Class:LMS Defense Carbine 1
Instructors:Josh Jackson and Damien Geddis (Both active LEOs with the regional SWAT team)
My gear:Featureless AR15 (Fin grip) with 45 degree ambi safety, Red Dot optic, padded sling, and a Surefire Warden as a courtesy to my fellow classmates.
Glock 19 for my handgun.
Over clothing molle belt with 2+2 magazines pouches, dump pouch, and ALS holster.
About Me:No MIL/LEO background. No introduction to firearms from family or friends. Started shooting November 2019 at the ripe age of 28 with a handgun. Handgun classes in January and February 2020, then COVID 19 hit in March and stalled all my plans on classes, competition, and resources. New to the AR15 and carbine, but have a good understanding after a lot of research, reading, and listening to all of the Primary and Secondary podcasts in a 4-6 month time frame, plus picking and choosing YouTube content to take in.
Carbine experience has just been with a 22LR conversion doing low/high ready at bullseye targets and steel targets at local ranges (humanoid targets not allowed). Not too many places in the Bay Area where you can shoot a 5.56/223 AR standing, or with movement.
Attendees:There were a total of 12 attendees.
From my recollection, we had the following setups
9 Featureless AR15 rifles
1 Mag Locked AR15 rifle
1 Mag Locked AR15 pistol
1 AK47 or 74
The Class:2-day (16 hours) class located at Sacramento Valley Shooting Center
8:30 AM to 4 PM
January 30, 2021 Saturday - Day 1, Bay 10, 100-yard range, 59 high, 42 low, partly cloudy.
January 31, 2021 Sunday - Day 2, Bay 11, 200-yard range, 64 high, 48 low, cloudy.
To add, this range and drive to it is absolutely beautiful. Lots of open land, no mountains in sight, and lots of nature all around. We don't have any ranges even close to this setup in the Bay Area.
Weather in the previous week was scheduled to rain, but as the weekend grew closer, it cleared up and we didn't see a single drop of rain during the class. The ground was moist, but not soaked. Weather was perfect on both days for me, not too hot, with cool mornings.
Recommended ammo count-1000 rifle
Realistic ammo count (Tallied inventory used after class)-~500 rifle
-~20 hand gun
The curriculum from my recollection is the following.
Day 1We arrived from San Jose around 7:30 AM, and waited, the morning a brief introduction from Geddis, and we were signing the 3 or 4 waivers for the range and LMS. Geddis gets your driver’s license and fills out the instructor portion.
Once we all settled in, we did a brief introduction of each attendee, where you're from, your shooting experience, and what you expect from the class.
Safety briefing, plans in case an accident were to happen, who to call instead of 911, and who to inform.
Discussion on gear including slings, optic, weapon mounted lights, and a introduction to the AR15 mechanics of the bolt, upper, and lower. During this time, Geddis and Jackson talked about issues they often see during classes with self-assembled AR15s having issues with the gas tube, and having reliability issues when mixing and matching brands.
They went into the MELO acronym for diagnosing feeding issues (I may be missing a letter, going off of memory)
Jackson says he runs his firearms wet, and doesn't clean them much.
We then went into the zeroing process and what zero to choose based on the spread of 25/50/100/200 yards. LMS recommends the 50/200 zero, which they provided a diagram of to illustrate the holds you will have to use based on the distance.
After ballistics, we took a 30-minute lunch break around noon.
After lunch, we proceeded to zero our optics. We did standing shots at the target from 10 yards, adjusted, then shot at 50 yards to fine tune, and confirm zero.
We then geared up with belt, magazines, and ammo, brought it all down to the end of the range around the 25 yards from the berm, and we broke up into two groups of 6 for lines of fire.
Geddis told us the different courses of fire we would do based on his call outs.
-One shot to the chest
-Non-Standard Response (NSR) (3-5 to the chest)
-Failure Drill (2 chest, 1 head)
-Controlled Headshot (One to the head)
Geddis then taught us the multiple types of reloading with an AR15, the following.
-Tac mag reload (Saving the mag, and topping off with a fresh mag)
-Emergency reload (Gun ran empty)
He also emphasized doing the reload in our workspace, instead of pointing the gun down to the ground.
We went through in depth on safety manipulations when coming on and off the target.
Geddis then broke down and demonstrated the 3 ready positions (aided by Jackson), their reasoning and application depending on the scenario.
Each one was done on the firing line at around 10 yards with high/low/indoor ready drills to get comfortable with manipulating the safety from each ready position. The transition between the two groups worked well, which gave us time to reload our magazines from ammo cans we brought to the line.
Geddis also brought out a shot timer, and had us all do ready drills one by one down the line of 12 of us under the pressure of a shot timer to get a quantifiable marker on how fast we are actually going.
After a few hours of that, we went over to the two steel silhouette targets on the left side of the range. We did head-to-head shooting from low ready up against other participants in the class, with Geddis using his shot timer. We did that at 10/25/50/75/100 yards.
We then wrapped it up, left out gear at the tables, collected brass, and had a quick chat at the end to finish the day.
