AAR: Combat Focus Carbine | Primary & Secondary

AAR: Combat Focus Carbine

Discussion in 'Training AARs' started by CHAOS16, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. CHAOS16

    CHAOS16 Amateur

    Combat Focus Carbine AAR

    Course- Combat Focus Carbine

    Company- Cedar Valley Outfitters

    Primary Instructor- Mike McElmeel

    There were two AIs present though I didn’t catch their names.

    North Linn Fish & Game Club
    1547 Game Club Rd.
    Central City, Iowa

    Weather- Cloudy and cold (started out around 23 degrees)

    Student Body- About a dozen individuals, mostly civilians with one or two police and one military (myself).

    Course Description:

    The Combat Focus® Carbine Course is designed to expose students to an efficient method of defending themselves with a semi-automatic rifle during a dynamic critical incident. All of the principles and fundamentals of the Combat Focus® Shooting program are applied to the carbine and the following topics are covered:

    Sunday, October 29, 2017


    Cost: $200

    *Four Points of Contact with a rifle and Intuitive Shooting Fundamentals
    *The Balance of Speed & Precision with a carbine
    *Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Aiming Methods
    *Combat Accuracy
    *Volume of Fire
    *Critical Incident Reloads & Efficient Carbine Handling
    *Transitioning to a Pistol
    *Counter Ambush Response with a Slung Rifle
    *Shooting while Standing, Squatting, Kneeling & Seated
    *Shooting around Cover & in Unorthodox Shooting Positions

    *Fundamental Carbine Malfunction Clearing

    The CFC Program is a physically challenging course with a lot of activity and high round count.

    Students will fire 700 rounds of ammunition-

    600 rifle and 100 pistol.


    -Eye and ear protection

    -sturdy belt

    -handgun & 2-3 mags

    -holster & mag pouch

    -rifle & 2-3 mags


    -ammo (600 rifle and 100 pistol)

    -lunch or money for lunch

    -lots of drinks for the day

    -you may want to bring sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses

    ------------End Course Description--------------------------

    My background / skill level:

    I am an intermediate level rifle and pistol shooter. I am currently an Army POG trying to maintain or slightly improve my skill level of moving and shooting.

    Equipment for Class-

    Rifle- SOLGW 14.5” SBR, Razor 1-6x JM-1 reticle, Omega Suppressor, MS3 sling

    S&W M&P 2.0 9mm w/ TLR-1HL
    Safariland holster

    HSGI battle belt and pistol / rifle TACOs, IFAK,

    Velocity systems Low Vis Carrier with small front and back Crye Ballistic plates

    Round Count- 600 rounds WOLF Gold 55gr FMJ

    Personal Training objectives:

    1. Improve basic rifle handling skills, marksmanship, malfunction drills, and transitioning to sidearm through the introduction of varying
    Relevant doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs):

    What Happened?:

    Basic timeline as follows:

    0900- Discussed basic tenets of the Combat Focus philosophy, safety and range brief

    0930-Hit the range, discussed basic grip techniques

    1000- Conducted a 50 yard sitting zero (confirmed zeroes)

    1015- Controlled pairs at approximately, single shot on 2” circles at 5, 7, 10, 15 yards.

    1100- warm up break, 10 minute lecture on conscious versus unconscious competence.

    Ambush theory – If you train the skills necessary to defeat an “ambush situation” (chaotic, threatening, unexpected), what I would classify doctrinally as the enemies most dangerous course of action, then your skillset for more simple situations (enemies most likely course of action), are already mastered.

    1115- Continued target ID drills- controlled pairs, shooting numbered target and position change drills (sitting, kneeling, squatting, standing).

    Introduced the lateral one step to the side before shooting while firing from standing.

    1200- Lunch

    1300- Rotating and then firing, forward and backward movement and firing. (No shooting while moving)

    1430- Shooting around cover and unorthodox shooting positions

    1450- Figure eight drill with target ID commands to engage.

    1600- Range goes cold and debrief

    Discussion of key issues:
    1. Range constrictions included no high ready, no muzzle orientation above 95 degrees, included reloading with muzzle oriented down.

    2. We were instructed to only use the charging handle in lieu of bolt catch for every reload. The reasoning behind this was that it is more efficient. I completely disagree with this statement, and when combined with the range restrictions and my sling set-up, my reload times were around two to three times slower than when using a muzzle-up, bolt catch reload.

