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Thread: So you want to go to a Training Course for the first time?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    28 (100%)

    So you want to go to a Training Course for the first time?

    This site is notorious for telling people to get training, for good reason, but attending open enrollment classes and reading through the T&T forum (especially a specific recent thread) has shown that there isn't much info for the first timer to let them focus on the class instead of being frustrated due to their lack of preparation and experience. This thread is intended to fix that.

    Before we get to the list, first things first: Don't be scared. Whether you are brand new to shooting or a retired Sniper, there will be guys better than you. Don't think that you have to be the best shooter in the class. You are going to get better, and that's what matters. Performance anxiety will turn a fun learning experience into frustration. You don't need to practice for 6 months before enrolling in a course. Choose an applicable class, and in the words of the prophet Nike, "Just Do It".

    1- Have a good zero. What is a zero? It is knowing exactly where your bullet will land at a certain diastance in relation to your sights.
    There are two preferred zeroes:
    The 50/200 meter or yard zero
    The 100 meter or yard zero
    I list the 50 and 200 as the same zero simply because they will be virtually identical from muzzle to about 100 meters, which is the distance most carbine courses will be within. I recommend the 200 over the 50 since you will have precision at long range and only minimal difference at 50.
    The 100 yard/meter (yards and meters are basically interchangable, so for brevity I will use yards here, but personally prefer meters) is my preference. It has a more gentle rise from muzzle to 100, which makes for a more forgiving hold-over at close ranges.
    For more information on Zeroes, refer to Molon's superb thread on the subject-
    Your zero can be considered good to go if you can stuff 8 of 10 rounds into a 6" target at 100 yards or a 3" target at 50 yards from a bench or prone position. This is not the same thing as getting 8 of 10 in a 6" group, but rather hitting an established target, and having the group centered in that target.
    Zeroing should be done with the ammo you intend on using in the class.
    Throughout the zeroing process constantly check your sight and mount. It is a common problem with people just getting into high volume fire to experience mounts loosening. Make sure they are properly mounted and that applicable parts are loctited, but don't take it for granted that it won't come loose. I had a brand new mount that I loctited and mounted shake loose toward the end of a zeroing/precision testing session. I was embarrassed, but not nearly as much as I would have been if it had happened in front of students, during a match, or if needed to save lives.

    2- Know your offsets.
    Because the sights of pretty much every assault rifle sit well above the bore you will have to hold your aiming point above the point you want the bullet to strike until you reach your zero distance or the initial intersection of the trajectory and line of sight. This distance will be the greatest at the muzzle and gradually decrease until the initial point or zero distance. Knowing the difference in hold-over (or hold-under, depending on range and zeroing distance) in 5 yard increments will put you ahead of many others. You will notice that not each increment will need a new point of aim, falling into "blocks" that are very close to each other. Knowing these "blocks" will make CQB distance shooting much easier and more applicable to real use. A shooter should be able to place a round into a 2" circle from 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 yards on demand without a time limit. Naturally, being able to do it quickly is a good thing.

    3- Have dependable equipment.
    The first time you use a piece of gear should not be day 1 of the course. Your gear should fit, hold what it needs to hold, and be relevant to your expected method of employment. If you are a normal guy you probably don't need to wear a BALCS armor package with front, back, and side plates, 12 mags in triple mag pouches, a MICH helmet, Crye combat top and trousers, and 2 gallons of water. Likewise, if you are a mil student, it's a bit silly to show up looking like a 3-gun competitor. FYI- the instructor and other students won't be impressed by your gear if you don't know how to use it, don't have a reason to wear it, and can't shoot.

    Magazines are the leading cause of stoppages in the AR platform. Make sure that you bring at least 5 magazines (unless the course asks for more) that work, and you have cleaned before the class. Bring at least 2 extra mags, just in case.
    Write your name or a unique identifying mark on your gear. It makes recovery easier. Everybody has GI and PMags, you don't want to get into the "who has my shit" game during a class.

    Get a good pair of electronic ear protection. Wear them so the mic is facing backward. You will be able to hear the instructor during demos without having to take them off, it will be easier to hear commands on the line, and you will be able to hear coaching/corrections easier.
    Bring spare batteries for all electronic items. However many batteries you initially think you will need, double it. Trust me.

    4- Be prepared to be outside all day.
    Bring sunscreen, rain gear, bug spray, an extra set of shoes/boots and socks, and alternate clothing for both warmer and colder conditions than you expect.
    Bring water and Gatoraide.
    Have a boo-boo kit. You won't have to be applying your own traich, but you will probably get a brass-burn, cut or a blister, and being able to take care of yourself quickly can make the difference.
    Bring 2 sets of eye protection, just in case.
    Don't worry about taking water to the line, you will be busy shooting, drink water when you are not otherwise engaged.
    Bring lunch money, as in cash.
    Bring a roll of toilet paper.
    Bring a hat.

    5- Know your weapons. Know how to load, chamber a round, manipulate the safety, unload, and lock the bolt/slide to the rear. You don't need to practice speed reloads like some chimp on YouTube, the instructor will tell you how he thinks you should be doing it. You just need to know how to safely make your guns work.

    Don't point your gun at anybody. This includes when you are takin the gun out of it's case, holstering it, slinging it, verifying a clear, whenever. It's an immediate sign of complacency and ignorance, and almost instantly will make you "that guy".

