Sentinel Concepts Critical Carbine Employment 22-24, July 2016

AAR Sentinel Concepts Critical Carbine Employment

Big Springs Range owned by Brownells, Searsboro ,Iowa

Hosted by Central Iowa Training Group

22-24, July 2016

Weather Conditions

TX1 – 97 with a heat index in the upper 90’s. Slight breeze

TX2 – 90+ with a heat index around 112. Less breeze, very still

TX3 – 85 with heat index in the upper 90’s. Slight breeze

Basically, it was very hot and humid as you can imagine…….

Class breakdown of students

Four local LEOs plus myself. The other four LEOs are all assigned to various tactical units around the Des Moines metro. Two father/son teams were in the class, a few old friends who are also training junkies but on the CIV side of things, one of which came up from Texas to attend, another from the Southwest. One Shooter is in the NFA/SOT business. Fourteen shooters total for the class.


Instruction was conducted by Steve “Yeti” Fisher of Sentinel Concepts. This was my first time training with Steve under the Sentinel Concepts banner, having met him a few years ago in a shoot house/TCCC class with Pat Rogers in Alliance, Ohio. I liked Steve’s no nonsense approach to things in the shoot house and wanted to see what he did with a carbine class, the timing was right so I jumped at the chance to bring him to Iowa.


There were a variety of carbines used in the class, both different manufacturers as well as setups. I know that Steve is a big variable powered optic shooter and there were 2 carbines set up this way. The usual mix of RDS, mostly Aimpoints with one Eotech……I have not actually seen an Eotech in a class for awhile (it had no issues), otherwise all optics observed were either Aimpoint Micros or the M or ML series Aimpoints.

As far as gun issues there were none observed in the class. Everyone seemed to be doing a pretty good job of keeping their guns lubed and themselves hydrated.


Training day 1 started out with a safety brief and preview of how the class would be conducted and what to expect on each day.

Shooters were started off with a check of zero at 50 yards, a few minor adjustments were made over the three runs for this. Normally I come to classes with my gun and zero squared away…but decided to shoot the gen 1 EAG carbine I got from Pat as a memorial to him. I had not shot the gun since October of 2014 when I ran through CSAT carbine/pistol instructor school with it. At the time I was running XM193 and my agency has switched to Federal .223 red box….so the verification of zero was welcomed.

Day 1 focused heavily on review of basics, stance, sling use, mounting the gun from both low and high ready and trigger manipulations for multiple shots. Having moved into more of an administrative roll at work from being “the range guy” I was a bit rusty…..the setup for TX1 was also welcomed. I have to admit that the rust was frustrating the hell out of me and over a break I switched back to my 12.5” KMR duty carbine……something I have never done in a class was switch guns….after lunch I started to settle in a bit and went back to the BCM/EAG gun.

Coming from a tactical team background, specifically the entry side of things low ready was my comfort zone……I had done the high ready, and didn’t ever care for it unless already pressing a barricade into service in which case it was needed. After rotating back and forth from high ready to low ready, I noticed that the rolling the gun into my shoulder pocket came much more natural to me from the low ready…..I did force myself out of the comfort zone……otherwise why go to classes……right?

Because of the extreme heat, lack of wind and sun Steve gave frequent breaks for water, jam mags, and recoup which was nice as we had no issues with heat related stress.

TX 1 was a relatively easy day, but a good refresher and gave me some time to effectively knock some rust off and settle into things. It was welcomed.


TX2 picked up the pace a bit, working both trigger and weapon manipulations from combat reloads, speed reloads, and tactical reloads. I like how Steve breaks things down and shows how to get rid of any extra motions that will slow you down. The use of the “speed load” has been a hot topic in these parts for the last year and a half…..I was against them as to me it never made sense to dump a partially loaded magazine on the deck. Steve made me re-think this with his explanation of tactical load if you have cover (teammates, ballistics, cover) and speed loading is used when you do not have these things but still need to manage your available ammunition supply. Steve focused on your visual focus, when to break with the eye on threat to working on getting your gun back up and when to shift focus back to threat.

Weapon malfunctions drills were also worked in the class, Steve gives credit to where he picked things up from which is refreshing. Steve did show one unique thing in regards to the double feed which I liked. Instead of going through the entire Lock, rip, rack-rack-rack, reload and re-acquire that I have seen in the past, he taught to lock, rip, and let gravity help the double feed clear on its own, forgoing the racking of the charging handle many times. More often than not in my personal experiences I have seen folks make a double feed worse by doing this, to the point of creating the often talked about but seldom seen brass porcupine. Lastly the bolt-over was shown. I first picked this up from TMACS and at the time it was earthmoving for me……hard to tell where this technique of pushing on the bolt lock, pulling the charging handle back, lowering the muzzle and then slapping the charging handle came from but I still enjoyed it.

After malfunctions Steve pressed on the gas a bit working his versions of the failure drill (3 center mass followed by 2 head shots) and then reversal of 2 to the head followed by 3 center mass……I actually felt much smoother doing it this way.

