First let me start off saying thank you to Kevin Williams and LMS Defense. This was my second course with LMS and Kevin and as usual it was top notch training. If you have not trained with LMS I can’t express enough how much you are missing out- you need this! They run a top notch program with very knowledgeable instructors with training facilities in Washington State and Nevada.
This one day Carbine Course had a total of 10 students from different backgrounds and this is how they broke down. Mind you some fall into several categories:
3 students were prior LMS graduates
3 students were Magpul Dynamic graduates
3 students are current .mil and one was prior service
5 students had never had any formal training- only flat range shooting and were generally new to shooting
I am going to break this down into several catagories:
Equipment, Zeroing, Fixed Distance shooting, Dynamic shooting, Positional shooting and Malfunctions.
The common denominator was the 16” carbine and that is about where it ended. Rifles varied from carbine to mid length and all were 5.56 except for one that was shooting a 5.45x39. For manufacturers there was Noveske, LMT, Bravo Company, Smith and Wesson, Bushmaster and Olympic Arms. Several were running Aimpoint H-1s, a couple EO-Techs and 3 Primary Arms Micros. Most guns were running .mil spec parts but there were a few running commercial grade parts.
I am going to highlight one issue right now, commercial parts work just fine for a range plinker but for a gun that you expect to run hard you need to build it right. Most of the guys that were in this class are part of a local Jeep club and know this well as it applies to both Jeeps and good rifles: Buy once and Cry once. One student in the course who was running an almost all commercial gun show built rifle by Olympic Arms and it shit out early on. Only two other gun that had major issues were a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 that was a new gun but had some issues with chrome lining and an LMT using a commercial receiver extension tube that fell victim to being mortared during malfunctions. I will explain those issues later.
We started off the day with a lecture on equipment and gear then moved on to zeroing. Kevin started us off on the 25 yard line to get everyone doped in before moving back to the 50. As a .mil guy I have been doing 25 meter zeros for as long as I can remember but I am now reconsidering that and moving all of mine to the 50. Kevin explains the pros and cons of both and it just seems that the 50 has more pros. Right off the bat the student with the Olympic Arms gun began to have short stroke issues with his gun. I helped to initially diagnose but needed to concentrate on my own shooting and Kevin quickly got onboard and took over. At first he thought it may have been a magazine related issue as he was running old GI steel magazines. Quickly Kevin assessed that it was something deeper in the gun and offered the student his own gun to run for the class. For the rest of the class he ran Kevin’s gun and was completely amazed.
This student is a long time friend of mine and an old school Soldier. He has believed that a gun, is a gun, is a gun. On the ride home we talked and he could not believe how amazing running a quality gun with a PWS FSC 556 and a micro was. Learning occurred and he has been energized and wants me to help get his gun built right. Thanks to Kevin for his patience in taking care of such a good friend. Kevin showed an old dog new tricks as well the light on how well a quality built AR can perform.
The course covered fixed distance shooting from 25 yards all the way out to 100. This was done in prone, sitting, kneeling and standing positions. We constantly changed distance and position and began to getting into timed events. It was a completely dynamic event where we kept switching distances and positions. Kevin later revealed this was not a random act but rather a calculated on to keep students from getting to comfortable and static in one position or distance. It worked well! Students began to really get comfortable with the changes and settled into the groove of ‘there is no constant except for change’ and adapted well. Yet again, learning had occurred.
By dynamic I am talking about shooting on the move (SOM). Most of this was done from 20 meters or closer. About half of the students had never done SOM drills and quickly found how intense it can be and how much focus it takes. He began to incorporate shoot, run, shoot, run, shoot. Once everyone got comfortable the shot timer came out again. This made students feel that pressure of the clock, instructor scrutiny and the pressure to be better than your peers. As we ran through SOM scenarios, students started to become a lot more proficient and with Kevin’s critique of how they could improve they started to speed up and smooth out their shooting skills. The same process was done for the multiple target engagement scenarios while executing Roadhouse Rules drills. From a personal standpoint I got faster on the gun and Kevin pointed out that I was dropping the gun during target transitions.
Aside from the prone, sit, kneel and standing positions we went into others like supine, fetal and broke-back. These were great as very few of the students had ever done any shooting like this. Shooting from awkward positions may suck but it can possibly be a necessary evil that saves your life in a gun fight. The reason I like these drills as they force you to know how your gun will shoot. But you also need to know how to shoot your weapon with your support hand. We had one lefty who was heaving a bitch of a time trying to make certain positions work left handed rather then switch to his right hand. I think it’s important that a shooter knows how to manipulate the gun with both hands effectively. Transitions are an important thing and if you can’t do them well then something will give. Even if you are not the greatest shooter with your weak side you can hope your enemy is worse and will favor his strong side and expose himself as a better target. Know how to do both and learn to adapt, you have the rest of your life in a gun fight to figure it out.
During the lunch Kevin gave his verbal block of instructions and walk through on the different malfunction types and clearing procedures. Many of the students had minimal exposure to malfunction drills at best. Having been through an LMS course not too long ago I figured I would not learn much, if anything new. As usual, Kevin proved me wrong. He had refined his bag of tricks and fixing problems-especially in the catastrophic department.
After lunch we headed back onto the range and began the Blue Falcon Drill (BFD). The BFD is simple: you work in pairs and one student faces away as the other places one of the malfunctions in your gun. Student turns around, attempts to shoot the gun and then goes into problem solving mode. Like most new things it started slow but as students worked on it they started to clear the guns faster.
At the end of the day students were wet, tired and well instructed. Learning had occurred throughout and everyone had a lot more confidence in their systems and it's capabilities due to Kevin’s guidance. The big things taken away were that GI mags suck, quality guns are important, old dogs can learn new tricks and Kevin is a top notch instructor. I know myself and other will be returning later this fall to train with Kevin at LMS Defense. Having such a skilled trainer such as Kevin and organization like LMS Defense is a true asset. If you are in the Pacific Northwest or Nevada, don't hesitate to to get in on the training. By contacting LMS direct at www.lmsdefense.com you may even be able to organize your own private or group training sessions. Training should never stop and this is evident with their dedication.
Train with LMS Defense, it’s worth it’s weight in a gun fight.