Monday, December 12, 2011

AAR/Review of Kyle Defoor Advanced 2 day carbine class

My apologies for not getting this out sooner; a vacation to Vegas for the National Finals Rodeo and having to code all of this in straight HTML due to software problems slowed me down. Work in progress!

After my Defoor Basic Carbine class experience, my anticipation for the advanced Defoor carbine class had been building for some time.

The drive down with my buddy Beamish to Blackwater US Training Center consisted of a libertarian conversation punctuated with brief musings on how hard Kyle would push us in our training. Well, Kyle did not disappoint.

This was neither a gentleman's course of shooting from static positions and telling war stories nor was it a chest beating "we take the training wheels off, big boy rules" sort of class where bravado ruled the day. Rather, it was a trainer that exuded quiet professionalism and the entire class followed his example. The atmosphere was most assuredly easy going but Kyle was 100% focused the entire time. Humor and war stories were told but we snapped right back into training each time with a minimal amount of down time. No one focused on hardware/gear queer stuff. You were expected to have functional rifle and gear but the focus of Kyle's training is software, not hardware. Some folks trained in civilian clothes (including myself) and some trained in multicam head to toe all weekend. Some wore armor and chest rigs, most didn't. Kyle shot in a t-shirt and bluejeans. His excellent rationale behind that was that he's no longer in the military and said attire is what he would most likely be wearing in case he needed to grab a carbine for serious purposes again.

Along with the tone of quiet professionalism was an overriding sense of aggressiveness. Not bravado but this was training to eliminate a threat or threats and it showed. You were told to stay on target (to make sure the target is eliminated) after engaging and look for more targets to engage. Searching and assessing was fine of course, but what Kyle was doing was inoculating against the mentality of "oh, I just engaged the target and now it's time to do an exaggerated search and assess." In other words, he was training us from his real world experience of you know.....killing America's enemies. Given that there were several active duty members of the military attending this class on their own time and money, I couldn't help but contrast this training against my own Marine Corps Infantry training of ten years ago. You can guess which one is superior......

Kyle demonstrating his aggressive carbine shooting stance
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The class was a mix of civilians, military, law enforcement officers, and industry professionals. Streamlight and White Sound Defense showed that their employees not only talk the talk, they walk the walk with employees spending time and money to improve their own skills and keep a finger on the pulse of the shooting community. Both chatted with me about their products; offering helpful tips. Kevin from Streamlight also gave an impromptu class on the realities of flashlights. My takeaways from that were that candlepower is a more accurate measure of a flashlight than lumens and no matter what the claims, two hours is a good seat of pants standard for how long batteries last.

We start off with a quick zeroing at 25 yards to make sure everyone was at least on the paper and then went to 100 yards for a true zero. Kyle advocates a 100 yard zero based on his experience. He believe that a carbine is a 200 yard and in weapon but workable at 300 hence our shooting from the 300 yard line this class. Just like the Basic Carbine Class I attended, 10 shot groups were mandated for the obvious reasons.

We shot Defoor's Carbine Test #1 and it was no joke. Defoor's tests are designed so that even he has a hard time with them. Class scores were high which set a trend for the rest of the class. There never were consistent winners of each test; rather you never knew who would do best at a drill.

After that and some work on the various shooting positions, Kyle gave us a talk on mindset. It was a stark talk with grim examples of those that don't try to fight back. Situational awareness and having the mindset to be prepared to fight with any weapon possible were examined and driven home into our brain housing groups. One saying Kyle attributed to Tom Kier of Sayoc who in turn got it from Ralph Waldo Emerson was Thoughts, words, deeds, habits.

My takeaways from Kyle's teachings on shooting positions is that the kneeling position rules in the real world. Better for working with cover, better for concealment, more stable than the standing, and great for working with barricades. His variation on the kneeling shooting position is to lean way forward, thus negating quite a bit of recoil knocking you off of target. When working with barricades, Kyle teaches you to put your outside leg forward

The night shoot really showed me how much more flash hider/muzzle brake matters than ammo selection when worrying about losing your target due to flash from your own ammo. The lowlight shooting was done one at a time to to keep us from losing our target as the fog and smoke from others shooting rolled from one side of the range to another. As usual, Kyle personally inspected your target and your shooting. Defoor classes are not pertaining evolutions where your deficiencies will be missed. Even during the running and shooting drills (Defoor carbine tests), he ran the drill with all of us. So if you lose site of your buddies while running from one line of fire to another, you would hear him near you telling you if you were safe to shoot or not. Constant supervision, realistic training within the boundaries of safety.

We moved onto Defoor Carbine Test #2 for the cold start on training day two. Folks, try and use all of your time on these tests. Details of the test are:

IPSC target
8 rounds
1 minute time limit
16 pts (Vicker's count) in body to pass
all 4 head shots in head, 2 must be in credit card (eye box of skull) to pass

Run 50 yds to the 100 yd line, kneeling 2 rds to body
run to 50 yd line, standing, 2 rds to body
run to 25 yd line, standing, 2 rds to head
run to 10 yd line, standing, 2 rds to head

After Carbine Test #2, we moved back to the 300 yard line. Some nuggets of hard won Defoor wisdom were:

- 100 yard zero works well at 200 yards and Kyle is a firm advocate of the 100 yard

- at 300 yards, you are hitting the realistic limits for a carbine on hits not arget and
much more importantly, target identification. Our cardboard targets were hard to
identify at 300 and imagining them being enemy combatants actively seeking cover
and concealment in earthen colored clothes drove the point home firmly.

- my 80's produced Soviet military surplus 5.45x39mm shot in the center mass at
300 yards using a 100 yard zero and a holdover on the neck of the target. Actually
shot a nice group using a 4MOA red dot optic. At 200 yards, all of our 100 yard
zeroed rifles were very close to matching point of aim (POA) with point of impact

- use zip ties and/or tape to secure enough cleaning rod sections to your rifle as you'll
need to clear an obstruction such as a stuck case in the field

initial 100 yard group while conducting zeroing

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

300 yard groups 

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The class wrapped up with a moving and shooting exercise from barricades. To say that this was a high intensity, dynamic, fun exercise is an understatement. My biggest takeaways from Kyle's discourse on shooting on the move and from barricades are:

- face your target if possible even when moving.

- do not over think shooting on the move, just walk or run naturally.

- when moving from cover, move as fast as possible. Cover beats shooting
on the move most of the time from Kyle's operational experience. Obviously, the
situation will require judgement on your own part.

My gear did not let me down except for some brand new CProducts 5.45x39mm AR magazines that repeatedly failed me. Ceasing use of those fixed all problems. Remember children; the number one component that fails in magazine fed weapons is.....magazines. I ran my Smith&Wesson M&P15R in 5.45x39mm with an Aimpoint Micro red dot sight (RDS). The padded Blue Force Gear Vickers sling was a welcome upgrade. Round count was around 900 rounds shot.

Much thanks to US Armory Corpsfor overnighting a spare 5.45x39mm AR bolt just in case since I am nearing 20,000 rounds on this bolt.  They also threw in a free Wolff extra power hammer spring free of charge on their own suggestion.  Much appreciated.  Do business in confidence with them.

Kyle Defoor teaches a fast paced, safe, humbling, and enlightening carbine class. I am extremely happy I was able to attend this class and learn from him once again. I cannot recommend his teaching enough and plan to put my money where my mouth is once again by taking his advanced handgun class next year hopefully.



  1. Thanks for the thorough AAR. I'll be in Kyle's class this April 2012 in CT. Very much looking forward to it.