FPF Shotgun Skills, Culpeper VA

I took the FPF Shotgun Skills class on October 13, 2018. The class instructors were Tim Chandler and Ashton Ray of 360 Performance. I had previously met Tim Chandler at a Green Ops class where I was an assistant instructor. It was evident from the time I spent with Tim that he had a lot of experience and skill with the shotgun, and so when I had the opportunity to get into one of his Shotgun Skills classes, I jumped at the chance. I was also fortunate in that the class enrollment was smaller that day, which afforded me more time with the instructors, which I greatly appreciated.

The class opened with a detailed safety briefing and med plan, as any good class like this should. After that we discussed several key factors about shotguns, and then worked into some skills drills. Much of the class was centered around proper recoil mitigation, and the instructors spent a lot of time making sure the students could properly handle the shotgun. If done properly you can tame the recoil such that shooting several hundred rounds through a shotgun isn't punishing. If done properly, of course. One of the students hadn't done any real formal instruction behind a shotgun, and while he struggled, Tim and Ashton were able to accommodate him without disrupting the class. This is a real ability that I wish every instructor had, as sometimes a struggling student can cause problems for everybody else, but that didn't happen in this class.

We worked drills mostly on steel, but also shot slug on paper so that everybody would know how their guns shot in terms of point of aim/point of impact. Every time we went to the line they told us to bring as many shells as we could stuff our pouches/pockets with, and they gladly let us shoot as much as we could for each drill. Some drills were focused on the aforementioned recoil control, whereas others were more focused on keeping the shotgun loaded so that you could continue to do work. Tim and Ashton will both tell you that loading an empty shotgun back to capacity takes a long time, but getting a single load in can be just as fast, if not faster, than swapping magazines on a pistol or rifle. (If you practice, of course!)

We took a break before lunch to do some ballistics testing on clear gel. Tim and Ashton both told everybody in the class to not compare it directly to NIJ calibrated ballistic gelatin, as it doesn't behave the same, but it is a good medium to use when comparing different rounds. Tim shot gelatin with pistol, with a 5.56 rifle, and then with shotgun. The wound tracks were quite impressive with the shotgun rounds, even with boring old # 1 buckshot. As a side note, I can't find flite control # 1 low recoil anywhere, so if you have some, you should probably hoard it.

During lunch Ashton talked to everybody about weapon lubrication. Turns out that among his many skills and qualifications, he's a lubrication engineer. That talk was interesting and I enjoyed his take on it. I don't know if I'm ready to adopt the same thing he does, but I obviously know it works. In general he's also against using grease on modern firearms, as he says it tends to cause more problems than it solves.

After lunch we did more shooting on static targets, and also shot from some non-standard positions such as under arm braced and over shoulder braced. (The Rob Haught technique, I believe?) If you push/pull when doing those, it is quite easy to run the gun like that and doesn't beat you up too badly at all.

Lastly we shot on a moving target, which was fun. It also underscored how tighter patterning shot works better for most targets because then you don't lose pellets off into space. That can be unhelpful if you're trying to put all the pellets into the badguy, and even worse if you've got other people anywhere downrange and you don't want to shoot them.

I very much appreciated the amount of individualized coaching I got while there. They caught 3 items that I need to improve on, and gave me suggestions for my combat/emergency load which I've been playing with since. It was worthwhile from that alone, but any one of the drills they did was also worthwhile, as was the ballistics demo, and the moving target! Basically I'm trying to say that I got my money's worth out of the class and more, and would definitely take another class with Tim and Ashton.