Ever since I had a very positive experience with Green Ops in the spring of 2017, I had been eager to take another course with them. I was most interested in following up the Carbine I course I had taken with, naturally, Carbine II, but was unable to make it later in 2017. I believe the Carbine II class I attended this past weekend was the only iteration of this course offered in 2018.
The class was held at the same 4H range outside Culpeper, Virginia at which I had taken Carbine I. There were 18 students in the class (1 woman, the rest men), and to help us along were FOUR instructors. Let me just say right here that one of the things I like, and my experience with Green Ops has shown, is that they provide an excellent student-to-staff ratio. The cost of the course was $240 and included a free lunch (burgers, hot dogs, various chips, and soft drinks) provided by the 4H club. Full disclosure: Mike Green, founder of Green Ops, provided me with a “teacher discount” so that I only had to pay the $40 range fee. Thanks Mike! I will also note here that weather, a concern during the week leading up to the class with a nor’easter churning in the Atlantic, was a non-issue (besides wet ground and a bit of wind) where we were.
Class got underway at 0900 with the signing of waivers and roll call. Mike then went through a review of the Four Firearms Safety Rules. Following this review, Mike outlined our emergency action plan should an accident occur. The plan covered all of the essentials without any extraneous information.
Next up was an introduction of the four instructors. Josh and Chris were, I gathered, newer to the Green Ops team (their bios are not available on the Green Ops website, for example). They ran a few lessons for the whole class and provided lots of individual help where needed. Most of the whole-class instruction was handled by Brett Harnish and Mike. I will note here that EVERY drill they asked us to do was performed first (sometimes several times) by at least one of the instructors, so there was no question about what we had to do each time.
I’ll note here some gear that I used in class. I brought two ARs with me. One, the one I outlined in this article and the one I used as my primary in Carbine I, was relegated to back-up duty for this class. My primary would be a new-to-me Colt 14.5 inch upper on a Spikes lower. I’ll probably go into more detail on this model in a future article. It is quite plain-Jane with an Aimpoint T-1 in a Larue QD mount, Daniel Defense fixed front and rear sights, an SOB sling and a Surefire X-300UA light mounted at 12 o’clock just in front of the front sight. I used Generation 3 Magpul pmags loaded with Wolf Gold .223 55 grain ammunition. My carbine suffered no malfunctions of any kind during the class. Sadly, not everyone could say this.
Let’s Get To It
Because this was Carbine 2 and per the course description, all students were supposed to arrive with their carbines already zeroed. Unlike in Carbine 1, no specific time was spent confirming zero. Instead, and this was unique and really cool, the first targets we would shoot were blown up Dot Torture targets. The targets were probably about 22 x 17 inches so that the dots, normally 2 inches in diameter, were now 4 inches wide. I have outlined my own experience with Dot Torture (for handguns) in prior posts (see here specifically), but had never tried it with a carbine. In this case, from about 10 yards, we would shoot on each dot in a specific manner, and this provided the opportunity for the instructors to teach specific skills. I had never seen this done before (with pistol or long gun), so I thought this was a unique and handy way of covering a LOT of material with only one target with 10 circles.
To further illustrate how this was done, I will provide some examples. Dot 1, typically shot as a continuous string of 5 shots with no time limit, became our dot to check stance and recoil control, with lessons and demonstrations on how to utilize stance and grip to mitigate recoil. Dot 2, typically run as 5 individual shots from the draw, was our chance to test how well and consistently we could bring the carbine up from the low-ready position, index on target, and break the shot. Dots 3 and 4 allowed for the introduction of how to transition from one target to another (with the eyes leading). Dot 8 was a chance for us to learn how to shoot from our support side (with two different techniques for doing this demonstrated). Dots 9 and 10 allowed us to practice reloads. Again, I thought this was just a really good use of Dot Torture as a way to introduce or review specific skills (as opposed to a test of skills). Good stuff.
All of the above was so involved that it took the entire morning, and we broke for lunch around noon. With targets having been changed out for IDPA targets, we worked on some positional shooting (kneeling and prone). We worked some drills where we had to transition from one position to another, with best techniques demonstrated but with the understanding that we cannot all move the same/as well as each other (age, fitness, prior injuries, etc., all playing a role). Alternatives were always offered.
Some time was also spent on malfunction clearance techniques. We got to practice reducing basic failure to fire issues (tap-rack), double-feeds (unload-reload), bolt override (always a pain but I like the Green Ops technique here better than others I have tried), etc.
