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Thread: AAR: Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Course July 27th-28th 2020 at FAS, WA

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Western US

    AAR: Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Course July 27th-28th 2020 at FAS, WA

    This AAR is a bit of a read, so I've broken it up into two posts.

    Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Course Review
    July 27th & 28th 2020
    Conducted at The Firearms Academy of Seattle, Onalaska WA

    Tom Givens, who needs no introduction, led this course. There were 14 students in attendance including myself. Every one of us was a graduate of the Rangemaster Instructor Development Course, so the skill set of the students was already at a high standard. The facility, FAS, is a great place with an ideal setup for a course like this. The classroom has air-conditioning and they have a variety of pistol, rifle, shotgun, a low light range, as well as a shoot house. If you want training in the PNW, this is the place to go to. Students came from a variety of backgrounds. Some were firearms instructors, and there were several FAS staff instructors including the owner Marty Hayes. We even had an LE officer with a support hand injury who managed to keep up with the rest of us shooting everything strong hand only! His dedication was quite an inspiration. The first day we started in the classroom with an overview from Tom on what this course would be covering.

    Tom considers the advanced instructor course a continuation of his 3-Day Instructor Development course. He likes to think of it as days 4 & 5. With that being said, we started off with a safety briefing. There can be no room for careless gun handling, and I am pleased to say that there was none I noticed during this course. Due to the heat (high 90’s) and humidity in the PNW this time of year, Tom stated we would be starting the day on the range and coming back to the classroom during the hottest part of the day. He also handed out a student work book for reference filled with a great deal of information.

    On the range Tom broke us up into 2 relays of 7. When one relay was shooting the other could be coaching or providing tips to their partners. Throughout the course Tom had us switch partners so we could get a chance to view different classmate’s techniques. We started with dry practicing the draw stroke, and then we shot 1” pasters at 5 yards. From there Tom had us practice the Rangemaster Advanced Bullseye Course which has stages from 25 yards up to 5 yards away on a B8 Bullseye target. After a couple of practice runs Tom decided to put a little pressure on us and made the 3rd run a chance to win a challenge coin. I was pleased with my results shooting a 292/300, and Marty Hayes won the coin with a 293.

    After the Bullseye shooting Tom had us switch to silhouette targets utilizing the well-designed RFTS-Q. We practiced drawing from concealment and shooting at ranges from 3-7 yards. We ended the morning range session with the 2019 version of the standard Rangemaster Instructor Qualification. I had previously taken that course back in 2017 so I noticed a few subtle changes to the course of fire. It’s nice to see Tom keeping his material fresh and adjusting things over time. I did well and managed a 249/250 on that one, pulling one shot low after a reload stage. I would estimate that we shot approximately 200 rounds the first day. We broke for lunch and then met up again back in the classroom.

    We spent the rest of the first day in the classroom covering a variety of topics. Tom covered ready positions first. Drawing to a low ready is a critical skill that Tom believes should be your default position, and it makes sense. In every state, pointing a gun a person can get you into lots of trouble. In this day and age, if you are outside your home you should expect to be on camera. So, don’t point your gun at somebody unless you intend to use it! Tom also discussed several other positions and their uses in specific circumstances. ‘Air Marshal Ready’, ‘High Ready’, ‘Sul’, ‘Jack Benny Ready’, ‘Bootlegger Ready’, and ‘Peon Ready’ were discussed with their advantages and disadvantages. If you want to know more about them, you’ll have to take Tom’s class!

    After ready positions, Tom covered scoring methods. Since this is an Instructor Development class Tom really wanted us to think about the purpose of teaching others. Students must be incentivized to perform well. They must be able to measure their performance and honestly see where they need improvement. Tom stated that he starts each of his personal practice sessions with a scored and timed drill to see what area he personally needs to work on that particular day at the range. We discussed different time limit drills and talked about the benefits of Par Time scoring as well as Comstock / Hit Factor scoring. Par time scored drills are a great way to see where a group of students are as a whole, Whereas Comstock scoring is a good way of seeing how an individual student is at their current skill level. In Comstock scoring you divide the points by the time which yields a raw score. Tom informed us he would be using both methods on the following day to determine our final recorded score for his Advanced Course.

    Target design is a topic that is unfortunately often overlooked in the training environment. A lot of instructors do not put in the effort to choose relevant targets. They often use what is easily available or the cheapest. Targets should provide proper mental conditioning, train students to shoot at the right spot anatomically, keep students accountable for their shots, and provide useful feedback. Tom covered bullseye and silhouette (both neutral and graphic). A proper bullseye target has an easily identified hit zone, teaches visual patience, and can help ensure firearms have a proper zero. Tom prefers B8’s and LTT 1 for bullseye shooting. Silhouette targets should be the shape and size of a real person, in neutral colors and anatomically correct. I enjoyed this part of the lecture where Tom went over the history of silhouette target development. From the early days of the old B21 and B27 targets to the modern IDPA / IPSC as well as a variety of different law enforcement agency graphic targets, Tom covered the relevance of each design.

