Northern Red Gunfighter Pistol

20161026-20161028, Prado Olympic Shooting Park and Orange County Tactical Training Center

Instructor: John Ellison, 10 year 3rd Special Forces Group Weapons Sergeant (18B) veteran, Commander In-Extremis Force.

Introduction: Northern Red is known for their high marksmanship standards. Where they bring the curriculum of active standards practiced by USASOC units and specific JSOC units.

Equipment: Beretta 92G Elite II
Blade-Tech Beretta Brigadier Tek-Lok holster with 3 Off the Grid Concepts Eggroll mag pouches.
HSGI Slim Grip Belt: Double Pistol Tacos, 2 ITW Rifle Fast Mags, Ronin Tactics medical pull out pouch, Safariland holster with UBL w/ single leg strap.

Ammunition: ~40 rounds of Blazer Brass Aluminum cased 115gr 9mm. ~250 rounds of Freedom Munitions Re-Manufactured 115gr 9mm. ~650 rounds of Freedom Munitions American Steel 115gr 9mm. 900 rounds prescribed.

Day 1: Safety brief by John and briefly went over his background as an Army Special Forces soldier. He then had us go up to the 25 yard and start a 300 point aggregate. Right off the bat, my wheels fell apart. To sum up the first string of fire, I had absolutely no confidence in my sights and my holds of my pistol at 25 yards. First ten rounds onto paper freestyle all hit outside of the black. We then went to single hand shooting with each hands. No confidence at all with primary hand and even less confidence with the support hand. We then shot from the kneeling position and prone. Keep in mind at this point we had no instruction on how to properly go into each position. For some reason, I positioned myself in the prone bladed and leveled with my left eye. Overall, my performance in the 25 yard qual, was very lackluster. I only scored 83/300. We then went up to the 10 yard line for John to evaluate how our draw strokes were. Time standard was 1.5 seconds of drawing and firing the pistol into the B8 at 10 yards. Then we ended with reloads. Draw, engage, reload, engage. Time standard 2.5 seconds. I took my time with these runs to make it right. 1.99 draw and engage and 2.60 engage and reload. John commented that I have fast hands movement, work on getting rid of the pause in the draw stroke and push it.

John recorded our times and scores and brought us all back to the loading area to discuss what we just did. John then addressed the class on what the most important part of communication was to establish credibility. Credibility on why we are about to do what we are going to learn and train upon over the span of the duration of the class. So John went more into what exactly he did in Army Special Operations, what the CIF is, and what he did during his time on active duty. The premise is to give the students and understanding of why and how he will be teaching the curriculum he is teaching. We then each shared our background; 4 county SWAT members with various military backgrounds, a SWAT team leader, a SWAT member from a municipal agency, 3 patrol officers from another county, 1 industry affiliate, and myself.

After the introductions, we got back on the 25 yard and John discussed why we have to work on the fundamentals of combat shooting at this distance for the pistol. We went down the list of the basis of fighting with a pistol and at 25 yards, it was discouraging at first but I had to make 25 yards my comfort zone if I wanted to take away from this class for the next few days.

What resonated with me on day 1 was the emphasis on the fighting stance. John referenced Miyamoto Musashi's philosophy of having one consistent fighting stance. Being slightly bladed and having and aggressive lean into the pistol helps with not only recoil management and control, but also when moving and shooting. Referencing what Tu Lam (Ronin Tactics) taught about dominating and seizing rooms, the stance made a whole lot of sense. We ended the day with some competition among peers; draw, shoot, reload, shoot at 7 yards. Then we brought class back and talked about engaging the enemy and how to effectively stop the fight (this is a closed enrollment class and I will not discuss what we went over publicly).

Day 2: We moved range facilities due to scheduling constraints at the original location. We began the day with the 300 point test at 25 yards and I felt my focus being all over the place and could not attain that comfort zone in order to concentrate my focus on shooting the B8 effectively at 25. We shot our test and recorded our score. Loaded up and paired up to work on ball & dummy drills. Ball & dummy really showed the flaws in everyone's pistol handling. The tension and flinch everyone possess is shown during these runs. John wanted us to be accountable for our shots by our sight pictures so when a round does go off, the partner is to cover the eyes and ask the shooter where were their sights last at when breaking the shot, not before breaking the shot. We had to have a deliberate press of the trigger and break the shot and KNOW where our shot will be at by being accountable for our last sight picture. Practice on just focusing on pressing the trigger to the rear and no flinch and causing a dip was paramount.

A majority of Day 2 emphasized on shooting at 25 yards and single hand shooting. Having the confidence and calamity to press a single hand shot at 25 yards was mentally taxing for me; the anticipation flinch and attaining the right sight picture while pressing that trigger. Then we went to the 10 yard line to practice our draws and reloads. Later part of the day we worked on moving and engaging with a pistol. John explained how to move while shooting; maintain the aggressive stance and push forward while tracking the front sight of the pistol. Simple enough, a number of students rushed their shots instead of tracking the front sight when moving. I would only allow myself to press the shot when I have an acceptable sight picture to engage.

We then set up VTAC targets to work on target transitions. John emphasized that we should not "double tap," but send out "controlled pairs." Double tapping involves having no accountability and is essentially point shooting. We always want plus one on the sight picture. How fast we track and have those sights realigned and ready to squeeze the next shot would induce when we would fire that round and prep for another shot. Then we went into shooting the six-second drill. 10 yards at the 10 yard on the black circle on a B8, first string is one round in six seconds, second string is two rounds in six seconds, etc etc. John wanted to close out with some competition, six-second drill. Tom Spooner is reported to have the all time highest score of 16 rounds in six seconds and it was because he had ran out of ammo. A patrol officer got up to 15 rounds with his duty P320, dropped one round out of the black circle. The second person to have accomplished that feat this year of instruction from John. At the end of Day 2, we talked more on Mil/LE SOPs and TTPs. John discussed that we are going to put everything together and shoot the 700 point test; The Humbler.

