Range Safety: It’s more than just everyone’s responsibility

Range Safety

Its more than just everyones responsibility

 

Safety on the range during a class should be everyone’s first priority, especially for the instructors teaching the class. It’s a mutual trust that needs to happen for teaching and learning to occur throughout the day. At Steadfast Applications safety is something that we have developed our curriculums around and are always trying to facilitate.  So how exactly do we accomplish this?

First of all, classes like our intermediate level “Defensive Handgun” have a pre-requisite of “Structural Handgun” or a similar class from a vetted instructor that instills the fundamentals of safe firearms handling and use. This may not solve all of the problems we may see, but it is a good starting point and will also help maintain the flow of the class. Sometimes we have to set our egos aside and take the class that is right for us and not the class we want to see ourselves in.

No, the second safety tip isn’t having you sign a release waiver or a paper that lists the NRA firearms safety rules. Although you are required to sign a few release waivers before the start of the class, we know that isn’t going to make anyone any safer. We do however start off with a very thorough safety brief that not only discusses our version of the four firearm safety rules, or as our buddy “Trek” from Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute (MDFI) calls them, the life safety rules of responsible gun ownership and we can’t disagree with him on that. So, here’s our take on them.

  • Always know the condition of your firearm, loaded or unloaded and handle it in the safest manner as possible (as if it were loaded).
    1. Obviously, our firearm is not always loaded, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to say it is. It would be pretty hard to dry fire that way which we encourage you to do frequently.
  • Muzzle awareness and discipline: always remain conscious of where the muzzle is pointed and the potential of any round that may be negligently fired IE: skipped rounds off the ground into another person even though the muzzle wasn’t pointed at them.
  • Keep your finger off the trigger, outside of the trigger guard, and indexed high on the frame or slide as a reference point until our sights are indexed towards the target.
    1. This method keeps the trigger finger as far away from the trigger, allows for a tactile reference point under stress or complex movement, and allows for Range Safety Officers (RSO’S) the ability to watch the line and see daylight through the trigger.
    2. Although others mention sight alignment before putting your finger on the trigger, we would be breaking that rule if we ever had to shoot from retention.
  • Always know what is in front of your target, behind your target, as well as left and right of your target.
    1. We all have a legal and moral obligation behind every round that leaves the barrel of our firearms and that safety mitigation starts by being aware of our surroundings. Imagine if we checked the “in front and behind” boxes in a defensive situation, but we were not aware of the left and right and we started to press the shot. Little “Sally” could have it set in her mind that she is making a run for the EXIT sign in front of her, but between her and the EXIT sign is the path of your bullet.

Next comes the medical brief. This is probably the most important topic of the day, because accidents, negligence, and sometimes life just happens. We start off with asking if anyone is more qualified than one of the Steadfast crew in terms of medical training and from there we delegate duties of primary responder, primary emergency caller, and primary driver (our range is off the beaten path and a truck would be needed to take anyone injured to the main road). Next is identifying where the various medical kits are and who is carrying medical equipment. Lastly, we go over a laminated Emergency Action Sheet (EAS) which has points of contact, the address of the range, a strip map to the hospital, and a fill in the blank response to dispatchers. We hope that we never need to utilize those kits or our EAS, but there’s a saying by Benjamin Franklin that goes “Failing to plan, is planning to fail” and that is simply not acceptable.

The last main way that we try to facilitate safety is by explaining the given task, demonstrating the task, having the students work their way through the task by dryfiring, and then if everyone feels confident we execute the live fire portion. Utilizing a co-instructing method with two main instructors and an extremely proficient Range Safety Officers (RSO) we feel comfortable saying that we bring a safe and fun learning experience to our students.

Finally, we try to instill a sense of accountability and safety in our students not only on the line but in every facet of their lives. Safety doesn’t only pertain to firearms classes, and it certainly shouldn’t end on the way home from the range. Pay attention to your surroundings, take medical training, and develop your mindset as it pertains to your individual mission.

We hope to see you all on the range this season.

Next Level Armament AR-15 builders class

With the 2018 training season drawing closer (once the weather is tolerable again) we will now be offering AR-15 /carbine courses to expand your training regiment or to familiarize you with your AR15. If you have been wanting to purchase your first AR-15 or add another one to your collection, this AR builders course is a great opportunity to see what goes into building one and will allow you to have a quality AR15 in time for our Carbine courses. Not all AR-15’s are created equal in material quality or how they are assembled. This class, put on by Next Level Armament, (out of Jenison, MI) produces high quality AR parts and will include all of the parts specified on your personal build list to allow you to assemble your own AR-15 under the supervision and instruction of a certified armorer. All of the tools will be provided at the class which saves a lot of money and frustration of purchasing or borrowing them if you were thinking about building a rifle on your own. Don’t miss this opportunity as spots are limited to ten people.

The class will be on February 4, 2018, and hosted at Long Range Archery and Firearms in Holland, MI. Below is the price list with some add-on items and others are available upon request. Payment is due upon sign up to allocate the parts and have them ready for you on the day of the class. We hope to see you there and to sign up you can call or stop by Long Range Archery and Firearms shop.

 

Contact: Brandon Miedema

Phone: 616-399-3011

Long Range Archery and Firearms

2530 Van Ommen Drive

Holland, MI 49423

 

Varg Freeborn – “Violence of Mind” course

If you are reading this there is a very good chance that you have taken your CPL and carry a firearm for the protection of yourself and those around you. However, what steps have you taken to maximize your chance of winning the fight and minimize risk? Do you dry fire, spend time on the range with a specific training agenda, and/or have you taken a class from a reputable firearms instructor? I hope the answer to all of those is yes, but do you know who you are training to defend against and have you given any thought to your personal mindset? Sun Tzu is credited with the quote “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.” This quote still rings true for all of us who carry a gun every day, because if we have put in the mental and physical training to enhance our skills, awareness, and critical decision-making abilities combined with an understanding of the higher order violent criminal we can stay ahead of the game.

