AAR For Practical Shotgun Sentinel Concepts Sep 2016

AAR For Practical Shotgun Sentinel Concepts

I recently took a Sentinel Concepts Practical Shotgun class on 18 Sep 2016 at Grand Prairie IL. The class lasted from 0800-1700+/- and we were lucky enough to have sunny weather throughout but it was north of 85 degrees so hydration was an issue.

I need to start this AAR by saying that I am a disabled Iraq war vet that has to use a cane to walk and has issues with my left hand among other things. So when I give you my opinions please keep that in mind because a fully ambulatory student will get different things out of this class than I did.

In the past I have taken multiple fighting shotgun classes with other trainers such as Adamax Tactical and TFFT. This however was the first class I have taken with Sentinel Concepts and the first I used a Remington 870 pump shotgun. For the most part I use a Mossberg 500 or 590 but I wanted to try something a little different and in my experience nothing shakes out gear like a good class. As I said I was running a lightly customized 870 that had been worked over by the blokes at Vang Comp. It has been Vang comped with a ported barrel, large dome head safety and stainless steel follower other than that is was mostly a stock gun with a bead sight and original furniture, no mag extension or sidesaddle.

For ammo storage I used a 5.11 bail out bag because that is what I keep in my truck with my bandages, tourniquet and spare ammo. My thought was that I would grab that in an emergency instead of some type of vest. The bailout bag worked well for reloads but only from the VTAC shell holders I had looped inside and on the outside of it. Loose rounds rattled about and were hard to grab ahold of with anything resembling efficiency. A sidesaddle on my shotgun might have made the initial reloads easier but once it was empty all of us had to resort to reaching into pockets for spare shells so I am not sure it would be a big improvement past the four or five shells you would have on the gun.

As far as other gear I ran the entire course with my EDC of two handguns (SIG P225A1 and S&W 642) and various bits of kit on me the entire time. I was happy to see that we didn’t have to download our EDC and run the course without it on. It was another good way to shake down gear.

My expectations were limited. I wanted to work on all the stuff I have trouble with. Mainly reloading more than one or two rounds and then getting back into the fight. I suck at reloading three rounds or more into a shotgun under pressure so I was hoping we would do drills that would help me fix that. In that same vein I wanted to be pushed, I don’t go to classes to work on the easy stuff, I go to be pushed outside my comfort zone. One of my fears is that there would be a lot of dynamic movement which given my limited mobility would be a problem.

We started the class by Mr. Fisher looking at everyone’s shotguns and him giving pointers on their choices. He didn’t chastise people over their choice of guns he just wanted to learn why the student chose that particular gun and why. I got the impression he was not a gear head and was more interested in teaching how to run your gun more effectively than urging you to get the newest, bestest, shiniest gun.

Next we went into patterning with various loads at ranges out to 25 yards. I had already patterned my gun before the class so there were no surprises but it was nice to see us do it at the start of the class and not assume that students had already done it. While doing this he fielded questions about ammo ranging from whether #4 or 000 buckshot was a better choice than the traditional 00 buckshot? Also whether buck and ball loads had a place and what he thought about slugs? Mr. Fisher listened to every question thoroughly and then gave his insights. Even though I am sure he has heard these questions dozens of times he answered each one thoroughly and why he thought that his answer would work. No ego just facts and experience based insight.

Then we started doing lots and lots of shooting drills. I was happy to see this was not a theory based class; we were there to actually run the snot of the guns. Techniques such as the push pull technique to control recoil were taught and drilled on. Stance, sight alignment and limited movement were also taught so my fear of dynamic movement was unfounded. We ran about 400 rounds of birdshot and 50 or so rounds of buckshot. Mr. Fisher stuck to the syllabus and packing list, we didn’t shoot slugs because he did not have it on the list, no surprises.

I was happy with the course and will make a point to go to another one of Mr. Fisher’s shotgun courses. This is a working and shooting course not a sit around and talk about things class. If you are expecting to have an easy day in the sun this might not be the best course for you. Your skills will be pushed. You will be taught a technique and then immediately do multiple drills on it to make sure you understand it and can repeat it. Also if you don’t get it you can ask to do extra runs until you get the skill down. For example the Rolling Thunder drill, I don’t like it but it taught me a lot on how to reload a shotgun quickly under stress! We did more runs of that than I wanted to but it really helped me with my problems of reloading mass amounts of shells while still getting my hits. It is also where the problems of just having loose rounds in your bag came out as well.

There was also a lot of humor in the class. Jokes were well placed and often. Sometimes shooting classes can be kind of doom and gloom but this was not one of them. The humor helped during what ended up being a long day. A word on hydration, study for the test come to class hydrated and with plenty of liquids to partake of during it. That way you can get more out of the instruction.

I never dreaded what we were going to do next because everything was thoroughly explained before we started. Even the Rolling Thunder drill was a challenge not just something you have to do because that is next for this block of instruction. No do I say because I said so. Everything had a purpose. Also I never felt my disabilities were impeding my ability to learn. Mr. Fisher is understanding and will accommodate disabilities but you will be pushed within your limitations. All in all an excellent class and I would recommend him to anyone that wants to learn the fighting shotgun.

William C. Self