Day 2The second day of the class was on Bay 11, on the 200-yard range. We started off at 8:30 AM signing the range waivers, did a refresher on safety and emergency plan in case of an accident, and we then proceeded to bring out gear and ammo to a picnic table at the end of the 200-yard range.
I may be wrong, but I believe we started the day doing multi target engagements, 1st target, 2nd target, then back to 1st target.
Geddis then went over the various malfunctions, both simple and complex malfunctions.
He then went over the various shooting positions. Which were demonstrated by Jackson.
-Strong Side Prone
The next portion of the class was my favorite part. Jackson and Geddis set up 4 stations in which we could practice the different positions as much as we wanted using barrels and a large wooden target stand.
Station 1 - Two stacked barrels that you can do indoor ready, and shoot around corners popping out.
Station 2 - Two barrels next to each other where you could practice junkyard prone.
Station 3 - Large wooden target stand maybe 6 inches tall and 4-5 feet wide. Allowed you to practice prone, urban and strong side prone.
Station 4 - One barrel where you could kneel and shoot side to side.
All of which were done at maybe 20 yards.
We did this for a while, I did at least two attempts minimum at each station. Geddis went around giving everyone some pointers and suggestions on the different stations if he saw a slip in technique. Everyone seemed to be having a good time trying all the different positions. We all went back to the table more than once to grab and reload more magazines.
After things slowed down, and we all felt we got a solid number of attempts in per station, Geddis and Jackson called it lunch, and we took a break at the shooting stations near the parking area.
After lunch we went back to the 10-yard line to meet up, and Geddis had us make two lines for the two steel targets on the left side of the range. We all took turns shooting at it from variable distances from 10 to 200 yards. He made sure to have us all hit steel at least once from 200 yards, to see the capability of our ARs, and to see our hold overs/unders.
We returned to the 10-yard line, and we then learned how to move forward and backward towards a target, and presenting our rifle to shoot the target.
We then did moving sideways. We had 3 targets, and had to shoot at them while walking parallel to their line up from 10-15 yards. We did this one by one, both moving left and right.
We then did turning and engaging a target. Geddis gave his rationale for turning "in" to the known versus turning "out" to the unknown. We did the following.
-180 degree turn
Next, we did rifle to handgun transitions.
The 2nd to last drill we did involved putting all that we learned during the 2 days of class. Geddis placed about 6 barrels in a straight line towards a paper target, spaced 1-2 feet apart, total range from the 5-yard line to maybe the 20-25 yard line. The drill was to walk towards the target zig zagging through the barrels in a low ready position. On Geddis' command, we would do a NSR, failure drill, controlled head shot, or just a single shot to the chest on his up commands, then we had to walk backwards zig zagging while engaging the target on command. We each ran this drill one by one, for maybe a total of attempts.
The very last part of the curriculum was recommended by Jackson, and involved pairing up, and shooting steel, after your partner takes your rifle and sets it up to simulate a malfunction on it. You then have to turn around, go to your rifle, and fix the malfunction to shoot the steel target, head-to-head against another team of two.
That concluded all of the curriculum, although from memory and some parts may not be in chronological order, but close.
After that final drill, we had a brief talk, collected brass, and brought all of or equipment to the benches near the cars. Geddis and Jackson then went one by one asking us what we learned and enjoyed during the class. Jackson talked about LMS Defense a bit how it's a family run business, that they are open to requesting classes that aren't scheduled if there is enough interest generated by the alumni, and about the customer appreciation event in Fernley, Nevada.
Geddis then announced top shot, and most improved in the class, and awarding of certificates to the attendees.
We then all packed up and left for the day around 4:30-5 PM.
My Growth:My biggest take away from this, is that with our situation in California, Featureless ARs are far superior to Mag Locked ARs. We had one attendee get so frustrated from the 1st day of class with his mag locked AR pistol, that he didn't show up for the 2nd day. Which is a shame, as I was planning to offer him to use my back up featureless rifle if he showed up for the 2nd day. The other mag locked attendee ended up using Jacksons rifle for the 2nd day of the class.
I was really able to practice my hold overs with my red dot on the targets, especially with the controlled head shots. I'm unable to really practice that anywhere else locally.
Shooting from the 4 different stations gave me a chance to feel a more "realistic" scenario of shooting from behind cover/concealment which is hard to replicate with live fire on other ranges.
My magazine reloads became more instinctual near the end of the class, as did safety manipulations.
Overall, I feel leaps and bounds more comfortable with an AR15 from before to after the class thanks to Geddis and Jackson.
Recommendations:During the day 1 equipment discussion (slings, flashlight, optics), it would have been a perfect opportunity to inform attendees of what Jackson mentioned during the day. Paraphrasing Jackson, "Sometimes with all the stuff on your AR and equipment, it may end up working against you."
It would have been a good time to emphasize something along the lines of
"Everyone here has their rifle, and you're all free to tailor your AR for your needs, I know some of you may have bipods, different slings, or other accessories, but do be conscious about whether it is weighing you down, or if it is worth having on there. This is also an opportunity to look at other people’s equipment, ask questions, and share experiences. You're here to test equipment to see what works and what doesn't for you."
I feel it would have made everyone more conscious and observant about what other people are using, what’s working for them, what's not, and such.