After a break, new targets were put up. Those familiar with my AARs from handgun classes with Tom Givens (see here and here) will be familiar with the DT2A targets and the Casino Drill. Again, kudos to the Green Ops crew for taking drills usually associated with pistol work and adapting them for carbines. The Casino Drill, when shot with handguns, is shot with 3 magazines each loaded with 7 rounds and fired from 5 yards. Shoot the 1 once, the 2 twice, the 3 three times, etc., reloading as needed and finishing each “number” as you go. It is shot at 5 yards. In this class with carbines, we did everything the same except had to shoot it at 10 yards. We did it once as a group, and I blazed it with no misses and I would say probably around 18 or 19 seconds. When we did it one at a time on the clock, I did it in 20.something with 3 misses, so I didn’t really compete for bragging rights.
After the Casino Drill, out came pseudo-cover in the form of numerous “towers” made of PVC. The PVC would simulate the edge of cover (a wall, etc.) around which we had to shoot. While some might have issues imagining the rest of “the wall”, I had no issues doing so in this class or in Carbine I. While something like a Bianchi or VTAC barricade might better represent a wall, I am quite sure that the PVC pipe structures are much easier to break down and store for transport. Shooting from both sides of this “cover” allowed us a chance to, in a practical manner, utilize the techniques and skills taught back in the beginning of the day on Dot #8 on the Dot Torture targets. One student failed to heed the advice of the instructors in watching his sight offset and blew the top off of his tower in a shower of white PVC pieces, but otherwise things went well with this segment (to his credit, he saw the humor in this and posted this hat-mounted video of it on the Green Ops Facebook page!).
Next, IDPA targets went back up and we got to shoot shorter-range version of the Modified Navy Qualification (MNQ) course. The typical MNQ is shot at 50 yards with three magazines of 5 rounds. Shoot 5 rounds standing, reload, 5 rounds kneeling, reload, and then 5 rounds from the prone position. Because we were a bit pressed for time, the main difference in how we did it was we did not load each magazine with 5 rounds. Instead, we would reload but from a closed bolt. And obviously, we shot it at half the distance of the MNQ. Here, I scored what I think turned out to be the third best score in class, around 19 or 20 seconds if memory serves.
We finished the day with a couple of Bill Drills (6 rounds from 7 or 10 yards), shooting as fast possible while still keeping hits inside the 8 inch circle on the IDPA targets. Here, despite my work all day, my recoil management was subpar, and I either had to slow down too much or sprayed a couple of rounds just outside the circle. Work to do.
After cleanup, we met under the pavilion for some final words and the awarding of certificates. One of the many admirable traits of the Green Ops crew is that they recommend many other instructors (both national level people as well as local instructors), stress ongoing practice in the days, weeks, months, and years after class, and also email their lesson plans, drills, source links, and other tidbits within a day or so after class for continuing education. The classes are meant to be part of a process, not a “one and done” deal. Kudos to them for doing this.
I was a bit surprised that some students showed up to class, particularly a Carbine II class, with gear that did not work. At least two students had carbines go down first thing (one would only load rounds from the magazine when the bolt was manually racked, very handy for someone fighting in the trenches of the Western Front in 1916, but not so much in modern times!), and another was also beyond fast repair (the student borrowed another AR from the Green Ops crew and used my sling from my spare carbine). At least 4 other students had suffered malfunctions with their ARs in just the morning portion of the class. While I view classes as a decent venue to vet some gear, I look at “vetting” more as a way to see if you like a certain set of sights or other accessories. In my opinion, the firearm itself should be reliable enough to get through a class (plus I always bring a spare). How someone shows up to a Carbine II class not knowing if their carbine will in fact work is beyond my understanding.
The good thing was that, with the number of instructors available for this class, students who had issues were able to step aside with an instructor to solve the problem rather than hold up the class much. Nevertheless, whether it was because of unreliable carbines or the skill level of the students in the class, we did not get to shoot out to any real distances (50 yards and in was it for us), did not get to shoot at steel targets, nor do another thing or two that had been on the agenda. I credit Green Ops in meeting the students where they were rather than press on regardless. While a little disappointing, I would rather they err on the side of caution in this case.
Overall, I thought this was a very good class. I was able to identify a few things to work on (especially my stance, but also some manipulation aspects), get some good trigger time, meet some nice folks, and fully vet my new Colt upper. I fired a total of 337 rounds in the class.
When I consider that Carbine I and Carbine II are one-day classes, Carbine II really is just day two of an introduction to carbine course, and with that said is not “advanced carbine” or the like. Keeping that in mind, it was definitely better than other equivalent courses I have had with other companies. I definitely plan to take more coursework with Green Ops in the future.
As always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, you can post them below or on our Facebook page. For private correspondence, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.