    3. I feel very misled by the course description. I will expound in order-

    4. *Four Points of Contact with a rifle and Intuitive Shooting Fundamentals- completed to standard
      *The Balance of Speed & Precision with a carbine- completed to standard
      *Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Aiming Methods- Not sure what this is referring to. I used my Razor reticle the entire time if it’s referring to optics.
      *Combat Accuracy- Completed to standard (2” circles, upper chest “A zone” boxes).
      *Volume of Fire- Completed to standard 2-3 round engagements on the upper chest box when instructed to engage.
      *Critical Incident Reloads & Efficient Carbine Handling- Discussed my issue with the instruction on reloading.
      *Transitioning to a Pistol- Did not cover.
      *Counter Ambush Response with a Slung Rifle- Completed, I assume this refers to the figure eight drill.
      *Shooting while Standing, Squatting, Kneeling & Seated- completed to standard
      *Shooting around Cover & in Unorthodox Shooting Positions- We did one repetition of each and the “cover” was a target stand. Not acceptable in my opinion when a blue storage barrel can be found on any range that runs competitive shooting sports.

      *Fundamental Carbine Malfunction Clearing- Did not cover.

      5. I had planned on attending a course from 0900-1730. We had an hour break for lunch, the lecture portions were kept to a minimum, and I fired my last round around 1510. I was reloaded and ready to continue training. I had even started knocking out push-ups while I was waiting for the rest of the class to finish their figure eight drill. After the last student completed the drill around 1600 the instructor called the brief cold and we went to conduct a short AAR.

      6. The course is geared to short range engagements with a carbine (SBR/Rifle/AR Pistol). The entire course, with the exception of the zero was conducted at less than 25 yards.

      7. Instructor Quality- Mike instructed clearly and effectively, but I feel like the course material really held him back. He didn’t live fire instruct any of the drills the entire course, however, which always plants the seed of doubt in my mind as to the level of his pistol and rifle proficiency.

    1. Adherence to published course description in regards to time and content.

    2. In my opinion, the combat focus doctrine is outdated and poorly executed.

    3. Training location (no upward orientation of muzzles causes the trainee to use less than desirable adjustments to their basic techniques.)

    4. Training aids- Some shooting sport plastic mesh “walls” or plastic barrels would have been extremely useful in teaching shooting around cover.

    5. Cover a technique in entirety rather than playing lip service to it by doing a single repetition of a drill.

    1. I asked the course instructor right at the beginning if I could use my plate carrier and battle belt throughout the course so I could train with equipment analogous to my duty set-up. He agreed and it increased the difficulty and value of the training for me personally.

    2. The date of the class being late in the year and cold weather added training value for me by allowing me to test out equipment and my proficiency in rifle a cold weather environment, which is something I hadn’t done in years.

      Overall Critique:

      Overall I cannot recommend this course to anyone. I think the pistol version of the course would have some decent training value for a novice civilian shooter looking to improve their self-defense skills, but as a military professional, the course was not worth the tuition. I learned no new techniques, nor any better or more efficient ways to handle my rifle in the course. For me the course was not physically nor ability challenging in almost any way.
  2. PatMcG

    PatMcG Amateur

    Did you feel the cfs stuff keeps the class from being scaled to different level shooters and sort of gets stuck with the least skilled person?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. CHAOS16

    CHAOS16 Amateur

    I do. I quickly realized it was a training franchise and that I was one of the most skilled shooters there. I felt I was not going to be challenged the entire day, physically or mentally.
  4. CHAO16 - I was in this course with you. I see things somewhat differently than you and here's why:

    1. We were all disappointed that the pistol portion was taken out of the class, but that's the new standard for the CFC course. Otherwise, CFS would have to be a prerequisite in order to attend CFC. We talked about it before the class as well as afterwards. It was explained to all of us that they removed the CFS prerequisite so that more people can attend CFC, but that means the pistol portion would be cut out of CFC. You were in the room when they said that, so I don't know why you left that out of your AAR.

    2. You can find out a lot about Mike McElmeel just by Googling him. Here's a link to his bio on his website for you: http://www.eighteenzulu.com/about.html . He's definitely someone who has put in the work and has the skills. He's a very respectable and competent person as well as an instructor who deserves better than what you gave him here.

    3. You wrote this AAR as if you smoked the course, you did not. In your final evo, the Figure 8 Drill, you consistently failed to assess between multiple targets - which was the standard. Despite Mike constantly telling you to assess between multiple targets after you would fail to do so, you still did not assess the next time you were given multiple targets. So, while the rest of the course might have been a breeze for you there is still something you can work on - remembering to execute the details under pressure. Apparently you were challenged mentally and the whole class saw it.

    4. In the course debrief we were told to speak up and say what we liked and/or did not like about the course; to challenge the material and the curriculum for the benefit of all the students. The instructors even said "if you don't believe in it or you have questions, speak up." When it was your turn to speak all you really had to say was that you were happy you got to wear your battle set up and that you wish the lunch break was shorter. Then, after the course ended, I heard the course host come up and ask you personally what you thought about the course. You said none of this to him. Why not? Why not say this to the only people (host and instructor) who have any possible way of taking your input and criticism and turning it into something actionable that might benefit other people? Or, at a minimum be able to talk to you face to face and explain things to you so you had a better understanding about their methods and practices.

