Immediately following his Basic Pistol course last year, a range date was set for a follow-up class in 2012. May rolled around and Jason Falla headed back up to Alaska for Redback One’s Tactical/Combat Pistol course.
Seventeen shooters, many familiar faces from the previous class, gathered at Birchwood Shooting and Recreation Park early on Saturday morning, eager to start our class. After a quick introduction on his qualifications and some paperwork, Jason dove into a briefing and explained what he expected of the shooters from a safety standpoint and made it clear as to how you were to handle yourself while on the shooting line. For someone that hasn’t taken a class before, I think it’s critical for an instructor to let students know when/where it is appropriate to be handling your firearm. I felt that he really beefed up the first-aid section of his brief, telling the students the contents of his first-aid kit and tasked individuals with being a single point of contact for emergency services in the event that an accident should occur.
Regarding equipment, Jason does not seem the type to belittle someone for their chosen gear, but explains how someone might use different features needed to make an informed decision.
The intro was over and it was time to head downrange. The shooters who hadn’t attended the Basic Pistol course felt a bit overwhelmed at the sheer amount of information that Jason was providing, as the better part of day one consisted of much of the information covered in two days in the basic course. The information was similar, but had a bit more of a combat theme, touching on tactics that could help you relate the skills that were being taught to everyday situations that you might find yourself in.
Differentiating from the basic course which covered high and low ready, we dove into a few different techniques that were new to most, one being high port. High port is a fairly controversial technique due to the fact that your pistol is pointed straight in the air with a one handed grip, while your thumb is indexing on your cheek/ear protection. Many folks despise this technique because it is generally accepted that the best backstop is the ground below your feet. While this is very true, situations like running, turning, and utilizing a weapon on the second story of a building with people below can all be very viable situations where you can effectively use something like a high port. Jason stresses to not get caught in the ‘square range’ trap where absolutes can rule your thinking. While some despise it, I feel that even in my personal situation, there could be many times where using a muzzle up technique would be more safe and maybe more effective than low ready, for example.
The class moved at a fairly good pace and before lunch we had covered the seven fundamentals of shooting and had performed some varied distance precision shooting, presentation from the holster, reloading, and cadence drills. Before each string of fire, the drill was explained thoroughly and then demonstrated in a live-fire fashion so it was clear what was going to happen.
Jason is big on training to the level of subconscious weapons manipulation and the Redback One methodology of this was covered again. We went over palm up (externally rotate, magazine in) and palm down (internally rotate, rack slide) and different options the students had to work their particular firearm such as strong/weak hand manipulations for slide catch along with a short/sharp slide rack. The Redback One team has an easy way to remember what is needed for developing successful shooting, and that is the acronym S.E.A.R. With speed, efficiency, accuracy, and repetition, you can build upon your skills to increase both speed and distance and still stay on target.
Day one ended in a race where we were to put what we learned to good use! Jason set up three Glock pistols on each side of the range, each in a different state of malfunction. Two shooters went head to head and the first shooter to clear the firearm, shoot, then move on was the winner. This was a fun drill and showed how just even a TINY bit of stress (just racing someone else) can push you to the point of not performing the correct drill in the correct sequence.
After 11 hours on the range for day one, Jason felt he was still behind on everything he wanted to cover so we, as a class, agreed to arrive at 7 am on Sunday morning. The weather didn’t cooperate fully as it was in the 40’s for temperature and was raining off and on the entire day.
We began the second day’s instruction with a lesson on basic combatives. After pairing off, we practiced different techniques on head control and throat domination. The theory and effectiveness of what he calls the ‘battle hand’ was demonstrated and we did some light sparring to see the validity using a stiff arm attack to the throat. Jason stressed that using a firearm in self defense was absolutely the last thing you want to do and that de-escalating a situation or even subduing someone through non-deadly force might (it not always) be a better alternative, if possible.
We built upon some hand to hand combatives and progressed into close quarters contact drills where you are blocking an attack, creating space to draw your firearm and shooting from retention. We moved to the range and practiced this at length on target stands in a dry-fire scenario before moving into live fire.
Right when the rain was starting to puddle on the range, it was time to move on to some barricade drills. Jason demonstrated strong/weak side techniques to properly use cover both standing and kneeling, then demonstrated a rollover prone position to effectively shoot from under cover, such as a vehicle. Having adverse weather conditions made it clear how having cold hands and wet gear can change things in a fighting situation.
Once everyone was thoroughly wet and muddy, we broke for both lunch and a medical lecture. Jason taught some basics of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) and how performing the right intervention of medical treatment at the right time is essential. Many people who have taken a CPR/First Aid class before know the “ABC” theory where you first check airway, then breathing, followed by circulation. In a TCCC situation, it has been completely reversed. First take care of the bleeders, then make sure they can breath.. While the main goals of the TCCC are obviously geared more toward a military situation, what you are fighting for are the same in any fire-fight. Save the preventable deaths (removing your family from a situation), prevent additional casualties (move to cover if you can’t flee), and complete the mission (moving your family to safety).
The biggest thing that I got out of the medical lecture was the value of a tourniquet. Being small, cheap, lightweight, and portable, it’s a no-brainer to have a tourniquet on hand in most situations. Many of us Alaskans recreate in very remote situations and having the means to stop a serious bleeding situation could be life-saving. What’s the immediate action drill? Install the tourniquet high and TIGHT! (Links below to purchase recommended tourniquets)
Venturing back into the rain, we spent time on more timed shooting drills where it was taught that you can sacrifice a perfect sight picture and still gain effective hits on target. Lastly as a group we practiced moving and shooting followed by both strong and weak one handed weapons manipulation. Drawing from your holster, magazine changes, and clearing malfunctions were all covered. The final part of the training consisted of an abbreviated shooting standards to see how well we had improved in our training over the last two days.
We had two gear-related issues that caused a class stoppage. The first was an XDm getting stuck backwards in a Blackhawk Serpa holster. Jason warned this could happen but hadn’t seen it personally. After a bit of wrestling with it, the pistol was removed from the holster and the class resumed. The second was a Glock 19 somehow getting a piece of brass stuck in the chamber backwards during malfunction drills. I was surprised at how much force it took to clear the barrel of the gritty brass.
I had three gear-related issues, personally. Toward the end of the second day, my Glock 22 started to have a few erratic malfunctions. I hadn’t cleaned the pistol from before Jason’s first class (purposefully) and after roughly 2,500 rounds without a wipe-down, the pistol started failing to lock back on an empty magazine. I also had one magazine fail where the follower bound in the body of the magazine, locking the 14th and 15th round in the bottom of the mag. I disassembled the magazine, wiped it down, re-assembled and marked the magazine for a rebuild. Having a dirty gun both on the inside and out coupled with gritty, wet magazines can show where weapons maintenance can be key. Lastly, a loose surefire x300 rail was tightened and I was back in business.
Jason is definitely making the attendees get their moneys worth, that’s for sure. With essentially two 12-hour days at the range with a constant flow of information was incredible. It is impossible to touch on even a fraction of what was covered in a course review but the class definitely left everyone leaving with something (or many things) to work on, personally. I’m confident this class exceeded most everyone’s expectations and surely challenged every skill-set that set foot on the range. If you get a chance to attend a Redback One course, do yourself a favor and take advantage of the opportunity…you wont be disappointed!