When I discovered that Kyle Defoor was going to be teaching within easy driving distance, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to train with him. Defoor is a well-known name in the training community and has an excellent reputation for teaching real world shooting and tactics to military, law enforcement, and civilian clients. The simple fact that ALL of his open enrollment courses for 2015 were sold out by June of this year speaks volumes about the value of the training he provides. I can attest that the time and money was well spent. Quite frankly, if Kyle Defoor wanted to teach combat knitting, I would probably attend!
This course was the Defoor Proformance Shooting 2-day carbine course. While I have no real expectation of ever using an AR-15 in anger, I do keep an AR-15 for home defense and wanted to improve my skills and knowledge. I left this class with a thorough understanding of not only how to best employ and set up the AR-15 but also aware of my weaknesses and how to work on them. The amount of material that we covered in two days was impressive, primarily due to Defoor’s efficient yet relaxed teaching methods.
The class was held at the Metacon Gun Club in Simsbury, CT and was hosted by a member of that club. Defoor caps his open enrollment classes at 14 shooters, and this one was full with a waiting list. We had a mix of people from all around the region, with a couple of LEO’s and a few people who had trained with Defoor previously. Next year, I intend to become a repeat student as well.
Although only a 100 yard range, the facilities were excellent for this class, with a covered area with plenty of chairs and benches for everybody and bathrooms available in the clubhouse. Having grass to go prone, sit, and kneel on was nice as compared to the gravel at some ranges. We enjoyed good weather, with a sunny TD1 and only brief periods of rain on TD2.
Defoor started the class by introducing himself with a brief explanation of his experience in the military, and then moved into a safety and medical brief. His safety protocols are similar to those of some others that I have trained with, emphasizing the fundamental importance of muzzle and trigger discipline. Long story short, if you want to work with guns in the real world, you’re eventually going to have to violate one of the four safety rules. To ensure safety, whether it is your muzzle or your trigger, you must be aware of at least one at all times. See this post for a further discussion of firearms safety.
Defoor brought his own blow out kit, a very compact design offered by Raven Concealment, and a couple of other students (myself included) brought blow out kits as well. These were placed in a central location at the range and everybody was briefed on individual responsibilities in case they were needed.
We quickly started shooting, beginning at 100 yards to confirm zero. Defoor is a strong proponent of a 100 yard zero and I have long run a 100 yard zero, as it was what I originally learned from Paul Howe and it allows for consistency among sighting systems across all of my long guns. There are many other advantages to this zero, and you can read Defoor’s thoughts on it at this link. In fact, we spent most of the morning of the first day establishing and refining our zero, as knowing this information at all ranges is key to placing accurate fire on a target. Defoor uses a B8 repair target pasted to an IPSC backer for much of the training, and this allows for establishing a standard to adhere to, as well as emphasizing the ability to hit essentially a head sized target at 100 yards. Defoor considers 100 yards to be the limit for distinguishing a man’s head without magnified optics.
Most of the first day was spent on fundamentals, and Defoor breaks this down into three key areas. Throughout the day, he gave us in effect a dissertation level explanation of mounting the gun, using the sights, and manipulating the trigger. By lunch of the first day, he had us calling our shots with a thorough understanding of how exactly to call our shots.
In the afternoon we moved closer to the targets and examined the standing position, including nuances of grip, stance, and sight offset at CQB distances that allowed us to quickly place high thoracic and head shots accurately on target. Defoor gave perhaps the most thorough explanation I’ve ever heard about anatomical considerations when trying to stop human adversaries. He also discussed reloads during the afternoon, teaching us his method of holding the magazines in an “L” shape when performing a tactical reload. I came to prefer this method over what I had been using previously as the class progressed.
Day one concluded with an invaluable mindset lecture from Defoor that was unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. The core concepts presented were profound yet presented in a simple and easy to understand way with relevant examples applicable to everyday life.
Day two began with some early rain that cleared as we were preparing to shoot. We repeated the accuracy standards from day one first for a slow fire score and then under time pressure at 100 yards. We then practiced some alternate shooting positions, including kneeling and sitting at 50 and 25 yards. Defoor’s kneeling position is a little different than anything I’d ever been taught, and I found it more stable than what I had previously learned.