    5. You choosing to come on a forum to bash the curriculum and slight the instructor when you were given a chance to communicate face to face with both the host and the instructor, but turned it down - that's pretty weak. You're doing it here so you can put yourself on a pedestal and they can't counterpoint you or speak for themselves. I hope in the future when you get an instructor who is open enough and willing to give you an opportunity to speak up in a similar situation that you take it.
  5. gatorsnuggles

    gatorsnuggles Newbie

    I was also a student in the class. I am a police officer with 15+ years of experience but by no means think I’m anything more than a rifle novice. This class absolutely challenged my mental processing under a relatively low level of stress and showed me what my deficiencies are.

    I’ll have to second everything Midwest Samurai said above and stress that you had ample opportunity to express any and all of your concerns to the instructor or to the host privately if you weren’t comfortable speaking in front of the rest of us. Constructive criticism is exactly what Mike asked the class for but you had none. I saw you doing push-ups - by that point you’d clearly become bored with the low level of instruction you feel you’d been given. Surely you had some critique that could’ve been shared in person, when it could’ve been discussed amongst professionals, instead of posted on a forum well after the fact.
    midwest_samurai likes this.
  6. CHAOS16

    CHAOS16 Amateur

    1. I understand the reason why the CFC franchise precluded the use of pistol in the course. The course description should have been updated well in advance to describe this.

    2. I’m not bashing the instructor. He did not demonstrate any of the drills live fire. That is a fact. I haven’t shot with him, I give him the benefit of the doubt as to his marksmanship.

    3. The assessment that I failed to do was a notional scan. In between called target acquisition. I did fail to do this several times and I understand the logic behind it. I agree, the intent behind that part of the drill was a benefit. I did learn something there so good catch.

    4. We didn’t have time for an in depth AAR so I gave one up and one down. One sustain and one improve. It was not full debrief/ AAR. It was a “hot wash.”

    5. I wrote an AAR from my perspective. I didn’t bash anyone. I’m taking a future medical course from Mike along with my wife. I have no issues with him personally or his instruction methods and I said that in my AAR. I think you’re taking things personally.
  7. CHAOS16

    CHAOS16 Amateur

    This is a forum to post and have this discussion my friend. I’m not intending to bash anyone, I just want to have an honest discussion regarding one training course of many out there.
  8. PatMcG

    PatMcG Amateur

    I've taken multiple classes taught by Mike. All pistol classes. There are some weak spots in the classes( that I've discussed with him) but that's that particular program. When things are not timed or scored it impossible to scale a drill according to individual skill level. It's on the student to push for faster and more accurate on their own and every time I've been there Mike was in my ear telling me to get moving or slow down depending on my performance. A lot of how they are doing things is trying to get the lower level people into these classes and he's continually tweaking things. The classes I've attended have continued to evolve and for the better in most cases. I don't think they run the carbine course often so if it's not perfected yet that's not a huge surprise. I don't think they get enough real squared away people to offer a higher level course. SSV Concepts in Des Moines is who I'd go to if you're looking to really get after it with a carbine. I haven't seen anyone succeed in the figure 8 drill.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  9. I never said that you bashed anyone. I said that you bashed the course/curriculum and that you SLIGHTED the instructor. You were unaware of your instructor's credentials. Perhaps you didn't do your due diligence and done your research on him ahead of time. You can find out a lot about him by just Googling "Mike McElmeel".

    Your AAR is from your perspective and I acknowledge that. I do, however, find your AAR to be heavy handed, biased and unprofessional. To post this sort of AAR on a forum where neither the host or the instructor is invited to participate is not a true AAR. It is venting. It is a rant. It is a false AAR. AAR's typically involve the key personnel who were present during the course or mission. I can provide you with the contact info for the course host and the instructor if you would like to invite them to participate in this discussion.

    Additionally, and unabashedly, you took the liberty to proclaim yourself as one of the more skilled shooters in the course. Is that really for you to say? Better how? Were you better by the standards of the course or the instructor? You're performance in the final evo would suggest otherwise.

    I am no longer a high level or even an intermediate level shooter. But, I do have a high level of expertise in a few key areas that I've been immersed in for decades, and I still go to courses that at times don't directly challenge my entire skill set. Nevertheless, even when I am the highest skilled student in those classes/courses, I still find the small areas where I can improve. I am never so arrogant as to think that I know it all or that a particular course offers no new insights - no matter how basic it is. That is the sign of an arrogant student and not a true professional student. And, I would never think of jumping on a forum or social media to bash the course or slight the instructor. Nor would I insult the fellow students by proclaiming I was one of the best in the class.

