09-10 December 2017 Casa Grande, Arizona
Intro- This is the hardest AAR I’ve ever written. I’ve started and stopped so many times because I’ve struggled to articulate the nuance in a manner that does it justice. My AAR is going to struggle because of this, and I hope that readers don’t hold that against Rob as this is firmly my problem and not a reflection of his teaching. I threatened, on multiple occasions, to leave my AAR as “Rob is a good ol country boy who acts like it, while underplaying the fact that he’s a leading expert who shaped national policy and tactics for the nation. The techniques he teaches sound easy, there’s nuance and depth. Go train with him to find out.”
Expectations- I came into this class expecting a strong foundation for running the shotgun. Matt (Rob’s son) is a good friend and he was completely upfront regarding what the class was about, this wasn’t “how to operate with a shotgun” it was simply how to run the shotgun the most mechanically perfect way possible.
Gear- My shotgun was a mossberg 590, running a magpul SGA stock, Blue Force Gear sling, Primary Arms Micro Red Dot and XS big dot front sight. Support gear was my competition belt, Roland Special, CNC holster, Raven Concealment Copia, EZ8 caddy, TACCON 2UP, and safariland 2 shell belt mount for managing shotshells on my body, as well as an Ares Gear shotcard side saddle with spare in a Blue Force Gear M4 magpouch. All shotgun reloads were forward of the hips to allow ambidextrous access.
TD1- We started with the obligatory introduction from Rob, covering his background as well as the evolution of “The Way”. He explained in context both the prevalent themes that pushed him into the role he’s in now, as well as the contextually relevant background information to show that the methodology taught works regardless of mission needs, from civilian home defense, to cop, to military. From there we had a couple quick demos from Rob showing how effective his Push-Pull methodology is for both controlling recoil and setting a shooter up for subsequent followup shots. After the demos he got us on the line to start practicing. Rob was upfront that there would be a lot of reps during the class, not because he needed the filler but because the only way for the changes and understanding in what was required from the shooter to happen was with enough repetitions of Push-Pull for it to come second nature. We built from a single shot to long strings, relays one and two alternating to give folks a chance to hydrate, top off ammo, and relax muscles that were otherwise going to get sore. Every time a student would run into a problem, be it needing to mortar out a stuck case or managing poor trigger control (and I was the guilty party there) there was a brief break to learn and give some reasoning. After we had a semi-functional understanding of how Push-Pull worked for extended, sighted fire we started to work in presentations from offset angles, turning and engaging from left, right, and behind. Here the techniques started to shine, dropping into less scripted perfect range kata positions that would normally punish a shooter. From here we evolved into full walking evolutions, again which would be punishing with a 12 gauge shotgun. The class got a brief lecture and techniques on how to effectively reload, as well as how to stage reloads on the gun and body, however Rob was upfront that for many who use a shotgun the on-body reloads may be non-existent. At this point we broke for lunch, reconvening after to listen to a short lecture on configuration of the shotgun to include red dot sights, reloads, safeties, extensions and everything else required to set a gun up for social use. Rob segued from here back into the mission needs shown for the shotgun, covering ready positions and movement in confined spaces. We wrapped up TD1 with working compressed shooting, flowing into and out of compressed shooting positions as needed, and how it all works together with the “push pull” system to allow rapid hits on target on demand.
TD2- Day two started with a refresher from day one, working the a drill designed to be a quick “warm up” to keep shotgun skills up to speed. From there we went into movement, working box drills designed to show the isolation of the upper body possible when properly utilizing push-pull and how well it worked when we were in less than perfectly stable shooting positions. Next came a long break of demonstrations on what patterns buckshot actually provides, with all students breaking out their brought buckshot to see patterns at three, seven, fifteen and twenty five yards. Rob broke down his “zones of engagement”, from where all shot hits as one as the first zone, to where you begin to get fliers completely off the target as the last zone and how these things relay to real life shootings and the need to conduct slug select drills. This segued perfectly into working slug select, again with Rob giving us the context of yesterday and how his manner of slug select drill evolved. We finished the day with a head to head shoot between the students, the drill consisted of two rounds in the gun and three targets to hit. How the shooter wanted to approach the problem was up to them, but it ended with one of the outstanding shooters from Vang taking first place and myself in second. All students had chosen to run the gun dry and then conduct a speed reload from whichever place they were most comfortable. Most chose off the gun, I worked my reloads off the EZ8 as it was the quickest and most positive place for me.
Afterwards- I brought all of this home, patterned more buckshot, and practiced and practiced and practiced. On the timer, through my 590, I managed four rounds of full powered 00 buck in 1.78. For context prior to this class with a semi auto on a good run I could manage a 1.4 at best with birdshot. This class was one of those that I know I’ll look back at for the rest of my career as a “student of applied violence” as much for the context as the skills learned. Lastly I want to thank all of the other students from class, you all made it possible to make this the outstanding class it was and it was a joy to be on the line and off with you again.