AAR Sentinel Concepts CHE July 21/22 20/17

Andrew Y.

Regular Member
AAR Sentinel Concepts Critical Handgun Employment July 21/22 2017

Grinnell IA

From Sentinel Concepts website

Critical Handgun Employment covers enhanced skill sets to maintain a level of control mentally and physically while processing information and making decisions on the move. Low light techniques and other skills including timed and graded drills and performance based task will show you where your training is breaking down. This break down will allow you to determine what essential courses you may want to re-take as well as provide guidance for individual practice. The class will thoroughly cover:

The class will thoroughly cover:

•Safety brief & Medical plan

•Proper gear selection and placement

•Accuracy Drills, recoil control techniques

•How and why of speed/retention/emergency loading

•Accuracy and Timed drills

•Shooting from retention

•Weapon Hand / alternate Hand Malfunctions

•Weapon Hand / alternate hand Shooting Drills

•Movement when to shoot and how

•Shooting from downed positions

•Multiple target tracking

•Low light (when and where applicable)

•and more…

Required Equipment:

•A functional and practical handgun chambered in 9mm, .40 cal, or .45 ACP.

•Hearing Protection, electronic is preferred.

•Wrap around style eye protection.

•IFAK &/or Tourniquet

•If available, a spare weapon system is also an excellent idea.

•A minimum of 1000 rounds of pistol ammunition.

•A cleaning kit and tools that are compatible with the weapon system(s)

•Each student should have a minimum of 5 working magazines. Students with single stack pistols should havetwice that.


I have wanted to take a Sentinel Concepts pistol class since taking a rifle course where I appreciated his teaching methods and wanted to apply them to pistol. In keeping with my goals and daily life I shot the course from concealment.

Day 1

Day 1 started with a brief intro to Steve and his background, and then the students background. Approx 1/2 were LEO. After discussing the idea of personal responsibility with a handgun, which is Steve’s take on firearm safety and a medical brief, we hit the range.

The class begins with a 10 round 25yd group, this is done on the SC target with a 5x7 score box, line hits are out.

The class progressed with trigger work at closer ranges with 2” dots. Steve takes a different approach on the trigger press, he relates it more to being a part of the grip, and how a poor grip will make a poor shot.

Reloads and the three common variations were covered next. The big takeaways here are to not give up the shot before the reload because you know you have a reload, and how to index the spare mag in the reload sequence. This portion ended with head to head competitions with the entire class.

After lunch, we moved into ready positions, both the high and low ready have their use. The situation you are in will define the position you adopt. Competency in both should be required.

Steve has a different take on one handed shooting than most, it revolves around building the body around the gun to make for the most stable shot. We only covered strong hand on Day 1.

The last instruction point for the day was on malfunctions. Steve takes a very simple approach to malfunctions based on the feedback you receive from the trigger. Smash, rack or unload, reload is the order of the day. However since I shoot a non-standard pistol, the techniques do not work the same for me.

The day ended with a practice qual course, minus the weak hand manipulations.

Day 1 Notes

  • The target is very unforgiving, however it's built that way for specific reasons.
  • Steve will always cover multiple ways of doing something, there is no one way, could be the anthem of the course
  • Just because something works on the flat range is not a promise it will work in real life
  • Steve has a very consistent presentation and methodology between Handgun and rifle instruction.
  • The class was ran in two relays, with each target sharing two shooters, not ideal but a fact of life
  • Steve hot washes after each instruction block, looking for both questions and feedback, everyone is encouraged to talk
  • Approx 400 rounds fired.

Day 2

Day 2 started with Steve working the line and checking students grips. Several students had mentioned this on Day 1 and Steve thought it a good idea to go over before kicking things off. While it took a bit of time, several students commented how the changes he made improved their recoil management.

The first on range portion of the class was another 25 yard 10 round group. This was followed by off hand draw. Steve presented several methods of presenting the gun and then we drilled the methods in dry fire, followed by live fire.

Following draws came off hand reloads, there are multiple ways depending on your setup, as Steve says, keep it simple and put bullets in the gun.

When working on multiple targets, the key that Steve presented was to move the eyes, then the gun. This became evident when targets became spaced farther apart. We culminated this portion by shooting two different targets with 3 target zones each. The goal was to move in a random pattern and keep pace between zones.

Moving into positional shooting, Steve stressed the importance of shooting from odd positions. Not just prone or supine, but also while applying torque to the body, this was reinforced by shooting the Iron Cross drill. We shot this drill once at 5 yards, single shot, and then again at 10 yards with two shots per position.

