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Thread: AAR: Aim Fast Hit Small (AFHF-2) Culpeper VA 21-22 April 2012

  1. #1
    Site Supporter JSGlock34's Avatar
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    Feb 2011

    AAR: Aim Fast Hit Small (AFHF-2) Culpeper VA 21-22 April 2012

    This weekend I attended the inaugural Aim Fast Hit Small class taught by Todd Louis Green in Culpeper, Virginia. Below is based on the notes I scribbled during breaks in class and accompanied by a few pictures taken by myself and Arclight.

    Before writing this AAR I reviewed my write-up on Todd’s 2010 Aim Fast Hit Fast (AFHF). It quickly became apparent to me that I could not talk about Aim Fast Hit Small without talking about the prerequisite AFHF. On, Aim Fast Hit Small also bears the abbreviation of AFHF-2 – and for good reason. Small is everything that makes Fast an excellent training event - intensified.

    A notable feature of the course was its limited enrollment. The fact that all the students were very proficient (half the class had not only taken AFHF but also Ernest Langdon’s Advanced Tactical Pistol, among other courses) meant that everyone moved with a purpose. With only eight students in the class – and typically only four on the line – you could expect considerable, focused attention and coaching from Todd. Having taken training with other instructors where class sizes spiraled in excess of 20 students on the line, I’ve come to appreciate smaller classes and training venues that allow for a more personalized approach to training.

    Four students on the line.

    This meant that Todd’s expert eye was focused on you in a variety of drills ranging from static slow fire marksmanship to shooting on the move. Little escaped his attention, and throughout the course Todd would be making improvements and tweaks to our stance, grip and overall technique that will continue to pay dividends. More than a few times, a conversation with Todd would point out a habit that you didn’t know you had – and suddenly you recognized an area for development.

    Work on that grip.

    This also means that this class might not be for everyone. There’s no place to hide on the line at Small. Contrary to Arclight’s super cool photos, if your goal for a training course is to look cool on the range, well, look elsewhere. Feedback and (constructive) criticism is constant – from both Todd and your peers. This is a class for students who are really serious about improving technique and working hard to do it. If your ego will interfere with your learning, you need not apply.

    We all left with something to improve. I’m not sure anyone of us escaped a reminder to “Crouch!” during the various drills. Unfortunately, old habits are hard to break, and we each endeavored to incorporate Todd’s lessons. It will be many more repetitions before old habits are broken and the new technique becomes a subconscious manipulation. But awareness is the first step, and once bringing an area for improvement to your attention, Todd certainly wasn’t going to let you forget it.

    The Customary Note on Gear

    Five students carried a Glock 9mm. The Smith & Wesson M&P was represented in 9mm and .45 models. One student carried a SIG-Sauer 9mm. Several pistols sported Crimson Trace laser grips. Strongside shooters tended to favor Raven Concealment Systems products and similar designs, while appendix carriers seemed to be alternately raving about the Custom Carry Concepts ‘Shaggy’ – or their inability to locate and purchase one.

    Arclight’s Glock 19 had a series of stovepipes towards the end of the course, possibly tied to a faulty magazine. My Glock 34 had a single stovepipe on TD1, likely caused by poor grip during a support hand only stage. Another G34 had a few problems. Interestingly, the M&P 9mm performed very well on the 25 yard drills, shooting good groups to point of aim. Its larger caliber brother did not fare so well - the lone M&P .45 suffered from the infamous ‘dead trigger’ issue and went down hard, but was quickly revived. That same M&P was used to shoot the best FAST score of the day.

    Anything can malfunction regardless of what name is engraved on the slide. The important lesson was to reduce the malfunction and get back in the fight.

    Training Day 1 (TD1)

    Todd began the class with a detailed safety brief, covering expectations both in the administrative area and on the firing line. Even with a class of experienced shooters who had trained with him on the same range before, Todd made sure we were ‘dialed in’ before stepping onto the line. He identified students with medical training and designated first responders. Other students were tasked with calling emergency services and guiding medical personnel to the site. The range address and aid bag were prominently displayed. The initial brief was not the end of the emphasis on safety – whenever a drill introduced additional variables, Todd was quick to mitigate any risk with an explanation of the safety considerations.

    The driving philosophy of the course was to build upon the AFHF foundation. Since we had heard Todd’s briefings before, there would be little lecture in order to maximize range time. Many of the drills would be familiar, but Todd would raise the bar with more difficult targets, longer ranges or challenging time standards. The goal was to identify areas to improve for each student. Scored drills would provide benchmarks to track performance and gauge improvement.