Throughout the class, students were reminded to not let external stresses push them to the point where they were missing. It was a great reminder, as we had several different levels of shooters present. Two of which were very young (17 and 21) both did an excellent job in the class BTW.

Close to the end of TX2 Steve brought out his version of the 1-5 drill. I have to say that other than the barricade work this was my favorite part of the class. His version runs 3 magazines of 5 rounds, with the targets spaced out in a line so that the shooter can address all three with no movement. The targets are set out at 5, 10, and 15 yards. On the command to fire the shooter puts 1 round to the head of the 5 yard target, 2 rounds to the head of the 10 yard target, then initiates a standard failure drill on the 15 yard target, because of the magazine load out the shooter is forced to combat load their gun to finish the head shot on the 15 yard target, then place 4 rounds center mass on the 10 yard target, combat reload and 5 rounds center mass back up on the 5 yard target. This is all done for time, on the Sentinel Concepts target with acceptable scoring in the circle that runs top of eyebrows to upper lip and just outside of both eye sockets. The chest box is 5” wide and runs exact center mass of the chest approximately 8” long.

TX2 also brought the barricades out. A skill that I believe a lot of folks overlook. Coming from running our agencies patrol rifle program, the use of barricades and things like bounding were something I focused on because of the practical use as a patrolman who is equipped with a rifle responding to things from active shooters, barricaded suspects, robbery/burglary responses…….and the patrolman being readily available will without a doubt make good use of this in his/her career. This was only the second time in a training class that I have seen this incorporated into training other than being discussed.

I did notice one bit of gear failure on day 2……my feet were completely trashed. The Monday after the class I broke down and picked myself up some Solomon low cut boots……never again do I want to try and run on flats……..


Steve warned us that day 3 would be doing a lot of movement……he didn’t lie.

TX2 brought a warm-up of skills/drills from TX1 and 2. We did move into a few variations on things he does differently…..failure drills 3 center mass and 2 to the head, also reversed order. With what is going on in society right now this made perfect sense to me. I will be adding this along with a few other lessons learned to our agency programs.

For shooting on the move, Steve does this a little differently than some of the ways I have been shown…..I have been taught to be more upright more over the last few years, but lengthening my steps and finding the balance of running the trigger and emotional control to only press the shot when the dot is on what I want to hit was new and well received.

Steve ran another drill he called the “ladder drill”, which sucks….especially since I messed it up. Essentially wind sprints with a carbine. I liked the drill but because of old injuries, getting older, and the heat I was not firing on all pistons. It happens.

The last drill of day 2 was a “tag out” drill, with barricades set up about 60 yards out from steel targets. 6 barricades were set up across the range with 1 piece of steel up front (approx 60 yards), the shooter was to engage each piece of steel from both sides of the barricade before moving off to the next barricade, people were started behind you and if you missed and were in the position they were ready to fill then you were effectively tagged out. Shooters were only allowed to carry 3 magazines…….spotters were at each barricade and called your hit or miss so you could move on. If you ran dry they could take pitty and drop a mag or partial mag on the deck for you to pick up and use. We ran this in two relays. Nate and Cole ran one hell of a battle for 8 minutes……with the 17 year old Cole eventually running Nate down for the win. My relay, between bad feet, heat, I decided to pace myself and try and let the others wear themselves out. I held off Andy, one of the local LEOs for 2 minutes until he caught me and tagged me out.

This was a great class, lots of small detail things I picked up like how sling position can mess with you at close distances when it comes to mounting your carbine, foot positioning, visual focus and when to change it away from threat and back. Being a RDS guy exclusively…….my interest has been peaked in setting up a rifle around a variable powered optic… year’s project maybe. Steve Fisher is a great instructor, nothing flashy, no parlor tricks, simple basics mastered…..watching him manipulate the trigger is impressive, several times on demos I swear I only heard one shot and two or three where out. It is obvious to anyone who attends these classes when you are working with someone who actually cares that you are actually receiving the information they are putting out. Lots of individual attention was given throughout the class. New techniques were demoed, generally slower and then full speed.

I enjoyed the hell out of the class despite the heat/humidity….still will take a weekend at the range with a group of quality people like this being lead by a great instructor over my normal duties anytime.

I just wanted to thank all those who came to central Iowa to train, I got to see several good friends from out of state and a few from out of the Midwest, a few old students, some guys I work around, and met more good quality shooters.

Andrew Y.

Regular Member
Sentinel Concepts Critical Carbine Employment
7/24/2016 - 7/26/2016
Big Springs Range Complex
Searsboro IA

My goal in taking this class was to reinforce the lessons I had learned at ECE the previous March, pick up new skills, and refine my use of a rifle to the point that I could be effective with it in real life.

Day 1
Started at 0800 with a typical introduction round a bout and Steve's thoughts on employing rifles. This discussion was doctored a bit from what I had heard previously due to the presence of several local SWAT/SRT cops.

We started the shooting portion with zero confirmation and fine tune. I used to want to gloss over this step but as my rifle follows me around more I find that confirming zeros more often is beneficial. Range gun vs Goto guns.

