New for this year, Kyle Defoor has begun to offer one day carbine classes held either immediately before or after his regular two day classes. Fortunately, one such single day class was scheduled within easy driving distance for me. Seeing that it was on one of my normal days off, I jumped at the chance and signed up almost immediately. As is typical, it sold out quickly. This was my fourth time training with Defoor, and I continue to be impressed by his teaching style and curriculum. Please note that other than being a full price paying student, I have no affiliation with either Defoor Proformance Shooting or the range facility.
The class is advertised as being a new format developed over the course of teaching carbine fundamentals to more than one thousand military and law enforcement students. All participants were expected to have a good understanding of carbine fundamentals as a prerequisite.
Having signed up for the course well in advance, I had no way of knowing just how complicated the demands on my schedule would be at the time of the class. Suffice it to say, my family and I are between homes as we move right now, and I had scant time to prepare for the course and much of my training equipment was inaccessible to me, being scattered somewhere throughout three storage units. As it was, I showed up with four 10-round mags that I happened to be able to find. More on this later.
Short on sleep, and facing a day of training in torrential rain (“if it ain’t raining, we ain’t training!”), I wasn’t at all looking forward to the class in the days prior. But as another cliché goes, half the battle is showing up. At the end of the day, I was glad I went and the weather and equipment complications proved a fertile learning ground.
The class was held at the Blue Trails Range in Wallingford, CT on a Friday immediately preceding a two day pistol class. We were somewhat limited in that the range is only 50 yards, but that didn’t really seem to impact the curriculum all that much. Including the host, there were 14 students in attendance, with some “regulars,” and a mix of law enforcement and civilians. There were 13 men and one woman. Most used some version of a red dot sight, with three or four (myself included) using a low power variable optic.
For this class, I used a Leupold VX-R Patrol in a Larue QD mount on top of my favored BCM 14.5” mid-length carbine. (I had the opportunity to acquire the scope from Robert when he upgraded his glass, and it has been a worthwhile investment.) I had established a 100 yard zero with Wolf Gold 55 grain ammunition just days prior, and that zero served me well. As Defoor explained in class, you can choose to zero at 50, 100, or 200 yards depending on what you want or need to accomplish. Regarding the 50/200 zero theory, there really isn’t such a thing. The zeros will be close, but that may not be close enough if you’re trying to make a head shot at 100. Defoor advocates a 100 yard zero for a number of reasons. Rather than regurgitate them here, I’ll instead direct you to read his thoughts on the matter.
Regarding the magazines that I mentioned earlier, I used three Hexmag limited capacity magazines and one Troy limited capacity magazine. When I’m forced to use such limited capacity magazines, I prefer to use the full size ones vs the stubby ones. Primarily this is because they fit my mag pouches and I retain the option to use the magazine as a monopod. I have no complaints with the Hexmags, but the Troy mag will not drop free from my Stag Arms lower. For whatever it’s worth, I noticed one other student using Troy mags that also would not drop free from his Colt lower. In the spirit of training the way I’ll fight, I simply stuffed spare mags in my pants pockets, sans mag pouches. Interestingly enough, Defoor does the same these days since he’s not kitted up with a plate carrier anymore on a day to day basis.
In addition to the shooting, Defoor now includes medical, mindset, blade work, and combatives in all his courses, and this one day clinic was no different. The day began overcast with Defoor discussing his take on safety and the class emergency plan. He then focused on tourniquet use for self and buddy aid, as well as touching on hemostatic gauze for junctional wounds and chest seals for sucking chest wounds. We paired off and practiced applying tourniquets to ourselves and each other. Very quickly in this introductory hour, it became clear that this one day course would be his curriculum pared down to just the salient points without any fluff. This isn’t a bad thing, in that it allowed him to cover a lot of material in a short amount of time. Indeed, there is much value in this concise, minimalist approach.