    6- Bring decent ammo. A mixed lot of bargain ammo is probably not going to ensure proper function. Figure out what gives good enough precision, will work in your gun, and costs the least; and buy a bunch of it. Bring at least the minimum required by the class. I generally bring 10 to 20% more, as there are often opportunities to use it.

    7- Bring a back-up or at least spare parts.
    Always have another BCG on stand-by, at minimum.

    8- Bring note-taking gear, and use it.

    9- Bring a digital camera. Use it to document points of interest. Do not take pics of other guys or their gear without their consent.

    10- Don't argue with the instructor or say things like "Well, so and so from wherever said to do fill in the blank, like this. " If he doesn't teach it a certain way, it's for a reason. It might be because he likes a method for a certain reason, or doesn't know or have proficiency with whatever other technique. Either way, he isn't going to stop he class and adopt a different technique. If you want to talk about it with him later, great, but don't interrupt a period of instruction to do it. After all, you aren't paying him to teach him stuff.

    11- Don't take yourself too seriously. It's your first time. You're going to make mistakes. It's ok. If you get all pouty because of a correction or because you aren't the best shooter in your relay it will interfere with your learning process. Have a good time, talk to the other guys and girls at the class. Just don't go too far and try to be a clown.

    12- Bring a friend. It is a good way to make sure you have somebody to BS with in case everybody else already knows each other. If you are competative, try to be next to each other on the line so you can push each other to excel. If not, you can give each other gay high-fives as relays turn over.

    Anyway, those were just the ones that jumped to mind. There are plenty more. It has been a long time since my first class, so those are things that I have seen mostly as an instructor.

    So M4, anybody else want to help out the new guys?
    Last edited by Failure2Stop; 01-07-11 at 12:06. Reason: First things first.
    Jack Leuba
    Director of Sales
    Knight's Armament Company

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    I go where I'm told.
    Feedback Score
    15 (100%)
    Stick this. Anyhow, f2s makes some awesome points. To expound, I cannot stress enough to you guys to make sure your gear works for you before you enter any kind of defensive class. As for helping out my fellow m4c members, as always... my property/range is open to use for free training as long as I don't have a class going on. Just get ahold of me and we'll set something up.
    Acta Non Verba

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Feedback Score
    12 (100%)
    Great info and awesome post, thank you! This should be stickied, stuck and read several times over.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, OH
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    I'll give a third on that sticky recommendation. AWESOME post.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Awesome thread. True words have never been spoken. This should have been put together years ago. This info is LUBE for your training.

    To add: Bring functional gear (No Ninja shit), less is more (Streamline your gear) and Loctite everything. Bring spare parts for your BCG. A spare BCG is better. A spare weapon is mo better. can never have or apply enough of it. Check your BCG after every relay. If it's not wet, lube it. I bring an ammo can full of preloaded mags so I can listen and learn more, take notes, snack, hydrate, take pictures and chat with other shooters, instead of jamming mags at every break.
    Last edited by RogerinTPA; 12-21-10 at 16:21.
    For God and the soldier we adore, In time of danger, not before! The danger passed, and all things righted, God is forgotten and the soldier slighted." - Rudyard Kipling

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Feedback Score
    16 (100%)
    I'll add a couple of other things:

    Come with an open mind and willingness to learn. In each of the classes I've been to, there are always a couple of guys that are just too stubborn to learn. Like F2S said, if the instructor is teaching you a certain way to do things, do it his/her way. The last class I was in, a guy got pissed because all of the techniques (draw, presentation, stance, grip, etc.) were all geared to the isosceles stance and not the Weaver. It was like pulling teeth to get him to try isosceles. The guy paid a lot of money to the instructor for the opportunity to ignore what he was teaching.

    Be helpful during setup/cleanup. My first priority is to make sure I'm ready to participate in the drill, but if my feces is cohesive (mags are loaded, I'm hydrated, etc.) I will try to help the instructors set up the range for the next set of exercises. I remember setting up some steel targets, and about half the class pitched in. The other half just stood there watching. The less time spent setting up the range, the more time for shooting.

    Just a few I've observed.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Feedback Score
    5 (100%)
    I'm surprised someone hasn't/hadn't done one of these yet, it's why I asked the question in the "rant" thread.

    I'm glad someone who explains things very well decided to do this, thank you sir.

  8. #8
    VMI-MO Guest
    less is more (Streamline your gear) .
    So true. Do the jump and run test also. If you can jump up and down 10x, run 100m and touch your toes with out your shit spilling everywhere then you are on your way to being good to go.

    and Loctite everything. .
    It is funny when other people dont do it. Its the sign of a non-professional when you dont do it.

    Bring spare parts for your BCG. A spare BCG is better. A spare weapon is mo better. .
    Soo true, but also make sure your backup weapons are zeroed can never have or apply enough of it. Check your BCG after every relay. If it's not wet, lube it. .
    Make sure its in the right places.

    I bring an ammo can full of preloaded mags so I can listen and learn more, take notes, snack, hydrate, take pictures and chat with other shooters, instead of jamming mags at every break.
    Paul Howe has said he can tell who the serious students are by who brings note taking gear. This is somehting I took to heart and numerous Rite in the Rain pads filled with notes from training.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Feedback Score
    Thanks, for sharing. Great info. A sticky would be nice also.
    What can one man do? You never know until you try.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Feedback Score
    46 (100%)
    As always, a valuable read. Thanks very much for creating this.

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