Immediately following zeros we worked mechanical offset. With Steve's targets there is a low margin of error and we are starting to see this play out in real life with shooters wearing armor, and thus requiring low percentage shots. However there is a fine line between precision and speed, class becomes time to push the speed to find that limit and develop skills. First best sight picture is still a priority, we just refine it as we fill the target in, which by definition requires multiple shots in a defined area to fill in with ballistics.

By late morning we moved onto ready positions, nothing earth shattering, however Steve offered some excellent cases for high ready and helped many shooters, myself included, refine their presentation of the gun.

We worked lots of positional shooting drills, which up until recently I hadn't done much of. Neither had a lot of us so learning did occur, a lot of technique based practices that would be modified by the shooter based on personal factors.

Steve describes Day 1 as a refresher/wake up day. This is another benefit of a three day class, allowing shooters to warm up, and be fresh to receive info the following two days is great.

Day 1 Notes / Lessons

Weather was Iowa hot and humid, heat index in the triple digits, slight clouds or breeze when we were lucky. It sucks but I live in it so I shoot in it.

- Positional shooting hasn't previously been a focus of mine, but I've begun to see the utility, especially the rice paddy squat. As I would learn in coming days, body position and ready positions make a world of difference on practical use-age of barricades.

- Fast and light is the way to go, as cool as it is to be running all the gear, light weight minimalist is easier and much more comfortable in hot / humid weather.

Moisture wicking shirts are awesome, several students had the Velocity Rugby shirts and loved them, I had the C9 version from Target. It performed well, only downside would be lack of a collar to prevent brass burns

Biggest class I have been to, to date, 14 shooters takes awhile to talk through drills as Steve does, but it gives a chance to rest and think things over. That said it takes awhile and I appreciated the 3 day format so we didn't have to rush the material

Day 2
Zero confirmation, I ended up shooting two groups, one on 6x and one on 1x to force good fundamentals.

The rest of the morning was spent on reloads, the class was divided on this, by this I mean some of the students were just civilians so as a grab and go rifle from the truck, or in home defense, the odds of having or requiring a reload are rather low. However the SRT dudes may very readily find themselves doing reloads. We walked through Steve's methodology on the three types and then incorporated transitions to a handgun. At some point day 2 / day 3 we discussed malfunctions as well. I'll include it here as there is some correlation in procedure.

The rest of the day was spent working barricades, positional shooting meet practicality. The range had six barricades loosely modeled after VTACs, after a brief and demo on things by Steve we were given some time to do exploratory learning. Points of note were ready positions coming into barricades, bracing the gun, and sling management.

Day 2 Notes

Same weather.

Reloads have some science and technique in them, however it's still just put bullets back in the gun.

The reload races are an excellent way to push speed and efficiency, until you get Yeti hugged, and a bloody lip, just saying

Barricades are fun, I never get to shoot them so there was a lot of little notes on how best to position my body and rifle.

Steve's modified 1-5 is a huge gut check and a great drill to work a bunch of skills all at once.

Day 3

Day 3 was almost entirely shooting on the move. Steve has a lot of insights and thoughts on this topic and some of it goes against conventional wisdom. I'm not going to reveal specifics, as that is why you pay for class. I will say that everyone who tried things Steve's way saw improvement or had positive things to say.
Drills included forward moving, lateral movement, L shaped movements, and ladders. Ladders are fun, everyone needs more running with rifles in their life.

We ended the day with the semi infamous, sadistic version of tag. Each shooter takes a shot from both sides of a barricade on steel at 60 ish yards. As soon as he clears the first barricade, the next shooter goes. If the chasing shooter catches the first shooter and needs to occupy the same side of the barricade, the first shooter is out. We ran this drill in two relays, with the first relay taking 11 minutes of just two shooters chasing each other down.

Class ended with range pickup and a class de brief.

Day 3 Notes

Same weather as before.

Lots of new topics and refreshment of stuff we had learned in ECE.

I need to be better about utilizing high port

During the final drill, I got a little sloppy with my muzzle and swept a foot, no excuse on that one. I screwed the dog on that one. I'll own it.

I appreciate Steve's upfront and big boy rules approach to teaching. It helps relax students but still pushes the learning.


All three days I ran my DD 16" middy with Vortex 1-6x, Sig P229 in VG3, BFG M4 belt pouch and double pistol pouch, Oakleys, Salomons, and Sordins. Total round count was slightly over 1100 rifle and 30 pistol.

No issues that detracted from class. Going forward I will probably find a kydex M4 mag pouch, the BFG is nice and low pro but isn't well suited for constantly jamming mags in and out, at least for me.

I ran a VTAC sling mounted to the extreme ends of the rifle, I would have preferred a mid mount option near the barrel nut so that has been rectified.

For the class overall, lots of Aimpoints, an EoTech, a few SBRs, one guy ran suppressed the whole course. Only issues I noticed were one shooter had a rifle that hiccuped a few times day 1 so he swapped it out for something better, and one shooter had a wardrobe malfunction.

Any questions let me know.