    We ended the day with a discussion on liability concerns for Instructors. In this day and age, it is critical for a firearms instructor to minimize, mitigate, and manage risks in the classroom and on the range. Insurance options, tort negligence, and other liability training issues were discussed at length. I’m planning to start working as a part time firearms instructor to supplement my income, and this lecture has given me a lot to think about. Tom ended the day telling us to plan on a lot more range time the following day.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Western US
    Day 2 we started in the classroom at 9am with a brief overview of the day ahead and then immediately we headed to the range. In the morning session, we started again on the B8 targets working on accuracy. After this we did several drills varying from 3-25 yards that should be familiar to those who read the Rangemaster newsletter. We shot the 5 Yard Round Up, 5 Second Standards, The Test, and The Super Test. Then we shot another unnamed bullseye course (I simply wrote it down as Tom’s Bullseye Course). After a practice run Tom once again put a little pressure on us again by making this another challenge coin run. A fellow student Frank shot an impressive 248/250 literally shooting the X ring completely out of the B8 target to win the coin.
    We went back to the classroom for a superb video lecture by psychologist Dr. Paul Whitesell. The lecture covered the Warrior mindset, learning to live / control your fear, and a host of other topics relevant to the armed citizen. The lecture is not widely available, but it was excellent. Yet another good reason to take Tom’s class and learn more about it. We broke for lunch at about 1:30 that day.

    After lunch we went back on the range where Tom had stapled playing cards to the target stands. Tom reminded us that back in the frontier days, firearms proficiency was a lot different than it is today. The local towns did not have police training academies, so to see if a potential LE candidate could handle a gun he would have to prove it by shooting a playing card. Generally, the candidate would staple a playing card to a tree, step back 5 paces and put 5 rounds into it to show his skill level. With the weapons and sight of the 19th Century that was often an impressive feat. Tom challenged us to do the same but with a twist. We would have one attempt to draw from concealment and fire 5 rounds in 5 seconds into our playing card at 5 yards. If we could pass this little test Tom would sign our playing card. Most students were able to complete this task. Now if I’m ever asked about my skills I can simply reach into my range bag and show my card.

    After the playing card Tom put up fresh RFTS-Q targets for the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Qual. He stated we would get 2 practice runs (one on the standard RFTS-Q and one on a graphic one). After these two practice runs Tom put up a fresh RFTS-Q and told us that this one would be shot for score and would be recorded on our certificates. This was it. The pressure was on. I managed my sights and trigger well and was one of 3 students in the class who shot the qualification clean.

    After our scores were recorded Tom had us do some close-range work. Out of all of his student involved shootings, Tom has had couple report back to him that their self-defense shooting incidents occurred at bad breath distances. While that is not the norm, it is important to train this skill should you find yourself in a similar situation. I had been exposed to retention shooting years ago at another training school and was familiar with the techniques Tom showed, but it was a good refresher for me as I don’t often practice retention shooting at my home range. We shot from positions 2 and then 3 of the draw stroke, as well as a guarded position where your support hand protects / covers your head.

    Next up was the infamous Casino Drill. This is one that every student had gone through in the Standard Instructor Course and required little explanation. Tom allowed each relay to practice it once, and then we had to do it one at a time in front of the class. The student with the fastest time shot clean would get the Casino Drill challenge coin. A few people struggled with remembering the correct sequence, or pushed themselves a little too fast to shoot it clean, but a number of us were able to make it. I actually ended up with the fastest time with a 13.04 second run and won the coin. As of this writing I believe the Rangemaster record is a two-way tie with a time of 10.33 seconds. Now that is fast!

    Our final challenge would be the second qualification recorded on our certificates. It was the Rangemaster Core Skills Test. This time it would not be recorded by a par time but by the Comstock / Hit Factor method. By scoring this with the Comstock method. With a set par score of 100, Tom would be able to see how each of us did individually rather than as a whole class. To pass the Advanced Course each of us would need a raw score of 90 or better. Someone shooting 100-125 is considered a highly skilled shooter. Over 125 is considered a master. Tom stated that a lot of firearms instructors tend to shy away from this method in class thinking that it takes up too much time to score people individually, but with a little prep work from Tom, both of our relays were done in about 20 minutes. After this we gathered up our gear and headed back to the classroom to wrap up. Back in the classroom, Tom tallied up our final scores and handed out certificates to those of us who had met the requirements. After thanking us again for choosing to spend our time with him the class was dismissed.

    I have a few final thoughts on this class I’d like to share. This class was great. It met my expectations on how to excel as a Firearms Instructor, and it pushed me to the brink of my shooting abilities. I think I did so well due to my weekly practice at the range. Shooting really is a perishable skill, and I do my best to keep my skills sharp. I appreciate the way Tom has developed the Instructor class, and how this advanced course continues on where the previous one left off. I plan to someday take his Master’s course and see what other nuggets of wisdom he’s ready to give out.

    At this level, all the students were squared away with their gear and their gun handling. We did have a couple 1911’s and one Gucci–Glock go down, but their owners had brought back up guns and were able to complete the course. I’d estimate we shot about a total of 600 rounds during the two-day class. I ran my usual stock Gen 2 G19 with XS Big Dot sights. I’ve been using this gun for years and put thousands and thousands of rounds though it. I think I’m about ready to semi retire it as Gen 2’s are getting hard to come by. I used a Tenicor Velo AIWB holster for this class as well as a Raven Concealment double magazine pouch. I fed my Glock brass cased Federal 115 gr FMJ and experienced no issues during the class.

    If you are a firearms instructor, or are just an enthusiast who wants push yourself you owe it to yourself to check out Rangemaster. Tom’s materials are well organized, his methods are clear and practical, and he puts on a great Instructor program.

    Thanks for reading!

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