Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beyond Concealed Carry

A Review of the March 2, 2013 DFW Class
No one wants to be "that guy," but it turned out that I was, even if only for a minute. You know that guy, the one who has what looks like an epic fail in a class. Mine wasn't so epic, check that, it kinda was, either way it was definitely a teachable moment. In the close up drill where we were almost within touching distance of the target, I drew my XD and somewhere in the middle of everything I managed to release the magazine. The string of fire was over and, thanks to electronic hearing protection, I heard my mag hit the dirt. I don't even think I realized the weight change when the mag let go. All I knew was that the mag hit the ground and instructor Ben Branam was right behind me, as though by magic or some divinely-inspired instructor-sense guided him there for that exact moment. 

His voice behind me became the voice in my head, "Get back in the fight, get back in the fight." Not yelling or screaming, just the simple urgency that this training could save my life or that of someone I love in the future. I made the motions that pulled a mag from the pouch and inserted it in the pistol. Relief. Thunk. What the…? In my haste, and under self-imposed pressure, I failed to fully seat the mag. A second mag, this one full to the brim, had landed in the dirt. I've practiced mag changes what has to be thousands of times and, with an instructor standing right behind me and surely half of the class watching, I managed to drop two magazines at my own feet. Dang it.
Ben had discussed this earlier with the class, in a round-about sort of way, while talking about mag changes. Keep the gun running. Minimize the amount of time that the gun is down. If you leave some rounds on the ground it's more important to be holding something more than a glorified rock in your hand. Get a full mag in the gun as quick as possible.
"Get back in the fight, get back in the fight," Ben urged again. I pulled another mag from the pouch and this time, thankfully with a solid click as the mag seated, I had an honest to goodness self-defense tool in my grip. In the moment it seemed to me like an eternity. Outside of my head it was probably more like six or seven seconds. With my sights back on target, Ben declared it good, told me to pick up my gear and we moved on. Though it was a full class, during that event and at many other points during the day it felt more like one-on-one instruction. 
Beyond Concealed Carry is a class that covers the essentials every Concealed Handgun Licensee needs to know that they should know. I'll restate that for clarity. New concealed handgun license holders may not realize what they should know to win a gunfight. This class is a great start as it will get that person clued-in to those skills. Throw good natured, qualified and skilled instructors on top and it becomes a class, in my opinion, that would be good for most any experience level. Cost for the course was $150 and was also offered to teachers, school admin, etc. at no cost. I paid the full price to register, but there is an option to pay half the registration cost as a deposit and hold a spot for an upcoming class. Nice. 
The course, instructed by Bob Mayne and Ben Branam, promises to teach students quite a bit during the day. From the Handgun World website, 
"This is a 7 hour course designed for the Concealed Carrier or someone slightly more advanced than a beginner but had never had any formal training outside of the CCW course.  We start with the basics of handgun safety and marksmanship and quickly progress to some basic dynamic movement and defensive scenarios, like shooting from cover, moving and shooting, advancing and retreating, defending hallways, one handed shooting, shooting around barricades, proper use of cover, shooting steel on the move and more." 
Bob's and Ben's backgrounds and experience are outlined at the website. Additional info may be found at Ben's website. For those who may not know, Bob and Ben also work together to produce a couple of high-quality podcasts. Check that out at as well. Interested folks can also check in on Bob and Ben at the Gun Rights Radio Network forum which can be found at Look for the Handgun World Podcast section of the forum.
Class began with a safety briefing and familiarization with the emergency aid process in case there was an injury. Hitting the range, instruction started with the three-count draw from concealment. We watched a fine example of the Tueller Drill and from there the class moved progressively through the drills listed in the course outline. Safety was heavily stressed throughout the day.
Lunch was followed by a talk on mindset. Ben used the time to drill into everyone's head what carrying a firearm as protection really means. He made it clear one must understand that the average criminal already possesses the mindset and will to crush victims. Bob followed up with a discussion of justifiable use of deadly force. Back on the range the class finished up with familiarization of controls and shooting a bunch of different makes and models of semi-autos and revolvers, including Ben's Desert Eagle--there was definitely a different report and big recoil from that one--and I especially enjoyed shooting Bob's Glock with the Speed Sights. We finished up by learning the basics of using cover and concealment within the hallways and doorways of a home environment. 
Class requirements called for 300 rounds, but certain drills were run dry to help save ammo during this time of low market supply and generally higher prices. The use of .22 was also allowed to help defer some of the cost of expending large amounts of centerfire ammunition. As a CHL holder there should already be a good belt in the equation, seriously get a good belt, a quality holster and extra magazines to go along with that quality pistol. Along with a decent sack lunch and some water I would say that sunscreen should be at the top of the list for the comfort factor. I forgot mine and got a little sunburned despite wearing a hat. Don't do that. To facilitate the learning experience I would also suggest electronic hearing protection. Hearing range commands is very important for safety. Electronic muffs are inexpensive, get a set. This is serious and your education deserves it.
I wanted to go because, while I have taken other training, watched training videos and run drills on my own, I believe it is always best to have a qualified instructor watching. I'm sure others would agree. Counting registration, about 250 rounds of .45 acp, lunch and gasoline there and back I spent right at $300. I call it a bargain for the breadth and depth of instruction. I feel much faster and more efficient with new skills added to what I already knew plus a good dose of confidence. A Beyond Concealed Carry II will be offered in May and I would be tempted to repeat this course in addition to taking the follow-up. Those who can make the drive to the Dallas/Fort Worth area or San Antonio should definitely give it their consideration. 
And, by the way, I now know what caused that first mag to drop, but that's for another post.