I first heard about the 2018 Shooter Symposium training event after watching Aaron Cowans YouTube video on the event:
The Ranch Training Facility in Eagle Lake Texas: https://www.theranchtx.net/
Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics: https://www.sagedynamics.org/
Bill Blowers of Tap Rack Tactical: https://tap-rack.com/
Chuck Pressburg of Presscheck Consulting: https://www.facebook.com/presscheckconsulting/
Dan Brokos of Lead Faucet Tactical: http://leadfaucettactical.com/
Jered Reston of Reston Group Training: http://restongrouptraining.com/
Scott “Jedi” Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project: http://www.modernsamuraiproject.com/
Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts: https://sentinelconcepts.com/
Cost to Benefit:
$650 for 2 ½ days of training, competitions, and networking. A quick review of any of the Instructors course list will show you what it would cost to train with even two of them. The Symposium allowed students to see what different instructors offer in one location without having to attend and travel to multiple classes/courses. In my opinion I got more than my money’s worth.
Due to an overwhelming interest and time constraints there were limits on who you could sign up to train with, courses were divided into four hour blocks of time 0800 – 1200, and 1400 – 1800 with a two hour lunch break between. Students could attend four separate courses plus the optional Night Vision course that was run on the second night, (provided you brought your own NVG’s, and IR Laser Aiming Devices)
Classes I signed up for and why:
Scott “Jedi” Jedlinski’s Red Dot Equipped Handgun course was the first class I took on Saturday, the first full day of training. I have been carrying and using red dot equipped handguns for over a year and had not received any professional training in the proper usage of an RDS equipped handgun.
I signed up for Steve Fishers Intermediate Carbine course as it had been several years since my last professional AR-15 shooting course as a student.
While I have never really had a good reason to own any Night Vision Equipment, (until now), I still took advantage of the opportunity to listen in on Chuck’s History and technology of NVG’s and associated equipment, as well as the debrief at the end of Day 1.
Anyone looking to get Night Vision, or currently owning a set should sign up to get training from Chuck, seriously this guy has the answers you’re looking for.
For the final training day I chose Aaron Cowan’s Force on Force scenario class. It is one thing to practice shooting steel and cardboard and a whole other thing shooting at a moving and reacting human being.
Last but not least I attended Bill Blowers Basic Handgun course with Chuck Pressburg as his AI. I wanted to finish out the Symposium working on what I am most likely to use in my day to day life or on the job. My handgun.
Student check-in and vendor setup began at 1000 with Competitions slated to begin at 1200 although due to some logistical issues this got pushed back to around 1400 although no one really seemed to mind. Companies represented at Vendor tables were SureFire, Rail Scales, Big Tex Outdoors, Heathen Systems, Unity Tactical, and Sons of Liberty Gun Works. New products, demos, deals, free stuff, and preorders etc. Picked up some patches and stickers, a Unity Tactical rig, and talked to the SureFire Rep about their new AROC BCG and barrel extension.
Around 1400 student shooting competitions kicked off with the pistol range being ran by Jedi and Bill Blowers shooting a NRA B-8 drill at 25 yards. Shooters fired standing, two handed grip, 10 rounds, 20 second par time, any hits out of the 8 ring was – 10 points out of a 100 point total possible score, shooters were scored on total time and score.
The Rifle portion was ran by Steve Fisher and Chuck Pressburg which was the Modified Navy Qual. 50 yard A/C zone steel, 3 magazines each loaded with 5 rounds. Standing fire 5 rounds, reload while kneeling, fire 5 rounds kneeling, reload while going prone, fire 5 rounds prone. Par time was 30 seconds. Students were scored on total hits and time.
A zeroing range was set up for those needing to adjust sights and optics. Zeroing it turns out is actually important, who knew. I was all of 7’ low at 50 yards with the loaner Trijicon 1-4x Accupoint MOA/MOA optic and the 75 gr Hornady OTM stuff I elected to use for the course.
Around 1600 a mandatory safety briefing kicked off with all hands present, Range staff, Instructors, and Students alike. This was a big boy rules course guns loaded at all times, follow the 4 rules, don’t be an idiot, booze and guns don’t mix etc.
