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Thread: AAR Todd Green Concealed Carry Skills Culpeper VA - Sept 2012

  1. #1

    AAR Todd Green Concealed Carry Skills Culpeper VA - Sept 2012

    This AAR is somewhat overdue, no thanks to the requirements of travel and an uncooperative set of adversaries who chose September as the time for their actions. Having said that, wanted to place some thoughts on the record for those evaluating instructors, and learning from the kinds of training options that are on the market today. I think that Mr. Pink’s earlier eval speaks exceptionally well to the course structure and content. (See, and I would not presume to repeat those comments in mere echo. I would however offer a few other observations.

    The first is simply the personable nature of the instruction. Those that have met Todd understand that his personality is … unique … in the firearms industry. A sense of this tends to come through in his online writings, but the man in person lives up to the expectations. There has been a lot of debate over Gun Culture 1.0 versus its 2.0 incarnation, but there is a less discussed conversation around the training pathways that support each of these cultures. Whether or not Todd would choose to describe himself as such, his approach and personal style is very much informed by the development of the new environment. I for one find this a most welcome change from many of the more rigid and less human schools. There was indeed a good bit of humour – but something I will note was carefully calibrated, appropriate in that it would not give offense to those that perhaps were struggling but serve to engage and motivate the body of students. This is hard balance to strike, and Todd does this well.

    For the sake of disclosure – I personally had some idea of this facet of the instructor’s style before, having first encountered him at the NRA KSTG ranges over a number of months. It has been those interactions that led me to attend a NOVA class when it was offered at a time that meshed with my schedule. And I am well aware of the mutterings among some others in the industry regarding the “cultists” that have come out of Todd’s classes (such as those detractors who usually take issue with the press out, slide lock manipulation, or other aspects of pistolcraft that differ from their own teachings.) I have little time for such disputes, although I am by no means a cultist. I am also not terribly interested in promoting any individual brand for the sake of associating myself with it by proxy. But I recognize quality and individual integrity when I see it, and owe a duty of honesty in return.

    Beyond the class instruction, interactions with Todd over the course were also very enlightening. This is something that one commonly finds in a variety of courses, where the instructor’s own experiences provide the basis of good instruction. However, this is a somewhat unique class in that by Todd’s own admission he is not a former cop, operator, or other flavor of gunfighter. (In fact, I won’t even hold his pre-industry past as a lawyer against him). As a result, one does not hear the “I was there” stories that so often season the lectures and drills of other schools. But this is not to the detriment of the course. Rather, the anecdotes that Todd offers are framed in his experiences within the industry itself. This is a quite cerebral approach to training – but it provides a solid grounding not only in the techniques being offered but also the rationale for their development and selection, and the “competitive” context of their evolution in the wider training environment. I would venture to guess this is why Todd’s technical instruction courses, like AFHF, have been so well received. This is a very important consideration when asking a professional to change a hard trained technique in favour of an alternative method. It is equally useful I believe for newer shooters, having watched their improvement in the ability to articulate the basis for executing the technique itself more effectively when given the context of its choice. There are a lot of ways to run a gun, many of which may work relatively well across a range of conditions. It is at the margins that one finds the factors for selection and the hardest choices for employment. In this, Todd’s emphasis on what may seem the smallest of those margins – the quarter second – demonstrates the value of specific approaches that are frequently glossed over or even disputed elsewhere. From this flows the need for consistency, to ensure reliable delivery at those edges. You may find other instructors which have reached similar conclusions by virtue of their practical experiences in the failure mode of those edges. But it is rare to find an instructor that has done so from a place of study and reflection. For the student of the gun who seeks out learning not from a checklist requirement, this is an unusually effective model to emulate. For many students, it is perhaps more directly accessible than the more rarefied experiences of an operator whom many know they will never be – but whose level of skills they nonetheless seek for themselves should they need to call upon them under adverse circumstance. For those who are armed professionals, it is a useful complementary perspective that provides an integration layer between other environments and the kinds of training and competition tasks that they may more routinely have access to outside of the higher tier institutions and associated facilities.
    This was not a pure technical shooting course, however, something that the instructor stressed. Rather, it was an attempt to frame those technical factors in the context of the “practical” drill sets that one might find in a variety of contexts. These included the reload drills, SHO drills, cover drills, and action / reaction tests that have been mentioned in this forum. The competitive nature of the exercises, both individually and man on man, certainly added to the incentive to perform more effectively and drove some surprising outcomes at various points. The FAST test is definitely one of those milestones that drove folks to grasp as high as they could possibly reach; but certainly not the only one. The technical foundation was perhaps easier for the instructor to fall back on, given the established nature of his other offerings. But it should be emphasized that this was explicitly described as the first run of the instructional design, something all students knew going in. I am quite interested to see where this may go as it evolves… I have a feel from Todd’s comments that some refinements will be introduced for subsequent offerings. In this, I am more than willing to recognize the challenge that launching a new course entails; having been more than passingly familiar with those issues myself. But as the old saying goes – qui docet discit.

    It is perhaps appropriate to offer a word on the quality of the students in the course. This can make or break the experience for a shooter, particularly when there is a mismatch between participants. The opening performance test to an announced standard I think does much to level set both participation and expectations at the outset of the evolution. You also know you the right group of folks when at the outset during the medical pre-brief, multiple students volunteer for emergency action duties who have had live tissue training experience – and they inspect and repack the instructor’s trauma bag for their own familiarization. While one hopes never to call upon those experiences in a class, hope is not a strategy. But beyond the fortunate provision of medical expertise, the experiences of one’s fellow students do much to indicate the pace and intensity of the course itself.

    Finally, while not part of the formal course it is well worth acknowledging that Todd spent time after the completion "ceremony" shooting a variety of drills with a small handful of folks until the range was no longer open. These included additional iterations of the common exercises from the course, and those frequently noted on this forum. It also touched upon aspects of Todd’s SOM instruction model, which was surprisingly similar in its theoretic underpinnings to a foreign service approach that had never quite gained other popularity in the US. (I am reasonably certain this is one of those classic cases of independent parallel development, as there are enough differentiators that the often discredited imitators and their follow on variants that had made their way previously into the industry were certainly not the source of Todd’s philosophies.)

    An added bonus was the chance to shoot for familiarization a few of the more unusual weapons systems that fellow students brought. One student, who appears to be a frequent face at many schools, offered up a Boberg pistol with a very unusual method of operation. Another offered a suppressed P30. Both were appreciated, and should be recognized for brining something interesting to the table.

    This was for me the first formal school I have attended in a number of years, having taken a desk assignment and watching hard trained skills of earlier lives suffering recently due to lack of time and attention. It represented a deliberate decision to refresh and renew the formal basis for my practice, and to continue as a perpetual student of this tradecraft. I was not disappointed by the choice of schools, and believe that others may also find good value and utility in the offering – especially as it matures in subsequent runs. I would rank the quality of instruction equal to some of the best “veteran” professionals I had previously trained with, including publicly identifiable names such as Ed Fasold and Scott Reidy.

  2. #2
    We are diminished
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    AF -- Thanks, dude! You're absolutely correct, the CCS program is being extensively modified based on student feedback and my own evaluation. I felt like the things that set it apart from AFHF were too rushed, so it comes down to either less high volume shooting exercises or paring certain topics altogether. The only other alternative I can think of is to expand the class to 3 days, and I'm not sure that's practical for many students.

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