Basic Handgun AAR

AAR, Steadfast Applications, LLC

Basic Handgun

Host: Steadfast Applications, LLC
June, 25th 2017
@ [Private Range], West Olive, MI

Student: Roy Farmer

Gear:
Glock 19 Gen4
Dawson Precision Charger sights, Red Fiber
M3 Tactical Kydex FEDLR IWB
Blue Alpha Gear Cobra EDC Belt
Glock Factor Magazines, 15rd
Dark Angel Medical DARK, Civ/LE
Alien Gear Cloak Mag Carrier, Single

Short Class Description:
(paraphrase from Stedfastapplications.com/basic-handgun)

Basic Handgun from Steadfast Applications, LLC is billed as laying the foundation of fundamental handgun techniques, including building blocks of drawing from a holster and malfunction clearing. The Student is intended to walk away from class with a better understanding of pistol shooting, as well as dry fire techniques and information about further training.

What I expected:

I went into this class not being 100% Sure what to expect. Steadfast Applications is a new school, but both Instructors Brandon Miedema and Tim Nelson are highly experienced students of defensive firearms techniques. With shared experiences of both military and private sector work related to defensive firearms, as well a solid list of training from highly competent instructors within the industry, my hopes were high for what Tim and Brandon could do on the other side of the line. Having shot with them both previously, I knew them to be skilled in the effective use of a firearm as a defensive platform.

I expected this course to aim primarily at students who had a working knowledge of firearms, and perhaps some element of basic defensive use. I expected the course to be heavy on manipulation drills, malfunction clearing, and reaction drills.

My primary objective in taking this class was to continue to expand my own skill set in continued training. I have yet to not learn at least one or two valuable things even at the basic level from each new instructor I am able to train with. I went into this class hoping to continue the trend, as well as to get an idea for how Brandon and Tim instruct for the purpose of future study and recommendation.

Expanded Training Summary:

Class was originally scheduled to begin at 10am, but was rescheduled to 12:45pm based on the scheduling needs of a good portion of the students. This was communicated well in advance of the actual class by Steadfast Applications.

Upon arrival at the range, release waivers were provided for signature prior to the start of training. This was very standard procedure for any training event. The class got off to a little bit of a late start due to the late arrival of a student or two.

Opening brief was very straight forward, Instructors Brandon and Tim introduced themselves with a short bio, followed by the introduction of each student in class, as well as their training goals. Instructors went over the four essential firearms safety rules, as well as the consequences of failure.  This was immediately followed by a very good medical briefing. A medical emergency plan was formed and clearly communicated to all involved. Medical kits were worn by each instructor, myself, and were also located in multiple locations on the range at all times. I was personally impressed by the printed scripting, and direction sheet that could also be used for casualty documentation and as a guide for clearly communicating to Emergency Responders. This form was explained to the group, and located in the training curriculum binder. I found this particular method unique in any class I have taken. My only suggestion for improvement in this area is to perhaps have the sheet separate from the binder, either in its own, or on a clipboard.

A very brief introduction to range commands was given, although it seemed several of the students weren’t entirely clear with the instruction to echo range commands. Instruction at this point seemed a little disjointed, but not to a point that the information was not effectively communicated. As both instructors are very familiar with the information being presented, it is likely this was caused by an effort to put the class back on schedule after late arrivals.

Class began with a few dry fire drills, with instruction provided in the importance of dry fire and it’s use as an informative training tool. Steadfast Applications’ ground up philosophy was explained, with a lot of instruction on the body mechanics of handgun utilization. This began with instruction on body positioning, stance, as well as grip and using body mechanics to your advantage in  the employment of a handgun as a defensive tool. Plenty of instruction was provided on sight alignment and sight picture using and equal height, equal light method.

We proceeded into the first live fire drill of the day, which gave students an idea of their current level of accuracy at a little bit of distance. Tim and Brandon did a great job explaining the purpose to each drill preformed, ensured students understood the drills to be preformed, and when needed provided a demonstration of the drill. As an experienced student, I understood clearly the drills that were being preformed, but I think a newer student may have benefited from a few more demonstrations. The impression I got was that a few planned demonstrations were cut if students seemed clear on the drill in the interest of making up time lost at the late start of class. The mornings drills focused on the foundational element of accuracy and putting rounds were intended,  as well as the consequences of failing in this real-world.

Any potential detriment of not having drills demonstrated was made up for in one on one instruction. Due to the small class size the instructor Cadre was able to provide tailored one on one feedback to each student in class. This was a very strong element of the class, as the instructor team was able to provide instruction for everyone from the brand new shooter who had never fired a gun before class, to experienced students and long time shooters. They had valuable information for everyone, and their personal experiences as students themselves really showed through in a positive way here. Feedback was kept constructive and professional, and at no point was a student ever put down for their shooting ability or skill level.

After the first half of the day was complete, training transitioned into adding basic elements of speed and manipulation to the accuracy base of the morning. Students established an interesting take on a base measure of proficiency dubbed Personal Baseline by Steadfast Applications. These drills had an interesting way of combining the accuracy foundation laid in the morning with the best speed the shooter could muster while maintaining said level of accuracy. These drills were my personal favorite of the day, particularly one that included target transitions. The day finished with a series of basic reload drills, as well as instruction on drawing from a holster as well as a repeat of the mornings accuracy baseline drill.

What I did not like:
The only major instance occurred during a drill that involving students moving back as a line after a string of fire concluded, with firearms unholstered. There was no way to know who may have still been live, or who was empty. Instructor cadre did an effective job of safely moving the line, but I viewed this particular line management technique to be an area needing some improvement as a potential safety concern, particular with newer shooters. It is worth noting that this was not done frequently over the course of the class, involved only one set of drills, and instructor Brandon has already indicated plans to improve this section in the future. My personal suggestion here would be to have the entire line holster safely prior to movement. The course was run with a cold line, which I was not entirely accustom to, but can certainly understand due to the target audience being newer shooters.

What I Liked:
One on One instruction stand at the forefront. The instructor team brought their extensive experiences as students in both civilian life and the military to bear, and their passion for instruction definitely shows. They showed personal attention to each student, and tailored instruction to each at various points during drill stages. There was an instance of unsafe muzzle discipline with a live firearm from the brand new shooter. This was quickly stopped and handled very professionally as a teachable moment. They clearly illustrated the severity of the mistake, but did an excellent job keeping it a teaching moment for this new shooter. A negative experience of any severity for a new shooter can make or break the sport, Tim and Brandon did an excellent job handling this. I personally enjoyed the drills designed to build speed in combination with accuracy the most, and enjoyed target transition drills.
In Summary:

I walked away from this class learning new information about the mechanics of stance and recoil management. I found this class to be particularly well rounded in terms of an introductory level handgun course. With most schools I have trained with, classes were structured primarily around individual elements of defensive handgun use, such as accuracy or manipulation on its own. These classes are fantastic for students who plan to do a lot of training, or proceed to more advanced courses. With Steadfast Applications offering of Basic Handgun, I found the class to be designed for the average student who may only take one or two classes apart from a CPL class. This class was useful pieces of the overall core of foundational use of a handgun, and would be perfect for a new shooter looking for that class to give them a little bit of everything, but who may not necessarily intend to continue training beyond a few classes. That being said, this class also clearly serves as a starting point for the shooter intending to go more in depth, and will leave the student with a fundamental base to build on from the ground up. Instructors Tim and Brandon do an excellent job equating the importance of continued firearms training as a responsibly armed citizen, and the fact that there is always room for continued improvement. They do a good job educating their students in the foundational skillset, as well as offering direction to the student who wishes to continue their education in a more in depth manner.