I went to the Kyle Defoor, Defoor Proformance Shooting, Scoped Rifle Class at Saltwaters Range in St. Augustine on February 27-28. I attended the same class at a different location in November. I have taken the same class more than once from several instructors, and have not once regretted it, or felt like it wasn’t worth the time or money. Two big reasons contribute to my interest in taking the same class from the same instructor more than once (I think I’ve been to Pat Rogers carbine class 7 times).
This first is, its another chance to take what I’ve learned and repeat it properly. It’s true that I can, and do, take advantage of opportunities to do this on my own. But, if I’m careful about who I spend my time taking classes with, I get to shoot in front of some excellent instructors. There’s a lot of guys who can shoot well and have impressive careers using firearms. Not everyone is able to do what it takes to become an excellent shooter. Far fewer are able to translate what they have learned as excellent shooters into a language that can teach others. Kyle Defoor is not the only instructor out there who does this, but I think he is clearly one of them. Most of the time, most of us don’t know half the things we’re doing that maybe isn’t wrong, but which can be improved. I can’t say that I’ve never had an instructor tell me, “good job”, or, “that was exactly right”. But that’s more of an exception. Even if I correctly perform techniques A, B and C the instructor taught and showed me the first time, chances are high that a good instructor will be able to look past techniques A, B and C (which I’m now doing right), allowing him to see D, E and F (which need tweaking). Maybe when at every class I take, every instructor says, “that’s perfect”, every time, I’ll quit taking classes. That definitely hasn’t happened yet, and I’m learning at every class I’m in, even the ones I’ve taken before.
The second reason is, while the structure of the class is usually pretty similar (but never exactly the same), the things which happen are always very different. Different students bring different gear and skills, they bring different shooting ability and habits. All of these things, and more, create different situations and events at each class, and when the instructor is good, he provides the opportunity for all of us benefit. I’ve heard Kyle mention that the different scenarios which occur from class to class, in fact, teach him.
One of the things I really like about Kyle’s classes are how he takes gear issues which inevitably arise, and turns them into a discussion and chances to learn. He is usually able to suggest to the entire class what gear you can get or steps you can take, that will help avoid the issue all together. But even better, he will tell the shooter who had the issue how to work with and mitigate the issue as efficiently as the the gear allows. I’ve been to classes where the instructors have strong gear preferences and others where it seemed like the instructor may not have cared much about gear (within reason). Kyle does have some preferences and he makes mention of them in classes. But I haven’t noticed another instructor who can show people how to make maximum use of items which may not only be far from ideal, but causing failures.
Many times, when issues like this come up, he will stop the class and ask everyone to come around. I have never seen him do this in a way which alienates the person it happens to. It’s been the opposite and everyone seems to walk away having seen and learned something new. Some examples I have seen include in just the last two classes are;
A guy had a scope which would not sufficiently tighten in its mount and it needed to be shimmed. Using only what was immediately available to temporarily fix it (in that case, a piece of cardboard off an ammo box) he got the guy back on the line with a fix that was good enough to get him through the class. He suggested other materials that would be better than cardboard as well as why they would be better, he also suggested what to look for when buying rings and optics to avoid the issue entirely.
In minutes, I saw him map out the best way to utilize the very few reference points a basic duplex type cross hair reticle offered, he discovered their mil values and showed a guy how to use those very few reference points to range and account for bullet drop.
When a students optic was loose and needed to be remounted, he showed us how much torque different screws needed and how to achieve that value with basic tools. We saw how to level the same scope using something as sample as a water bottle. If there was no water bottle, we saw it was possible to do it using things like the edge of a building, or some types of trees if nothing else was available.
I saw him show a couple guys how to achieve a quick fix for cheek weld issues with garbage from the trash bin and some duct tape. He talked about why it was important to fix the issue and warned everyone the frustration they would likely experience shooting at longer ranges if they didn’t.
He helped a shooter who was using a scope that had an outdated method of returning it’s elevation knob to zero, offering a solution which offered the least possibility for making a mistake. He discussed the evolution of scope turrets and explained why he thought we’ve seen the changes we have.
These were all things learned during the course classes that may not have been in the class curriculum. Each came up as a result of an issue a shooter was having. He took the issue and turned it into a class about how the issue happens, how to fix it, and move on.
This class saw guys who showed up with better equipment than the last. Not everyone had premium options, but there was a lot of great stuff out there. The increase in quality was evident in a higher degree of shooting success. At the last class, there were (if I remember correctly) two guys who didn’t come back the second day due to issues they experienced the first day. Not only did everyone who came to this class complete the two day course, but we shot further and everyone was hitting with most shots out to 600 yards.
One shooter with a Ruger SR556 began having extraction issues within the first few rounds of the first day. Later in the class that shooter mentioned to me he had issues with the gun previously, but he thought they were cleared up. He brought a back up rifle and began to use it immediately. The back up gun worked well for him the rest of the class. I don’t remember seeing or hearing about any weapon or gear related failures the rest of the weekend. There were a few issues with people’s set ups, like the cheek weld issue. I saw a few guys reposition there bipods, but the guns, ammo and optics all seemed to work very well.