Day 3: Began Day 3 with a warm-up at 25 yards again. Ball & dummy with single hand focus. We then loaded up, walked up to the 25 yard line, and shot the 700 point Humbler. The test is out there online and I scored 492. I dropped too many shots with my support hand shots and overall, single hand shooting is my biggest weak point. John said that 570 is the standard for armed professionals (specifically members in his organization, who test this quarterly). 600 points is an indicator of excellent fundamentals, John reported that his score is somewhere in the 600s (I cannot recall at the time ~630) with Larry Vickers having the highest score recorded in the Unit and organization and Tom Spooner being a close second. Overall test was indeed humbling. We had nearly all the time in the world to take our shots, it was not a test for speed and accuracy, just a test on having the fundamentals down. John discussed with us about overall practice for this test.

Fundamental Practice: Shoot your average then wind it back. Do it all at 25 yards. If you are consistently below the average, stop and move on. If you are hitting the average or above, practice it until failure. Emphasis on having only GOOD repetition.

We then shot another 300 point test like day 1 and I scored 224/300. Massive improvement over Day 1. I had attained a whole lot more confidence in my pistol since day 1. We had one more lunch and brought it back at 25 yards to work on movement onto VTAC targets. Then we got into lateral movement, do not cross the legs while moving and pressing the shots. We still saw a number of students still utilizing double taps or not seeing their sights while moving, simply track the sights then engage. The target zones were the upper A box on the IPSC and VTAC targets. We ended Day 3 instruction with the six-second competition again, I got up to 11 rounds onto black, improvement from just 4 shots from the day before.

We broke down class and packed everything up. John broke down an AAR for the past 3 days. At first glance; it did not look like we did much, but looking at the round count and how mentally taxing it was overall, so much learning had occurred. We talked about prioritizing training and how time is always against us. Where we have to weigh in consequences to set our priorities and standards. Once we are applied on absolute standards, we have to move onto the next standard. John discussed overall mindset of the armed professional. Stories and lessons of heroes in the Special Operations community as a whole and the warrior way of life and mindset that was discussed since Day 1.

Observation (Gear) Notes: Majority of the class ran striker fire pistols. John ran a Glock 35 gen 3 with a KKM 9mm conversion barrel paired with Dawson tritium adjustable sights with an X300 and bicycle inner tube over the frame grip. 2 P320s, 3 Glock 34s. 1 Glock 19 (bone stock, dude rocked), 1 P229 Legion, 3 Springfield Operators (soon to be replaced due to age, one had its dovetail front sight fall off at the end of day 1), 1 issued M&P9 and VTAC M&P9, and one M&P9 Longslide with Apex internals and ATEi internals. I did notice a Unity ATOM glock that was running relatively well, but during Day 2, the RMR lost zero somehow and he switched to a Glock 34. I kept up with my bone dry and shit ammo Beretta Elite II, despite the criticism from John (only motivates me lol). Apart from the 1911s and ATOM slide, we had one major malfunction with a Glock 19 where a piece of copper from the bullet lodge and locked up the gun tight. Overall, bad ammo.

A majority of the class ran Safariland holsters in ALS only or SLS/ALS combo. John ran the Safariland red dot capable model with a 1.5" UBL on his Crye battlebelt with Crye and AWS pouches. A good number of SWAT officers had Safariland leg platforms (6004) with single or double straps. Too many had their platforms way too low near their knee. But overall, nothing too serious on the gear and gun issue throughout the class.

Closing thoughts: This class overall humbled the hell out of me. Marksmanship shot at 25 yards cold and on demand is something I did not consider at all prior to this class. I would crush it at 10 and 15 yards, but just those few steps to 25 yards was really scary. No knowledge or confidence in my pistol and my sights, where I believed that I had to hold over for the gun when it was actually just that anticipation of breaking the shot at that distance that taxed me mentally. Day 1 of class, I totally ate shit. By the end of Day 2 and 3, I felt a ton more confident with the pistol. John is an incredible instructor and an incredible human being. His dedication to the cause and getting the knowledge out for this specific law enforcement class, truly showed his passion to help the good guys as a whole. The warrior's way of life and path is like a path towards enlightenment. John does not come off as if he knew everything and continues to push his capabilities.

The students in the class as a whole brought out what dedicated law enforcement officers look like. Three patrol officers I spoke with, paid out of pocket and used vacation time to take this class. The local county SWAT team scored relatively high by a large margin to display their proficiency and understanding of the fundamentals of pistol craft. A whole lot of knowledge and light bulbs were lit because of what John taught. Truly humbling. I even addressed the class before we all went our ways, that it was a great honor and privilege to be witness to their excellence and desire to learn. Their mindset and their continuous motivation to become better for themselves and the law enforcement community as a whole truly resonated with my motivation to go into the profession of law enforcement. The willingness to be that difference. I cannot thank John and Gabe Rivera enough for the class. I took home a lot of notes on how to practice and build up my foundation, it is safe to say that I will be practicing my fundamentals at 25 yards for now on. The knowledge of building that mindset John and the law enforcement officers all carried with them day in and day out, all so humbling.

Thank you.



Network Support I
Looking at hitting this class later next year. Did you get a rough round count? I know we ran over their recommended count in the gunfighter carbine class.
Looking at hitting this class later next year. Did you get a rough round count? I know we ran over their recommended count in the gunfighter carbine class.
Class prescribed 900 rounds, but when we got into high round cadences, pack a little more than 1k.


Network Support I
Cool. They said the same for carbine. I brought 1200. Just barely enough. A few guys were borrowing.

I'll do the same again. Thanks