Monday, April 14, 2014

Defensive Long Gun Essentials class experience.

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to take KR Training's Defensive Long Gun Essentials class.  This was my first formal class shooting my rifle.  I had only shot my rifle once before this class with a guy nice enough to hang out with my after one of my pistol classes to show me how to load and fire it.  Still I was very unfamiliar and uncomfortable handling and operating it when I arrived for this class.

Since I've taken several pistol classes there now and am getting into advanced coursework, one of the instructors mistakenly thought I was also experienced with a rifle and so he was holding me to a standard of someone with some rifle experience. After he barked orders at me a few times (he only did this because he thought I knew this stuff already and wanted to instill a sense of urgency in me since this was a defensive-geared class and I was falling behind) and I failed to comply repeatedly while the rest of the firing line waited, I finally just barked right back at him that I clearing didn't know how to do what he was telling me to do.  He immediately regrouped and helped/instructed me through the process I needed to learn. He totally apologized later stating he didn't realize I was a total beginner with a rifle.  It was super nice of him to stop and tell me that and I really appreciated it and it made me feel like they had taken the kid gloves off with me and that felt so awesome to think that I might actually be treated just like the guys. KR Training from my observation takes a softer approach when interacting with their female students which most gals probably really appreciate.  Me on the other hand, I just wanna be treated like one of the guys so having him take me out of my comfort zone like that was really very flattering for me personally.  

After that instruction I didn't hold up the class again (well, until my EOTech scope came flying off and the guy next to me on the line told the instructor and that stopped things again but I just tucked the scope into my duty pants pocket and flipped up the iron sights and I was good to go.  Halfway through the 3 hour class, my iron sights started coming lose too but I had a screw driver in my range bag and was able to tighten it back down. I learned from another student that I needed to invest in blue Loctite to lock the threads when tightening down anything on my rifle rails.  Lesson learned.  Luckily my EOTech wasn't broken either or that would have been a mighty expensive lesson.

My class was nearly half women which I imagine is pretty rare, and I wasn't the only novice; although, there were several students there that appeared to be quite familiar with their rifles/shotguns.  Oh, yes, this class allows you to bring whatever long gun you want (shotgun or rifle/pistol caliber carbine) so we had to wait while the shotties were reloaded but that was the only delay and frankly it was nice to be able to rest my arms while they did that. Another thing I learned is that you really need a sling for carbine classes because your arms and shoulders get a real workout holding that big ol' rifle in low ready through out a 4 hour class.  

Another thing I learned is that my fancy electronic pistol ear protection does not work for rifle target practice. I ended up having to put foam plugs in my ear canals because the butt of my gun kept kicking the thick earmuff off my rifle-side ear which would have been pretty painful if it happened while the gun was still going BANG! I have a pair of low profile lower-cost electronic muffs but I didn't bring them because I've been leaving them in my nightstand with my personal defense gun and honestly didn't realize there was a difference.  This wasn't something covered in my basic long gun class taught at the AG&AG conference unfortunately, but then again neither was the Loctite requirement on my rail-mounted rifle accessories.  

The class focuses on fast response, technique, and accuracy for relatively close quarter encounters (5yds to 20yds) with a long gun. Makes sense for a defensive class as you're not likely going to have a lot of 100+ yard defensive encounters (or even hear of them) as a civilian. I hadn't zeroed my sights or scope yet (I still don't know how to do that unfortunately) but even so I didn't have a problem hitting my targets quite accurately once I was taught the concept of holdover. Basically your long guns bullet trajectory is not a straight line (it arcs) but the line of sight targeting of your sights/scope is a straight line, so your target picture will only be right-on using the cross-hairs at two distances and the rest of the time you'll be too high or too low. If you know the distance at which your sights are zeroed and know roughly the distance of your target, you can adjust where you aim using your reticle to accurately place the intended shot at other distances.   

We learned how to properly hold and shoot our long guns, how to reload, how to properly present from cover, how to slice the pie with a long gun, why we need to be able to shoot our long guns's using either hand defensively, learned how distance plays a role in pivoting around corners/barriers, had an opportunity to clear the shoot house with a pistol-caliber carbine, learned to shoot from standing and kneeling positions from cover, and learned how to shoot quickly from high-ready and low-ready and when each technique is most effective.  I think we were supposed to learn how to clear a malfunction but I definitely don't feel like that was something I understood coming out of class (but then again getting everything the first time is pretty rare).  

I had a very positive experience yet again at KR Training.  I definitely get the impression that Karl is way more of a pistol guy than a rifle guy since there aren't a lot of rifle classes offered so I'm going to be trying other training outfits in the area to get more hands-on time with rifle work.  Unfortunately, most of the remaining classes I want to take for the first time at KR Training are scheduled while I'm in that other class, vacationing in England, or attending the National Romance Writers of America conference in San Antonio.  I know there will eventually be offered again, but I panic when I think that won't get any holster practice in the meantime.  Most of the local ranges don't allow you to draw from holster, or to rapid fire which are two really critical skills to work on at the range.  I hope I can find a way to get more time doing this before those classes come up again.

Next weekend I have my last big weekend at KR Training scheduled.  I'm taking Handgun Beyond the Basics in the morning and Competitive Pistol 1 in the afternoon.  I so so love my Saturdays learning and shooting at KR Training.  It makes me week at work fly by just looking forward to my time on the range.  

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