The last review I wrote for the November class, I talked about how while in the military, and now as an instructor who teaches this discipline to the military, Kyle has used and seen the development of this type of gun since the stages before its inception to current date (semi auto, hi capacity, magazine fed, scoped rifle). In the 20+ years or so that it’s been used, the things which changed the most are probably optics and ammo. Both appear to have seen substantial improvements over that time. He spends a decent amount of time talking about each.
You’re going to learn about optics. If you take this class, there is a good chance you will see everything from a very basic, probably made in China, probably very inexpensive scopes with the fewest features possible – to some of the most modern optics with features only recently developed after years of experience and input from people using them in war. In the last class, I used a Leupold MK4 2.5-8×32 MR/T (TS-30). This scope, I believe, was specifically developed for use on the MK12. Sounds great, and it is a good scope that did fine, but it was developed over a decade ago, and a lot has been learned about using optics on guns like this since then. It used a simple mildot reticle on the second focal plane, with Leupolds M2 turrets, which offer 1/2 MOA adjustments for both windage and elevation. I was a step behind the entire class due to this difference in the unit of measurements between my reticle (mils) and turrets (MOA). Kyle showed us how to translate the difference, and it didn’t prevent me from accomplishing anything, but it was extra work and involved math, both which create extra opportunities for mistakes.
This time, I used a Leupold MK8, 1-8×24 with a Horus reticle on the first focal plane, and .1 mil adjustments on the turrets. This represented a more modern design in optic and it definitely showed its advantage. By removing the number of variables someone needs to accomplish before making a successful shot, it removed potential errors in calculation and reduced the amount of time to make necessary adjustments. It was easier to see how much to dial, it was easier to range targets, it was easier to use holds for bullet drop, it was easier to immediately adjust for misses. It was easier, easier, easier in every way. I took a scoped rifle class in 2014 where we shot out to 1000 yards. I used a gun that was capable. I was using ammo that was capable, I have done it before, so I know I am capable. But I was using a very good quality optic that was over a decade old and used a simple mil based reticle with MOA adjustment. When we got out to far enough, the combination of the simple mil style cross hair, MOA adjustments and strong enough winds prevented me from hitting. I was holding out in an area of my scope that had no reticle. The excellent quality, but dated optic made it pretty tough to achieve the level of repeatability and precision needed to make reliable hits with a gun and ammo that were capable. I believe a better shooter than me could probably have pulled it off, but at this class, it was easy to see how much simpler and how much more potential a graph style reticle (like Horus reticles) offer.
Your magnified optics typically require tools. You should definitely bring them to class and Kyle suggests keeping them on the gun itself. Your windage and elevation knobs probably take small Allen wrenches. Before class, I took the one that came with my optic and stuck it in the core of my pistol grip storage area. While I experienced no issues with my optic or mount, I’ve seen others experience issues, so I thought it was a pretty good idea to have the wrenches which fit your scope mount, and if your mount has screws, knobs or nuts to fasten it to your rail, keep those with you too. I recently acquired the new MultiTasker Twist model, and discovered at class that the small, lightweight tool (about the size of a Sharpie) had both the correct small Allen wrench bit for my scopes adjustment dials as well as the proper bit for the rings on the LaRue scope mount. It did not have the wrench to adjust the throw levers, but I know the full size MultiTasker tool did. I saw a few people with these and thought it was a pretty useful item.
Kyle discusses not only what features to look for in a scope, but also about the proper pairing of a gun and optic. How much magnification is enough and how it probably isn’t a good idea to be dialed up to max power all the time. He would tell you to dial down to see and hit multiple targets. When someone asked, “what power do you dial down to?”, his answer was he didn’t know and the number doesn’t matter. Just back the power down until you can see what you need. After a suggestion like this, he would usually set up a shot for us to take that shows how this helps.
Bipods were used frequently and not only to support the gun from seated or prone. There were a number of alternative uses for bipods and we tried many of them. Many people with bipods learned they may not have been placed on their rifle in a spot that allowed them to utilize some of these methods.
Kyle suggested we try to hit at each distance by both dialing and holding for elevation. We were given the standard come ups for both 5.56 and 7.62×51. These guidelines helped everyone get their specific data quickly. Many of us had to adjust our data to match our ammo/rifle combo, but the standards he provided were never far off. Kyle would talk about things that may cause deviations from the standard. Aside from simple and obvious things like the grain of the bullet and length of the barrel, he talked about the effects of things like suppressors and muzzle brakes, ammo sitting in sunlight and other factors which aren’t frequently taken into consideration. Kyle also suggested always holding for wind instead of dialing. We saw how quickly wind could change and realized that by the time we came off the scope, or off the gun to dial in for wind, it could easily have changed in just that short time.
Defoor classes also include discussions on binoculars, mindset and medical. I talked about these in my review of his last class, if you’re interested, check that out at the below link. I was able put together what I feel is a better, more realistic medical kit based on what I learned at the first class. Kyle also talked a little more about why he offers this in his class, and while everyone going may not give it the same value as me, I appreciated it greatly and found that his reasons were right in line with why I take classes to begin with.
This was another great class and I look forward to shooting a Defoor Proformance shooting class again. If you’re near the Jacksonville vicinity it would travel here to take classes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on our training email list. If you’re interested to learn more about Kyle Defoor and his schedule, his website is kyledefoor.com, follow his Instagram page @defoorproformanceahooting or Kyle Defoor on Facebook.
Thanks for reading this far!