hand on the revolver course), and they are typically shot on one target. The GA POST standards which have more draws and reloads under time and require shots on multiple targets as well as shots while moving.

Finally, the biggest lesson I took from the course was from a major mistake that I made. Throughout the course, we had a running “Top Gun” competition going. I won several of the individual courses of fire and was very much in the running for the award. The last course that we shot for score in the competition was the rifle course, and here is where I made my error. The last time that I had my rifle out was during a manhunt at night. I flipped the rear aperture to the “low light” aperture. For those unfamiliar, this aperture is much larger to allow the shooter to get more visible light around the all important front sight. It is also often used in “close quarters” situations as it allows for faster sight acquisition. The trade off is that it is much less precise than the smaller aperture. Ultimately, I stored my rifle without flipping back to the smaller aperture and thus I shot the entire rifle course with the wrong aperture and gave up enough points that I finished in third place. The top three places were decided by points to the right of the decimal place.

I do have the satisfaction of being beaten with my own gun as I loaned a revolver to the eventual Top Gun winner after the revolver his agency provided him would not function properly. He is also a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces. I feel pretty good about running down to the wire with one of the elite.

FBI Bullseye Course

FBI Pistol Course

FBI Shotgun Course

FBI Rifle Course

Old APOST Course