Also on day two, Defoor taught malfunction clearing techniques. His manipulations are well thought out and effective. He teaches a diagnostic method that is simple and logical with no extraneous crap. Regarding manipulations, Defoor stressed the importance of competent manipulation of the carbine continually throughout the course, and showed us methods that relied on economy of motion and body mechanics. One brief example is using your thumb to actuate the bolt release on the rifle instead of “slapping” the release with the palm as taught by some others.
He discussed and demonstrated some ready positions to be used at close range, and before breaking for lunch, he put us each on a timer individually in order to establish some baseline times to let us know how we were performing as compared to the par time. One nice thing is that Defoor never asked us to do something that he didn’t demonstrate first, with a borrowed rifle no less!
After lunch, we really started moving, quite literally! Defoor had set up four stations that we were allowed to cycle through at our own discretion in order to practice some fundamentals of shooting while moving. Yes, it is possible and viable. Again, this was a lot of information in a short amount of time, but it was presented in a way that was clear and easy to work with, and easy to set up on our own for practice.
Finally, we worked on shooting around barricades. This obviously included a cover vs. concealment discussion, and Defoor offered us some unique perspectives that I had never heard before. Some of the information was also newer and more evolved than what I had encountered in training before, but it all made sense when taken in context. Again, we were allowed to cycle through several stations at our discretion, to get whatever we wanted out of the drill. Generally, is seems that most students went through a magazine or two on these various stations. The drill is relatively fast paced, but you are given the opportunity to discover what you need to work on and repeat whatever positions you want. Defoor is constantly moving in the background during all of this, correcting errors in technique that he sees, answering student questions, and coaching as needed to make the hits.
The final portion of the class was an informal Q&A session during which we were offered the opportunity to ask Defoor basically anything we wanted. The subjects (not only here, but throughout the class) were wide ranging and discussed in depth. I took the opportunity throughout the two days to solicit Defoor’s opinion on pistol sighting systems, ACOGs, and aftermarket triggers, to name a few. Defoor is an incredible wealth of experience and information, and I cannot stress how much I gained from this class. I will definitely train with him again when I can!
During this class, I used a Stag Arms lower with MagPul furniture and a BCM upper. The upper has a 14.5 inch barrel with a mid-length gas system and a pinned BCM comp to bring it to legal length, with a 12” Centurion Arms quad rail. I used my Aimpoint Comp ML2 in a Larue mount for a lower 1/3 cowitness with my Daniel Defense fixed BUIS. I have a 12 o’clock mounted Surefire X300 Ultra directly in front of the sight tower. I used a Blue Force Gear QD sling mounted at the rear of the handguard near the barrel nut and to the end of the buttstock, but that will probably be changed in the near future after my experiences in class. The sling may or may not be replaced, but it will definitely have its rear mounting point changed! As Defoor says, “Tell me about your rifle…”
I had to switch out my Stag lower with a different lower from my spare rifle due to some doubling on reset issues that I had during the morning of TD1. This is now the second time I’ve had such a problem with Stag LPKs, so buyer beware! Apparently, they have had some QC issues with sears in recent times. My rifles will be getting ALG triggers all around now.
My round count for this class was roughly 550, but keep in mind that this is quite dependent on the individual shooter, especially on the second half of day two. I used new manufacture Freedom Munitions 55 grain .223 ammo and had no ammunition related malfunctions other than those purposely created during training.
Overall, I was disappointed with my accuracy. I do, however, have a coordinated plan of attack to become better with my rifle as I continue to practice. The way the Defoor sets up his training targets is pure genius in my opinion, and I plan to emulate it in my range trips.
As for others in the class, we had for the most part a squared away bunch of shooters. AR-15s predominated, but my buddy brought a SCAR. One gun, a Spike’s Tactical, went down hard with out of spec extractor issues, so that student borrowed another student’s spare rifle for the remainder of the day. Various red dot sights were used by most, with one variable scope and one or two ACOGs. Although I brought my ACOG equipped rifle, I never used that upper.
I could write a novel from the notes that I took during class, but I am going to keep this concise and suggest instead that you make it a point to train with Defoor if you ever get the chance. I am of the firm opinion that it definitely matters where you spend your training dollars, especially if you are someone that may have to go into harm’s way with a carbine at some point. The time that we spent not shooting is worth the price of admission alone, and Defoor is an awesome teacher full of humorous and politically incorrect yet cogent one-liners. In short, train with him… It’s worth it!