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Sage Dynamics Defensive Rifle AAR

March 24-25, 2018

PMAA Range, Salt Lake City

Equipment

13.7” AR (one I built)

Sandman K/Saker 556 (Key-Mo adapter)

Magpul MS1 sling

Trijicon TR24 1-4

 

Glock 43 W/TBRC comp and Trijicon RMR

Phlster Skeleton holster

Location/Weather

The range facility was very nice, situated up SL canyon on the way to Park City.  The particular range we were using was probably about 50 yards wide, and went out to 100 yards.  There was also a cleared out ravine with steel targets out to 800 yards. We didn’t really use the steel for the class, but a few of us were messing around with them after class.  

Temperature was just about perfect, although it was raining for some of the first day very lightly, and really came down at times on the second day.  The range got pretty wet, so going prone was usually an adventure, but beyond that I can’t really complain. I would emphasize what many people have said, prepare for any foreseeable weather condition.  Especially something like rain can really impact learning if you don’t have the right clothing and you end up being cold and wet for the rest of the day.

 

Day One

Day one began a little late (some students were not on time–don’t be that guy!).  We weren’t too late, and I took the chance to meet some of the other guys there, as I was one of I think two students that hadn’t been to a class with Aaron before.  We had a medical talk, and went over some basic rules for the class. One thing I really appreciated was the rule that “any safe and sensible actions are permitted (I’m misquoting here, but the general idea is the same).  The idea being that when it comes to muzzle direction, movement, etc., as long as you are safe, and you can articulate the reason you are doing what you are doing, it is allowed.

 

We got on the range and did a zero confirmation.  I had gone out to 200 yards a couple days before the class and had gotten a pretty solid zero in preparation for the class, so after shooting a few groups at different distances I was pretty happy with my POI.  As would be the theme for the class, Aaron was not a ‘my way or the highway’ sort of instructor. Your preferred zero was fine, and he wanted to give you the chance to see what your POI was doing at a variety of distances.  

 

As this was a basic rifle class, the key fundamentals were covered.  Aaron explained that he taught in the order he felt were the most likely situations or skills that would be needed.  The material was presented in a logical fashion. Due to the length of time since I took the class, the two days have sort of ran together, so I’ll just run through a few things that were covered, in not any particular order between the two days.  I will not outline every single thing, but a few highlights that I felt were particularly memorable or different from other classes.

 

Malfunctions/Transitions

When doing this block, we would set up rifles with an empty mag, and one round in the chamber.  Fire, transition to the blaster, holster, then reload the rifle and get back at it. This same method was used when dealing with malfunctions.  Clearing the rifle was done after going to the handgun if desired. Once again based on your own personal skill level and confidence with the pistol would dictate at what distances you would immediately fix the rifle vs. transitioning.  Overall a very efficient use of time in my opinion, and got plenty of reps in.

 

Individual Drills

One highlight for me was a drill done one at a time, with everyone else watching.  Aaron’s 3-D cardboard targets would be arranged behind a single shooter who was facing uprange.  There would be shoot-throughs, wide angle targets, distance change-ups, and anything else the other students could come up with while setting them up.  Many of the targets would have empty hands, but some would have pistols or knives indicating a ‘threat’ target. Once indicated, the shooter would turn and engage targets as appropriate while combining movement and target discrimination.  It brought together many of the skills practiced in class, and was very valuable to both the shooter and those watching.

 

Off-Axis Prone Shooting

Once again this block allowed you to really figure out what your POI was doing at different distances.  This technique allows you to get into a somewhat standard prone position, but get even lower to shoot under lower cover.  Canting your rifle does change the POI, and getting to experiment from up close out to distance was very valuable.

 

Verbal Engagement and Shoot/No-Shoot

This was a valuable block for me.  The highlight here for me, and a very clever idea, was Aaron walking back and forth behind the firing line and giving descriptions of what was happening with the target in front of you.  A scenario would be given (you are woken up by a sound in your house, the backyard, you are approached in a parking lot, etc.) and the target described (having a knife, having a gun, having a bat, being aggressive, etc.) on the command, each student would give verbal commands, and based on the scenario you would choose to bring the long gun up on target, keep it at a ready position, take the safety off, begin firing, etc.  While Aaron was behind the line, he might say that the target was either submitting, attacking, etc. Only those who heard the command were to act on it. This meant that there would be some students firing, some continuing to give commands, and some disengaging and going to low ready. I really liked this as it meant you needed to be thinking and reacting instead of mindlessly following an ‘up’ command. Overall I thought this was was best ‘line’ drill I have done in a class.  Props for whomever came up with this idea.

 

Standards

We finished the shooting portion of the class up with a standards shoot.  I won’t go into the exact details (mostly because I can’t remember them exactly), but it incorporated many of the skills taught in the class; turning and shooting, reloads, transitions, hear shots, standing/kneeling/prone, accuracy at distance, etc.  Overall it was not prohibitively difficult, but also not a phone-in qual. I would say a very good qual shoot for a class to ensure proficiency, and also something you could do with your rifle in the same way you shoot dot torture with a handgun; something to maintain proficiency and familiarity without expending a lot of ammunition or taking a long time.  As was the theme throughout the class, accuracy was primary. We taped and marked shots during the whole class, and accountability was expected. This is not a hoser class, you shoot as fast as you can make the hits, while occasionally pushing the speed until failure to figure out your own personal limits.

 

Overall

This is a phenomenal carbine class.  Everyone from a more novice (but safe) shooter, to the ‘advanced’ student will find value here.  It is an excellent test of guns, optics, and gear, as well as placement of your sling, pouches, etc.  Even having been to classes regularly, and practicing fairly often, I still ended up changing some things around.  Aaron provides a curriculum that is practical and based in reality.

 

Suggestions

The only thing I would have liked would have been more individual suggestions.  When I go to a class I really want to be told what I am doing wrong or what I can look at changing to improve.  I did ask Aaron specifically a couple times if he saw anything specifically for me to work on, but I suppose I was not currently screwing something up at the time.  I wouldn’t really consider it a negative, because I did learn a lot from the general class presentations, but I would have liked a few comments for what I was doing specifically.  Beyond that, I can’t think of anything I would change. Thanks to Aaron for the great material and experience, and I plan on being back to learn again when he comes to Salt Lake.

Nate Osborne
Range Manager
Nathan Osborne began a serious study of shooting in 2012 when taking the "Citizens use of Deadly Force" class with Massad Ayoob. Being able to drink from the fire-hose in class started a desire to learn as much as possible, and hopefully be a source of quality information to others. In addition to attending and working as staff with the Massad Ayoob Group, Nate has taken classes with John Chapman, Earnest Langdon, Chris Costa, and others, and will never be able to go to classes from every instructor on his 'to attend' list. He is also a Glock and S&W M&P Armorer.

Nate currently manages a gun range in Northern Utah while finishing a master's degree, and running a weekly practical pistol match.

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