One of my personal goals is to get professional firearms training at least twice a year. I frequent several forums and websites and had caught a lot of chatter about Asymmetric Solutions. I contacted them via email and asked them what courses they recommended based on my previous training. I got a very nice response stating that I could start with Tactical Pistol 1 and 2 and if I felt the courses were too rudimentary that they would credit me my tuition for different courses in the future. Further, as I would be traveling from Kansas City, MO, they offered to let me stay in the facility barracks overnight between the two days. I ended up only signing up for Tactical Pistol 1 due to time constraints, but it was nice to know that in the future I could stay on site assuming the offer still stood at a later date. For this course, I ran my M&P9c out of a Safariland 6378 ALS holster. I configured the holster to use the belt loops instead of the paddle attachment.
I traveled down on a Friday night and stayed at the Hampton Inn in Farmington, MO on points (one of the benefits of traveling for work constantly). The course started on Saturday at 9 am. Our instructor, John, gave the safety briefing. Usually you get the 4 rules of firearms safety. John's take on safety is that there are three safe positions for a pistol: in the holster, in the low ready (muzzle pointed at the ground) and on target. I had not heard it explained this way before. John explained that being on the target was a safe position because by eliminating the threat you were making it safe for everyone else. That statement certainly rang true to me.
Asymmetric Solutions is a busy place. The same day of Tactical Pistol 1 there was a class of what I estimated as between 15-20 students taking Asymmetric Solutions' Basics of Tactical Shooting class. John mentioned that this was the biggest civilian class he had seen come through at one time. That certainly spoke volumes to me about Asymmetric Solutions' reputation along with what I have been seeing on the Internet. Another class, Precision Rifle 1, was also taking place. Throughout the day you could hear the Precision Rifle class ringing the gong. Just another class I will have to take I suppose!
There were 10 students in the class including me. John was our constant companion along with a couple of other instructors who filled in at various times. John's teaching style was laid back and easy to understand. I was able to focus on the material and drills and felt completely comfortable. It can sometimes be hard to find folks who are SMEs in their field, but cannot transfer that knowledge in a way that works for the students. Rest assured, you will understand if John is your instructor.
We started out by working a drill that emphasized muzzle discipline in crowds. This was meant to reinforce the idea that you will not always be mano a mano with your assailant and that there may be innocents between you and the threat. It really was something I had not considered practicing. Needless to say, I will be incorporating this into my personal regimen.
We moved on to scenarios involving vehicles including what to do when threats present from the front of your vehicle and how to move to cover behind your vehicle if necessary. We did this on our own and as two man teams. During the two man team drill we learned how to communicate using concise language and appropriate "bounding overwatch" movement to the rear. The opportunity to shoot through windshields and get an idea of the concussive force made this drill worth doing along with the details of how to get out of the vehicle without muzzle sweeping yourself. It also got me thinking about how I would react in certain situations and what my set response would be to a threat.
We had a quick lunch break and then moved onto how to move and engage threats that are both in front and behind a person. Drills were setup so that we would have to incorporate turning to engage a threat and then to run to cover after the threat was down. There were several variations of this that we worked on.
Reloads and malfunctions were covered fairly briefly as we had already been performing reloads in our previous drills (and there were even some malfunctions). It was fairly standard fare in this department. John's take on how to deal with "tactical" reloads differed slightly from what I have seen others recommend, but his logic and research behind it is sound. I especially liked how he broke down the malfunctions into three categories: stove pipe, closed battery, and open battery malfunctions. In my mind, this makes it easier to decide on what course of action to take.
John also had us run through drills designed to try and overload our problem solving skills. The drills progressed from shooting at a sequence of called out targets to fully incorporating running to cover, shooting from cover and shooting on the move. We also ran drills that emphasized moving down a line laterally and engaging targets with others on the line. This simulated working together with others as a team and communicating during an active fight.
We finished up in the shoot house performing two man room clearing. We all partnered up and ran the drill several times "hands only" in order to ensure we had it down cold. It was pretty much textbook on how to clear a room with two men. We got to run the drill hot once we were deemed safe. I sure appreciated the opportunity to do it using live fire. It definitely made me more muzzle aware being in such close proximity to my partner. The day came to a close at 5 pm and I loaded up and made the 5 hour trip home wishing I could stay for Tactical Pistol 2, but alas, the boss wanted me home and I had to travel back out for work on Monday.
Bottom line: I already know that I am going back to Asymmetric Solutions. The only question is when.