If you ask people to describe a criminal, they would more than likely give you the iconic “thug” description which would also include their lack of education and undisciplined nature. That description might be true for the low-level criminal and only based on societal norms, but that would only scratch the surface of the criminal underworld. There are many files on high order thinking violent criminals that put in more time training than most of us do as well as being immersed in the world of violence on a daily basis. That means they have the home court advantage and the element of surprise to those of us trying to live our daily mundane lives. To better understand these violent criminals and to learn how to bring out the apex predator in us, we need to learn from someone who has first-hand experience in these matters. This is where the “Violence of Mind” course comes in.

The “Violence of Mind” course is taught and developed by Varg Freeborn of One Life Defense out of Southington, Ohio who has lived a very unusual life. Varg grew up in and spent most of his young adulthood in the criminal and gang lifestyle where he became intimately familiar with violence. He also spent time in prison after losing the initial legal battle after a self-defense case where another chapter in the criminal world was unveiled to him until he was able to appeal his case and regain his rights. Since then Varg has left that life behind him and turned his experiences into a unique training package geared towards the armed citizen and law enforcement.

Steadfast Applications will be hosting Varg Freeborn on February 11th at Long Range Archery and Firearms in Holland, MI. This is a course that you will not want to miss out on if you are serious about carrying a firearm. Sign up can be completed on Varg’s website. You can also hear more from Varg on his Spreaker channel, his Youtube channel, or on the Primary and Secondary Youtube channel.

Skills and Drills

 

Skills and Drills night

09 September, 2017

First and foremost, we would like to thank everyone that came out and participated in our inaugural Skills and Drills night. This event was somewhat experimental this time around. The continued support from the local community is very much appreciated.
Skills and Drills was put together in response to a trend the Steadfast cadre has seen in the firearms community. We are aware that everyone has limited time and resources to put towards maintaining or improving their firearms proficiency. Therefore those resources must be maximized as much as possible. Far too often, we see that some individuals will get out to the range when they can, with what ammo they have, and turn their hard earned money into noise, with little to no actual training value added.
We launched Skills and Drills night to attempt to remedy that, being a bridge between an individuals personal range time and taking formal shooting classes. This event gives participants the oppurtunity to shoot drills that maybe they havent encountered before, as well as understanding which specific skills are meant to be tested in said drills. By understanding what the drill consisits of, and what the end goal is, we have found that there is more value added.
Steadfast Applications likes to differentiate between skills, tactics, drills and scenarios. Skills, as in handgun accuracy, speed reloading, etc., are tasks performed by a shooter. Tactics, are how skills are applied in certain situations, ususally dictated by an individuals training, law enforcement departments policies, or military unit. Drills are used to test or measure one or more specific skills. Scenarios are the application of skills as well as tactics in a certain training event.
The drills used are those that the Steadfast cadre has found to be applicable and beneficial to our own training regiment. Participants walk away from Skills and Drills with their own tangible results, whether a time or a score, that they can then take back to their own training time, as well as website links to allow them to print off the same targets used at the event at home.
We hope to be offering this event once a month during the firearms training season, and will work to continuously update the lineup of drills so that no two events consist of the same drills. Below is the participant score sheet that we used for this event, links to a couple of the drills we shot, as well a couple of photos. We hope to see you all out on the range again soon.

 

Skills-and-Drills-Sept.-9th

https://pistol-training.com/drills/dot-torture

https://pistol-training.com/drills/the-fast

 

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.

Steadfast Applications: Who We Are

Steadfast Applications, LLC                                   

Who we are:

Steadfast Applications, LLC is a Veteran owned and operated small business founded in 2016 by Brandon Miedema and Tim Nelson. Steadfast Applications is a division of Long Range Archery and Firearms in Holland, MI.

Brandon Miedema has been a student of the gun for the last 10 years. In 2009 he joined the U.S. Army Infantry and completed over 6 years with three deployments with the 82nd ABN, before transferring over to the Michigan National Guard, where he currently serves as an Infantry Squad Leader. During his time in the US Army, he has had the opportunity to attend several premier schools and is currently the firearms instructor for his Company in the National Guard. He is an avid hunter, and currently operates the Firearms division at Long Range Archery in Holland, MI. Brandon also participates in several shooting sports activities such as USPSA and 3-gun as a way to maintain his proficiency.

 

Tim Nelson has been involved with firearms for more than 10 years, starting as a hobby that eventually turned into a way of life. Tim developed his passion for instructing during his time as a Non-Commissioned Officer in the US Army Infantry where he saw a void in practical firearms training. He has also worked in the private sector, conducting cash in transit as an armed courier, as well as working low level personal security details. He is an adamant concealed carry advocate, and an active participant in several shooting sports, such as IDPA, USPSA and 3-Gun.

Brandon and Tim are both NRA certified instructors for Basic pistol and Personal Protection In the Home

What we stand for:

Steadfast is dedicated to bringing fundamental knowledge, firearms safety, and skill based training to the first time, novice and intermediate shooters. We strive to bring the student a safe, fun, and non-intimidating learning atmosphere, allowing the student to further their skills and knowledge of firearms.

What we offer:

Currently Steadfast Applications is offering Concealed Carry License (CPL) courses as well as Basic Handgun, but will be offering other courses throughout the training year such as Defensive Pistol, Concealed Carry Applications (CCA), and a Basic Carbine course.

Contact information: Long Range Archery (616)-399-3011 (POC) Brandon Miedema

Long Range Archery and Firearms LLC
2530 Van Ommen Drive
Holland, MI 49424

Online booking is available:

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