    First stop was the familiar Fundamentals, Accuracy and Speed Test (FAST) – the first of six for the weekend. FAST was our first stop in the morning, after lunch, and at the close of the training day.

    Getting dialed in under Todd's expert eye.

    This was rapidly followed by a series of timed drills recording our draw times to various targets ranging from 8” circles to 2” dots. We progressed quickly to strings of rapid fire and reload work using randomly loaded magazines. These initial drills also gave Todd his first looks at our stance, draw, grip and reloads – and just as quickly we received feedback. Some of us received helpful a “visual aid” in the form a line drawn across our hands with a Sharpie to ensure proper grip.

    Marksmanship drills featured prominently. At 25 yards we fired for accuracy – two hand, strong hand and support hand. This was a repeating pattern throughout the class – we’d begin drills two handed, and then progress to firing strong hand and support hand strings.

    Support hand only at 25 yards.

    If AFHF introduced some of us to Dot Torture, Small took it to a higher level. Todd combined Dot Torture with a walk back drill, and we engaged the familiar 2” dots from 3, 5 and 7 yards. Traditional dot torture would return on TD2 – starting at the five-yard line (which was shot clean by one exceptional shooter).

    We occasionally would work with the plate racks. Todd demonstrated the ‘action-reaction’ drill, which I had previously seen during his ‘Judgment Day’ course. Two shooters would face off at a rack of plates. One would be the ‘actor’ and the other the ‘reactor’. The reactor remained frozen until the ‘actor’ initiates movement – then it is ‘game on’ and the race to drop the plates begins. The old adage that ‘action beats reaction’ was disproven many times over as superior technique overcame a loss of initiative.

    Shoot on the move 'LET' drill.

    Once we were warmed up, Todd introduced shoot on the move drills. He ran us through the LET shoot on the move drill which required us to move laterally while we engaged targets, and rotating back to the start point. Muzzle discipline was critical during this exercise. He also reintroduced the diabolical Scott Warren ‘figure eight drill’ that we first saw during AFHF. No, arithmetic while shooting on the move around barrels has not gotten easier in the past two years since AFHF.

    A number of drills featured prominently. We tried our hand at Changing Gears, the demanding Hackathorn 3-Second Head Shot Standards (including some even more challenging TLG variations) and the 26662 drill. TD1 closed with FAST #3.

    Training Day 2 (TD2)

    TD1 had defied the weather forecasts and provided a pleasant day on the range. Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated throughout TD2, with increasing rain, dropping temperatures and the occasional gust of wind. Todd mitigated the impact of the weather with some clever use of plastic sheeting and an increased reliance on steel targets. Nevertheless, we were going to get wet, and broke out the rain gear accordingly (my TAD Gear Stealth Hoodie was worth every penny).

    After a safety refresher, we began the day with FAST #4.

    Todd revisted yesterday’s Changing Gears drill with an AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) variant. Todd would initiate the drill with a whistle blast, but instead of firing three rounds per iteration, we would fire as many rounds at the target as possible until the second whistle blast. Todd expected us to maintain our hit standards though – 100% accuracy on the 3x5 card and 90% on the eight-inch circle. Sometimes the second whistle would sound just as we were reaching the end of our press-outs, and we’d need to hit the brakes and check our fire – a valuable lesson.

    Later, another drill combined Changing Gears with a Failure to Stop drill. At the first whistle, we’d hammer the 8-inch circle with as many rounds as possible, but when the second whistle blew, we’d switch to the 3x5 head card. I think this better simulated an event that would require a failure drill – rather than the usual ‘two to the body, one to the head’ mantra, this was rapidly putting a number rounds into the body before realizing that ‘Hey, this isn’t working!’ and transitioning to the head. It also discouraged the unrealistic and potentially bad habit of stopping after a controlled pair to assess effects.

    Shoot on the move returned with a mind-bending drill that required you to move laterally while engaging one of four plates on demand. Occasionally, Todd would call a number that wasn’t associated with one of the plates, which required you to change direction. This was one of those ‘engage brain, then shoot' drills that was easier said than done. It wasn’t hard to get tripped up while engaging targets and suddenly changing in the wrong direction – which ended the drill.

    Hostage targets - not yet autographed.

    Perhaps some of the most challenging – and humorous – drills of the day began when Todd set up some hostage scenarios. First, we were required to turn, draw and engage one of a pair of hostage takers (either on the left or the right depending on the command Todd shouted) with two shots to the head - in under three seconds. The shots on these drills were very challenging – not only was the ‘no-shoot’ target obscuring the traditional IDPA sized head box, but we were still required to hit the (now reduced) 3x5 card.