The last drill of the day was a lateral movement drill that focused on movement with a gun around a partner.

The day ended with the qual course, to my dismay I went over time on the off hand draw portion, receiving an instant DQ. This capitalized my lack of off hand draw practice.

Day 2 Notes

  • The grip work built upon what I had learned the previous weekend and was helpful
  • The offhand draw portion was nothing particularly new, but a reminder that I hadn't practiced this nearly enough to be efficient
  • The Iron Cross drill is an excellent drill I hadn't shot before and will be added to my list
  • The lateral movement drill was an excellent validation of my current skill with a pistol
  • The hot washes are appreciated.
  • 450 rounds fired


I shot the course with a P229 with X300u and RMR 06. I used JM Custom Kydex gear on a Mean Gene belt. Small dump pouch to help with ammo management on the line. No issues with this gear and no plans to change any of it.

Any questions please ask.
AAR Sentinel Concepts CHE
Blue Mountain Sportsmans Center, Cortlandt Manor, NY
June 22 & 23, 2019

• G17, Holosun 507C, Ameriglo 3 Dot Tritium
• Speer Lawman 115gr fmj (approx. 700 rounds),
• OEM magazines
• RCS Eidolon run AIWB, full concealment
• Blue Alpha Gear Hybrid EDC Belt
• Milt Spark single mag pouch, other random double mag pouches to keep single pouch fed
• Ankle IFAK
• Axil GhostStryke Bluetooth ear pro

Prior Experience:
Civilian who carries a gun daily and loves to shoot competitively. Previous classes with Chris Frye (MDTS), Onsight Firearms Training, Thunder Ranch, Karl Rehn, Mas Ayoob and I’m probably forgetting someone else.

The class was hosted by Onsight Firearms training at the Blue Mountain Sportsmans Center. I have taken numerous classes with Ben from OFT and while he is a solid instructor, this weekend he was the gracious host and a great person to deal with. The range was basic (approx. 25 yds), with a good front berm with a mountain behind that, and concrete walls on the two sides. There was a covered area with seating for grabbing lunch and to reload mags and hydrate. The restrooms were proximal to the shooting area and were port-a-johns. The range does have a rather late start time on Sundays (11am).

Class Demographics:

15 shooters. I think 2 or 3 LE, and the rest civilians. The majority of shooters ran OWBs unconcealed. All shooters were safe and vetted by OFT through previous coursework as the class was invite only.

Course Overview:
I’ve been wanting to train with a few of the folks I had previously heard through the P&S modcasts/open mics due to their demonstrated knowledge, and Steve was one of them. I was not disappointed in this training class in the least. In addition to the shooting, during down times, Steve was open to all type of questions gear related and I took full advantage to ask him a fair amount of questions ranging from ankle holsters for a med kit to a scope recommendation for a F-Class rifle.

The class started with a cold 10 rounds from 25 yards at a B8 target. It was a very good way to knock folks into reality regarding shooting ability (I don’t mean that in a negative way). The lowly B8 will be making a regular appearance in my range sessions from this point forward. Time was spent on diagnosing/coaching grips and trigger work.

The range work progressed in a logical path, pushing folks along the way and progress was seen across the board by the end of the two days. Steve was able to read the crowd quite well and we ended up calling it a day a bit before the scheduled end time, but that honestly didn’t bother me a bit. On my last string of fire, I could identify my own mental fatigue and I’m assuming others were in the same boat.

His diagnosing of shooter issues (with or without RDS) was great and for myself, he helped a bunch and I have a fair amount of homework to do on my own.

Gear Issues:

I had no issues (malfunctions) with any of my gear in this class. Having said that, I learned a lot regarding the reticle on the Holosun. While the plain circle was fast for close distance shooting, for me, it sucked at 25 yds, which is where the plain dot shined. So for me, I think it will stay on the plain dot setting.

Take Aways:
There were quite a few things that I took away from this class.
1) We in my region, are fortunate that OFT brings in instructors like Steve and Super Dave. Its rather rare in the “downstate” NY area to have access to top tier instructors.
2) My accuracy is not where I want it to be, as I typically gauged it against an IDPA A zone for competition purposes versus a 2” dot, but I left with the tools to work on it. My previous concept of good enough isn't.
3) I would recommend this class to anyone; and
4) I’m pretty sure Steve is fueled by Monster Energy, cigars and bourbon.