Food was served beginning around 1800,Barbequed Beef Brisket, Buttered potatoes, Green Beans,Pickles, and Iced Tea, with a staffed open bar being made available shortly thereafter, anyone partaking of the brown water guns were put away and secured, or concealed if staying dry. The food was awesome, and the fancy Whiskey was good from what I was told.
For me the highlight of the night was meeting fellow students, watching the 15 winners of the competitions get their awesome prizes, and listening to Chuck Pressburg late into the night relaying stories from his days in the Ranger Regiment/AWG,and other units, stories like suppressed .22’s and head shots, or concussion grenades and murder plastic, as well as answering questions about everything from HK416 vs Mk 18, suppressor usage, Light Machine Gun evolution, .300 Blackout usage for Mil/LE, Gear setup, and other topics, this guy is a wealth of knowledge on a whole host of topics and could sub in as the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in The World, ok, I’ll get off of Chucks nuts now.
At around 0200 I turned in for the night, taking advantage of the on site camping and prepped my gear for Day 2 loading mags, checking equipment, and laying out my clothes for the following morning. After catching about 4 hours of sleep in my rental Toyota SUV I woke up got dressed and moved out to Range 2 for the first class of the day.
Scott Jedlinski Red Dot Handgun:
Some sacred cows got turned into ground beef in this class, stuff like the Tactical turtle stance, true Isoceles stance, thumbs mattering, canted high ready, punching guns out to the target, L shaped presentation from the holster, 3,4,5,6,7 step draws, pinning the trigger, and locking out elbows are all stupid useless frenetic motion that cost seconds on your draw and presentation time as well as slow down your rate of fire.
One of the most interesting drills we ran was firing strings of 5 rounds using the top of the RDS housing, looking through the glass window without hunting for the dot, and using the rear plate as a reference aiming point for distances under 5 yards. After analyzing our targets all but 5 of 18 students found that using the clear glass as a ghost ring worked the best for us, with the remainder finding one of the alternate methods to work better. We stepped behind our targets and mag dumped into the berm as fast as we could to see where the wheels fell off, and track our dots through recoil. Most right handed shooters will see their dot track high and right as the slide cycles, we then adjusted our grips to attempt to minimize the dots movement as much as possible, some of my fellow students were tracking there dots so fast it sounded like a Singer Sewing Machine when they shot. I still need a lot of work. The trick with Red Dots on Handguns is stare at the target, but “see” the dot. We shot a timed Bill drill for score and I came in first winning a PHlster AIWB Holster for a Roland Special type Glock, thanks again to the guys at PHlster for donating awesome stuff to the class! Jedi said something that really stuck with me, don’t shoot slower, just be careful.
Lunch Break: Again, the food was phenomenal! Ate quickly, called the wife, reloaded mags, and got my gear setup how I wanted them.
Steve Fisher’s Intermediate Carbine Class:
I learned a lot in a little amount of time doing things I don’t practice much with my Carbines. We mostly went over positional shooting from VTAC barricades, shooting from support side and dominant side equally. My support side Rifle game sucks, but I picked up some tips that helped out immensely. I was using a Trijicon 1-4X Accupower on loan from a buddy that happened to be mounted in a ~ 1.4-1.5” ADM QD mount, shooting from a bench or supported prone? No biggie, trying to brace off an unstable ½” thick piece of OSB in a 15-20 mph full value wind and get good hits at 200 yards from the support side standing? It was an epic suck fest. The combination of a horrible eye box, unforgiving eye relief and a too low mount made it difficult to even see the reticle, let alone trying to keep everything still to get a hit. Steve showed us a technique where you place your palm against a flat surface and curl your fingertips just a bit, almost like setting up for a pool shot, to help keep the front end of the Carbine from sliding down the side of the VTAC, I’d never seen that before and it worked pretty good. Steve is a big proponent of staying squared up to the gun, and it seemed like whenever someone started blading off they would suck more, myself included. Keeping shoulders, hips, and toes pointed at the target even when you were in some hybrid kneeling squatting deal of a stance just made it easier to keep everything lined up, and put rounds on target.