    The penalty for striking a hostage? You were required to immortalize the target with your autograph. Todd continued to raise the bar by requiring more difficult shots and eventually beginning the drill on the move. The hostage theme continued with an El Presidente variant against three hostage takers. We were required to shoot each target in the head once, reload, and repeat.

    Hostage 'El Presidente'.

    Unfortunately by the end of these drills, at least one of the ‘hostages’ was ‘signed’ by every member of the class. In a strange way, I think the class really bonded over the ritual of autographing the targets.

    Arclight doesn't just shoot awesome photos.

    Most of the afternoon was spent on the plates due to the weather, but we again returned to the plate racks for a series of team competitions – along with the infamous ‘Team Decapitation Drill’ (if you want to learn who is decapitated, well, you’ll just have to attend Small).

    Triple Nickel.

    Eventually we wrapped up the class with FAST#6 and a few runs of ‘Triple Nickel’. Todd presented our certificates (and pins to a few Advanced graduates). By the end of TD2, we were wet and tired, but satisfied.

    I can’t finish this review without a hat tip to my fellow students. Everyone was in good humor, moved with a purpose and pitched in, even when the weather was uncooperative. Above all, everyone was safe. Hope to see you guys in another class (and if prior history is any indication, I undoubtedly will).

    Aim Fast Hit Small is a terrific follow-up to Aim Fast Hit Fast. Todd’s keen insight means I left Small with some homework, which is exactly why I signed up.

    Highly recommended.
    Last edited by JSGlock34; 04-26-2012 at 12:11 AM.

  2. #2
    Very nice. I'd say that pretty well captures it all, so I'll just toss in a few more photos for good measure.

    Fast enough draw for you?

    In the process of aiming fast, about to hit small.
    "The nation that will insist on drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to have its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards." - Sir William Francis Butler

  3. #3
    We are diminished
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Thanks for the awesome review, JS. And for all the photos, Arc...

    Between what I saw over the weekend and some feedback from students, there are a few things I'd like to change for future AFHS runs.

    1. Keeping the lectures to a minimum worked well. But often the class would run through a particular drill and many (most) of the students would be having the same struggles or making the same mistakes. So I think a really quick refresh on things like grip, draw, reload, SOM, etc. would be helpful. It wouldn't really eat up much more time, it would just be proactive rather than reactive.
    2. The class needs more baselining. A lot of folks commented they liked the timed draws we did at the beginning of TD1. If nothing else, I'd like to do that with reloads as well.
    3. Along the same lines, I think it would be useful to have students record all of the data from their FASTs (draws, reloads, splits). In a bigger class -- and especially a class where many students are new to the FAST -- it would take too long but for AFHS I think it's doable. I'll have to make up a little sheet for each student, then just rattle off the numbers after each run.
    4. The weather caused us to throw out some low round count drills the second half of TD2 and instead run some high round count (and dryer) stuff on steel, etc. On the one hand, feedback was positive on the drills and I think it gave more opportunity to practice and diagnose. On the other hand, a lot of folks were already bandaged and bruised from so much shooting and throwing an extra ~150rd into the mix didn't help that. I felt the way we shot the class actually worked better than the way it was planned on paper, but the question is whether it's worth the costs in terms of ammo and boo-boos.

  4. #4
    Nice pics again. Great review.

    So Todd, is that your 7000Pro? Thoughts? Maybe a separate thread?
    "Specialization is for insects." -Robert A. Heinlein

  5. #5
    We are diminished
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by MEH View Post
    So Todd, is that your 7000Pro? Thoughts? Maybe a separate thread?
    I'll be writing up a review within the next few weeks.

  6. #6
    Site Supporter Jason F's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    Atlanta, GA
    Quote Originally Posted by ToddG View Post
    [*]The weather caused us to throw out some low round count drills the second half of TD2 and instead run some high round count (and dryer) stuff on steel, etc. On the one hand, feedback was positive on the drills and I think it gave more opportunity to practice and diagnose. On the other hand, a lot of folks were already bandaged and bruised from so much shooting and throwing an extra ~150rd into the mix didn't help that. I felt the way we shot the class actually worked better than the way it was planned on paper, but the question is whether it's worth the costs in terms of ammo and boo-boos.[/LIST]
    First, AFHS sounds awesome based on the recent AAR's. It's definitely on my radar and priority list for future classes....

    As for the boo-boo's, the web of my thumb literally just finished healing in the last 2-3 days from the class you taught back on 3/31-4/1. But no pain, no gain... I personally don't think it matters if you start showing some wear and tear. And if someone was really banged up and wanted to run less rounds on each of those high round drills, they theoretically could, right?

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