    Your performance in the class as well as how you've gone about posting here in the aftermath of it all shows clearly that you are not a good student. A GREAT student does well in a course, is humble about their performance in it, and either promotes the course or otherwise helps it improve. You've done none of those things. I ask you, what have you done here in your post that could remotely be considered honorable?
  10. What do you consider to be a "success" in the Figure 8 Drill?
  11. CHAOS16

    CHAOS16 Amateur

    You’re completely off topic and unreasonable in this response. This forum is specifically to discuss courses after being attended. AAR stands for after action review.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. Yes. I'm very aware what AAR's are and what they are for. I was doing them professionally and militarily in 1994 and have been doing them ever since in one capacity or another. It seems apparent that you are not a humble person. I believe that is evident in how you behaved during this course, here in your AAR, as well as the posts you have made to me and others here on this thread. I see no honor in how you've conducted yourself and I see no reason to continue this discussion with you.
  13. PatMcG

    PatMcG Amateur

    Success may be the wrong word. I've never seen anyone ace it or just smoke through it would be a better way to say what I mean. There's always the mental pauses or going to the gun before identifying, etc. Just like I haven't seen a target with one ragged fist size hole at the end of the day. The point I'm making is it may not get real advanced when it comes to manipulations, or positional shooting, shooting on the move, etc, but the speed and accuracy part can always be pushed. As far as the figure 8 drill, I hate it and have told them that. Not because it's a bad drill but because after a day of shooting pretty good it bruises my ego after I feel I perform poorly at that drill to end the day

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  14. CHAOS16

    CHAOS16 Amateur

    My AAR was actually well in line with contemporary Army Doctrine. I said I'm a POG now, I didn't say I always was. I just returned from Afghanistan this summer where I was a contractor for SOCOM instructing the Afghan Special Operations Command in developing a Lessons Learned program, including how to conduct effective AARs, battlefield interviews, etc. I said I was one of the best shooters in class, meaning top 25%. I would bet my life on that statistic. If I'm paying money for training, I want to be in the bottom or middle of the pack as far as expertise so I have much greater level of improvement. I'm not an advanced shooter, and if your experience was better then I encourage you to write your counterpoint AAR.

    You lost all creditability when you started throwing around personal attacks and defense regarding "honor," humility, or what in your opinion makes a great student. Just because I personally didn't find as much value in a single training iteration doesn't mean I lack honor.

    In addition, Mike's military career has no bearing on our discussion as I never called his expertise into question. I only stated a fact that he didn't fire any live rounds, which I will reiterate is not a confidence instilling technique. I would highly recommend he do some of his instructions live.
    BooneGA likes this.
  15. I’d like to point out that the people in here criticizing haven’t written an AAR for this course. If you feel that the AAR is inaccurate, you will do far more for your cause by writing your own AAR instead of arguing about one someone else wrote. If you don’t like his, write your own. Put up or shut up.

    I’m gonna go ahead and punch the sacred cow sitting in this room and call Combat Focus Shooting and everything relating to it to be complete bullshit. I’ve been on the business end of the CFS training on the LE side as both a student and instructor. My previous agency sent the head FI to it, and he came back and forced us all to teach it and train on it. It did nothing for helping the proficiency of any officers. It did not increase qualification scores, and as is the theme with CFS, accuracy was not improved because there was no accountability within the training to be accurate. It hurt the firearms program and caused more problems far more than it helped, which lends creedence to why CFS is referred to as “Combat FuckUs Shooting” in many circles. Round count was the only thing that it seemed to promote, and apparently this course doesn’t fall far from the tree. 600rds of rifle in a six hour course...I have a hard time envisioning how that can be anything other than ballistic masturbation.

    I am against instructors schilling one specific system, be it Rob Pincus and his ICE/CFS bullshit, John Farnham’s curriculum, or FrontSight’s garbage. I’ve seen it time and time again produce students that have a lot of shortcomings. If an instructor doesn’t realize this, they are lacking as an instructor. Suffice it to say that I think quite poorly of ICE/CFS, and anyone that teaches it willingly. I don’t give a shit what your background is, because if you can’t develop a curriculum on your own and allow it to stand on its own and instead just parrot some “system”, your background and credibility are meaningless to me. Don’t start talking about someone’s background like it’s some hallowed ground that absolves them from wrongdoing for teaching flawed methodology. That removes accountability and reason.

    I would also caution people to not assume that if no one said anything in public in front of a group, that nothing can be wrong. Many people are hestitant to openly question an instructor or air grievances in front of a group. In certain circumstances, they have done this and been met with negative consequences. James Yeager had a policy that if you could air your displeasure with his course in front of the class, you can get a refund. Students have done this and been lambasted by Yeager and his fanboys on the spot. I read an AAR a while back of one such student who got openly bashed and berated by Yeager in front of the class, and was told he didn’t do very well and that it was his own fault he didn’t like the training, etc. He also didn’t get his refund.
    CHAOS16 and back spin like this.

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