Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My first private carbine lesson

Back in July I took my first private carbine lesson.  I had hoped to write about it shortly after that but then one of my beloved dogs got sick and passed away, and it just sort of put a stop to my celebratory mood.   But things are finally starting to settle down and so I wanted to at least write up what I remember of that experience now, all these months later.

The class I took was a half day private lesson at Combative Weapon Solutions. My instructor was Rom (I think his first name is Justin). If memory serves me, he's with the 82nd Airborne. So this guy isn't a weekend warrior.  He's the real deal.  I was sort of worried that he'd be so uber alpha that he'd be more than a little condescending trying to teach a chick.  But Rom was AMAZING.  I felt like I was dying out there in the Texas in July heat (which was my own fault for not wanting to get up for an morning session instead of an afternoon session) but it didn't throw Rom off at all. We got through the material, in fact way more detail than I'd hoped to cover, and he did it with a consistently positive attitude no matter how much trouble I was having.  He was awesome.  Just a genuinely really nice guy with an incredible amount of knowledge. It was by far the best carbine instruction I've received. Combative Weapon Solutions has a first class training program that is totally female friendly.

Across the board, this class exceeded my expectations: communication style, ability of male military-veteran instructor to interact effectively with a female student, instructor knowledge/real-world experience, teaching style, content covered, organized sequence of material, level of technical detail provided, ability to apply teaching to relevant examples, ability to troubleshoot on the fly, offering reasons "why" as well with the "how" of instruction, exhibiting AMAZING patience and flexibility with deviating from the program when I experienced problems, thoroughness of answering questions, helping me identify problems with my carbine that impacted my effectiveness, and making sure I was completely satisfied at the end of the class.  He was amazing and I had way too much fun!

Here's what was covered:
  • Anatomy of a carbine
  • Loading and operation of carbine
  • Zeroing rifle and zero body position (I had some major issues with this which I'll talk about in a second)
  • Fundamentals of stance and positioning
  • Trigger management (the same stuff you learn in pistol class)
  • Reloading mechanics
  • Clearing malfunction protocols including:
    • failure to feed
    • failure to eject
    • double feed
    • bolt over ride 
  • Moving fundamentals with a loaded carbine
  • A ton of firing drills
When we got to the zero body position, I didn't realize that I'm not anatomically capable of putting myself in the position required.  My neck is literally curved the wrong way (every chiropractor that's ever x-rayed my neck freaks out that I have any range of motion with my head, let alone as good I have).  But after struggling in class for a significant period of time, with me continually complaining that the red dot on my EOTech was disappearing when I exhaled to take the shot (Rom was an absolutely SAINT being as patient as he was), eventually Rom deduced that I was oxygen deprived and my vision was blacking out (at the time the topic of my neck issues weren't raised, so he didn't know I was literally cutting off my air supply hyper extending my neck like that).  He then instructed me to hyperventilate before exhaling for the shot and that worked, I could see to take the shot!!  It was really very uncomfortable, being in the sun and all covered up in protective clothes and being in a weird position and not being able to breath, but I did eventually get through it.  

The rest of the class was an absolute blast. I was so exhausted from the zeroing exercise that I wasn't able to do as well as I'd liked to have done, but I am definitely going to take this again.  It really improved my confidence with my carbine in a environment where I set the pace.  I definitely want to take their group carbine classes too. 

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