Green Ops Defensive Carbine I (12-SEP-20)

#1
This will be my first AAR for a course, and I'm excited to share my experience.

I attended the Green Ops Defensive Carbine I course on September 12th, 2020 at the Stone Quarry Range in Culpeper, VA. I had not received formal live fire instruction since attending army BCT back in 2004. In the meantime I have been collecting, shooting and teaching myself techniques based on watching a ton of videos from competitive shooters and eventually competing at club level in IDPA and GSSF matches. I have shot alongside real masters and even an Olympic medal winner (Kim Rhode) and picked up pointers on various disciplines, learned about mindset and practice routines etc. over the years. As an experienced gunsmith I admit I have spent most of my time building, collecting and endlessly tweaking my own guns and those for customers, colleagues and friends. I have dabbled in shooting IDPA and GSSF, but never achieved my goals of attending a match a month and only shoot at a minimum to maintain proficiency on my carry/defense weapons. But teaching yourself and picking up real nuggets of wisdom only goes so far.

As I started a new position supporting federal law enforcement as a gunsmith this year, my weekends have opened up again and I decided 2020 would be the year I get back on the horse. As everyone knows, this is not the year to be short on ammo and getting back into shooting sports... But even with ammo shortages I decided to seek quality instruction to take me out of my comfort zone, shake bad habits and learn how to improve my shooting skill set.

Cue Green Ops. When I asked around about seeking training in the greater DC area, Green Ops was the go-to response from a few people I trust. I immediately booked classes for Defensive Carbine and Tactical Pistol once I decided to commit to attending training. Booking and scheduling was super easy, it took just a few minutes on my phone. Green Ops provided a checklist on what to bring and suggested a 50/200 yd zero for the class. Communication was timely, professional and clear and I have not been bombarded with messages several times a week to buy stuff, which is much appreciated.

I did my part and arrived prepared the best I could by bringing two zeroed rifles to class as well as all the gear I thought I'd need. The instructors on the day of this class were Fred Mohr, Chris Alvarez, Luke Brooks and Josh Shaw (aka Yoshimoto). I am terrible with names so please forgive me if I failed to point anyone out in this AAR. One of the first topics covered was the recipe for success in improving as a shooter, which includes dry fire training. The instructors emphasized that while live fire is critical for developing and testing skills, we were not there to burn ammo. They even informed us they were dialing back on round counts so we could keep more of our hard to find 5.56 for training on drills at home after the class. Right off the bat, I knew this was a solid cadre. After receiving the safety briefing, explanation of core principles for performance and course layout, the students broke into two teams of 10 and began zeroing. The instructor/student ratio was ideal and allowed instructors to rotate through with the teams to keep everything running smoothly. Instruction was clear and any questions were addressed respectfully and I don't think I saw anyone struggling to the point of being frustrated, as instructors seemed to come out of the ground to assist with instructions and/or ensure the safety of everyone present.

In any aspect of the class where technical information was presented - the instructors were spot on, and topics were covered in ways to help anyone understand without delving into minutia for long periods of time. The focus was on shooting and maximizing the time we had on the range while keeping everyone engaged at a comfortable yet still challenging pace. I have a tendency to want to get involved (as respectfully as possible) when the finer points of weapons design/function/performance are discussed, and the few times I chimed in I did not get dismissed, and when I asked for clarification I always received a good answer. It was clear that the instructors were showing us techniques they had tried and were SUGGESTING as optimal, yet allowed shooters to tackle problems at their speed and in ways they wanted to experiment with as long as they were being safe. This to me signaled the utmost professionalism, and further built my trust for their methodology and instructing style.

After an exercise in demonstrating POA/POI from 5 yds to 50 yds, shooting from different positions and distances was covered. If I remember correctly, we took a lunch break and resumed class with malfunction clearing drills. Then we moved to firing from cover and ran relays shooting steel targets from VTAC barricades. The firing portion of the class concluded with the Green Knight Patch qual - which was quite challenging. Despite failing miserably at it, I was already starting to see what things I needed to take note of to work on at home with dry fire and live fire drills. And of course I'm motivated to bust my ass and try the qual again...

Once the range was cold and things were winding down, the instructors recapped the day's lessons and asked for honest feedback from students. Before we wrapped up completely, we received a use of force briefing by Fred which is of course VERY important for what's going on across the US lately. The day concluded with zero safety or medical incidents and the consensus seemed to be that everyone really enjoyed their time. I know I certainly learned a lot, from key fundamentals I had not considered while LARPing at home or in the shop to having minor mental meltdowns over which knee to use for support when shooting behind cover.

I was thoroughly impressed with this course which taught me a lot and has gotten me hooked on training. The Green Ops guys had me laughing in between the quality instruction, and I never felt bored or disengaged from what was happening. Having teams of shooters rotating, I never felt rushed to hit the john or top off mags, but never felt as if I was waiting around forever either. I am already signed up for the two-day Tactical Pistol I class, and will absolutely be returning to Green Ops for future training courses. That is, as long as we can find the ammo!

- Garrett S.