We then started shooting at the 25 yard line just to make sure everybody was at least on paper. Thankfully, everybody showed up with a relatively zeroed carbine. After firing a couple of groups, we moved back to the 50 yard line. From there, Defoor quickly covered the fundamentals of marksmanship in his signature style with 10 round groups fired for speed and accuracy. This is about the time that it started to rain. Thankfully, it wasn’t particularly cold, so we simply got wet. A surprising benefit to my using the Leupold scope became apparent when Defoor explained that magnified optics are much less affected by rain than are red dots. I can attest that Leupold optics are indeed waterproof, as all of my gear got soaked. I can also attest that I didn’t have any problems seeing my target or the illuminated reticle despite the rain.
As Defoor discussed carbine setup over the course of the day, I revised my thinking regarding a few things on my guns. Specifically, I’m now planning to put the Leupold on my SBR, instead of the Aimpoint it currently wears. It simply makes for a more capable weapon system. I’ll save the red dots for my backup guns. I also might play around with a VFG again, although correct placement is key.
After we had reviewed the fundamentals in the prone position, Defoor showed us a few variations of kneeling. This was by far my worst position, with significant degradation of my accuracy and times. I know what I need to work on! Up until this point, I hadn’t shot less than a 96 on the B8 bull. In contrast, in kneeling, I was missing the paper for a couple of shots. The standard is 90 or above in 20 seconds at 50 yards, standing to kneeling. I can’t do that now, but I’m going to work on it.
We then moved up to the 25 yard line and worked from the standing position. Again, speed and accuracy were emphasized. If I’m remembering correctly, my best here was a 92 in roughly 18 seconds. We then broke for lunch. Most students retreated to their cars to escape the rain for a while.
After a roughly 45 minute lunch break, we moved up to the seven yard line and again worked from the standing position. Here the offset between the sight line and bore was apparent and emphasized. Defoor explained his thoughts on follow through, and had us practice the correct way to do so. This involved much more than simply establishing another sight picture. Again, the salient points minus any fluff. Also during this block of afternoon shooting, Defoor covered anatomy and targeting (“switches and timers”), explaining how bullets actually stop an adversary. Thankfully, the rain cleared up in the afternoon and we had a chance to dry out.
Defoor has a habit of frequently dropping knowledge bombs as he moves through the coursework. By way of example, I had previously heard that the “D” zone of an IPSC target represented the arms, but I had no idea that the flared bottom of the “D” zone actually represents hands!
He next had us transition between body and head shots to establish the proper shot cadence, and ultimately set up three stations for us to cycle through with three targets each to practice transitions. He emphasized putting at least three shots on each target, as simply firing one or two shots at each doesn’t necessarily require proper follow through.
This is as far as we went with live fire drills and instruction. Defoor didn’t cover movement or barricade work, but there’s only so much that can be fit into one day of instruction. I fired right at 380 rounds of ammunition for the day.Next up was Defoor’s mindset lecture. As with everything he teaches, the subject is fluid and his lecture constantly evolves. This lecture is a great way to get your mind right. I suspect that if young adults heard this lecture every year in high school as they matured, we would live in a very different country.
Finally, Defoor briefly covered choosing and using a blade and introduced some simple combative elements. He taught us a simplified targeting template based on Sayoc Kali that relies on three primary targeting areas and accounts for reflexive movements. Having learned the 3 of 9 template in the past, this was indeed easier to rep out and learn. I still have some serious misgivings about the potential legal aftermath of using a blade in self-defense, but I also think that the blade may have some real merit for smaller or weaker individuals or those that cannot or will not carry a firearm. Returning to the concept of “switches vs timers,” just as with a gun, the blade needs to backed up with a robust combative system. If you doubt this, read Varg Freeborn’s book.
Finally, Defoor briefly discussed and demonstrated integrating the carbine into combatives and blade work, with an emphasis on weapon retention. For all of these final blocks of instruction, we used training blades and removed the bolts from our carbines.
This was a long day of instruction, but Defoor covered a lot of ground. I think it was an excellent review of carbine fundamentals, and being exposed to integrating the carbine with combatives was interesting to say the least. Especially for those that may work in schools or other environments where the risk of an active shooter is heightened, this material is invaluable. I really liked this one day format, and I hope Defoor offers more such courses. Right now, taking an entire weekend for a course is an increasingly difficult proposition for me. If you’re interested in training with Defoor, you really have to plan ahead, and jump on the courses when they are announced and go live. I suggest you follow him on social media as the best way to do this.
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