AAR: Sentinel Concepts Critical Shotgun with Steve Fisher

Course Date: May 20, 2018, 10:00 PM to ~5:00 PM

Course Location: Post 46 Hunting & Fishing Club, 8888 Dexter Townhall Rd, Pinckney, MI

Weather: ~70°F, overcast virtually all day – PERFECT range weather


I used a Beretta 1301T set up with an Airdus CROM and Primary Arms Advanced 2 MOA Dot Micro Red Dot, Magpul SGA stock with Airdus stock adapter and a single-point sling. Used Velcro sidesaddle with 5- and 6-round ESSTAC shotgun cards. This was my first time working the Beretta in a class and it did very well. Went to the Beretta after an “un-good” experience with a Mossberg 930 SPX and I’m very glad I did. The Beretta ran like a sewing machine with everything I’ve fed it so far. I ran the cheap Wal-Mart Federal 100-pack MP12 7.5 load thru it through the entire course. Only had four malfunctions – two while shooting moving right to left and two while sitting flat bottomed. I believe these can be attributed to a loose or less-stable shooting platforms. I was experimenting with the RDS as my eyes can no longer make out the ghost ring sights at speed and again – I’m glad I did. The RDS is much faster to acquire an acceptable sight picture from virtually any shooting position. The Primary Arms RDS ran great so far, but I’ll be swapping it out for an Aimpoint soonest just because! While the Beretta 1301 factory stock is excellent, I much prefer the Magpul SGA mainly because of the grip angle seems to work better for me, it is just a bit shorter in the length of pull and my 870 is set up identical.

Also had a backup Remington 870 worked over by Nighthawk Custom with LPA ghost ring sights if needed but I did not use it during the course.

I worked the sidesaddle reloading hard thru the day and one of the newer ESSTAC shotgun cards gave up the ghost by the end of the day with one of the loops ripping through the stitching. Also the ESSTAC cards “roll up” when loaded giving less hook material to adhere to the loop material on the receiver. I never lost a card off the side of the gun, but a flatter card I believe would be faster and surer to mount. It looked like the Original SOE cards being used were more rigid and flatter when loaded. I’ll order some and check them out. Some fellow students had Original SOE Shotgun chest rigs – both Micros and Cop Rigs – and they seemed to perform very well.

Overall, I was very happy with the equipment choices I made going into the course. The RDS is a keeper and I’m going to set up my 870 with one as well.

What was taught:

The course started in the classroom at Post 46 Hunting & Fishing Club with Steve introducing himself and briefly going over course objectives. Steve then asked the students to introduced themselves and give a brief background and state whet they expected from the course. This was the second day for most students as Steve taught his Practical Shotgun course the day before and most of the students attended that course as well unlike me. Steve gave a brief but perfectly adequate safety brief along with emergency procedures in case of injury prior to moving to the range.

We then moved to the range and got right into the material. Steve had us shoot a couple of Rolling Thunder drills to get warmed up. Then we went into a review of the different presentations. Steve demonstrated and walked us through not only the results, but fine points of how we get to the results. Then Steve walked the line and coached each student as needed and continued to coach for the entire day. I definitely felt I got plenty of valuable tips throughout the day. Steve then introduced us to different loading techniques – techniques much more effective than traditional techniques especially when loading while moving. We worked shooting while moving and shooting from alternate shooting positions as well. Steve also shared some fine points I particularly appreciated like an efficient and SAFE way to re-engage our safeties whether in back or in front of the trigger guard. I like this because we always talk about how to disengage the safety fast, but we rarely talk about re-engaging efficiently and safely under multiple conditions.

Round Count and Range Set-Up:

We shot approximately 275-300 rounds and all shooting was on steel. Steve did not ignore the important patterning of our shotguns, but most students patterned their shotguns the day before. Steve offered to pattern anyone’s shotguns during lunch if we hadn’t the day before. We ran in two relays, but it never seemed like we had much time off the line – a good thing! The range was great – a small private club with a nice clubhouse and multiple ranges about 30 minutes west of Ann Arbor, MI.


A few things really stood out to me. The first being Steve conducted what I’m calling a “roundtable” discussion after each block of instruction where while in a group he asked each student what they got out of the previous block of instruction. This gave Steve an opportunity to emphasize relevant points. As important, it gave each of us an opportunity to learn from each other – what worked, what didn’t and why. This was an extremely effective teaching technique and I got a lot out of both Steve’s comments to student’s comments, but also my fellow student’s thoughts. The second was Steve commented he was a “teacher” not an “instructor” and while he had a POI, it was more important he tailored the class to the students and giving them what they needed versus just running us through a POI and calling it good. The last point was Steve commented (paraphrasing) “I like to run my courses like a bunch of guys getting together, shooting at the range and talking with each other.” This was very effective as while the course was definitely structured, there was a lot of intended interaction with both Steve and our fellow students, but an atmosphere of like Steve said, “a bunch of guys talking at the range.”


This was my first course with Steve Fisher and I expected first-class “teaching” and we got just that. I’m definitely a “civilian” looking to gain more skills with a defensive shotgun not law enforcement or an operator. Steve didn’t care about our backgrounds, just that we were there to learn from him and each other. We just weren’t fed the run of the mill techniques, we were taught new techniques to experiment with and like Steve said “I do it this way because it works. If you want to do it another way, do it!” I liked the course structure to include the “roundtable” discussions.

I got a lot out of this course and highly recommend Steve as a teacher. I will definitely take other shotgun courses and Steve’s pistol and carbine courses in the future.