After driving back to the main area myself and a fellow student headed into town for some chow and supplies from a store, everyone split off to do there own thing. Dan Brokos made an impromptu fire and guys sat around and smoked and joked, Chucks NVG class started forming up and I took advantage of the brief to learn all about NVG’s, light spectrum, and interesting facts and tips. After the brief I returned to fire for a bit, got cleaned up, used the shower trailer, and started prepping gear for the last day of training. The night class ended their live fire so myself and a few others headed over to where they had formed up for their debrief and listened in to try and glean as much information as possible, something that was encouraged by the Instructor. Every guy I talked or listened to at this course had a common goal, they wanted to be better, and to help the good guys win, I don’t think anyone better exemplified those goals better than Chuck Pressburg.
Aaron Cowan Scenario Based Training:
After a few short hours of sleep I woke up and headed over to the area set aside for Force on Force Sims training, appropriate safety precautions were in place and after the safety brief the class of about 20 students was split in half and we began running scenarios. My group started as the role players. Aaron would brief us On the scenario we are about to run, give us some baseline for how to react to the student and then let us run with it. Guys got pretty creative trying to make the training as realistic as possible, while I think all of us took the training very seriously everyone seemed to have a good time as well without things devolving into a game.
We would run the same scenario with very little variation for every single student, once that student started making choices and decisions about how they were going to act to the scenario we would feed off of their actions and respond accordingly.
An example of one of the scenarios I participated in was as the student rounded a corner he was faced with a gunshot victim proned out loudly crying out for help. Just a few feet beyond were three role players, one holding a gun to another’s head while the third was instigating
the first role player to, “just shoot the fool”.
Some students would come around the corner, see the gunshot wound victim and backpedal, notionally dialing emergency services on their cell phones, others attempted to render first aid to the gunshot victim without paying any attention to the situation going on 10 feet away, while others
almost immediately begin engaging the threat, treating it like a hostage scenario. Everything depended on someone’s mental make up, their previous training and background or occupational experiences, everyone responded differently to that one scenario and saw areas that they could improve in. My biggest lesson came after running a scenario where failure meant a loved one might not make it out alive. You can’t predict what someone may do once rounds are flying and being accountable for every shot you take was a lesson I took to heart.
My wife has only just started carrying concealed and we’ve begun discussing things more as far as how to work with each other instead of against just based off of that one scenario. This training will make you think differently, about how you carry, what you carry, and processing things quickly without getting stuck in a loop of unconscious bad choices.
Bill Blowers & Chuck Pressburg Basic Pistol:
Having taught classes myself with AI’s that don’t work well together or are on totally different sheets of music, it was awesome to see two guys work together so well to present some good training. Bill would talk about a topic, like reloading, then demonstrate several different ways to do a reload and then reiterate why one way might work better than another, with Chuck adding valuable insight, or demoing something when necessary.
Bill had us work on a drill to help eliminate pre ignition flinch, i.e. moving the gun right before it discharges that I found very helpful. Bill talked about how trigger finger placement was crucial to your shot process I saw the very real difference on target that using the finger tip vs. first distal joint vs. as much finger as possible on the trigger gave me doing 5 yard dot torture. Bill went into depth on his philosophy on grip and stance and I picked up a few pointers that really helped. After working on draws, reloads, we shot walkbacks on NRA B-8’s out to around 25 yards, then attempted to shoot Bill’s B-8 standards, 25 yards, 10 rounds in under 30 seconds everything in the black. None of us made the standards. So no Tiger Kitty Breacher Patch for any of us. After class I took a turn shooting from a construction lift the owner of the facility ad setup, pretty fun stuff. Said my goodbyes, gathered my stuff, and made the drive back to Houston for my flight home to Colorado.
Trying to fit everything into this was challenging, but bottom line if you can take just one class in 2019, sign up for this one, but not till after I register, “Seats taken”
Thanks again to all the Instructors, Range staff, Matt Shockey, sponsors, and my fellow students for making this a valuable, safe, and fun learning experience.
“Don’t go slow, be careful” – Jedi